Just 46 miles from Phoenix, AZ are the Four Peaks, in the Mazatzal Mountains, a familiar sight that most people in Arizona would recognize. But what many may not know is that hidden in that iconic mountain range? An Amethyst mine with a long, unique, and interesting history.
And just in case you were wondering, yes, it definitely is possible for you to take a peek at the hidden ‘gem’ of the Mazatzal Mountains yourself!
The Four Peaks Amethyst Mine
Earliest glimpses into the history of the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine are found now as artifacts – Native American spear and arrow heads – carved out of the stone have been found throughout the area. But, largely believed to have been discovered in the 18th century by Spanish settlers, it’s unclear how much Amethyst was actually mined by the settlers, although there are rumors that some of the Arizona Amethyst made its way into the Spanish crown.
While the history of the mine at this time is murky at best, it becomes far clearer in the early 1900’s when a prospector, Jim McDaniel, discovered the mine as he followed a quartz ‘float’ in search of gold.
And since gold was what he and most other prospectors at the time were in search for, they merely noted the location of the Amethyst mine…and moved on. It wasn’t until 1942 that the mine first ‘produced’ and was patented by prominent German stone cutters of the time.
Over the next 50 years, it was mined by various mine-owners and renters of the property and never consistently. In the 80’s and 90’s it was mined intermittently but mostly illegally by trespassers who knew what to look for, or hikers who stumbled on the mine.
The Four Peaks Amethyst Mine Today
In 1997, Kurt Cavano of New Jersey, was visiting the annual Tucson Rock and Gem Show and found himself in talks to purchase the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine. The rest they’ll say…is history. Well, not quite. Since taking over, Cavano has standardized mining processes and production, allowing for more beautiful Arizona amethyst jewelry to find its way on fingers and necks across the country.
What makes the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine interesting, is that it is privately owned land in the National Forest – making mining, and getting in and out of the mining area a difficulty. The small crew of miners hike in and out of the mountains to access the private land, and will work and live on the mountain for several weeks at a time before hiking out. The miners have been following the same vein of crystals through the mountain for twenty years and production of the rough depends on the vein itself.
All of the amethyst is mined by hand, as dynamite could not only damage the amethyst crystals, but compromise the mine itself. Plus, being located in the National Forest and wilderness, means there’s an obligation to be more responsible in the environment. Cavano has strived to decrease the mine’s environmental footprint, by utilizing solar to power the miners’ living space and the mine itself, and use as little gasoline as possible throughout the process.
Supplies and materials are then helicoptered in – along with folks on the tours – and the rough amethyst is helicoptered back down the mountain several times a year. The mountain’s inherent rugged territory and remote access to the mine, makes the Four Peaks Amethyst all the more special.
Take a virtual tour of the Four Peaks Amethyst Mine:
Ready to head up to the mountains and mine yourself some amethyst? Tours run several times a year, go ahead and book your space now!
Laura Blake says
Definitely want to sign up for the next trip!!!!
Four Peaks Mining Co. says
Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills will be happy to get you signed up. I believe they begin taking reservations approximately 2 months prior to the scheduled tour dates. We’d love to hear about your experience once you do! Cheers, Teresa
Brittani Christene Schuman says
Are you allowed to search for your own stones?
Four Peaks Mining Co. says
Brittani, only on the helicopter tours which are scheduled through Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills, AZ. They are $495 per person and are offered throughout the spring and fall. Otherwise, the mine is private and closed to the public, as it is only accessible by hiking or helicopter and is quite remote to get to.