Virgin Valley History

Ancient man visited Virgin Valley more than 10,000 years ago. The 'Last Supper' cave -- an archeological marvel -- is located near the southwestern tip of the valley. The bones and relics of the cave's inhabitants have been carbon dated at eight to 10 thousand years before Christ.

An estimated 4,500 years ago, a Chinese expedition was dispatched to Virgin Valley to mine black fire opals. This was the first recorded instance of opal mining in America.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cowboys and sheep-herders picked up a few surface opals as curiosities, or to trade later for a Saturday night beer in town.

Serious prospecting began around the turn of the century as the world demand for quality opals began to climb. The first underground workings in the Virgin Valley were started in 1905, beginning a period of increasing activity that has only been interrupted by two world wars.

Today, several commercial mining operations and more than 200 private claims are working the Virgin Valley opal deposits, producing not only the prized Black Opal, but also Fire Opals of many hues, with the brilliant fire unique to the Valley's gems.

Millions of dollars in opals have been taken from the Virgin Valley since 1905. The most famous of these, the Robeling Opal, and 14 other spectacular examples are on display in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

The Royal Peacock mines were discovered in 1912. The Wilson family purchased the Peacock mines in 1944.

Virgin Valley is an isolated area thirty miles southwest of Denio, Nevada. The Royal Peacock opal bearing properties are located in the southern end of Virgin Valley. Most of the properties lie at an elevation between 5,000 and 6,000 feet.

Mining at the Peacock properties is a stripping operation. Ten to ninety feet of overburden is stripped off with heavy equipment to expose the opal bearing clay.

In this high desert area the days are mild and the nights are cool. Rainfall is six inches annually.



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