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Amboy Salt flats, Bagdad, Trojan and Ludlow, March 26,'11

posted Mar 30, 2011, 8:20 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety
  The trip began in the heart of Twentynine Palms and moved East to the salt flats at Amboy. We stopped there to enjoy the serene water on the collecting canals and to chip massive salt crystals from the edges of the pools. This area is the Bristol Dry Lake and is located 3 miles east of Amboy with an elevation of about 600 feet. According to Desert USA – “The mineral halite, (sodium chloride - NaCl), occurs as a crystal body underlying the lake. The surface of the playa lake is composed of sand, clay, and gypsum. - Two interesting materials present are sulfates and halite. The crystal body is of high-grade halite, crystallized in cubes, filled with brine which is principally calcium chloride.”

  From Bristol Dry Lake, we moved on to Bagdad. The town of Bagdad was the largest of the desert communities. The town was founded in 1883 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway line between Barstow and Needles was built. Bagdad died, as did all of the desert towns, when the I-40 bypassed them and detoured away from Route 66. The only sign of civilization now is a lonely tree on the highway and a cemetery of 17 souls beyond the rail road tracks.
  Since there were only three cars on the trip and based on a few lines in the book “The Sun And The Silence”, we decided to try to find Trojan next. Trojan is exactly four miles from the tree in Bagdad and bears no mark of the town that was once there. The text of “The Sun And The Silence” stated that there was a dark outcrop of red and gray rock to the north of the town that was a cinder cone vent from the Amboy Volcano. The outcrop is called Dish Hill and the text stated that there was black basalt which contained Olivine crystals to be found there. 
  We headed off West from the Bagdad tree and turned right onto a small road to what we believed as Trojan.Barbara had spotted Dish Hill from the Bagdad rail crossing and was perfectly correct when we arrived in Trojan. She recalled 
having explored this area many years ago and we started finding olivine embedded into basalt as soon as we started to walk up Dish Hill. In fact, you can drive directly up to the mine opening in your vehicle. There is a mine at Dish Hill that was mined for six months for cinders but failed to yield any profit. It was shut down and then abandoned. 
  We also found small “crystal balls’ of matrix and green crystals of Olivine. For a detour based on a whim from a few lines in a book, we spent perhaps two hours there clambering up easy roads and finding basalt and crystals scattered everywhere. The lesson learned is follow your whimsy and enjoy the detours that lead you to sparkly things! Second lesson is “don’t wash the crystal balls as they dissolve into mud and crystals!”
  From there we headed to Ludlow to look for red jasper. The lesson learned here is that when you find tasty rocks, GPS them so you can find them again. We did not find very much high quality jasper in Ludlow but our internal GPS led us to wonderful homemade pies in the diner in Ludlow! 
  The weather and the friends were perfect on that day and will live long in the memories of those who were there.
Submitted by Martha Hunt
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