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May-June 2011

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An Evening at the Blanchard (or Hoedown at the Hansonburg)

The Hansonburg mining district, Bingham, New Mexico (Taggart, Rosenzweig, and Foord 1989; DeMark and Massis 1999; DeMark 2003; Rakovan and Partey 2009), home to the Mex-Tex and Blanchard claim mines was the site of a very atypical desert rendezvous on the evening of 25 September 2010. Mine claim holders and owners (Ray DeMark, Tom Massis, Mike Sanders, and Brian Huntsman), family and friends gathered that evening, at the base of Hansonburg Hill in the Sierra Oscuras, to celebrate their kindred interest in this famous mineral deposit.

This was to be a formal affair, so that afternoon I returned to the Casa Blanca Bed and Breakfast in San Antonio to change before heading to the mines. Anticipating a lot of vehicles, fellow guests Mike and Mary Jaworski and I drove out together. After turning off of State Route 380, just east of the Blanchard Rock Shop, onto the dirt access road of the district, one commonly starts to feel a sense of isolation; there are not many people who live in these parts. Although I have done it many, many times, driving across the desolate desert valley of the Jornada del Muerto toward the western flank of the Oscura Mountains still leaves me with a sense of anticipation for the stark and desolate beauty of this place and for the beautiful and interesting minerals that occur here in abundance. As we bounced our way over washboards and the occasional arroyo, the three of us reminisced about previous trips to the district.

Dr. John Rakovan, an executive editor of Rocks & Minerals, is a professor of mineralogy and geochemistry at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

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