Happy Birthday to an old Friend: George Ashley, gone but not forgotten
Today is the birthday of an old friend who was one of the main influences in my early years and my becoming a gem prospector/miner: George Ashley, of Pala, California. George lived at the base of Hiriart Mountain and at one time owned most of the mines on Hiriart Mountain. He mined the Katerina, Vanderberg and Hiriart Mines with notable success. His most famous discovery was made in 1951 at the Vanderberg Mine. This was a pocket of Kunzite spodumene- 130 pounds of the most deep amethyst-colored kunzite ever found, and still regarded as the best ever. George was also a master lapidary who made carvings in various gemstone mediums, including intricately carved chrysocolla flowers and bowls fashioned out of gem materials, some of which are on display in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and the San Diego Museum of Natural History. George would let me camp and study the pegmatites on the upper reaches of his patented claim. The most treasured piece in my mineral collection is a old pick that he had given me when I was 15 or 16 years old, which inspired me so much that I cannot even describe it in words. George passed away in 1992. He is gone but not forgotten. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GEORGE, you are missed greatly.
A photo of GEORGE ASHLEY along with one of the Kunzite crystals
from his strike at the Vanderberg Mine in 1951.
Gem bowls carved by George Ashley of Pala, California