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How it's done at the Cherokee Mine
Upon arriving at the mine, park temporarily outside our mine shack pictured at left. Here's where you will pay your entrance fee, learn the appearances of our gems, and collect the supplies you'll need to search for our gems. Each miner is provided with a screen box and a seat cushion to use at our flume line. For a modest daily rental fee of $2.00, shade umbrellas are available to afford you some protection from the sun. Snacks, sodas, and bottled water are also available for purchase at our mine shack.
Each miner is shown samples of our gemstones as they appear “in the rough” and provided with tips on how to identify the gemstones they might be lucky enough to find. Miners are then free to park their cars down by the flume line and get started looking for gems.

To search for gemstones miners dig their own gemstone dirt, or select 2 gallon buckets of gem ore from our staging and seating area. Miners then proceed to the flume line, where they rest their screen boxes across the flume so that they can fill it with dirt from their selected buckets. Filling their screen box with about 1/4 of the gem ore from their buckets, miners then place their screens into the clear, cold creek water flowing through our flume line or 'sluice', and hand wash the gravel against the bottom of the screen box until all of the loose dirt has been removed, and the gem gravel is "clean".
Washing your gravel as cleanly as possible very often makes the difference between finding a gem, and coming home empty-handed. Gemstones - even in the rough - look different from the neighboring gravels, and a thorough washing often makes their color & unique luster "pop out" in the screenbox.
Once satisfied that their gravel is thoroughly clean, miners then rest their screens back across the flume line so they can sort through the gravel, looking for the telltale signs of a gemstone. Helpful attendants are always available to assist you at the Cherokee Mine, so inexperienced miners shouldn't feel like they'll be left to fend for themselves. Even if our attendants are busy helping other guests, our more experienced miners are usually very happy to help our guests identify stones they may question as gemstones. Check out our Cherokee Ruby Mine MySpace and Facebook instructional videos on the web for additional information.
If you are just interested in finding something neat, I would recommend one of the salted places. It takes less time and you'll find something, but won't be worth much. True rockhounds go to places like Cherokee to find only native gems and minerals.  Mark L - Herndon, VA
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In addition to offering buckets of mine gravel, you can also now “DIG YOUR OWN” buckets!