Quartz Crystals: All throughout Lake County, Quartz crystals lay on the ground. They were the first beautifully varicolored nuggets of glass this author found lying on the ground between the cow-pies in his back pasture fifty years ago. Amethyst, rose, smoky, milk, chalcedony, carnelian, agate, onyx, jasper, and bloodstone; they are found wherever exploding volcanic debris fell to earth.

Mica: A part of granite, it’s as easy to spot as flyspecks on a tablecloth. It appears as black specks in the stone.

Serpentine: Its olive color is all through the county, from Middletown to Guenoc. It comes from lava and quickly breaks down into good soil.

Granite: None of that in Lake County… not unless you dig down hundreds of feet. Lake County floats on tectonic plates. The bedrock of the continent is buried deep.

Basalt: Basalt is what planet earth was made of before everything else got layered on top of the bones of earth. The millennial heaving of the land under Lake County has thrown up basalt from the nether regions. It is the greenish-black rock you will see often, great for paving streets and for macadamizing roads. Sad to say, at the writing of this report in 1881, no one thought of using basalt for any worthwhile purpose. As one critic of the time complained, ‘The worst roads in Lake County are over unused beds of basalt.’

At present, the county’s roads are in pretty good shape. The road builders use the basalt. So did the Native Americans. They used basalt to make their grinding mills and other tools.

Obsidian: This was a favorite of the Native American hunter. The spear and arrow heads they made were traded to other tribes hundreds of miles from Lake County. Obsidian rocks came from the volcanic explosions of a million years ago. The black, glass-like, chip-able stone was used for their arrow and spear heads. Most of the obsidian lies southwest of Konocti and on the road from Glenbrook to Kelseyville. Obsidian is much like glass and melts at a low temperature of about a thousand degrees.  When it’s gone there won’t be more until the next time Konocti erupts.

Lava: What can I say about lava? Lake County is plenty rich in that commodity. Konocti’s gift from the heaving of the tectonic plates three million years ago has given Lake County all the lava we can ever use or need.

Sandstone and Shale: Hangs out of the way just twenty or thirty feet below the surface. Like a weather vane, sandstone and shale are indications there’s water somewhere nearby.  That’s the news a farmer likes to hear from the Well Driller.

Springs (Sulfur, Soda, and Lime): Those three minerals saturate the Springs of Lake County. The springs are thicker than fleas. An 1881 History of Lake County records the marvel of the Lake County Springs in prose worthy of a Shakespeare. A writer tells:

‘Their beauty and usefulness would inspire the pen of a poet. They flow in springs of the thousands; each from a few gallons an hour to barrels a day. A short distance north of what used to be the Toll House on Cobb Mountain is the Howitzer Spring. Winter, summer, drought or rain; nothing changes its immense flow. It is a spring with the greatest of all flows. Where does it come from? No one knows. Perhaps the far-off Sierras… or the underground lake beneath Mt. Konocti.’

The Steam Geysers: Sometime in Lake County’s past, perhaps a million years ago, magma exploded beneath Lake County with such violence it fractured the earth’s crust. The lava broke through. That stupendous crack in the planet allowed surface water to fill the layers of sandstone and created, several miles down, a giant reservoir of boiling water and steam. Pressure, with such great force it pushed its way through the rock to the surface, was the genesis of Lake County’s many thermal springs.

The incredible heat that makes the steam below our feet, created something even more amazing. Five miles straight down, next door to the biblical ‘Hot Place’, is a large magma chamber filled with liquid rock; white-hot lava. That rock bubble is eight miles in diameter; twice as large as Bachelor Valley.

Next Episode: Rustlers of the Old West. Lake County had those too.

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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