The Day The Travel Channel Came To Tonopah
The Train of cars going to the mine.
Donna Otteson (turquoise shirt) chatting with Kirsten (red) Bette (floral
shirt) and Stacy (grey shirt).
Otteson's and the film crew.
Danny Otteson (far left in hard hat), Kirsten Gum (red tank top and
hard hat), Dillon Hartman (yellow hard hat) and the film crew.
Kirsten and her rock!
Some of the Rough Stuff we got that day (Pretty nice web huh :-)) !
Of The (Turquoise) Stone
By Bette Fuchsell
has been known to industry insiders for years, for the quality of its
stones, the knowledge and ability of the family members, and their honest
dealings, but the public at large has not been familiar with the Ottesons
or their mining operations. Thanks to a show just filmed for the Travel
Channel, that should change in the near future. The show being filmed
is a segment of the Cash and Treasures show, produced by San Francisco
based Indigo Films for the Travel Channel.
Supervising Producer, Chris Eyre, as each season's shows are planned,
ideas about subjects are discussed, and then researched before a topic
or site for filming is chosen.
turquoise they came across information on The Internet (Durangosilver.com)
about Tonopah, the Otteson's, and their Royston Mine. John Hartman,
a jewelry shop owner and silversmith from Durango, Colorado said the
film company saw information about turquoise and the Royston Mine on
his son Dillon's website; turquoise-museum.com.
Indigo Films then contacted John Hartman, and he "set the whole
thing up." The whole thing in this case meant filming the Ottesons
at home, at their shop, and particularly at the Royston Mine where they
conduct their turquoise digging tours.
From start to
finish each segment of the show takes the company about a week to complete,
including travel time. Approximately 15 hours of film was shot at the
their shop, and their ranch in the Lower Smokey Valley. More footage
will be shot in Scottsdale, Arizona where a stone found in the Royston
commercial pit by show host Kirsten Gum will be taken for appraisal,
polishing, and setting. This will be edited down to about 20 minutes
of actual air time after a period of several months of cutting and reworking
by the production company and the Travel Channel.
Stacy Waters and her crew of four came to Tonopah on a Saturday night
arriving at the Ottesons' Main Street store at 8:00am the next morning.
The Royston Mine is on a mountain with a view for miles of the surrounding
desert landscape. They began shooting panoramic views from the top of
the mountain as an introduction to this segment of the show. As the
crew came down from the mountain to begin shooting a segment showing
Dean Otteson using a backhoe to move mine tailings, show host Kirsten
Gum said, "I want to do that!" Dean showed her how to use
the backhoe- and she did it! This segment was filmed as possible scene
for the show.
For the next
segment all but a few people were sent to a safe distance. Dean Otteson
is licensed to use explosives as part of the turquoise mining process.
The company wanted to film a blast. Holes for setting the explosives
had been pre/drilled in the commercial pit to save time during the shooting.
There were three blasts in all, designed to crack , rather than shatter
the hard host rock. Kirsten, after a little direction, lit the first
fuse. Eight minutes later there was a small "thud" sound,
but nothing much to see from the waiting area downhill. The second and
third blasts were much more noticeable creating dust clouds rising from
the pit. One onlooker claimed he saw part of the mountain rise up a
few feet, then drop back.
After a little
rock clearing it was time for the good part - looking for turquoise.
Kirsten was working in the commercial pit with Dean Otteson, Danny Otteson,
and Dillon Hartman when she picked up a turquoise stone about the size
of a large matchbox and said, "I've never seen anything that's
such a fluorescent blue-green!" She put it in her back pocket instead
of the bucket provided and kept it there only taking it out when others
asked to see it. That stone will be the one taken to Gene Waddell in
Scottsdale, Arizona considered to be one of the top appraisers of turquoise
in the world. After appraisal the stone will be taken to famed Navajo
silversmith, Lee Yazzie, also in Scottsdale, to be polished and set
in silver. While no official appraisal is available at this time, Donna
Otteson said the family estimates the value of the raw stone to be several
hundred dollars. A raw stone when polished and formed into a cabachon,
or rounded gem piece, is generally triple in value. When mounted in
a setting it triples again. The fact that the work is being done by
the reputable Lee Yazzie will increase the value even more. When work
on the stone is finished it will be on display at Waddell's Gallery
in Scottsdale, Arizona during the winter months. Then for the remainder
of the year the beautiful turquoise stone can be viewed at Otteson's
Turquoise in Tonopah, Nevada.
Since it is
part of the next season's series, the Travel Channel's, Cash and Treasures
show on Otteson's turquoise will not air until this September. Portions
of the show will also appear on the Travel Channel's website. Once it
does air, it will be shown internationally several times a week and
possibly 250 to 500 times during the season. Populars shows are shown
in spots on succeeding seasons, so the possible exposure is tremendous.
If the great time had by both the film crew and the diggers present
that day translates at all to the screen, this should be an extremely
popular show! Viewer's response to all of the previous shows in this
series, Cash and Treasures, has been more than gratifying-the Ottesons
were told to expect a huge response. As people experience the relaxation
and good feeling generated by a few hours of hunting for turquoise,
and they realize how easy it is to find it in the Royston Mine tailings
(it's literally all over the ground,) word will spread even further.
As the Ottesons benefit, so, potentially, will Tonopah..
We will be offering
high grade Royston Turquoise cabochons, rough material and jewelry on
this site. Durango
Silver Company will stamp "Royston Turquoise" on all jewelry
made with the Ottesons Royston Turquoise so there is no doubt of the
stones origin in the future.
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