Rock&Gem Magazine|June 2021

Kop (Leonard) Kopcinsky was a legend in the Oregon rockhounding community. He owned the Blue Mountain Jasper Mine in SE Oregon plus the Valley View and Lucky Strike Thunderegg Mines in Central Oregon. A war injury from World War II left him with poor balance and using a cane, which didn’t slow him down a bit. I am not sure where he got his strong work ethic or stubbornness, but those attributes seem a necessary part of living a miner’s life. And I was lucky enough to meet him several times.

He moved to Mitchell, Oregon, in the early 1960s with his wife, Tessie. Already a rockhound, he soon went into mining full time. Kop discovered and filed a claim on the Blue Mountain Jasper Mine in 1967. This beautiful orbicular jasper has since become famous as one of the finest jaspers from Oregon.

The Valley View Mine that Kop owned was closed to public digging in the 1980s. It produces thundereggs with a flying saucer-shaped interior rather than the butterfly or four-pointed star interior common in thundereggs. The production here is mostly banded agate with plumes, while other patterns are rare. The finest plume ever to come out of the Valley View Mine was taken back to the nearby Lucky Strike Mine to be saved as a specimen. Nobody told Kop that an exceptional plume was in the pile of thundereggs, and he sold it to visiting rockhounds that same day. I sure hope they appreciated it!

The Lucky Strike Mine was opened in 1958, and Kop purchased it in 1963. Today, it is one of only two commercial thunderegg mines open for public digging in Oregon and the only fee digging mine with fine quality moss agate and occasional plumes.

In the early days at the mine, the cars of rockhounds had to be winched up the hill. Today, most cars can drive right into the parking area next to a cabin, where piles of thundereggs are available for those who don’t want to dig their own.

The Lucky Strike Mine’s thundereggs were discovered when a spring washed the overburden off, exposing the eggs. That spring now provides water for the cabin at the mine, but the excess water coming out of the hillside also creates mud at times. According to one story, once a Caterpillar bulldozer got stuck in a mud hole, and it took four trucks to extract it. Another time, a backhoe sunk, and it took a month of digging to get it out.


Those aren’t the only stories affiliated with the Lucky Strike Mine. At one time, Kop was in a prolonged legal battle with the Forest Service over the Valley View and Lucky Strike mines. The Forest Service thought that he was mining beyond the scope of his original plan of operations for the claims. It was also believed that he didn’t need a cabin at the Valley View when he had a better cabin nearby at the Lucky Strike, and in addition, it was thought an endangered Canadian Lynx might be further endangered by the mine, even though there were no reports of a Canadian Lynx seen in that part of the forest.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine


When I Did Time, I Was Legally, Officially-Enslaved

Oregon and 19 other states still use language from the 13th Amendment to govern working conditions for inmates some of whom still pick actual cotton. The rules are changing, but not without resistance.

7 mins read
April - May 2022


SEX-STARVED Drew Barrymore has been getting freaky between the sheets — by fantasizing about her exes!

1 min read
National Enquirer
March 28, 2022


How the lauded Times columnist lost the race for governor of Oregon before it even began.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
April 11-24, 2022

Hanging Pretty

Design and create baskets brimming with gorgeous blooms and foliage.

2 mins read
Birds & Blooms
April/May 2022


Schoolchildren in California, Oregon and Washington will no longer be required to wear masks as part of new indoor mask policies the Democratic governors of all three states announced jointly this week.

2 mins read
March 04, 2022

The Karoo's Prince Charming

"Prince Albert takes the Karoo’s open spaces, stars, and silent nights, and sprinkles it with old-fashioned cinema houses, jaunty vintage stores, and art. Where else will you find a dairy and a gin bar in the same street?"

10+ mins read
go! - South Africa
February/March 2022

Up Rooted

Forests have always migrated to survive. But now they need our help to outrun climate catastrophe.

10+ mins read
Mother Jones
November/December 2021

Simple Craftsman Roots Revived

A “clean but sterile” 1914 kitchen is treated to bungalow-era design.

2 mins read
Old House Journal
November - December 2021

In Harmony

It’s tempting to call paintings by Ron Hicks “enigmatic.” The word comes from the Greek ainissesthai, which means “to speak in riddles.” That doesn’t work. Nor does “mysterious.”

2 mins read
American Art Collector
August 2021

Who Comes Next?

The race to succeed Germany’s Angela Merkel pits caution against boldness

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
August 23, 2021