Kettle Falls Bridge – March 2022

Kettle Falls Bridge

We went back to a spot that we visited last year around this time. The spot is under the bridge over the Columbia River outside of Kettle Falls. The claim is that there are blue beryl crystals in pegmatite here.

Lanny Ream’s “Gems and Minerals of Washington” describes: [the crystals] occur in a sill about 10 feet above normal water level. Presently this sill covered by the water of Lake Roosevelt. At unusual times of extremely low water, access to this pegmatite is possible.’

The day we visited Lake Roosevelt we noted that the water was as low as or lower than we’ve ever seen it, so we figured if there was a time to be able to access the pegmatite, this was it. After checking the Bureau of Reclamation’s data on Lake Roosevelt’s water levels it seems our timing was good as the water was at 1256′, the lowest it’s been in since May 2020.

Despite the low water levels, we failed to find neither pegmatite nor blue beryl crystals. Perhaps this was not an ‘unusual time of extremely low water’. However, looking into the water the rocks showed no sign of changing so we are pretty confident that we got a good, thorough look at all the rock in the area.

What we did find was a couple of pieces of granite pegmatite with very small black tourmaline. Since most of the other rock in the area wasn’t granite it seems likely that the few pieces that we saw were brought in from another area. Most of the rock was marine metasedimentary rock, not where one would find beryl.

Although we found nothing and likely there is nothing to find, we would probably go back if the water significantly drops more. It’s interesting to see the low water level and be able to look at what the riverbed looks like.

Note that this area is part of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and collecting rocks is not allowed.