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Above the town of Wrightwood, California, is the large scrap of Heath Canyon.

Believe it or not, the slide, which was caused by decades of debris being push
downhill by snow melt, rain and a little now-and-then nudge by earthquake
movement, became the favorite spot for gutsy skiers (my favorite kind) to shush
down. It was the mud slide of May, 1941, that pushed down tons of gray concrete-
like mud and debris down on top of Wrightwood via the Heath Canyon drainage.

Thirty inch diameter trees and boulders as big as a house were pushed by the waves
of mud. The mud moved slowly, but like the flow of lava, it uprooted and tore
everything it pushed against. The sound in the mountains was not the sound of
music. It was the loud snapping and popping of trees and brush being torn from the
ground. It was the roar of the grinding of rock and boulders as they tumbled down
the mountain. The cold night temperatures froze the flow...but, as the
temperatures climbed, the flow thawed. And the wet mud began moving again.

Wrightwood realtor and historian G. S. Corpe wrote about the closing of the first
day, "The stream would quiet late at night when the snow and water froze; then
after a hour or so of warm sunshine in the morning-here it would come again! This
natural routine repeated itself from May 8th and into the last week of May.
Everyone wondered what was going to happen next...or where the avalanche would go
next." To make things worse, off- and- on again rain showers impacted the
avalanche's flow.

The 1941 mudslide covered much of Wrightwood, but the town's residents worked
together to prevent widespread damage. All the flooding revealed some neat looking
stuff. It was large amounts of green crystal rock called Actinolite. Before, the
interesting rock was found now and then...after the mudslide, it didn't take much
to find it.

For years it was thought that Actinolite was only featured here. Sorry, it's not
true. Places like Canada, Finland, Japan, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Hungry,
Sweden, the Ukraine, Poland, Russia, India, Portugal and China and Namiba, have
the same type of Actinolite that Wrightwood does. In the United States it's also
found in parts of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Utah.

Green, green black, gray green and black in color, the stone ranged from
translucent to transparent, its crystals are literally made up of flexible fibers.
Even half buried in mountain dirt, it is not hard to find. Actinolite is a
calcium-magnesium iron amphibole, whose green color easily captures the eyes. A
neat little keepsake, actinolite just might cure you if you happen to trip over it
before you find it. The actinolite based Indigo Quartz in Brazil is said to carry
powerful healing properties.

When I was a child, a friend of mine once threw a piece of actinolite at my


noggin. It dented my head, but did not heal it. Perhaps it didn't have enough
Indigo Quartz in it to make it work. I threw it back, which didn't make my friend
happy, either. So, I can't testify to its healing properties. As for unhealthy
properties...some forms of asbestos are formed from fibrous actinolite. These
fibers are so small that they can enter the lungs and damage the alveoli.

The word Actinolite is from the Greek, aktinos, meaning "ray," in allusion to its
often radial-fibrous nature. Actinolite is commonly found in metamorphic rocks,
such as contact aureoles surrounding cooled intrusive igneous rocks. It is also a
product of metamorphism of magnesium-rich limestone. Limestone is prevalent in the
area, mostly in Wild Horse Canyon, Lone Pine Canyon and of course Cajon Pass.

What are metamorphic rocks? Basically, these rocks were once igneous or
sedimentary rock that have, over many decades, been changed by tremendous heat and
pressure. Sediments sunk deep into the earth and met the pressure that was built
up by the earth's magma. They then "morphed" into another kind of rock.
Metamorphic rocks include quartzite- dense, hard rocks, generally uniform in
texture, composed of fused quartz sand grains. a common metamorphic mineral is
quartz. It’s the last mineral to crystallize from a magma. It grows to fill the
spaces remaining between the other crystals and in rocks typically shows no
crystal shape. From metamorphic rock comes the Actinolite, a special metamorphic
mineral. No matter if it has powerful healing properties or not, it's pretty to
look at.

Where can Actinolite be found in our area? An article in a 1965 Trailways was
written by Mark Frances Berkholtz, in the publication was printed a reliable map
of some of Actinolite's locations.

Wrightwood is a small mountain, 6200 feet above sea level, overlooking the famous
Mojave desert. Next door is the "doorway to the southwest", the Spanish Trail that
runs through Cajon Pass. The small community is easy to find from Hwy 15,
westbound Hwy 138 and then onto Cal State Highway 2. Many of the main washes in
the area contained the marvelous green rock; A road called Lone Pine Cyn, which
travels south from Hwy 2 and dead-ends against a flood control channel, is where
this rock, and other rock brought to the surface by earthquake action from the San
Andreas Fault, can be found. Traveling six miles further west is Big Pines...a Los
Angeles County park that was opened in 1924, it is now the local ski area. At Big
Pines, go south on Hwy 2 towards L.A for about four miles and to a dirt road that
travels east along the crest of Blue Ridge Mountain. Dropping off the north is the
mudslide that nearly covered three quarters of the town over sixty eight years
ago. It is here that the Actinolite is in abundance. But, like in this mountainous
area of the San Gabriel Mts., and the desert floor of the Mojave far below, true
joy is getting out of your car and actually exploring one of the finest piece of
landscape that the Almighty put on this earth.

Terry Graham
Wrightwood, Ca