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Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Museum

123 West Alvarado Street, Fallbrook, CA 92028

The Empress Dowager of China, Tz'u-hsi, glowered at her courtiers. "Go to Fallbrook!" she commanded. "And don't come back without my pink tourmaline!" Really. Something like that. This was back in the 1880s. She wanted the rare rock in her favorite hue -- pink -- for palace and personal adornments and for her funerary pillow. Word had reached Peking that the only place in the known world producing the shade of tourmaline she wanted was San Diego County, according to Robert Hughes. (Hughes worked till recently for the Fallbrook-based Pala International, which still extracts tourmalines, garnets, and quartz from mines around the Pala Reservation.) So while Tz'u-hsi paced in Peking, a delegation of her emissaries traveled to the Fallbrook area's Himalaya Mine and purchased almost a ton of its uniquely pink rock. "She had the rock carved into goddesses, dragons, all sorts of beautiful creations," Hughes says. And some came back. "You can actually see some of the Fallbrook tourmaline she had carved. It's sitting in the Fallbrook Mineral Museum." -- Bill Manson

Additional Info

Hours

Thursday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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