This fairly abundant mineral is pretty easy to find along Hanover Creek. You don't need expensive tools, as the mineral can be found in cobble-sized chunks in the creek and along the road. Just take a good magnet to confirm your find. It is usually found with pyrite (fool's gold) and serpentine, a green to yellow, waxy looking mineral that can be scratched pretty easily and used for carving fetishes and other figures.
Magnetite and many of the other minerals in the area formed as a result of intrusions of molten rock. More specifically, they occur in a skarn deposit, an area where the molten rock came into contact with existing rocks and altered or metamorphosed them. As previously stated, most of the magnetite is pretty massive, but fine crystal forms were found in the Republic Mine in the district. These crystals usually occur as octahedrons and look like two black pyramids attached at their bases.
According to my rockhounding books, magnetite derives it's name from Magnesia, an ancient district bordering on Macedonia. One of the earliest accounts regarding magnetite in the area was made by James O. Pattie, a trapper in the early to mid-1800's. Discussing the working mine at Santa Rita, Pattie stated, "Within the circumference of three miles there is a mine of copper, gold, and silver beside a cliff of lodestone."
Later, magnetite was mined as an iron ore. In the past 10 years, magnetite tailings at the Cobre Mine were, at first, considered a nuisance, then a relatively valuable commodity when China started buying iron ore to meet it's infrastructure needs.
Just about every month, somebody brings us a piece of magnetite, thinking the've found a meteorite. It's understandable; they have similar characteristics. Most folks are good sports when we break the news that they haven't found anything from outer space. Some, however, have given us skeptical looks, and remain unconvinced. In one case, I asked a fellow whether he had collected the piece in the Hanover/Fierro area. His response was affirmative, followed by something like, "I know the area is loaded with magnetite, but how do you know that a meteorite didn't also impact the same area and I have a piece of it right here?" Trying to explain that there isn't any geologic evidence supporting a meteorite impact fell on deaf ears!
On another occasion, a gentleman came into the store cradling a huge piece of magnetite, which I almost dropped through the glass in our display cabinet as he handed it to me to examine. When I told him he had magnetite, he said, incredulously, "Guess again!" I asked if he collected it in the Hanover/Fierro area? "That's confidential!", he replied. Backing off, I asked him what he thought it was. "Platinum", he replied. Trying another tactic, I asked him if he had it assayed? "Are you kidding, that's a museum piece!", he exclaimed.
So, if you are looking for something to do with the kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews that might amaze them this weekend, grab your magnet and go prospecting. Tell them that your magnetic personality attracts all sorts of things, including rocks!