Precious opal was first discovered in Virgin Valley, Nevada in 1905. That same year the Bonanza mine was first worked. The Bonanza group of mines was originally located by Matheson and Dow, and location certificates were filed on the Bonanza in 1908.
In 1910, Flora Lockheed (who's two sons founded Lockheed aircraft) was assigned to cover a news story for the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the discovery of precious opals in Virgin Valley, Nevada. According to Gem and Mineral Magazine, "She not only found the task to her liking, but filed mining claims and for years afterwards, she was regarded as the most celebrated opal miner of that region."
Undaunted by the extremes of climate, isolation, and primitive accommodations, Mrs. Lockheed thrived.
Mrs. Lockheed convinced a wealthy woman from Santa Barbara named Mrs. Hammond - the owner of the Rainbow Mine - to finance her in the mining and the managing of the mine. Even in her eighties, Mrs. Lockheed mined all over the valley and left old newspapers in the mines she worked. That was her "calling card." These newspapers were later found by present owners in the tunnels that she had dug.
An incredibly spunky lady, Australians called her the "Opal Queen," a name still used to describe her today. Always to be remembered as the woman who took on a man's job and helped make Virgin Valley what it is today, Flora Lockheed passed away in 1948.
In 1954, Glenn and Bea, and Keith and Agnes Hodson purchased the Bonanza Opal Mine from Mrs. Lockheed's grandson and Mr. Mark Foster. One warm morning in 1973, Keith Hodson was scraping the surface of the Bonanza mine in preparation for some fee-digging customers due that day, when the blade flipped up what he originally thought was an empty beer bottle. Climbing down from the bulldozer, he was surprised to find that the "bottle" was actually an opal weighing more than six pounds! Officially named The Bonanza Opal, it was filled with brilliant flashes of fire.
The Hodson family obtained a patent for the Bonanza Opal Mine in 1980, and sold the mine in 1988. It was purchased by Lloyd Olds and Dick Leger in June of 1988 and became a corporation in July of 1992. The mine is now owned by the holders of 100 shares of Bonanza Opal Mines, Inc.