The Nipple Mountain Splitstone showing is located on Nipple Mountain 35 kilometres southeast of Kelowna.
The area was first mapped in detail by Reinecke (1915) and visited by the author in September, 1996. The Beaverdell camp is centred on a number of silver, gold and copper prospects discovered in 1897 and a few rich veins of silver-lead ore mined from 1913 to 1991. In 1995, Don Sandberg of Kelowna discovered splitstone resources in the Tertiary rocks.
Flagstone and splitstone (ashlar) products are a significant part of the dimension stone industry. Annually, 500 to 1000 tonnes of flagstone are produced and sold througout Western Canada. In the Kootenay area, the Hamill micaeous quartzite (Cambrian) is quarried for flagstone on Porcupine Creek, 17.5 kilometres northeast of Salmo. The quartzite is sold locally and used in building facings and for various other decorative and architectural purposes. The term 'splitstone', as used in this report, is a more general term that includes metasedimentary and volcanic rocks that manifest a platy habit resulting from primary or secondary structures such as bedding, flow banding or cleavage. Unlike the Hamill quartzite, the characteristic banding and fabric of the Nipple Mountain volcanic rocks is non-sedimentary in origin. The volcanic splitstone has the advantage of being lightweight and less dense than the quartzite because of amygdules. However, quartzite flagstone has the beneficial feature of greater strength because of recrystallization due to metamorphism.
Splitstone is obtained from outcrops on the Glory claims 1500 metres east of the Dale Creek road on the west slope of Nipple Mountain.
At this locality, broadly jointed dacite is exposed in a 150 metre long, northerly-trending logging road cut. The dacite is flow banded, dips gently to the west, and is intersected by two sets of widely divergent, steeply dipping cross joints. The dacite (part of Reinecke's Nipple Mountain Series) is part of the Eocene Penticton Group and is believed to be equivalent to the Kettle River Formation.
Blocks of dacite up to 0.5 metre across can be readily levered from the cut face, rotated, then split with a mason's chisel into manageable slabs 3 to 5 centimetres thick. The most ready splits occur on clay partings and planar concentrations of gas cavities. Surfaces of the slabs range from regular, finely rippled and flat to grooved with gas cavities, sometimes hackly and somewhat undular. Surface colour ranges from pale mauve to buff and, less commonly, light rust with minor manganese oxide stain.
Several truck loads of this splitstone have been shipped to Kelowna by Don Sandberg for personal use and test marketing with building supply stores. The current use is for garden walkways and patio construction. The advantage of the product is durability, pleasant pastel colours, good surface traction for outdoor use, the almost unlimited resource of the rock on Nipple Mountain and nearness of major population centres in the Okanagan Valley.
Kettle Valley Stone Company produces Mountain Ash from the area. Most of the product is being sold in the Pacific Northwest, but some is being used for two large buildings in Whistler.