My Mineral Rock Gardens

I often get asked about my rock gardens, what I have in them and how big they get…last fall I planted several small beds of tulips and other spring flowering bulbs in all of my rock gardens and this spring I moved rocks around by type and location where found…and photographed the results when the spring flowers started blooming. This first image shows the rock garden on the west side of my shed, containing purple fluorites from western Kentucky, some of my wavellite from southern Arkansas, and many geodes from central Kentucky and the Keokuk area as well as a few quartz clusters from southern Arkansas mines…

…and as you can see, it mainly contains yard rocks…and some lillies at the top and on the west side as well….where my propane tank sits, I have Eminence yard rocks and some hybrid tulips….

the garden on the east side of the shed contains more flowers but starts near the shed door with a bed of lillies surrounded by a variety of beautiful crystals….

and on the far side of that garden is another bed of lillies surrounded by quartz clusters….

and just a little ways away in the curve of that garden is a nook of geodes….

…and more hybrids in yet another garden….

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of what my rockgardens look like. ūüôā

Spring Fluorite Machine Dig

This year I started planning for the machine dig at the Eureka Mine in northwest Kentucky back in January. From several trips last year it was apparent that I had several friends that were interested in joining my small core group this year, contributing to the cost of the machine as well as physical labor during the dig after the machine was shut down. We have always utilized the machine for a day and then the second day, any digging needed is done physically by hand and strong muscles. I stayed in touch with Bill Frazer, who was able to arrange the trackhoe from the excavation company that we again wanted to work with. Bill also let me know about six weeks out that he and his brother had purchased more land right down the road from the Eureka Mine and this year we could also dig into the tailing piles at the MaryBelle Mine. Bill also was able to acquire a backhoe that we could use for two days, which would keep our machine costs down quite a bit, so we decided to make a donation to the museum in addition to the investment in the trackhoe.

After a few months of getting things in place we set the machine dig dates for Saturday and Sunday, March 18th and 19th, ¬†and I kept the other fifteen rockhound friends that were going to join me and my core group updated along the way, including the update that we would also visit the blue fluorite mine on Sunday morning, then return to the Eureka Mine to dig the afternoon….everyone was excited and looking forward to the trip, with some rockhounds traveling down from New York state, western North Carolina, northern Georgia, northwestern Illinois, and eastern Texas, to join us. Two of the New York state rockhounds would be instrumental on this dig due to the fact that they had both dug in the pit after we dug there last year with the machine, and they had removed quite a few nice plates of cubes during their digs.¬†

A few days out from the week of the machine dig, I received a call from Bill advising me that there were some legal issues that needed to be worked out on his end, before we could proceed with the machine dig, and it was going to take possibly the remainder of this year for him to work through those issues…so the decision was made to cancel all public and private digs for this year. ¬†I know for a few seconds at least, I was at a loss for words or thoughts even, as many of us had taken off work and invested money in equipment that we planned to use all weekend at the dig, not to mention the reservations made at area hotels. Bill told me he was advised of this all of a sudden and that it had nothing to do with our group, but was something that they needed to work through and get back to the business at hand eventually. ¬†He was very worried about us, knowing we had a large group coming to help them out, as we have done this for more than the past ten years.¬†I told Bill not to worry about it, we would stand ready to go as soon as he was able to work through it and resolve the issues, and we would figure something out for the weekend.

I immediately reached out to one of my core group rockhound buddies on Facebook to let him know what was happening, and then made a phone call to the landowner of the blue fluorite mine, to see if my group could come to his farm both days instead. I explained the situation to him, told him the group would be a bit bigger than the group I had when we visited his mine last fall. I had secured his permission a few weeks before, to come to his mine on Sunday morning, March 19th and dig for a few hours, before returning to the Eureka Mine. After a few minutes of thought, he called back and gave us the go ahead to come dig at his mine on Saturday and Sunday all day instead. I told my buddy on Facebook that we could go dig at the blue fluorite mine instead and he was just fine with that. I then sent out another update by email to let everyone know of the change in plans and the reasons for it.

By the next day, eighty percent of the group had advised me by email that they still planned to make it down for the dig. That night, the northeastern section of the US was hit with a huge snowstorm, dumping over thirty inches of snow on New York state and beyond…despite all that, three of the four New Yorkers who had planned to drive down and dig, emailed to let me know they would still be there for the weekend dig. Talk about dedication !! ¬†I told everyone to bring some rocks and minerals to swap on Saturday morning at the mine, and to bring some extras for the landowners daughter, to add to her budding collection, as we did on our prior fall trip, especially since the landowner was gracious enough to allow us back and wasnt going to charge us anything either.

I had taken a week of vacation as I usually do, giving me a few days to ready and pack the truck, so Onyx and I drove down on Thursday the 16th and stayed overnight at Marion, Illinois. I had been in contact for a few weeks before with a coal miner in the Harrisburg area, who had an old fluorite collection for sale. I visited with friends from southern Illinois Thursday evening and then drove over to his home on Friday morning to take a look at his collection and make an offer. He had some beautiful clusters of large cubes, some with barite attached to them, as well as some barite clusters, some calcite clusters, and some quartz crystals and clusters, even one smokey quartz crystals, all from mines in the Rosiclaire area, that his grandfather had left to him…his grandfather had been a miner at some of the Rosiclaire Mines about seventy five years ago. I had seen photos of some of the pieces in the collection and wanted to see them in person before making an offer. Here are some of the nicer pieces that were in the collection….

As you can see, he had some very pretty and unique pieces in his grandfathers collection, over 100 pieces, many were of the barite clusters, which I had never seen before as something coming from the fluorite mines of Southern Illinois. I have to say I was a bit skeptical that the large quartz crystals and two smaller quartz clusters came from the fluorite mines, especially the smokey quartz crystal..mainly because they resembled Arkansas quartz crystals, but he pointed out two small quartz plates, both of the type commonly sold in the spirit quartz genre, and he told me that he had purchased those somewhere because they appealed to him. It was verified to me later that day, that indeed, smokey and clear quartz crystals were found in several of the fluorite mines in the Rosiclaire area. I made an offer to him and he accepted it…while his collection was not extensive, he had to sell it due to moving to another house soon and no room for it there. I did leave him with a few key pieces with great sentimental value that tied him directly to his grandfather. After wrapping up each piece and loading them into the cab of my truck. Onyx and I headed down to see and photograph some waterfalls that I had heard about, also located in southern Illinois. ¬†Burden Falls is located in the National Forest about a twenty minute drive south of Harrisburg, just west of Hwy 145 on Burden Falls Road…if there has been heavy rain in the area and one suspects the creek feeding the falls will be flooded, one can also come in from the south on Water Tower Road, which merges to the right with Ozark Road after a few miles, and then you make a right turn on to McCormick Road/Burden Falls Road. The creek runs across the road and the first set of falls is just a few feet from the creek crossing on the north side…

…and the lower falls are even higher than the upper falls near the road…this trip I chose not to shoot the lower falls from the base though…

Onxy finally got to stretch his legs a little bit…we didnt stray down the path very far, as I wanted to get on down to Gary Griffiths place and check out the beautiful new fluorite that he had told me a few days before, that they had been hitting in some new pockets where he mines it at with his son, Walter. He also told me that he had purchased an old collection of fluorite with some ” butterscotches ” in it…those are the cubes of fluorite that came from certain mines and are a butterscotch yellow color and are quite gemmy…these butterscotches that he purchased with the collection were quite old and had been buried in the forest on the guys property…Gary dug them out and cleaned them up and said they were quite pretty.

We headed south to Elizabethtown, or E-town as its called, and on the way, ¬†came upon the Iron Furnace that my buddy, John Oostenryk, always talks about, on Big Creek…..Onyx and I stopped to check it out briefly…

…this was probably the neatest Iron Furnace location I have ever seen, mainly because someone went above and beyond installing a historical storytelling sequence of small columns around the front perimeter of the site, in color no less. We drove a few more miles south to Garys house, a few miles north of E-town and found he did indeed have alot of gorgeous fluorite for sale…this was without a doubt the prettiest fluorite I have seen for sale at his place since I started going there…

…the photo above and next few below of fluorite, include some of the ” Butterscotches ” that Gary purchased in that old collection….

…the clusters that are whitish and a lighter yellow are also butterscotches, just faded out by the sun. ¬†Gary also had some beautiful two color fluorite cube clusters that were quite pretty, some from the old collection and many from some new pockets from the mine….

…he had a lot of clusters of cubes that appeared to be stacked one on top of another that were such a deep purple they nearly appeared to look black…he also had a whole area full of the raspberry colored fluorites…this color really appeals to me when thy are lit properly…

I purchased a few pretty crystals from Gary that day…even a couple of octohedrons that he chips out himself, one was a pretty small one with a pyrite chip in it, and another one was a two color octohedron..purple and clear or white colors…some call them fluorite diamonds, and they are very popular worldwide. Gary is a good ole country boy and great to visit with and purchase from, he always has some beautiful fluorite for sale.

Onxy and I took off shortly after, crossing the Ohio River on the ferry at Cave-In-Rock, ¬†and drove over to the Clement Mineral Museum at Marion, Kentucky, where we barely caught Tina and Sherry before they left for the day. I visited with them for about 30 minutes, then we headed to the Days Inn hotel at Kuttawa…we always stay there because its a nice and clean hotel, rooms are always reasonably priced and a few doors down is the Oasis Southwest Grill, which is a great steak and seafood restaurant with great atmosphere and good food. Right before we got to the hotel, Slade Harvin texted me to let me know he had arrived from Hickory, North Carolina, as well as Dale Walker and his wife Barb from New York state, so I met up with them shortly after checking in. Fred Mahaffey was driving in from Eastern Texas but arrived soon after, and Chuck Reed had to wait til 3 pm before he was able to leave St Louis County, so we waited til 6:30 pm before we all headed over to the Oasis, joined there by David Bruce from northern Georgia, who was staying at the Relax Inn over on the north side of I-24. We had a great supper there, their menu offers a great variety of steaks, chops, seafood, and smoked bbq there, so if you go away hungry, there is definitely something wrong with ya. We all walked back to the hotel stuffed full and ready for bedtime…I let everyone know we were gonna meet on the south side of the hotel about 7 am, and then drive over to the mine to meet up with David and Janyce Sorrells, who were bringing their medium tractor with a backhoe attachment, and John Oostenryk and his friend Mary, who were staying at Harrisburg.

Despite a little fog on the way over to the ferry crossing, we made good time getting over there…I nearly struck a deer on the way there, coming around a curve in the valley to find a big doe tentatively stepping out into the roadway, but luckily for me she turned and hightailed it back the field, sailing over a barbed wire fence like it wasnt even there. We pulled up a few minutes later to the crossing as the ferry was coming back to the Kentucky side to pick us up….

…we picked up Matt, another New Yorker, in the parking lot on the other side of the Ohio River, ¬†a few minutes later and drove on over to the blue fluorite mine, where we found David and Janyce as well as John and Mary, waiting for us. While David and Janyce were unloading the tractor and did some initial preparation digging into the tailing pile, the rest of us swapped crystals from our respective areas…an hour later, the rockhounds new to this mine, started sifting thru the dirt that David had laid out on one side, so they could get an idea of what to look for….

….sometimes you will pick up chunks of ugly chert that resemble the fluorite, til you hold it up to the light and figure out you cant see thru it and know that its the ugly chert instead. It takes a little while to get used to it, and the rest of us were helping them acclimate to finding the good stuff….although I have to say, I still make mistakes and bring home the ugly chert too. I just add them to the potholes in my driveway.¬†

Left to right on the front line are Mary, Dale Walker, David Bruce, Slade standing, Chuck Reed kneeling in the overalls, Fred Mahaffey, Janyce Sorrells carrying buckets, and far right is her husband David, they brought the tractor to help us dig into the tailing piles…this pile behind the tractor is the main one….David dug into the end of it where we left off in November, and where we were finding much of the pretty fluorite on that trip. Eventually everyone began moving around to look for fluorite in other locations, below you see Slade, John, and Chuck up on the right side of the large tailing pile…

…and soon after I joined Slade down there on the face of the tailing pile where I started digging in at the same lower level where we found several nice fluorites back in November…I showed Slade where to dig to find the better ones and he was soon finding as many good ones as I was….and soon others were gathered around us and digging in as well. Doug, the landowner, stopped by to check on us several times throughout the day and see how we were coming along, we handed off several minerals and crystals to him to give to his daughter for her collection as well.

Dale and Barb wound up over on the backside of the tailing pile by the creek and after digging there a long time that day, Dale uncovered ¬†a very pretty plate of cubed fluorite crystals, giving the rest of us hope that more cubes could def be found there. ¬†We just kept digging and finding beautiful blues…..

…well we dug all afternoon til we were too tired to do anything other than drive back to the hotel to clean up and get some more good food at Oasis….so we loaded everything up and headed out…this is how the tailing pile looked after digging all day Saturday….

….and as we approached the ferry crossing at Cave-In-Rock, I noticed the setting sun on the ¬†Ohio River, turning the water to a shimmering bright yellow color….so I set the parking brake, grabbed my camera and walked down to the waters edge to shoot some images…

 

 

While I was down there shooting, Chuck took a photo of me shooting the sunset….

The ferry came in to unload and then load us all up for the trip back over to the Kentucky side….

…and once we were on the ferry, I kept on shooting that beautiful sunset…a first for me, shooting a sunset from a ferry, even shot some video of it….first one is looking upstream on the Ohio River….

We had another great evening at the Oasis, more good food…it seems David Bruce decided to try the marinated chops that I have been having their for years and he found out why I like them so much. The plan the next morning was to drive over to Gary Griffiths house and do some shopping first, then go back to the blue fluorite mine…at breakfast we were joined by Mark Bishop, who had driven up from northern Georgia early that morning. We all loaded up and headed out at 7 am once again, this time seeing deer once again on Hwy 91, but this time no close calls. We arrived to find the ferry making its way across the river to get us….

…and then drove on over to Gary`s place at E-town…his son Walter and his Dad were there as well and we had a great time talking to them….I purchased some more fluorite, another couple of flats, including a ” butterscotch ” plate…it has some holes in a couple of the cubes, with jagged edges…some of us thought that maybe they were from acid of some type with rain possibly washing out the acid and stopping the process of eating thru the fluorite. After an hour or so there, we all headed over to the mine and began digging once again.

It was a bit crisper temps this morning than Saturday morning, so many of us stayed bundled up a little longer, but we again had a great time digging for beautiful crystals. Some of us wandered up the hillside in search of other areas to dig into and David followed us with the tractor and dug into a few areas for us. However, we didnt find anything of any quality like we had been finding below, so we returned to the big pile and resumed our digging there. Above and below, you see Mark Bishop in the yellow rain pants, David Bruce in the blue pullover and white pants, and John Oostenryk in the bright blue pullover and blue jeans with a woolly hat on. 

Doug came by and suggested that we check out the creekbank along the field so after David and I started finding some nice blue crystals along that bank, a few of us dug in and started pulling several pretties out of the dirt. Fred joined us and within moments pulled out a huge pretty yellow crystal…I am hoping he will take a photo of it and send to me, when he held it up to the light it just glowed with a very pleasing luminescence !! Chuck had to head home that morning to get ready for a father – daughter dance, and Mark headed home that afternoon with a bucket or two full of blue fluorite. We stopped digging a little earlier on Sunday afternoon, tired and a bit sore yet from all the digging we did on Saturday, but we all left very happy with what we had found. David did a great job of widening the roadway we had created with the fluorite free tailings at the foot of the pile, as you can see here….

Most of us were driving home early on Monday morning, so after cleaning up, we headed back to the hotel to clean up and have yet another great supper at Oasis. I believe I was the last one out of the hotel Monday morning, other than Dale and his wife, who were staying in the area for a few days as part of their vacation. David sent me a FB message a few days later, letting me know that he found some nice crystals while washing off his tractor tires….

…and here is one of the pretty ones I found after I washed it off with soap and water only….

As to the situation at the Eureka Mine in Kentucky, I can only hope that they are able to resolve the legal issues soon and get things back on track…the Eureka Mine and the folks at the Clement Mineral Museum have been a bright spot in the lives of many rockhounds across the USA and around the world for many years, they provide a great service and location to go and dig for crystals in a time when its becoming increasingly difficult to find such places to go to. As I told Bill Frazer, we stand ready to return to help at any time.¬†

 

 

 

 

 

 

Annual Clement Mineral Museum`s 2016 Show and Dig

Every year when I get the chance at work to select my dates for vacation time through out the year ahead, I always look at the first weekend in June…and take it as vacation if I am slated to work it…because that is the weekend of the Clement Mineral Museum`s Annual Mineral Show and Dig, and I always travel down to host the Eureka Mine and free up the Museum Staff for other details. There are a group of people down there that I truly care about and they have a cause for rockhounds that I truly care about as well…the provide a place for rockhounds to go and dig for pretty crystals for one thing. They also have an outstanding Museum there that is truly worth visiting and admiring the gorgeous minerals and crystals inside, and for anyone that is into blacklight minerals and crystals, they have a room completely designed with you in mind as well. In years past, I have also taken them buckets of grab bag material, and although I had some still on hand, after giving ten buckets of material to MAGS back in April, they received some donations from some good friends of mine and were not in need of any this time around, leaving me room in the bed of my truck to take some Missouri minerals, Arkansas crystals, and purple fluorite to give away to anyone that struck out digging up some pretties that weekend. I also took some crystals down for their silent auction and took a few pieces of wavellite to give to some good friends of mine who I knew would be there.

Onyx and I drove down ¬†on Friday morning, with the intention of meeting a good friend in southern Illinois and doing some hiking at one of the pretty spots along the way. ¬†We met up with Mark about 2:30 pm and had a great hike at one of the scenic areas in that area, called RimRock Trail…..century old knarly cedar trees growing out of huge rocks, a very long staircase that descends to the bottom of rocks that are larger than houses, and in the valley below is a beautiful creek with bluffs lined with huge ferns….and a beautiful tunnel created by the huge rocks at the bottom of the stairs as well….

Stairs to PassagewaysFoot of the EscarpmentNarrow Passage Betw BouldersShaded Steps Passageway 2Creek and Ferns

 

…..even tho it was humid as could be and we were drenched by the time we returned to the parking lot 90 min later. Mark had the rest of the day off and decided to travel on down to the steakhouse and have supper with me, so we drove down to Cave-In-Rock and crossed the muddy Ohio River on the ferry and then drove ten miles to the Museum in Marion, Kentucky. We found several of the staff there making final preparations for the weekend working inside…Tina who is in charge of the show and manages the Museum daily, her husband Brad, Sherry who assists Tina with the Museum through the week, as well as David and Janyce Sorrell who serve on the board there and live nearby in Paducah. After visiting with them for a few minutes, Mark and I headed on down to the Days Inn at Kuttawa, where I always stay when down there, so I could get checked in before supper…I had also been in contact with Matthew and Carolyn Lybanon of MAGS, who were going to be there that weekend and let them know what time I would get there so we could go to supper together at the nearby Oasis Southwest Grill…one of the best steakhouses in the country as far as I`m concerned. We arrived at the hotel about 30 min later and freshened up and then as we walked out to walk over to the Oasis, it was threatening to rain, so Matthew loaded us up in his car and drove us over instead. Matthew is the ¬†newsletter editor of MAGS, the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society Club that I have been a member of for several years, and Carolyn is the Hospitality Director for the club as well, both are very nice and good friends as well, we often keep in contact by email and they have gone rockhunting with me in Missouri as well. We had a great visit and supper at the Oasis that evening, and afterwards, Mark and I walked back to the hotel as by then it had stopped raining. Mark headed back to the Carbondale area while I checked my email and walked Onyx before retiring to bed.

Onyx and I were awake by 7 am Saturday morning and after a walk around the hotel, then a good breakfast in the breakfast bar there, we headed toward the Eureka Mine. We arrived 30 min later…I unlocked and opened the gate and then drove on down to the mine to look things over…for many years past, I have always been joined by a good group of rockhound friends there each spring where we rent a trackhoe and operator, and dig out the pit in search of good material and to open up the pit to enable rockhounds that come there thru out the year afterwards, have a much easier time of finding some good crystals to take home with them. In the past few years, the new pit we have been digging had been headed toward the logging road that runs along the mine, this year we actually tied into the road with the pit and had to block it off with large rocks that were pulled from the ground and a berm on the other side of the open pit. Here is what the old pit looks like now, we filled it in at the request of the Museum staff last year, it is tied to the new pit only by a drainage way now…

06 Old Pit Area

Tina and David told me the day before that a private collector from New York state had been there a few weeks prior for a private dig, digging into the spot where my group had stopped with the trackhoe back in April. He dug by hand shovel and apparently found a nice vein there, which resulted in some nice cubes and plates, but also left some great stuff behind for others. Here is how the pit looked when we arrived….

01 Eureka Mine Saturday Morning

…and you can see a small pile in the foreground of the photo above next to my logo, and then there is a huge pile of material dug out and left behind at the other end of the pit….that`s more of the material that he left behind…..

04 Eureka Mine Saturday Morning

I put my boots on cause it was a little soft in places and wet in the pit below, and took my camera with me for a walk around to look for material, so I would have an idea of where to direct diggers to, depending on if they wanted the hard rock mining or easy surface collecting or combing thru the tailings with a handrake…we get all types of diggers showing up shortly after 9 am each day there during the annual show. After walking up on the huge tailing pile first, I was encouraged by what I found on the surface and cubes sticking out just a bit to tease and tantalize, so I knew that folks should be able to find some nice stuff there if they were using just a hand rake or surface collecting on that pile and the piles to the right side of the roadway above the pit. I then climbed down to see how soft the floor of the pit was…there was a small water hole down there but it was mainly just a bit soft mud due to all the rain they had received the day before. Then I walked up toward the end of the pit to check out the material the private collector left behind, and saw some beautiful cubes up there starting about the middle of the pit….

07 Eureka Freshest Tailing Pile

…and the farther up the pit I walked, the better it got…I know some folks were going to be real excited when they arrived and seen all of it sitting there waiting to go home with someone…

08 Eureka Freshest Tailing Pile

…including this beauty just laying there waiting to be selected, wrapped up, and taken home by some lucky collector….

10 Fluorite Crystals On Chunk

11 Fluorite Crystals On Chunk

This photo below shows the end of the pit where we stopped digging in April with the trackhoe and the private collector dug into and tapped into a vein….

05 Eureka Mine Saturday Morning

…I walked back toward the truck to get my crystals and minerals set up on the tail gate of my truck and almost stepped on this guy who was on his way down the small hill toward the watering hole in the pit….

13 Box Turtle

…and soon after, the first two diggers showed up, a wrecking crew of young men from Evansville, Indiana, who immediately headed to the end of the pit with the intent of finding some more nice cubes evidently…..

15 First 2 Diggers Are From Evansville18 These Two Guys Dug All Day

…and let me tell you, these two guys didn`t even stop for lunch…..brought their own water with them and all their tools too. Mary from Ohio was the next digger, she is a regular like me there…and just like that morning, always arrives early on no matter what….here she is on the right trying to help another digger new to the scene on what to look for in the pit…

20 Mary Moving Around Pit

Many people see others in the pit and automatically think that is the place to be to find some good stuff…they do not realize that in most cases, whether it be a fluorite mine or quartz mine, that that is where the hard rock mining takes place to get to the good stuff and then one has to work even harder and longer to get that good stuff out. In this case, this particular weekend, they were lucky and found some nice stuff laying around on the floor of the pit, having been left behind by that private collector, but it is normally not that way at all. Some folks found that out that weekend, when the good stuff ran out and they wanted to get down to the vein to find some pockets and possibly some plates or single cubes…I was able to explain to most of them that while it is possible to dig down to that vein, you have to be prepared to put some major effort into it, as that vein can be anywhere from six inches to two or three feet under their feet, and they have to remove alot of heavy mud if it is located deeper, then once they find the vein in the bedrock below, they then have to carefully look for the pockets with their hands and fingers…not their rockhammers. Another thing I have to watch for are young kids running around with rockhammers, cause they are naturally kids and always want to find a rock to pound that hammer on…the problem being that if they use those hammers on crystals on the rocks, they will destroy and decimate them very fast and some kids really need to be supervised there because in the past we have seen alot of unsupervised kids that ran around and started hammering on everything in sight, including crystals on rocks that collectors had set up on the bank above where they were working. Kids and some adults have no idea how soft fluorite can be, compared to other crystals like quartz which is much tougher, however one still does not want to hammer them because you can easily cause damage that can not be undone later on. At any rate, more people showed up and I was able to direct them to the right areas for what type of digging or collecting they wanted to do there….you will notice some came prepared for rain which we dealt with til mid morning and then it cleared off and became hot and humid….

14 Diggers Start Showing Up16 Father and Son on Huge Pile17 Digging In the Mud In The Rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Others Begin To Show Up

Then about mid morning a young man walked up with a couple of blonde headed boys with him…and introduced himself as James from Hopkinsville….I had talked with him earlier in the week regarding where he could take his boys rockhunting and I had suggested that he bring them to the dig this weekend since it was closeby for them…and here they were arriving…I showed them some easy pickins spots and they quickly started filling their big blue buckets….they were full of energy and fun to watch too…

21 Looking Everywhere For Crystals22 James Cassata Brought His Boys

A few minutes later, a couple more young boys showed up with their parents in tow, and turns out I had talked to their Mom by email also and made the same suggestion to her as well….here you see Coen about to step off in the mudhole and sink down before I could warn him…luckily his Dad was right behind him and able to rescue him before he sank too deep….and his brother Finn in the red shirt in the second photo with his Mom in the pink shirt on the left side in the pit…..

23 Cohen & His Dad Arriving24 Fenn Digs Into Wall

…both of these two lads had alot of energy as well and were very knowledgeable about rocks and minerals…I was astounded when they started talking and I could tell how much they knew about minerals and crystals, they were a total joy to be around that day and it was nice to see the parents there that fully supported them in their quest to find some nice minerals. I had that same type of support from both my Mom and Dad 49 years ago when I started collecting rocks and minerals…it sure makes a difference let me tell ya and creates a lifetime of lasting memories as well !! ¬†I met a couple of other lads that day that were a little younger than Finn and Coen but just as sharp and keen eyed on crystals and minerals, which really makes my day when out there all day long. Another highlight of my day was when Bill Frazer and Brad Walker showed up to check on us and see how everyone was doing…it`s always a pleasure to visit with these guys…they made sure everyone was okay before heading back to the Museum.¬†

As the day wore on, more diggers showed up, many of them checking out the huge tailing pile since the pit was often full when new folks showed up…..

25 Several Up on Tailing Piles

…and then as we approached 4 pm, we saw some more rain clouds approaching, but the rains held off til closing time before moving in…here you see Mary taking another water break and Onyx nosing around….

26 Mary Takes a Break

..and you can see the two young men still working the end of the pit while others have obviously sifted thru the tailings left in the pit by the private collector…the guy kneeling down in jeans actually dug down into the remains of that pile after Matthew and Carolyn worked it pretty heavily earlier in the day, and this guy found some nice larger matrix pieces with some nice cubes on them….

27 Evansville Guys Still At It28 Still Going Strong in the Pit

…by 5 pm, most everyone had cleared the pit and piles and remaining diggers were cleaning off in the creek below the bridge…soon after Onyx and I were locking the gate and headed back to the Museum to report the very few problems that we had, and found folks there that were just as tired as we were. I also got to visit with a few of the directors and staff that had not been there on Friday when I arrived.

Onyx and I soon headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and ready for supper at the Oasis again. On the way there, the storm clouds that we had spotted rolling in around 4 pm, were apparently part of some stray showers that were then followed by another group of clouds that came into view as I was leaving Marion headed south toward the hotel. I stopped a couple of times to photograph them, first catching this rainbow in the first set of clouds, that was a double base instead of an arch…never seen one like that before…

29 Rainbows After Brief Shower30 Another Storm Rolls In31 Storm Approaches From North32 Storm Approaches From North33 Storm Approaches From North

 

 

 

 

As I was driving and watching the clouds, I also talked to my buddy Chuck Reed from St Louis County who was camping at Paducah and decided he and his daughter Mackenzie would drive down and meet me at the Oasis for supper that evening. Matthew and Carolyn decided to try another restaurant in the area over on Lake Barkley instead….I stopped at one of my favorite spots to shoot some more clouds…..and then the center mass changed to a light blue mass in just a few minutes, I had never seen anything like that either….

34 Storm Behind Horse Barns37 Storm Behind Horse Barns38 Storm Behind Horse Barns39 Storm Behind Horse Barns

We had a great time, food as usual was very good there again and nice atmosphere as well. Chuck was going to attend the night dig that evening but his plans changed and they were going to head over to Mammoth Cave the next day and then up to the fun park at Santa Clause, Indiana for a few days afterward. We made plans to get together at the Park Hills show which was the following weekend.

 Sunday went well too, however I only stayed a few hours in the morning before stopping off at the show to shop a bit before heading home. As always, I had a great time helping everyone out and helping the new and young rockhounds find some nice stuff to take home and enjoy. Email me at jwjphoto7@gmail.com if you have any questions. 

 

 

 

 

Summer Break 2015

Sorry folks for not updating my blog site sooner, but I have been taking a break from the heat that came on strong in July, staying inside and working on my collection, adding to it here and there, and cleaning up the quartz I collected in Arkansas the weekend of July 4th and the fluorite that we found at the Eureka Mine during our second machine dig end of June. I still have some cleaning to do on the fluorite, having completed step one with the Super Iron Out and now moving some pieces to the diluted down Muriatic Acid solution soon. I`m not even sure that Step 2 will remove the coating that is covering some of the cubes, because quite frankly, I am not even sure what the coating is made up of, but Muriatic Acid is as far into the cleaning process as I will go, so if that doesn`t clean it off, then it will just remain on the cubes. Here are some of the cubes cleaned up well by the Super Iron Out process…keep in mind, these are mostly small sized clusters, many of them smaller than palm sized and some are only the size of a golf ball….I used one of my high power halogen flashlights behind them to backlight them with…..

01 All Cleaned Up

02 All Cleaned Up

05 All Cleaned Up

06 All Cleaned Up

08 All Cleaned Up

09 All Cleaned Up

10 All Cleaned Up

11 All Cleaned Up

15

17

22

27

29

31

33

34

35

36A

37

DSC_899039

…and here are some of the quartz crystals I brought back from Arkansas the weekend of July 4th…some of these are available if anyone is interested and I have some small yard rocks available too. I have some local friends that like quartz for their rock gardens like I do, which is why I brought a few more back this trip…..I can send them to you by flat rate box if you are interested in some….the first four photos show the yard rocks….

01 Large Smokey Quartz Cluster

02 Clusters

03 Clusters

 

04 Cluster

…and these are medium sized clusters of quartz from Collier Creek Mine…I purchased them from my friends Bill and Faith who now operate a rock shop about ten miles east of Mt Ida on Hwy 280, called Blue Moon Crystals…they have the best crystal baskets around too…

05 Small Cluster

06 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

07 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

08 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

09 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

10 Plate

11 Plate

..and an assortment of crystals including some smokey quartz crystals from DeGray Lake area….

12 Variety of Crystals

13 Smokey Crystals

14 Smokey Crystals

15 Smokey Crystals DeGray Lake Islands

 

…and this palm sized cluster of smokey herkimers from Lake Greeson….

16 Smokey Cluster DeGray Lake

 

…and this plate and small cluster of quartz with green chloride crystals too….

 

17 Plate With Green Chloride Crystals

 

18 Close Up

Machine Dig at Eureka Mine 2015 – 02

Five days after visiting with Ian at Eminence on his way home from New York state, I was picking him up at Lambert International Airport in St Louis. I worked the night before and caught a few hours sleep Friday morning, then drove down to pick him up…his plane got in earlier than it was scheduled to, so he had to wait on me an extra 20 minutes…then we headed east and south to Marion, Kentucky, for my second machine dig this year. My buddy Pete Stoeckel, from near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, drove down to join and dig with us in search of a fluorite vein at the Eureka Mine. Our intent, as always, was to help the Clement Mineral Museum staff and board of directors, locate additional digging locations that provide opportunities for rockhounds who come to dig there each month. We had performed some preliminary digging there in May and wanted to expand upon that and see what more we could locate along a vein we uncovered back then…that had been machine dig part one and this was machine dig, part two. In May, five of us split up the cost of the trackhoe, and this time there would be four of us, one absent member who was injured a few days before but donated to our cause to make it easier on us. We stopped in Paducah for fuel at the Pilot Truck Stop and I noticed to the south of the city, in the direction we were proceeding, it looked like rain…so far we had not encountered any on our trip……

01 Fuel Stop Paducah

I called Tina as soon as we got back on I-24 and headed that way, and it`s a good thing I did, cause she told us we would need to find an alternate route in there due to a broken natural gas line in the area of Crane that had Hwy 641 completely shut down. I told her that I recalled a highway at the turn off to Patti`s Inn and Suites, where Phil and Shirley always stay at, and that highway would take us north to Hwy 60 at Salem, and we could then turn east to Marion. She confirmed that, and I told her we would see her soon. Ian wanted to study the Eureka Mine maps a bit before the dig the next morning, which is why we were headed to the museum, thinking the maps would be there. Pete called to say that he was at the hotel and was going to take a little nap, asked that we call when we arrived at the hotel and he would be ready soon after for supper at the Oasis Steakhouse next door.

Bill Frazer called us next and told us to just come to his house instead, because he had the maps at his home office. About thirty minutes later, we arrived at his beautiful house and walked out to his office. We sat down and Bill pulled out some various maps for Ian to look over and then made some copies for him to take with us and study later at the hotel. Bill then gave us a tour of his house, the living room is at the back of the house and is a huge great room, like in log homes, with a stone staircase to the kitchen on one side and a beautiful wooden staircase to bedrooms on the other side, plus there is a huge stone fireplace on one wall as well and he has large windows on the back wall of the great room too….the outside siding appeared to be cedar…very beautiful craftsmanship throughout the residence. Tina and her daughter came over and joined us shortly after and we stayed just a big longer to visit, then headed for the hotel to join Pete for supper. Sherry called her daughter, Sarah, who is a paramedic and dispatcher as well, and she was able to give me directions around the gas line snafu that led us around it and back to Hwy 641…she also said that by morning, the highway would be re-opened to normal traffic. We only had one problem navigating the backroads she provided directions for…there were no roadsigns where there needed to be, so I called Bill, told him where we were, and he told us how to get out of there, and about twenty minutes later we arrived at the Days Inn at Kuttawa. I stay at this hotel all the time, its next door to a couple of gas stations and a truck stop, but also next door is the Oasis Southwest Grill and Steakhouse, home of great food and atmosphere. It`s also in a wet county, where most counties north, east, and south of there are dry counties, and they have a variety of beers and wines inside if you are into that type of thing. Pete and Ian are beer connoseurs and so it was a perfect fit for them. We have all ate there before and really enjoy it.

I tried to call Pete as soon as we got there, but he didn`t answer and I found out why a few minutes later as I walked up to my room….he was outside his room without his phone. He and I caught up on things while waiting for Ian to freshen up and then we all headed to the Oasis for some good food and fellowship…they had a live band singing outside, but it was a bit warm for us, so we sat inside to cool off a bit. An hour later, after some good pork steak for me, seafood for Ian, ¬†and bbq brisket for Pete, and catching up on everything plus plans for the next day, we retired to our rooms for a good nights rest. Pete had the longest drive down, about fifteen hours, so I`m sure he was very tired and wanted to hit the hay fast…we planned to get up and go to breakfast in Fredonia the next morning at 6 am. After checking my email, I too hit the hay soon after the news and slept solid as a rock. We stopped off at Brenda`s for breakfast, a place Jeff Deere had recommended to us for great biscuits and gravy…and he was true to his word…it was a great place to eat…however, that was their last day open there, it was for sale and the owners were retiring for health reasons.

We headed on over to the mine, catching up to the trackhoe on its way over there as well, in Marion on bypass route…the truck escorting it and the truck carrying it pulled off into a big open field at the top of the hill and we continued on down to the mine, parking, getting our boots on, tools ready and I took some photos as well….here is Ian and Pete down in the new pit area looking things over…

02 Ian & Pete Check Out New Pit

04 Checking Out Old Shaft

05 Checking Out Bench

06 Pit Floor

…and while down there looking around, we heard the trackhoe fire up and start down the hill, so I told them I would go open the gate for him, as he had to cross the creek below the bridge we drive across, due to the weight of the machine. It took him awhile to get down there to the bottom of the hill cause he had to stop and open three wire gaps and close them behind him…finally I saw him coming thru the trees….

12 Trackhoe Crosses Creek

13 Trackhoe Crosses Pasture

14 Trackhoe Approaches Gate

…and then he pulled up behind our vehicles and stopped to talk and visit with us…I told Danny this time he would be directed by Ian as well as myself when Ian was busy, and soon enough Ian had him digging in the new pit, expanding it a little wider for us to get a better idea of the depth of fluorite….

16 Danny Begins Digging Out New Pit

 

…and within moments he was hitting bedrock and pulling some pretty good sized boulders out of the muck, as Ian keeps an eye out for signs of fluorite…..

17 Ian Monitors Trackhoe Progress

18 Hits Rock Right Away

19 Removing Big Boulders

20 Removing Big Boulders

 

…and soon Ian sees something and stops the work so he can jump in and check things out as Pete stands by….

21 Ian Checks For Fluorite

 

22 Ian Finds Pockets

…Ian saw some signs of fluorite there and had the operator continue to dig out the muck….and pretty soon he was down to bedrock and even more big boulders…

24 Digging Deeper

 

25 Hitting Base Rock Again

…and after raking the top layer a bit with the teeth, we found some nice plates of fluorite underneath and in the mix….

27 Some Nice Plates Here

…and after pulling out some nice cubes from this mix, Ian checked the hole to the side and found a few nice vugs of even more cubes, so we spent a few more minutes cleaning them out while the operator moved some tailings around to fill in the old pit and create some room to maneuver the big machine….

28 Pockets and Vugs

 

…and here are a few of those plates of cubes covered in mud that we recovered from the pockets and vugs in the photos above…we put them on the tailgate of my truck and put the better stuff we found later on, on some sheets of plywood that were there laying around….I apologize for not using flash in the deep shade for better photos….

30 Nothing To Write Home About Yet

29 Initial Finds So Far

31 So Far

It took all three of us digging thru the much about thirty minutes to pull out some more plates and cubes before we could get the operator to start digging once again…this time it appeared that he had tied into some better looking material, maybe more of the vein as well from what we were seeing this time….it def looked more promising….

32 Pulled a Few Plates From Here

33 Vein Located Again

34 Vug Located

…the next thing you know, he dug up a pretty good sized boulder and set it up on top near the road…indicating that we should take a look at it, so look we did, and we liked what we saw….a nice vug of big deep purple cubes….Ian and I soon left it with Pete to cob down….something Pete is good at doing….

35 Boulder With Vugs of Big Cubes

36 Boulder With Vug Big Cubes

37 Pete Goes to Work On Big Boulder

 

Ian had the trackhoe operator continue to dig out the new pit on the old pit side, just to see how far that bench went back toward the old saddle and see if there were anymore veins of fluorite running through it as well….

38 Continuing to Dig Out New Pit

…..that saddle running across the old pit from where the pump sat above it ¬†to the road side, had produced soooooo many pockets and vugs that again produced soooo many plates of beautiful plates of deep purple cubes and several folks had worked it and know exactly what I am talking about here…Pete himself had worked that saddle and brought out many plates, some after injuring his hand to the point of fracturing a bone in his hand and continuing to pound those plates out the next day…its no wonder we refer to him as Superman these days.

On another note, the cubes that we pulled from the last pockets, were now placed on the sheets of plywood, they appeared to have some nice cubes in them, and we later found out, some of them were sleepers too…we separated the really super nice pieces we occasionally pulled from the muck and placed them on another sheet of plywood all to themselves….

39 Goodies Continue to Collect

40 Sleepers in Mud

 

41 Nicer Ones Pulled Out

42 Nicer One Pulled Out

43 Nicer One Pulled Out

 

A few minutes later, while Pete was still working on the boulder up above us, the trackhoe operator pulled out a huge and long boulder from the depths of the new digging area…Ian clambered over it and asked him to turn it over cause it appeared to have some cubes on the back side…and sure enough it did…not only cubes but very large cubes and a few long vugs and pockets of more cubes too….we called out to Pete and he came down to take a look too….

44 Pockets Lace Underside of New Boulder

45 Pockets Lace Underside of New Boulder

..and then a few minutes later, Ian dug down at the base of the huge boulder and pulled out a few small plates of big cubes….they were partially covered in some mucky looking stuff, but you could still see some nice cubes there too….we were excited cause the cubes we were seeing were definitely getting bigger…..

46 Nice Plates Under New Boulder

….so he continued to dig down near the base of the boulder and pull out even more, plus the cubes in the vugs were looking pretty nice too….

47 More Plates Found

48 Large Cubes Line Vug

 

49 Large Cubes Line Vug

…and with all the finds from this one huge boulder, Ian took a few last looks around the base of the boulder just for peace of mind…..

50 Ian Searches for More Plates

51 Another Vug

52 Another Vug

 

Due to the number of vugs on and around the huge boulder, Pete and Ian both worked on liberating more cubes from them together….while the trackhoe operator moved the tailings around to create more room to maneuver once again….

53 Continuing to Work New Boulder

54 Working Out the Vugs

…they said, James you gotta come see this, it`s loaded with fluorite….I walk over and sure enough it is, but now I have two guys facing the rock and covering it up partially…still working it over….I`m thinking how do I try to shoot this thing with them blocking me out…oh well I`ll just shoot it and if anyone says anything, well I will just cross that bridge when I get to it….lol….

55 Backside Loaded With Fluorite

..then they said to me, holie cow, you have to come over here and take alook inside this one vug, the cubes in there are humongous…..

56 Teamwork

…and believe me, even though I didn`t get a photo of them, there were indeed some very large cubes up inside that vug…guessing four to five inches square, maybe six….two or three of them anyway….deep enough purple that one would think they were black even….Ian and Pete continued to work the bench and vein while the trackhoe operator continued to move things around up above….

57 Working The Bench

58 Working The Bench

…and it was about then, that I noticed Bill Frazer coming up the road, he was brush hogging on his tractor and doing a mighty good job of it I might add….I asked Bill if it was okay to have the trackhoe operator push the tailing piles into the old pit to fill it back up and he was very fine with that…

59 Bill Brush Hogs Roadways

 

….so while Ian and Pete were working on the bench some more, I had him do just that up by the road, he also took out the small tree that was half dead and laid it down into the old pit then covered it up with the tailing piles ….

60 Trackhoe Takes Out Smaller Tree to Pit

63 Moving Old Piles into Old Pit

64 Filling In Old Pit

65 Filling In Old Pit

…then I walked him up the road a bit to do some more digging on the other side of the road in an attempt to try and locate the fault line…however after three deep digs down, we were unable to find anything other than spotty sandstone and gave up. After a short break, Ian decided to have him dig the pit a little longer instead….

66 Digging Out New Pit More

68 Digging Out New Pit More

…and during the course of this particular section of the dig, he located several glass bottles which appeared to be quite old…

71 Old Bottles Found

…the last thing we had the trackhoe operator do while there, was fill in the old pit with the tailing piles left over….he did a pretty good job of it….keep in mind, you can still dig over there, it will be tailings you will be digging down into and they may have some good material in them still…..

73 Filling In Old Pit

and during the time he was filling in the last water holes in the pit, this big shiny green frog took off for wetter pastures as did this huge turtle…they both successfully moved over to the creek very fast….

76 Green Frog Escapes

79 Turtle Escapes Old Pit

..and soon he had the old pit looking pretty level….

81 New Pit Eureka Mine

…before he left tho, the roadside end of the new pit suffered a partial collapse, so we had him fill that end in to strengthen and stablize the walls. while digging it out earlier, he had severely undercut the base of the roadside wall, which led to the weakening of that wall about 30 minutes later, when it fell inward. Be very careful if you are digging down on that end of the new pit.¬†

Here are a few vugs that we found along the way in some of the boulders there….

82 Nicer Chunk

83 Corner Vug Boulder Going Home With Pete

…and there is a lot of material to be found in the HUGE tailing pile on the south side of the new pit now…I say HUGE because it is quite tall and long both…email me at jwjphoto7@gmail.com and I can tell you where to look in that pile for some nice material. We left quite a bit in the piles for everyone to find. If you are a hard rock miner, concentrate on the bench at the bottom of the new pit, and that is where you will find the nicer plates and pockets. Happy Hunting !!

Machine Dig Eureka Mine May 2015

¬†For the past ten years, I have joined with a small group of rockhound friends from all over the country and performed a machine dig at the Eureka Fluorite Mine in western Kentucky…for a couple of reasons. Our main goal has always been to help the folks at the BE Clement Mineral Museum, by digging out the old mine pit, which provides safe digging opportunities for rockhounds ¬†of all ages for the remainder of the warm season. By doing so, we remove alot of heavy silt and mud from many of the digging areas, mud that would require hours of hand digging to remove to even get close to the crystals…believe me, we have been there and have done the hand digging ourselves in the first couple of years before we even found out we could use a machine to remove it…we literally wore ourselves out but the rewards were well worth the efforts, too. There are some that would criticize us for what we did, call us opportunists and other things, and yet, given the chance, they would have done the same thing albeit for different reasons than ours.

It is becoming increasingly difficult each year to find places to go and collect rocks and minerals, a passion of mine since I was about eight years old, a passion shared by thousands of people worldwide. The folks who operate the mineral museum at Marion, Kentucky, share that same passion and have opened their hearts to thousands of rockhounds for the past ten years, sharing the passion as well as their making several old mines available to dig into to find buried treasures. Many of the mines in this area of western Kentucky date back to the 1800`s and early 1900`s and were originally operated and mined for zinc and silver, then fluorite later on. The Eureka Mine has always been known for beautiful deep purple and yellow fluorite cubes, occasionally a rockhound will find small lead cubes and sphalerite attached to them as well as smithsonite in a beach sand color, and we have found pockets of greenockite as well. Several years ago, the board members of the Clement Mineral Museum decided to make some of the old mines in the area, available to rockhounds on certain dates each year…that expanded to one public dig per month from April to October and an annual gem show and dig the first weekend of June. Their efforts paid off and thousands of rockhounds in the past ten to fifteen years have greatly benefitted from it…it has become one of my favorite places to visit a few times a year. My group normally performs a machine dig early in the springtime, however this year we were not able to locate a trackhoe operator that was available to work with, so we had to wait until one became available, and that was last weekend.¬†

After driving down and scouting the exploratory digs performed in April, I checked with my group to see if anyone was interested in a machine dig for May this year, after Bill told me that he could find us a trackhoe operator to work with. Several in my group had begun contacting me back in January and February, indicating that they were interested in traveling to the Eureka Mine again to look for fluorite and asked if I would be interested as well…I definitely was and so I set about finding out who was still on board with the idea. It turned out that several were going to be unavailable the first weekend in May, so I had to recruit a few new guys to join me…Alan Schaeffer is a good friend from the Memphis Club MAGS that I am also a part of, and had indicated to me on my way home from my spring trip in Arkansas, that he would love to join me on my next dig there, so I naturally let him know about it and he said yes. Jeff Deere, one of my good rockhunting friends from northern Georgia, also was on board but was tied up that weekend so he found a great replacement in Mark Bishop, and soon there were three of us…Alan found another guy to join us, MAGS member Marc Mueller, and we were set. I let Bill Frazer know that the four of us would be down there ready to go Saturday morning.

I again drove down there after my shift ended at work early Friday morning, and arrived around noon at the museum. I visited with Tina and Sherry for about an hour and then drove out to make sure I had the right key to the gate…and even though the gate was wide open, it turned out my key wouldn`t open the lock, so I returned to the museum and found board member Russ there…Russ also works full time in geology related work and accompanied me back to the gate to resolve the lock issues. We drove on down to the mine to make sure no one was down there trespassing and looked around a bit…passing the trackhoe parked on top of the hill….

08 Trackhoe Using On Saturday

….they had a torrential rain shower a few days before and there were cubes and hints of purple laying all over the tailing piles and the bench, as well as pieces of fluorite left by the group there in April…some nice stuff even, which greatly surprised me, but as Russ said, they must have found some really super nice stuff if they left this material behind. Needless to say, I was even more ready and rarin to go the next morning.

As I drove over to the hotel at Kuttawa, I passed through some beautiful flower fields at Fredonia….

05 Flowers As Far As One Can See

02 Flower Fields Near Fredonia KY

03 Flowers Near Fredonia

…I had never seen these flowers down there before, having never been there before in May, so they were quite a sight to see and a local young man there told me they were ground up for canola oil, so most folks called them canola flowers he said.¬†

04 Flowers Up Closer

I drove on over to the Days Inn and got checked in and then took a nice nap….woke up in time to have supper with Alan when he arrived and checked in. Marc arrived from Memphis soon after and we walked next door to the Oasis Southwest Grill and Steakhouse, one of the best steakhouses in the country in my humble opinion. I eat there all the time, food is absolutely great and the service isn`t bad either. ¬†Steve, the General Manager there, is one of those guys that truly cares about the quality of food and your dining experience, he moves around the huge dining areas and checks on everyone…and if something is wrong, he does his best to fix it. Alan found that out that night….I ordered my usual, one inch thick grilled pork chops with a bbq glaise on top…he ordered the eight ounce filet mignon medium rare…as soon as he cut into it, he knew it wasn`t right, overcooked…so they took it back and left him with his veggies. He soon had consumed the veggies and they were nice enough to bring more with the new steak, which now was undercooked…this time Steve came over to check with him, offered him another steak cooked right this time…they left him with the undercooked one, and said they would be back in eight minutes with yet another steak…I know how he felt, been there myself before and he was hungry, so he wound up eating both the undercooked one and then the properly cooked one, and got two steaks for the price of one. My chops, as usual, were cooked to perfection. Marc had appetizers, having ate before he left home. We all retired early in anticipation of the dig the next day, Marc camped out on the lake nearby.¬†

I was up early Saturday morning, expecting Mark Bishop to arrive around 6:30, as he decided to leave Georgia about 3 am and drive up thru Nashville…and as it was, he arrived about 30 min early and we were able to have a short breakfast there at the hotel, Marc joining us soon after. After a short stop at the donut shop in Eddyville, we were headed to the mine to meet up with Bill Frazer, who arrived there just ahead of us and unlocked the gate. We visited with Bill for a few minutes and then heard the trackhoe fire up on top of the hill…while waiting for the trackhoe operator to walk it down the hill, I took some photos of the new pit area as the guys walked around surface collecting….

09 Before Photo of New Bench

 

11 Waiting For Trackhoe

12 Mark Checking Out Tailings

 

13 Mark Checks Bench

 

Pretty soon, we heard the trackhoe come walking down the hill…Bill had told me the operator would have to veer off the road into the field on the other side and cross the creek at a pasture crossing, so I walked over and opened the gate for him….

16 Trackhoe Crossing Creek

17 Crossing Hurricane Creek

 

19 Danny Drives Trackhoe Across Field

…and then walked it over to the mine where he stopped and introduced himself as Danny, said he was looking for Mr. Johnson, lol….

21 Walking It Up To the Mine

…we lined out digging plans out for him and he got started right away…first order of business was to try and retrieve the pump hoseline that was mired in the mud, for the museum, who had been unable to remove it by manpower….

22 Cleaning Out the Bench

..and as soon as he got that completed, we had him work on the new pit area, removing some mud and cleaning it out in general to make it easier on us as well as any other diggers to find more crystals…the next three photos were taken by Mark Bishop and shows Danny digging into the new pit area….

30 I Point Out Poss Pocket to Alan

 

…while I point out the fault area fluorite at the base of the bench to Alan…

31 Showing Alan the Vein and Fault

32 Cleaning Out the New Bench

..pretty soon it was apparent to us that we needed Danny to turn over the bench so we could see if there were any better material underneath….first photo by Mark Bishop….

35 Working Hard to Find Plates

 

25 Bench Area Dug Out

…we then checked the bench area for cubes while Danny did some work with the tailing piles behind us. I then had him dig into the tailings on the north end of the pit and stir them up a bit for future collectors too….

23 Filling In Old Tunnel

 

 

…he then walked it back over to the south side and cleaned out the bench pit wall on the road side for us….

27 Danny Cleans Out Bench Bank Wall

…there was a mudhole down there that turned out to be extremely deeper in mud than what we thought, at least on the wall side, while on the bench side it was maybe ten inches deep at most….you can see it in the light colored muddy spot in the photo below….

25 Bench Area Dug Out

..and here Danny is removing about four feet of mud from that one little spot alone….photo by Mark Bishop….

36 Danny Digs Out Mudhole

 

…as the guys were digging into the overturned bench area and pulling some nice cubes out…I walked up the road with Danny and the trackhoe and had him make an exploratory cut across the other area across the road….

28 Danny Walks Trackhoe Up Old Road

29 Site Clean up Work

..during this cut, he came across some massive orange colored fluorite, there were no cubes at all, just massive spar, but it sure was pretty. Danny lowered me down in the bucket once again…I have to say it was smoother than any elevator ride I have ever been on and I felt completely safe too…I pulled some pieces of it out of the wall and we found some in the tailings above too. Afterwards, I had him stir up some of the old exploratory piles laying around the forest floor near the logging road, and then we paid him and thanked him for his immense help to us.

We divided up our finds and Mark Bishop headed home to Georgia….while Alan and Marc and I continued to dig around and find some good material before wearing out about an hour later. ¬†After another great dinner at Oasis, Marc headed home to Memphis, and Alan and I stayed over and then Alan headed home in the morning and I drove over to Eminence to check out the quarry there…check out my next story on that part of the trip….I pulled out the biggest poker chip cluster I have ever found there. ūüôā

if you have any questions or wanna say hi, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com

Eureka Mine Scouting Trip April 2015

¬†For the past ten years, I have joined with a small group of rockhound friends from all over the country and performed a machine dig at the Eureka Fluorite Mine in western Kentucky…for a couple of reasons. Our main goal has always been to help the folks at the BE Clement Mineral Museum, by digging out the old mine pit, which provides safe digging opportunities for rockhounds ¬†of all ages for the remainder of the warm season. By doing so, we remove alot of heavy silt and mud from many of the digging areas, mud that would require hours of hand digging to remove to even get close to the crystals…believe me, we have been there and have done the hand digging ourselves in the first couple of years before we even found out we could use a machine to remove it…we literally wore ourselves out but the rewards were well worth the efforts, too. There are some that would criticize us for what we did, call us opportunists and other things, and yet, given the chance, they would have done the same thing albeit for different reasons than ours.

It is becoming increasingly difficult each year to find places to go and collect rocks and minerals, a passion of mine since I was about eight years old, a passion shared by thousands of people worldwide. The folks who operate the mineral museum at Marion, Kentucky, share that same passion and have opened their hearts to thousands of rockhounds for the past ten years, sharing the passion as well as their making several old mines available to dig into to find buried treasures. Many of the mines in this area of western Kentucky date back to the 1800`s and early 1900`s and were originally operated and mined for zinc and silver, then fluorite later on. The Eureka Mine has always been known for beautiful deep purple and yellow fluorite cubes, occasionally a rockhound will find small lead cubes and sphalerite attached to them as well as smithsonite in a beach sand color, and we have found pockets of greenockite as well. Several years ago, the board members of the Clement Mineral Museum decided to make some of the old mines in the area, available to rockhounds on certain dates each year…that expanded to one public dig per month from April to October and an annual gem show and dig the first weekend of June. Their efforts paid off and thousands of rockhounds in the past ten to fifteen years have greatly benefitted from it…it has become one of my favorite places to visit a few times a year. My group normally performs a machine dig early in the springtime, however this year we were not able to locate a trackhoe operator that was available to work with, so we had to wait until one became available, and that was last weekend. The board of directors had performed some exploratory digging in early April one day and I was invited by Bill Frazer to come down and scout it out soon after.

I drove down the day before their first scheduled open dig in April, leaving work on Friday morning at sunrise….

01 Sunrise Friday Morning STL

….and boy what a beautiful sunrise it was…..

03 Sunrise Friday Morning STL

 

….arriving in Marion by noon. After visiting with Tina and Sherry at the museum, and taking them some goodies to sell in their museum gift shop to further help them in their efforts, I went with Bill out to the mine to see what they had already dug out…finding that Bill had dug into the older pit area on the south side and over to the old logging road. They had made an exploratory trench cut in October of 2014 and a large vug of beautiful fluorite plates were discovered in the bottom of that cut at the very back wall of it….

Trench Cut Toward Road

…..so this dig expanded upon that effort to locate even more purple, as Bill stated to me. He had the operator stop digging as soon as they started seeing purple….here is how it looked when I scouted it in early April….

04 New Dig Area Foreground

…and found some pockets of purple fluorite all over the place in the new pit area, most of it centered around this bench left in the middle….

10 Fluorite Pocket

…none of that was really spectacular looking, but did indicate that there was some good stuff to be found in that general area, it was down at the vein or fault level, which is where we have found it in years past. There were also several old bottles found during this dig in October, like this snuff bottle I located in the tailing piles…

13 Snuff Bottle Found

…and on up the old logging road that runs along the mine, Bill had some exploratory digging done, looking for the fault that runs alongside the logging road, as indicated on the old maps…..

15 Dig Area Across Road

….and where I found a small plate of nice cubes that morning….

20 Small Plate of Nice Cubes

…there were some other cubes laying around in that same area, again giving me good indicators that more could be found there. I walked back down to the new pit area….

25A  From Up The Road

 

…and climbed down into the pit area to do some looking around…finding a few pockets of cubes and digging out a couple of basketball sized chunks with some cubes on them as well….

29 Fluorite Chunk

…I decided to stick around and see if I could help the rockhounds the next morning at the open dig. I arrived at the museum about 8 am and visited with Tina again, who told me that Bill was tied up with some work and asked if I could provide the group with a safety talk and then lead them out to the mine…we stepped outside and I gave them some history on the mine and then they followed me through town and out to the mine. After I pointed out some good areas to check out, based on what I had observed the day before, they scattered out and began digging….

35 Sat Diggers

36 First Open Dig

…and this group went up the road to the other spot where I found the plate of cubes the day before….

40A  Other Dig Area

 

….I was up there when a gal pulled out a huge plate of cubes after digging down two feet into the pile to liberate it….let me tell you she went home one happy camper….I walked back down to the new pit area and found this group on break…

44 Break Time

I left there about 1 pm that day and headed home and heard later in the week from Tina that they had found some nice stuff after I left…the young couple in the photo above were sitting in a prime spot and should have pulled out some nice plates. The couple across in front of them, were from the St Louis area, not far from where I work even, and the guy by the green bucket is from Effingham and on the volunteer fire department there…there was a family from Ohio that liked to go flint hunting too.¬†

 

 

Clement Mineral Museum Annual Show 2014

I had stayed in touch with Tina at the BE Clement Mineral Museum once again this year and volunteered to come help them get the show set up this year and host the Eureka Mine again as well.  

Throughout the years, I have had alot of artist friends suggest to me that I stop off at various places and do some sighteeing, but I had never done so. This year I decided I would drive down a day early and see the sights that everyone suggested in years past. I picked up a friend of mine on the way down, and Rob rode with me to the museum in Marion, Kentucky, and helped me unload the seven buckets of grab bag material that I always take to them for their show and museum sales as well through the remainder of the year. Tina had some extra muscle this year, in the form of a young man named Brandon, who also helped us unload the truck. This year they are trying to raise money to build a better roof on the building housing the museum. I also had some druse plates and combos of druse and poker chips for their silent auction during the Show, as well as some dogtooths and special pieces for Tina, including some of the black dogtooth crystals I had found earlier this year. I always try to take them a variety of material, but I seem to be known down there as Mr. Poker Chip by a few people. I visited with Tina, BJ, and Sherry, as well as some newer people, before heading on north on Hwy 91 to cross the Ohio River at Cave in Rock. Rob and I met another friend at Garden of the Gods and then Rim Rock Trail, and were able to do some hiking over there while seeing the sights. Great places for one to go if you have some spare time.

I returned to the hotel by 7 pm and headed to the Oasis Southwest Grill Steakhouse shortly after. They have a great atmosphere and really know how to cook good food, whether it be seafood or steaks that you are after…I have been eating there for several years now and always like the grilled porkchops marinated with a light bbq sauce, one inch thick and cooked to perfection each time. I ate there all three nights and had the same meal each night, perfectly cooked each night and always just right.

I was up by 8 am Friday morning, having called Bill Frazer the evening before to see what time I needed to be at the museum to help them out…we agreed on 10 am and after stopping off at Ms. Neda`s Donut Shop in nearby Eddyville, I headed that way. I passed by the red horse barn that I have photographed in the past….

Barns and Horses north of Eddyville

…and noticed this year that the owners are building a beautiful new home just up the hill to the right of the barn….and had constructed a large metal garage and workshop a bit further down from the house…thought it was nice that they had kept the old wood barn, perhaps they realize how well loved and appreciated it is by folks like me who drive by. Speaking of horses, one of my other favorite places along Hwy 641 on the way to the Museum, is a field of horses on the west side of the road just before you get to the right hand curve entering Fredonia….

25 Pretty Horses Sat PM Sunlight

27 Pretty Horses Sat PM Sunlight

…never fails, there are always several horses in that field. I drove on over to the museum at Marion…they have the annual gem show in the Fohs Hall, a stately and elegant old building that used to house a school there….

County Museum Marion KY

…I walked in and found several familiar faces already hard at work on various jobs that Tina had asked them to do, and Brandon, a local young man that Bill had enlisted the help of recently with several projects, already hard at work there as well. I met Brandon the day before when Rob and I arrived, and Tina asked him to help us unload the several buckets of grab bag material…found out that he was a football player, defensive end and offensive line, he def had the size and muscle for both positions. Tina showed me a vast collection from an estate sale that the museum had recently purchased…many specimens from the southern Illinois and western Kentucky fluorite mines as well as many other items too many to mention. She asked me to sort through the multiple boxes to see what all was there, they were trying to find certain items to get appraised for future sales. While doing so, I found out there were many fossils in the estate collection as well as some local minerals and even some slabs of lapidary interests, seashells of every type imagineable, and a few minerals and crystals from everywhere in the USA.¬†

Ed Clements and Tina`s husband Brad showed up about lunch time, and after a brief lunch with them, Brad and I walked over to the museum where Brad helped Brandon move some tables down from the upper floor to the dealers room and then we walked through the rooms to see what all was set up for the show, while Brandon went outside to help dealers move their tables and crates of minerals inside. Soon after, Bill Frazer showed up and we drove down to the Eureka Mine where he showed me the tailing piles turned over, the area looked ready for collectors the next day….

02 Ready for Collectors

03 Tailing Piles

04 Tailing Piles

and we discussed some areas that could be dug out to search for new material. He told me that he had some exploratory digging done earlier this spring and nothing so far, had been found, yet he was definitely wanting to find some additional areas of resources, so folks could continue to come dig and have fun doing so. Bill decided to head back down there and bushhog the field where folks would be parking and the sides of the road down to the mine, after dropping me off at the museum. Brad and I drove down to the mine about thirty minutes later to contact Bill, some folks from the city were looking for him and he wasn`t answering his phone. We found him at the gate, having problems raising the mower deck behind his tractor. We stuck around a while and nosed around the tailing piles to make sure there was some good material to be found there, tried unsuccessfully, to pull the suction hose out of the mud, ¬†and then started back toward the museum…..yet when we got back to the gate, we found ourselves locked in by persons unknown. We drove back down to let Bill know, and he drove up to the gate to let us out, and told me that he would unlock the gate for me the next morning and take the lock with him, so that wouldn`t happen again, seems it had been happening alot lately. I had a good chat with Ed back at the museum before heading back to the hotel and supper at the Oasis once again.

Saturday morning I got up early, stopped by the donut shop to grab a few donuts and chocolate milk, then headed to the Eureka Mine, to host there all day. Bill met me at the gate at 8:20 am and then headed to some more gates to unlock them as well, and I drove on down to the mine. He had made some improvements to the road leading down to the mine, with some larger gravel and it was a much smoother ride now….

01 Road to Mine Improved

 

I drove on down and changed into my boots, made sure the gate to the parking area was open, then walked around the tailing piles to see if I could see any purple so I would know where to direct people to dig at….I had found a few places the day before when Brad and I were down there and made a mental note of them once again. I also found the bad hole that Bill had referred to someone digging out into the top of the creek bank, which could compromise the creek bank, which is the only thing keeping the creek water from spilling into the pit…why someone would have dug down there is beyond me, they certainly didn`t think about how that could affect things.

05 Bad Hole Dug Here

Bill was concerned about folks digging into the bank there and further adding to any compromise, so I made a mental note to keep that from happening as well as a few danger spots that I have become familiar with over the years. Some folks enter a site and look for the host and ask questions about what they are looking for as well as where to look, while others just get so excited on arrival that they just walk in and start digging…sometimes having no clue about any spots that might have hidden hazards. Take for example, the north side of the pit…

07 North Bank of Pit

…it`s mainly made up of fill from tailing piles, so probably has some nice material in it, but several people have heard so much about the pit itself over the years, harvesting so much nice plates of cubes, that many want to go right down into the pit…this year the museum staff was unable to pump the pit down so everyone decided to walk right down to the waters edge and look around…not realizing that the mud at the very edge was extremely soft and one could sink to their knees very quickly. I was able to warn some and others found out the hard way. In the area to the right of that fill, there used to be a vertical shaft of an unknown depth, so we have always told folks to avoid that area, and I had to run a few out of there Saturday as well, for safetys sake. We had tried to get that area filled in last spring, yet the trackhoe operator was unable to reach that far to dump the fill dirt in there on top of it…it would have effectively sealed off the waterfall from the creek there as well.

I also bring a box of fluorite pieces with me, to show folks what they are looking for and to give to them, children especially, when they can`t find something nice to take home with them. Tina usually makes it a point to let folks know that when she knows they are coming to the Eureka Mine and I am there. There were several children there Saturday, that were working on their 4H projects, so I made a point of helping them look for some fluorite and giving them some extra pieces too. Their faces always light up when they get to pick out some nicer ones to take home with them. Well worth it right there. There was one visitor that I wasn`t able to help much on Saturday….

08 Natural Fan

 

…he moved way too fast for me, but he did have some younger fans there for him. ūüôā

Mary who is one of the regulars like me, was the first one to show up Saturday morning, she is one of the nicest members of the Magma Club that I know and she drives up there each year to dig and sometimes I see her at some of the public digs that the Museum staff host each month as well, seen here on the left side on the back of the tailing pile, doing a surface search for fluorite…

10 Mary Checks Back Side of Pile

 

..and soon after she showed up, others showed up in small groups…

09 First Few Diggers Sat Morning

 

11 Diggers In the Pit

12 More Diggers Show Up

13 Washing Some Off

 

…you see that little guy in the photo above in green shorts and shoes ? talk about a fearless guy…he wasn`t afraid of the mud or water either one, he was here to have fun whether he found anything or not…enjoyed throwing rocks into the creek and splashing Phillip who was trying to find some fluorite in the vein that runs under the creek. Phillip is another Magma member that is very nice…he and his wife Shirley drive up there frequently from the Danville area…Phillip told him that if he kept throwing rocks, he was going to to dunk him a few times in the water and see how much he enjoyed that…that`s his mom washing off some finds in the pit above in the blue shirt…when she found out what he was doing, she threatened him with a spanking and then we found out that he wasn`t so fearless afterall and he behaved a lot better after that…he sure had more energy than anyone I know of. I made sure he had a nice piece of fluorite when they left, too.¬†

15  Fearless Guy in Green

 

20 Fearless

16 Kids Having Fun

…his mom and a friend found some nice material digging down into the north bank of tailings used for fill on the edge of the pit…

17 Comparing Finds

..and for the most part, everywhere I looked, people seemed to be happy with their finds and enjoying their time digging there, young and older alike….

18 Hard At Work

Around mid morning there was a young father that walked up with his dad and his three young boys and I gave them some tips on where to dig at, and told them if they struck out, be sure to come see me before they left…they set out to look in my favorite corner of the pit…

19 Dad, Kids & Grandpa Hard At It

…and while they probably didn`t find alot while there, I made sure they left with a couple of pieces of nice fluorite, they were a nice group of diggers there that day. There was a couple of guys from the Bloomington area that showed up late morning, arriving with family but they were the only two that stuck around to dig…they came over to me and asked for a good location to dig at…I could tell they were serious about finding some nice stuff, so I told them about my favorite corner and told them how to get to the good stuff…

06 My Favorite Corner

….and they wasted no time in getting down into the pit and getting muddy to look for some good cubes….

22 Bloomington Guys Work Hole

..and still more diggers showed up to dig for cubes on the other side of the pit….

23 More Diggers in Afternoon

…I was keeping an eye on the Bloomington diggers, they soon got down to the right level and found some nice cubes…

24 Bloomington Guys Work Hole

…one with a touch of purple on one end and yellow and white color on the other end, in the hopper style of cubes, which looks like a stair step cube formation that is pretty neat to look at….Bill Frazer stopped by about that time on one of his many visits down to see us and I suggested that he take a look at their neat find….

21 Bill Visits With Bloomington Bunch

 

…I happened to find a few diggers from the state of Missouri there as well…Columbia area…Heinrich and two young ladies decided to dig into the west wall of the pit and try their luck….

25 Heinrich Digs Into West Wall

26 Heinrich Digs Into West Wall

…for awhile there, I thought he was digging down to China, but assured me that he was just trying to get down to a better level for finding stuff. By mid afternoon, we were all beginning to see signs of storms approaching…the forecast was that storms would hold off til about 6 pm, but it was looking more and more like we were going to see some sooner. I called Tina to have her check the radar on her computer at the Museum and she said there was a line of storms moving thru Paducah about that time, so we figured we had about thirty extra minutes of digging time and I made that known to everyone there. The Bloomington boys were still digging down and pulling some stuff out….

27 Ryan Takes a Turn in Hole

…..and pretty soon they decided to change out in the pit…

29 Ryans Turn to Get Muddy

…the second young man, I believe his name is Ryan, had a bit of a hearing disability, and he had removed his hearing aids before getting down into the pit because he said they were not waterproof…he was still down there when this loud clap of thunder rumbled overhead and then a strong bolt of lightning struck very close, possibly right across the creek from us and there was a very bright flash of white light with it, like a huge roman candle !!! ¬†While Ryan didn`t hear the thunder or lightning, he jumped straight up from the mud and told us that he had felt the energy from the lightning travel up both of his arms which were extended down into the hole, and up into his chest !! ¬†He then told us ” I`m done !! ” ¬†Everyone was pretty much in evacuation mode by then, heading for their cars as the rain was starting to fall as well. For most everyone, it was the end of a long day of digging and most headed back to the museum to get in a bit of the gem show before it closed. I stuck around til everyone left and then closed the gate, calling Bill to let him know I had closed it and everyone was out for the day, run off by the lightning.

I drove up to the museum as well, wanting to visit with Lamon Flynn, the Kentucky Agate King, at the show. I met Mr. Flynn a few years back in his neck of the woods, he took some friends who joined me there, on a hunt one day for the elusive Kentucky Agate. You can find that story and photos by looking in the column on the right side of my page for Kentucky Agate. I had a great chat with him, they had him up on the stage at the show, and I purchased some more agate from him as well…I have a lot of friends that cannot travel to Kentucky to find it themselves, and picked some up to share with them. He had some of his expensive pieces with him as well, the orange and black banded nodules and a few of the red and black banded nodules too. He also had alot of his belt buckles there and Heinrich came over and looked them over as well.

Heinrich was about to head home that evening, and I gave him directions to a good druse quartz spot in south central Missouri that I like to go to. He was undecided if he was going to stick around for the dinner that was being hosted by the Mineral Museum at the local Italian Restaurant on Main Street later that evening, or simply head home….the girls were telling him there was a tornado warning up in the St Louis area at that time, but by the time they reached St Louis it would likely be long over. I told him to email me if he ever wanted to go rockhunting with me as well, since he isn`t too far from me. I decided not to wait around for the Italian dinner as well and headed back to the hotel to clean up and then walked over to the Oasis for yet another grilled porkchop supper. After supper there, I drove down to the lake just south of there and snapped a few photos of the sunset….

30 Sunset Over Lake Barkley

..and then back up to the intersection in front of the Oasis Grill for another photo of the beautiful colorful skies….

31 Sunset at Kuttawa

 

The next morning, after a good sleep aided by a couple of alleves, I was on the road by 8 am after checking out of the hotel, and called Tina to let her know I could host at the Eureka again til noon, if she needed some help…she said she had a new member there already but suggested that I go and see if he needed any help as he had never hosted there before. I drove over to the mine and met up with Dave there…Bill Frazer showed up soon after and then a few diggers started showing up. Mary showed up again early on and decided she was going to take over Heinrich`s spot in the west wall from the day before and see if she could dig down to the location where David found some calcite dogtooth crystals two years before….

33 David With Plate of Dogtooths

 

32 Plate Dogtooth Crystals David Found

In the meantime, I decided to dig down into the hole left by the Bloomington boys and see if I could find anything else in it…and a guy showed up a few minutes later from the state of West Virginia and decided to dig down into the hole that the Bloomington boys had originally started out with, about four feet to the right of me. In about an hour, using the long handled spade shovel that someone had left there, I got down to the top of the vein and laid down a gunny sack to lay down on, then reached down and started feeling around in the mud to find some crystals…I never can do that with gloves on, can`t feel the cubes except with my bare hands. I didn`t feel any pockets in the vein, so I started feeling around the mud on top of the vein and pretty soon I was pulling out some cubes…I haven`t cleaned mine up yet, but will post some photos of my finds soon. The guy next to me found a small round plate of nice cubes about 90 minutes after he began digging down…he was a bit up hill from me and had to dig down a bit further to get to my level, but seemed content with what he found. He left by noon to go check out another mine in the area. Mary was still digging when I decided to head for home about 45 minutes later. I was going to meet a friend at Garden of the Gods at 2 pm, so by the time I got out of there and cleaned up a bit, I had about an hour to get there, so I headed to the ferry crossing at Cave in Rock. We had a good hike there and then went to Rim Rock Trail, even met up with the Bloomington boys and their family down at the foot of the escarpment as they were walking out…stopped and visited with them a bit and told them both to give me a shout if they wanted to do some rockhunting in Missouri sometime.

I got home later that evening, tired but happy, having had a great four day vacation, nothing better than good friends, good food, and good fun.

The only problem I had with the entire trip should be noted here, as I would not want anyone else to experience this on future trips down there. I usually stay at the Days Inn hotel in Kuttawa when I am down there for my rockhunting trips….when I made my reservations a few weeks before, I was quoted a certain rate and told that the Days Inn gives rockhounds a ten percent discount on their rates…I told one of my Memphis rockhound friends about that and he made a call after me and was told the same thing as he made his reservations there too. It has always been a clean and friendly place to stay at and their rates have always been affordable and as quoted by staff.

The second night there, I discovered fleas in bed with me, biting my legs,  and I was constantly getting up and pulling the covers back and killing fleas by snuffing them out. I prob had about four hours rest total that night and when I told the night clerk about it at 7 am the next morning, his answer was to ask if I had a dog with me. I told him not only was my dog not with me this trip, I would never take my dog to a hotel knowing she had fleas and I protect my dog`s health with the flea and tick killer chewy tablets all the time anyway. I asked him to have the housecleaning crew change out the linens on my bed completely and he did so right then and there, and said he would have them spray the room as well.

I returned that evening to the room and could def smell a different odor in there, such as if they had sprayed it and I slept alot better Saturday night with no fleas in bed with me. However, the next morning when I checked my bank records online, I discovered that not only had they charged my account while I was there…. they usually wait a few days after you check out… they had also overcharged me. I talked to the day clerk, who was also the Assistant Manager, she asked how my stay had been and I told her about Friday night, and then told her that I had been charged fifteen dollars a night more than the rate I had been quoted, and let me tell you, she got a defensive attitude about it real quick and did not care one bit, referred me to call the Manager about it on Monday and take it up with him. I saw that he had an email address on the business card she handed me and so I emailed him when I got home. After no response for a week, I emailed the corporate headquarters of the Wyndham Group, who now owns and operates the Days Inn Hotels, and within a day, I had a message from the manager….I returned his call and told him of my ” not so great ” experience at his hotel recently, after having stayed at his hotel several times over the course of seven years. He promised that he would look into it and get back to me…however, ¬†I never did hear from him again, so needless to say, I wont be staying there again. Just saying.¬†

James ūüôā

jwjphoto@fidnet.com 

BE Clement Museum Gem Show and Dig Celebration 2013

Several of us had a good time in Marion, Kentucky this past weekend, despite a lot of rain and storms pelting the area Friday morning before our arrival as well as later into the night before finally ending late Saturday  morning, turning everything at the Eureka Mine into a gooey muddy mess.

I arrived at the museum around 2 pm on Friday afternoon and found Tina supervising a busy crew of helpers, that were assisting dealers and vendors at Fohs Hall in setting up their booths and preparing for the rock and mineral show on Saturday and Sunday. I transported some more grab bag material, and some druse/poker chip pieces for their silent auction as well and they helped me unload that too. Tina`s daughter, Jesse,  took me back to get a quick look at their new display room in the museum while there, a project that Tina and a few members have been working on since the first of the year and let me tell you, they have done a great job with the new display cases that were built by the Amish community handimen to the north of Marion, and they look great, they have each one holding specific crystals and minerals of a specific type/category, nothing is mixed up any longer. their cubed display glass cases were moved out away from the wall and their new maps were placed up on the back wall for easier viewing. this room is near the back, one before the black light room.

As I walked outside the museum with Tina, I ran into Lamon Flynn, who had traveled up for the gem show with his grandson and they were unloading their Kentucky agate to sell and a large display case that holds his agate keepers, to show off as well. We talked for a bit, he was asking about Ian from Colorado, and Peggy of the Twister Sisters and if she had survived the latest round of storms in the Midwest. I found out his grandson had just graduated high school and was preparing to attend college and become a police officer. 

After chitchatting with them a bit more, I headed to the hotel at Kuttawa and got settled in there, and then had a great supper at the Oasis Steakhouse next door. I heard from my mom, who told me about the bad storms that struck the Oklahoma City area once again, we have family members there, and then the St Louis area later in the day, at least three tornadoes. I then watched the local weathercasters, who were calling for the storms to move southeast and hit the Marion area around 3 to 5 am, with rain then forecast to fall much of the morning. I wasn`t sure how bad it would get the next day, so I retired early to get as much rest as possible. 

I woke up about 6 am and discovered the rain pouring down outside my room, not sure if you can see it in this photo, but it was coming down in sheets, I could only hope it would clear off by noon as the forecasters were calling for…

01 Rain Pouring Down Sat 6 AM

 

…and after grabbing some donuts at Miss Neta`s Donut Shop in Eddyville, I headed to the Eureka Mine…..and¬†arrived about 7:30 am to begin pumping down the pit. ¬†I had contacted and offered to help Bill Frazer ¬†and free him up from his many other tasks for this weekend, and he accepted my offer. I pulled up to park near the mine and found ¬†a muddy mess all over the place….

02 What a Muddy Mess

 

03 Tailing Piles Turned Over

 Apparently between Friday morning and Saturday morning, the pit area received about five inches of rainfall, so when I arrived, there was an additional two to three feet of water in the pit more than normal, and as a result, it was almost noon before I was able to pump the pit completely down to where diggers could even access and dig in the pit. For the first three hours of pumping, I wasn`t even sure the water level had dropped at all.

04 Pit Full of Extra Water

¬†By 10 am, diggers started showing up…Mary from Ohio, was the first to arrive and soon after, several more showed up.

05 Diggers Sat Morning

 

By noon there were approximately 35 diggers at the Eureka and while many stayed on top and worked through the three tailing piles, a few ventured down into the pit. I can safely say, it was the sloppiest gooey muddy mix I have ever seen there, every step on top was about ten inches down in the wet sloppy mud and down in the pit, you were lucky if you didnt lose your boots or shoes…even those with the pull on galoshes were experiencing problems keeping them on.

07 Hunting Thru the Piles

 

Around 11 am, a carload of geology students from the University of Illinois at Champaign showed up and began digging.

06 Navigating the Mud

 

A few of them were brave, daring to move around the muddy mess barefoot…..

08 Braver Than Most

 

09 Barefoot In the Mud

 

They were walking up to take a look at what Robin had found in the tailing pile back behind them, what was left of the huge pile on the north side of the pit last year, and had been turned over a week before the show and dig. Robin had found some ¬†nice cubes and showed them what they should be looking for in the mud….

10 Robin Shows Off Finds So Far

 

…and Robin had found some nice ones by the time the geology students arrived, one of them a nice small set of cubes seen here close up in his crate….

11 Robin`s Finds

 

…including that green bottle that I found in the mud that morning at the top of the pit…I hollered out, ” who collects bottles ” and he answered ” I do ” and got the bottle. I have discovered people collect different things these days in addition to rocks….

11 Robin`s Finds Close Up

 

Diggers were looking through the tailing piles on both sides of the pit, this guy checking out the pile on the south side of the pit…

13 Looking Thru Tailing Pile

 

and you will notice he has his rain gear on, as many of us did, until around noon or a little after, when the sun came out finally…some went without rain gear deciding a little wet wasnt gonna hurt them at all since they were gonna get muddy anyway…..

15 Little Girl Blue

…and the mud created hazards on its own, making balance very important…

14 Balancing Act

 

….and getting back to looking for fluorite everywhere…this next guy John, one of the Maryland crew, I found him down in the muddy water pit about an hour later, looking for crystals…I think he figured it was worth a shot since it was near the backfilled area…

16 John from Maryland

 

…and here are a couple more of the Maryland crewmembers, washing off crystals in the outflow from the pump….

17 Maryland Crew

 

…but no matter what, people still showed up and continued to dig all day out there, in all age groups too….

18 Digging All Over Pile

 

19 Digging All Over Pile

 

20 Look What I Found Mom

 

21 Another Maryland Digger

 

22 Ohio Steve Clearing Out

 

…..above is Ohio Steve clearing out after searching all morning down by the creek bank, he actually found a rockhammer down there buried in the mud…..and below is my buddy Steve from Memphis, walking around looking for treasures on the north side of the pit….

23 Steve Looks for Treasure

 

…and more afternoon diggers shown and raingear set off to the side as the sun was now out and it was humid as well….

24 Afternoon Diggers

One of the geology students, Cody, stood out when he showed up completely prepared for any type of weather in waders, and by the time he left for the day about six hours later, he was muddy from the front toes of his boots to the very top of the waders, looked like he had gotten down into the pit and rolled in it, but I can tell you Cody was one happy digger by then, having a few large yard rocks and some smaller cubed clusters as well for his muddy adventures. He was also happy because some rockhounds from Maryland….yes I said Maryland… had given him some instruction and assistance in hard rock mining as he was trying to tackle a pocket he found in the saddle in the middle of the pit. After learning how to hard rock mine some cubes, he was quite happy just to have learned the method, even though he really didnt extricate any cubes from the pocket. He was working over on the south side of the pit when Robin and Sandy joined me on the north side to take a closer look at the old tunnel entrance…..

29 Old Tunnel Entrance

….we tried digging it out to see if there was anything worthwhile in the mix, but didnt find a thing in it. After I explained the saddle to Cody, he moved to it to try and work the pockets, we then moved over to the south side where I ¬†began moving mud away from the base and digging down to the bench level and pulling out some small clusters of fluorite cubes.¬†After a bit Tammy Bromley and her sister joined me on that side, staying up on top and sifting thru the tailing piles, after looking around on the north side all morning. Steven and April Gibbs arrived around 1 pm and stayed up on top working the spoil piles as well.¬†

As I stated, there was an entire group that traveled down from the state of Maryland for the dig at the Eureka Mine, a club outing for them and after talking to them a bit, discovered that they do this quite a bit, and are planning now for an upcoming trip out to Utah to look for geodes red beryl, ¬†and agate. They had made the drive down here straight thru, and it required around fifteen hours. They stayed the entire day with us at the Eureka and around 4:30 pm, Bill Frazer came down the road to warn us of a dark storm cloud approaching from the northwest…we could see it coming down the valley but couldnt tell much about it due to the restriction of the trees blocking our narrow view of it, but as it neared our location, it suddenly changed direction and headed in a more easterly direction toward the highway from the pit. By that time though, all of us had bailed from the pit and decided we were tired and muddy enough to retire early for the day. The Maryland crew decided to stick around and take advantage of the waterfall under the bridge to clean up at before heading out, while the rest of us headed back to the hotel to clean up and go to the steakhouse. As I got to the intersection of Hwy 60, I could see the cloud that concerned everyone and saw that it was a roll cloud, a very long reaching roll cloud, several miles long and neat looking as well. They can be quite scary looking when accompanied by dark colored clouds. After a brief stop at the museum to talk to Tina, I headed to the hotel and stopped briefly near Fredonia to photograph the pretty horses that are always in the field next to the highway……

25 Pretty Horses Sat PM Sunlight

 

26 Pretty Horses Sat PM Sunlight

 

27 Pretty Horses Sat PM Sunlight

 

28 Pretty Horses Sat PM Sunlight

…and then I headed on south to the hotel to get cleaned up and then meet Steve, April, and her mom at the Oasis for a great meal and catch up on old times. They are great rockhunting friends from Memphis and I hadn`t seen them for about a year, so we caught up on events in the past year through supper. They are creating jewelry with their treasures these days so they were going to the show on Sunday morning. I had brought them some agates and other gems as well.¬†

Sunday morning dawned early for me, it didnt seem like I had gotten enough rest and I had a long day in front of me. I arrived at the mine about 7 am this time and started the pump, the water level back down to its normal level this time and so it only took about 90 minutes to pump it down. I stopped after about an hour though and diverted the flow to the water hose and washed off the bench in case there would be any hard rock miners this time. Even though there were no hard rock miners there in the morning, there might have been some later on. Tammy and her sister were the first ones to arrive after Mike the host, ¬†and I put them down in the corner pocket I had been working the day before….

31 Corner I Worked Sat PM

….and after helping them for a while, I took off for home, stopping off at the museum to give BJ the gate key and then walked over to the gem show to visit a bit. I bought a few pieces of agate from Mr. Flynn and he invited me back to hunt with him anytime in the Irvine area and I told him I would def do that. As he said, springtime is better as far as less leaves covering the ground, but early fall has its advantages as well, as the deep creek holes are usually drier by then too. These days with the recession still making things difficult for many people, there are many more folks out hunting for it and selling it on the side, so you have to be careful as some of them are a bit on the shady side.

¬†I soon headed home from there, taking Hwy 60 to Paducah due to the restricted roadway and construction stupidity on I-24 from Eddyville to Paducah. I stopped in Paducah to fill my gas tank, gas there 3.37 a gallon and then headed west on Hwy 62 and 286 to Wickliffe, crossing first the Ohio River and then the Mississippi River on the twin steel structure bridges near Cairo…..

33 Mississippi River Bridge

….as I entered Charleston, Missouri, I encountered the lowest priced gas pumps seen so far on the trip, at the truck stop there, 3.25 a gallon and kinda wished then, that I had filled up there instead. Oh well…

On my way home, I made a pit stop at a great location that a buddy of mine told me about in south central Missouri, and filled my entire truck up with beautiful clusters and single crystals of calcite and druse, some that were several inches in diameter and length, and in many colors including some pinks and greens. ¬†I had several huge clusters in the front passenger seat and the entire back seat filled up, as well as the bed of my truck…I had to leave several behind because I simply had no more room to put them. I found some gorgeous orange dogtooth crystals there as well, and carefully wrapped them up and placed in several of my blue bags.

Hopefully they will still be there in a couple of weeks when I return with a rockhunting friend from the St Louis area. I was very tired when I finally got home about 11 pm Sunday night, but also very happy. It looks like my next few days off will involve alot of crystal cleaning and catching up on my blog site as well, as I now have about a dozen bags of wrapped crystals to clean up. As soon as I get them cleaned up and some photos taken, I`ll post them then. 

if you have any questions or wanna say hi, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com

BE Clement Museum Annual Rock Show and Dig 2012

Missy and I loaded up the truck and headed south to Marion, Kentucky last Friday, June 1st, for the Clement Mineral Museum`s 2012 Rock Show and Dig Weekend. I had been planning this trip for sometime, talked with my good rockhunting friends Steven and April Gibbs from Memphis, who were also planning to go there, and talked with Tina, who runs the museum, earlier in the week. Tina told me they were in need of some pretty pieces of soda straw and bubble druse quartz for their silent auction, so I loaded up some and took to them. I never have a problem donating to a worthy cause, and the Clement Museum Staff do provide great locations and opportunities for rockhounds everywhere, for a very low fee, something that is becoming harder and harder to find these days.

Since Illinois I-57 is loaded down with road construction, I decided to stay in Missouri and headed south to Sikeston. Little did I know that Missouri has loaded up I-55 with road construction zones as well…which wouldnt be so bad, except you have these long five and ten mile stretches of cones and one lane, limited to 45 mph, and nothing going on except in one or two spots. Give me a break, there is no reason to make motorists drive that slow through long stretches of inactivity…geez….if only our Highway Department could enforce the rules for contractors on these projects and keep traffic moving between work stoppages…..seems to be a rampant problem everywhere these days.

Enough of my soapbox for the day….as we approached Sikeston, from as far away as Cape even, we started seeing huge, high clouds of smoke and I began to wonder what was on fire…I stopped in Charleston to fill my gas tank at the Caseys Store, gas there was 3.29 a gallon, and a resident there told me the fires were wheat farmers burning their fields off after harvesting the wheat crops….here is one of the clouds of heavy smoke as I was headed south toward the Twin Bridges near Cairo….

02 Fires SE Missouri

I crossed the Mississippi River on the first of two beautiful steel structure bridges shortly after….

59 From The Missouri Side

…this bridge in particular was repaired in the past year after a barge struck one of its support pillars last year and damaged its structural integrity. I crossed over it and then crossed the second of the twin bridges, this one spanning the Ohio River and into Kentucky,¬† a few hundred feet after crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.

About 90 minutes later I was pulling into the Clement Museum in Marion and with help from the staff members there, I unloaded the druse for the silent auction and then registered for the dig the next two days. While talking to Tina, I volunteered to start the pump at the Eureka Mine and Bill Frazer said that would greatly free him up to take care of other things. I headed down to Kuttawa to get checked into my hotel room at the Days Inn, and then after cleaning up, walked over to the Oasis Southwest Grill for a good steak dinner. Steaks arent the only thing they cook well, they have good surf and turf combo plates too and great bbq as well, having invested in a smoker a couple of years ago. Several of us rockhounds have been eating there the past few years and there is a good atmosphere inside as well…it gets a little noisy inside on Friday and Saturday nights, but the food is sure worth it.

After supper, Missy and I headed down to Lake Barkley and after walking around a bit waiting for the sun to settle for the night, I snapped this sunset photo at the edge of the water….

03 Sunset Friday Night

We got up bright and early the next morning…I spotted Steven and April`s truck in the parking lot as we headed north to the Eureka Mine….this was the sunrise that greeted us as we left the hotel….

03A Sunrise Saturday

¬†After stopping off at Miss Netta`s Donut Shop in Eddyville and picking up half a dozen donuts for the day, we drove on over to the mine…as we were driving down the hill approaching the creek bridge, we came upon a very large Bull at the side of the road…anyone who has been down that mine road can imagine this well…a two thousand pound curly brown haired bull standing on the side, leaving me just a little bit of extra space to veer around him and give him all the space he wanted. I rolled down the window and said, ” hey there buddy, you look a little lost to me “…. he just gave me a look and I decided to keep on driving…..didnt figure he needed any help from me….and drove on over to the mine….

04 Eureka Mine Sat Morning

I got the pump going quickly and it started pumping fast.

¬† ¬†I then called Bill Frazer and told him about the bull in the roadway and he said he would come out and see if we could get him back in the fenced field somewhere before folks started arriving at the mine, wouldnt want that to be the welcome wagon for them. While waiting for Bill to arrive, Missy and I took a look around at the dirt piles that Wayne Crider moved around with the backhoe to get things ready for the rockhounds…

06 PIt at Eureka Mine

 

05 Tailing Piles Turned Over

…while walking around, I nearly stepped on a beautiful plate that was covered with crystal cubes on both sides. I saw alot of potential cubes in the overturned area and figured there would be alot of happy diggers today. I also removed a couple of bags of crystals from years past and dumped them on the ground near my truck for kids to go through as a sure thing. Some kids burn out early and give up easily…course there are some adults that do that as well, so I always try to bring some extras along for them just in case. Hate for anyone to go home empty handed.

Missy and I walked down to the creek bridge…..

08 Waiting On Bill Frazer

…and looking up the road, I no longer saw the bull, so I figured he must have walked up that hill to an opening….

09 Mine Road

…so we walked up to the base of the hill to see if we could spot him at all and waited for Bill to arrive….

10 Mine Road

….Bill arrived and we couldnt find the bull so he decided to look for him up above after placing a few parking signs for the diggers. He later told me he found the bull had wandered down the field up by the old garage building at the top of the hill by the mine road turn to the gate….Missy and I walked back to the pit and waited for the miners to start showing up. We didnt have to wait long, Rex was the first to arrive, having pre-registered with Bill ahead of time….

12A Miner Rex Hard At It

…he is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and no stranger to fluorite mining…we talked for a bit and I showed him a few areas and he settled into one quite nicely…here partially hidden behind this sprig working on the bench area.¬† By 9 am, there were several miners hard at work in and around the pit itself….

11 By 9 AM Miners Hard At Work

…including Chris and his dad David, from Connecticutt, who settled into the bench area working the pockets right beside Rex….

12 Miners In Pit Area

..and these guys worked the north side of the pit across from them for much of the day….

13A  Pit Miners Hard At It

..while even more decided to try to find the goodies in the overturned dirt piles….

15 Searching Overturned Tailings

and luckily, with the help of some much needed rain earlier in the week, the digging was much easier to do than it would be had it turned off hot and muggy instead…the weather over the weekend was near perfect for digging long hours…alot of kids and families showed up to dig as well….I spent most of the morning helping others find a good place to dig in and even helped spot a few crystals for some of the newbies…and when the kids couldnt find anything good, I had them check out a pile of crystals I had placed on the ground near my truck for them to look through….and I worked the pump all day long too…

16 Digging In

…but by mid afternoon, only the more serious diggers were left working on site….

17 By 2 PM Most are Gone

Steven and April made it out to the mine about 10:30 am and April`s mom was with them again this trip, she decided to see what she could find up in the loose dirt tailings, while Steven and April came over to the pit where I was at and we decided to dig down to the vein like we did last year. We were a bit higher up on the bank this time and so Steve had to dig down a little deeper to find it…about four feet down in fact and then widened it so at least one of us could get down into it.

18 Steve Dug This Hole for Us

I jumped down into it first and began pulling crystals and clusters out right and left…I was standing on what I thought was the vein, and was pulling some clusters and crystals out from under it…after a bit, Steve was able to get the shovel under it and pry it up and then we found out it wasnt the vein, it was simply a boulder with big crystals on the underside of it…eventually I was able to lift it up and lift it up to Steve who pulled it on out of the hole and set it nearby…it is now resting comfortably in my mom`s rock garden. Once it was removed, we started pulling clusters and crystals from the bottom clay layer about ten inches above the bottom of the hole as well as from the floor of the hole, and this worked out well for us too. As soon as I get some cleaned up, I`ll post them on here.

In the meantime, Chris was taking that bench he was working on, back about three feet slowly but surely…by mid day it was moved back about two feet….

19 Chris Works The Bench Back

…and he was finding some really nice pockets throughout the bench….

20 Pocket in Bench

…that contained some beautiful purple cubes and sphalerite….

21 Bench Pocket

…he was having a lot of difficulty early on, getting into the pockets due to someone having used a rock saw and hammer drill on a prior dig there….some people will tell you that power equipment like that makes it easier for others to follow but in all truthfulness, it makes it much more difficult for the next person or group to access the pockets.¬† One of those things that sounds good, but in all actuality, its not really a good thing, helps one at the time but wont help anyone who follows later. Chris did find a few chisels wedged into drill holes that those folks werent able to get back out as well….guess that would be Karma…what goes around, comes around….

22 Chisels Lost By Last Group

The hosts for the Eureka Mine, Phil and Shirley, were found both days working the dirt pile at the south end of the Eureka Mine and were very helpful again as well…..

23 Phil and Shirley Dig in Bank

…Phil showed me some white, almost crystal clear fluorite that he found down in central Kentucky at some older fluorite mines near the Kentucky River that were quite pretty. Like me, they make several trips to the Eureka Mine for the public digs and are great to sit and visit with as well. They found some nice material in the south side dig pile too.

By 4 pm, most of us were tired enough to come to our senses and stop digging for the day…I decided to drive back up to the museum and check in with the crew up there regarding the pump on Sunday morning and talked to Bill Frazer who gave me the go ahead to start the pump again Sunday. As I was driving back to the hotel, I passed the new fire station and saw that their trucks were inside this time so it was obvious they had dedicated it finally and moved in….

24 New Marion FD Station

…what I wasnt aware of though, was the fact that they had a ladder truck in their fleet…having seen the old firestation, not much more than a small shed, I didnt figure they had anything like that….takes a pretty good sized building and bay area to house a custom made fire truck like that…ladder trucks are pretty good sized trucks and lengthy too….

25 Marion FD Ladder Truck

..I stopped and took a few photos and then beat feet back to the hotel as I had told Steve and April I would meet them at the steakhouse for dinner by 6 pm. As it was, I was able to return in time and we had a great dinner at the Oasis SW Grill.¬† A word of warning if you go there…watch out for their addictive hot rolls…just sayin…

Missy and I slept in a little later Sunday morning and still made it to the Eureka Mine at 7 am….

26 Entrance to Mine Road

…and we no sooner crossed the creek bridge and turned left to start up to the mine when a big gobbler ran from the mine`s south side and turned to run up the mine road toward the Mary Belle Mine…it happened so fast, I couldnt get the lens on it quick enough to snap a photo.

I started the pump up again…the water level didnt seem as high this time…….

27 Eureka Mine Sunday Morning

…and it pumped down pretty quickly…..I also found about ten gallons of water in the hole April and I had pulled clusters out of the day before, so I had to lay down and let my five gallon bucket fill and then get up and raise the bucket out of the hole and turn around to dump it…I decided to wash off the muddy bench and ledges with it and kill two birds with one stone.

The diggers started showing up about 8 am this time, led off by Chris and his dad David, and Chris started pounding those pockets out once again.¬† Steve and April were going to check out the rock show again, so I did a little exploratory digging down on the saddle where Rex had stopped digging the day before. By the time they arrived about mid morning, I had pulled a few more clusters out of the side pockets that Rex had found on Saturday and let April take over and work it. Steve decided to work across the water pond from us and dig out the side vein going to the right, and April`s mom can be seen up the bank behind Steve….

43 Chris Keeps Popping Them Out

Well it didnt take Chris long to get going Sunday morning…he started popping more pockets out right and left and was finding alot of fluorite with sphalerite and greenockite as seen here in his basket of goodies…

 

30 More Greenockite

I was tracking his progress since I was working alongside him this morning….and he found some fantastic pockets along the edge of the bench he was still working on….here is one of the pockets up close that he found….

29 Pocket Chris Located in Bench

…but let me tell you, the attention quickly shifted Saturday mid morning to his dad David, who was continuing to work the corner next to him, especially when David hit a pocket of calcite dogtooth crystals on some plates. Here is the first small plate that he found up behind this huge boulder that required both him and Chris to muscle out of the way….

33 David With Plate of Dogtooths

…..a small plate of half inch high orange dogtooth crystals that were absolutely beautiful to see, here up closer….

31 Plate of Dogtooth Crystals

 

32 Plate Dogtooth Crystals David Found

…I pulled my cellphone out and called Bill Frazer, and told him about it and he said he would return to check it out….here is the area that David was working in and found the pocket of calcite in…

34 Area David Was Working

….well a few minutes went by and David found yet another plate of calcite crystals…these looked like little orbs of calcite melted down on a bigger plate……seen¬†here close up…..

39 Second Plate of Calcite by David

…and…..

41 Calcite Crystals Up Close

…and a few minutes later, David started digging back further and it was starting to look like he was tunneling in now…

44 Dzvid Starts Tunneling In

…and he found yet another small plate of calcite crystals….

42 Third Plate David Found

…by this time, Bill Frazer had returned and came down to see the specimens himself…and after careful study of them, he stated what I was thinking the entire time….he had never seen anything like them and nothing like them had ever been found there….but very pretty looking.

And in the meantime, Chris started tapping out a few more big plates from pockets that he was finding in the bench….

46 Chris Taps Out Another Pocket

..here he is tapping out a big chunk from the pocket below….

45 David Finds Another Pocket

…and he reached down and pulled a small cluster out of that pocket down there, it was about to fall out into the water hole and then he would have had to put on scuba gear to find it….

47 Chris Pulls Small One out of Pocket

…and here it is up close….

48 Chris Pulls This Small Cluster From Pocket

…so after setting this one down, he grabbed his small pry bar and started gently tugging this chunk out….

49 Chris Prys Plate Out

…and then carefully picked it up once loose….

50 Using Brute Force

…and turns with it in his hands and a big smile on his face…..

52 Happy Chris

…and up close, showing heavy sphalerite and cubes above a wise seam of calcite….

53 Pocket Piece Removed

 

54 Pocket Piece Cubes

…and here are a few more chunks with pockets of cubes in them…the one on the right is the one he let me take home because he didnt have room left in their truck for it…due to the many geodes from northeast Missouri….

55 Pocket Chunks

…the one I took home has four pockets of fluorite cubes, one pocket of galena cubes and fluorite cubes, and there is greenockite all the way across it….

35 Greenockite Covers This Chunk

 

36 Cubes of Fluorite and Galena

…and here is a pocket on one side of the other chunks that he took home with him….very pretty deep purple cubes inside it….

37 Pocket in Side of Rock

A few more kids showed up at the Eureka Mine on Sunday and I was able to provide them with some nice crystals to take home, left over from the day before. I was even able to provide some crystals to the parents as well. This was the first time I didnt have to take any of the give away crystals back home with me as well.

I had been planning to leave Sunday about noon and head home by way of Eminence, but received a call from my mom who was checking radar for me…the forecast the night before was for storms in the Eminence area on Sunday. I decided I really didnt want to drive over there if it was going to be 85 and storming, so I stayed til about 3 pm and then headed home. Steve and April headed to the rock show to shop a little more before heading to their home in Memphis. I stopped by the museum to change clothes and say goodbyes to all my friends there, and then headed home. I was one tired puppy and Missy was the only one refreshed, having sat in the ac for the past few hours.¬† Luckily I had a few Arizona Green Tea cans with me for the trip home…they are about the only thing that keeps me awake and worked well….I crossed back over the bridges near Cairo and crossed back into Missouri….

56 Welcome Back to Missouri

…an amazing bridge with amazing structural steel support….

58 Amazing Bridge

…and as I rolled west by Six Flags over Mid America, I spotted these neat looking sunbeams….

60 Sunbeams On Way Home

…and then later saw this beautiful sunset as I was getting ready to eat supper….

61 Sunset Sunday Night