Kentucky Central 2019 Trip

I worked at the golf course all summer, starting my second year there back in April and did not ask off for vacation time til mid August, then submitted time off requests for my annual Labor Day Weekend trip to Central Kentucky and end of September for Geode Fest, with both approved by my bosses. They kidded me a bit about it at first, but after working with them my second year now, I know when they are joking, even with a serious look on their faces. Four out of five of my bosses like rocks too, so that helps as well, since my trips are mainly about rock and mineral hunting and collecting. 🙂

I called my good friend Gary Griffith about a week out, to check and see what he had in fluorite this year, as many of my rockhound friends who join me down there, like fluorite as much as I do, and always ask me to get some for them too. Gary told me they had a difficult year this time around, the rains and storms we had up here in central Missouri this summer, heavy torrential rains often times, that caused us alot of damage to the golf course at work…also caused Gary and his son alot of problems for the fluorite mining. It mainly created them a lot of mud that they were unable to work in and sometimes some damage to equipment, but mainly just delays in actual mining time. He has also become well known for good quality fluorite and so many dealers who sell fluorite now go to him for southern Illinois fluorite. In the weeks leading up to the Clement Mineral Museum Show, they had four or five dealers trying to buy fluorite from them, they wanted all of it, whatever they had available and were calling on them on a daily basis sometimes, darn near pestering them, not taking no for an answer.

Gary is one of the nicest guys I know, and when he says no, he means it. No means No…I mean, how hard can that be to understand ???   Dealers can sometimes be difficult to deal with, they usually do not understand what NO means and sometimes will try to do some really dumb things if they think you are stretching the truth or trying to avoid them. I have personally been there and experienced it myself, so I can truly understand what Gary was going thru during that time period, let me tell ya, cause I have dealt with some of those dealers from time to time myself.

Gary is also one of the good friends of everyone at the Clement Mineral Museum staff and Board of Directors, and he helps them whenever he can…a couple of years ago, when the digs ran into trouble, he pitched in and provided them with a dump truck load of mine spoils filled with fluorite chips, so that the kids at the Museum`s annual show, had a big pile to dig thru and find pretty stuff in. There may have even been some big kids in that pile from time to time, too. It was much appreciated by everyone there and a real hit with the younguns. Since he likes to help the Museum folks with their show, he was able to hold back some material to take to the show this year, and he had some gorgeous stuff back then…I made sure to get a few pieces, came from a special pocket that they located earlier this year when they had a good run of weather to work in, gorgeous deep purple cubes in a complex array and pattern of cubes, very detailed and very pretty. A couple of friends in my group of rockhound friends, were there as well and they purchased a couple of his fluorites as well. 

This year, despite a not-so good year of mining, he told me he would see what they could find for me, in the week ahead, and asked me to call him back the night before I was going to drive down to central Kentucky. When I called back, they were fortunate to let me know they had some good luck and found a few nice pockets and some good cubes and clusters in their tailing piles too. Onyx and I got up and on the road by 6 am, headed that way…Gary was going to work that morning and Walter would be meeting me at their house by mid morning. I got delayed on the trip down by the construction work on I-57, becoming an annual thing to deal with, must have something to do with job security…but really becoming an aggravation for many more than me, I am sure. Doubt if they will ever get that area between Marion and Mount Vernon completed, sad situation for all of us that travel in that direction. Walter gave me an alternate route in case I ever need it for that stretch of roadway for future reference. 

Onyx and I rolled in there about 10:45 am on Friday morning, August 30th and Walter came out shortly after I arrived. I was looking at the flats of gorgeous stuff they had located for me to look through…

…quickly finding out they had found some nice pieces with big cubes and even more surprising, they got into a pocket of lead, with purple fluorite squeezed in between the lead like grape jelly !! 

I stayed long enough that Gary came home with a few more pieces and we had a good visit, and I bought a few nice yard rocks this time around as well. I purchased quite a few of those grape jelly and lead pieces too, they were NEAT !! Onyx and I got back on the road by noon and soon after, crossed the Ohio River and headed south to Princeton, to pick up some food and access the Western Kentucky Parkway. The only bad thing about this drive across Kentucky, is that it`s at least a 3 hour drive from there and you lose an hour going into the eastern time zone.

Luckily traffic was very light going east and we were able to make good time, but by the time I was about an hour out of Harrodsburg, I received a call from my buddy Jim Bartle, the editor for my local newspaper that I shoot for occasionally…he asked if I was still home or in Kentucky. I let him know I was in the heart of Kentucky and he said that a small tornado had just gone through my hometown, trees were down over on my side of town, and golf ball sized hail had fallen as well across town…he was looking for a photographer to respond to some of those calls and told me the Fire Department was responding to multiple calls as well. I called my neighbors Glenn and Dianne, who live across the street from me, and they told me my two trees were still standing, the one in the front yard is one of the tallest trees up and down my street, if not the tallest..prob around 75 yoa too and very big around at the base. Dianne was at the local grocer when it started hailing, she confirmed the size of the hail and said it lasted 45 minutes. She did say other trees up our street a few blocks away, were down as well and fire trucks were going everywhere. They walked over to check for hail damage to my sunroom, texted me back later to let me know they saw no damage to my house or sunroom. I worry because a hail storm a few yrs ago shredded the lexan plastic panelled roof of my sunroom…it too was golf ball sized hail. The saving grace of this storm, was that it came in from the north, not the southwest as the bad storms normally come from.

Onyx and I rolled into Harrodsburg about 5 pm, stopping at the Baymont Inn to check in and get settled in…have to say the staff there this year were much friendlier and nicer to deal with from our arrival to our departure. Last year was so bad that I had to contact Wyndham Hotels to lodge a complaint against the owner there, in order to get things resolved and money back on a night not spent there, was told this year that the hotel was under new management and many things there were much better…one of the nicer conditions there besides the clean rooms, great design and decorations, is the soundproof rooms there…you don`t even hear doors opening and closing next door to your room, or any noise for that matter, inside or outside the hotel. Great place to stay at !!  I checked in with Slade Harvin, to make sure supper was going to be at 6 pm at the Bright Leaf Hotel Restaurant and then headed that way soon after getting Onyx settled in. 

Slade is the President this year of the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Club, the hosting club for this trip…they graciously allowed me to join their club a couple of years ago after I was able to get them access to the local quarry to collect at, and they have allowed my group to join me on this trip the last few years as well. Slade and two other members of their club, are in my group as well. A couple of clubs from New York State have joined us on this trip as well. One of the highlights this year is that the Russell brothers were going to be there again, all three very passionate about rockhounding, safety, knowledge, and experience, and great people to hang with as well !! 

Most of the members were staying at the Bright Leaf Resort Golf Course Hotel, about a mile south of Harrodsburg on Hwy 127, which also has a buffet style restaurant that has great food and service, so we take our breakfast and dinner there daily while there. I walked in to find several members on the far side of the dining room at a table that extends the entire width of the dining hall along the west bank of windows, always reserved for our group. They were already chowing down on the seafood buffet and I joined them very quickly. There were some new folks from New York there this time around and some from north Georgia as well. We had a great dinner and then went out to set up the annual first night of the Tailgate Swap and Sell Event….everyone brings crystals and minerals to sell or swap and it`s a great time to visit with everyone as well…lasts a couple of hours each night. During this time, John O and a few others arrived as well…think John ran into some road construction as well on his way down from northwest Illinois. Others who came in late had been rockhunting along the way, which explained their delays. I headed back to the Baymont around 10 pm, exhausted after the long day, and after taking care of Onyx, we were both asleep soon after…I didn`t even turn the tv on to check the news or weather.  We awoke to a beautiful morning and headed over to Bright Leaf Restaurant for breakfast shortly after 6 am…still dark that time of the day there, and soon after good food and fellowship, we waited in the parking lot to line up and the sun came up behind a big horse farm across the highway from the hotel…

I shot a few stills and then some video as well of the sun rising in the eastern skies…

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…and while waiting for a few stragglers to arrive, one guy I had been talking to by email, that had found my website by searching for fluorites or geodes in Kentucky, and when I invited him to join us for the weekend, said he would drive down this morning from his home in Louisville. Dawson showed up a few minutes later and I introduced him to the group right before we shot a group photo….this first one I am taking the photo….

…and this next one, Dale Russell, front row kneeling on left side in orange shirt with silver stripes, graciously offered to shoot so I could be in the photo…

Incidentally, that is his brother David Russell, standing to my right in the yellow shirt and his younger brother Dean, kneeling next to me in the yellow shirt with silver stripes…Slade, kneeling on the other side of Dean in the blue shirt, is their adopted brother…or son…or something like that, lol. 🙂

Stephanie and her husband Kim arrived as well, they are from North Carolina as well and stayed with us all weekend…she also found me online as Dawson had done and I had been talking to her a while as well. We then loaded up, lined up, and took off to Danville, 8 miles south, to the Caldwell Quarry, to meet Clay, the Quarry Manager, at the gate. We arrived a few minutes before Clay did but we left the middle of the driveway open so he could reach the gate to open it for us. After signing the liability forms and a safety talk, and another group photo by the big beautiful boulder in front of the office…..

…one of his employees led us down into the quarry…

…to this area of the quarry, ground level, which is where we found most of the nice stuff we found last year and the year before that too…sometimes fossils can be found higher up but they are sporadic…

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…the basement level has a nice pond across part of it…that became a playground and go to spot for Onyx right off the bat…luckily for me, he found another cleaner body of water to wash off before he got back into my truck…

Soon everyone had spread out to three levels, one above ground level and the basement level and were actively searching for beautiful stuff…soon after that saws could be heard running and sawing as well as hammering and the musical tones of chisels and wedges…

…we truely could not have picked a prettier day to go rock collecting at the Caldwell Quarry, we had the whole morning to dig and hammer and saw and collect there…

…my buddy David Bruce, soon had his saw running…

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…he was cobbing down a small boulder that David Russell found with a vug of dogtooth calcite crystals inside…but a lot of heavy matrix included…

I looked across the ground level and found Dean Russell and Dawson up on pile of boulders looking at something special, so I walked over to take a look at the find by Dawson…

they were trying to figure out what it really was…I was as perplexed as they were…it looked like oil covering crystals…John later confirmed that is exactly what it was….oil on calcites….and completely natural too….

About 11:30 am…as we were wrapping up and getting ready to head out of the quarry, I came across Dale Russell who had found some nice plates of barites…gave me some…and some with calcites attached as well as what looked like Millerite hairs included…so I took some photos of his find that he really liked…

…he cut this from a huge boulder with his saw…keep that in mind…Patty Hermann came up and looked at it too while I was photographing it…

From the quarry, most of us headed to one of our favorite geode hunting locations south of Danville, took us about 30 minutes to get there, but it`s a cool creek in many ways, to hunt at. Last year they had a good heavy rainfall before we arrived, which helped to raise the water level and wash many big geodes out of the banks..this year was a dry and hot summer for them,not much rainfall, so even though we didn`t find as many nice big ones, we find some nice ones and it was a good side location for us as well. Most of us were there a few hours before heading back to our hotels to clean up and rest before dinner. 

…here is one of the nicer ones I found and cracked open…filled with sunshine quartz…my favorites in Kentucky….

After another good supper at the Bright Leaf, we returned to the parking lot and set up for the second night of the Tailgate Mineral Sales and Swap Event….

the photo above is John Oostenryk, a good buddy of mine from northwest Illinois, totally surrounded by folks interested in the gorgeous barites and calcites that he brings with him from the Linwood Quarry in Iowa, he is one of the dealers to buy from if you are as appreciative of their beauty and bedazzle as I am…he is one of those rare dealers that will always be honest with you on pricing and quality of material, the kind of dealer you hope you find each and every time. John is also quite knowledgeable about Iowa and Northwest/Western Illinois Minerals as well. He is one of those go to guys during Geode Fest, too.

After another good night, I headed back to the hotel about 9 pm, again exhausted, for another good night of rest. We were slated to  leave at 7 am in the morning, headed to Liter`s Quarry near Fort Knox…not for gold exploration, but more crystals and minerals found in vugs of boulders…it`s a two hour drive over there and we were scheduled to meet the Quarry Manager there at 9 am. Some of us went there last year and in four hours time, found some great stuff, were looking forward to a return trip with even more folks this time around. Breakfast came a little earlier on Sunday morning, and the sunrise was again, nothing short of beautiful….with a little fog thrown in for special effect….

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We arrived a little after 9 am, slowed down by some more road construction in the Elizabethtown area on local roads, and found the gate shut and locked, no one waiting for us. Unfortunately, the number I had for the Manager was his office number, not his cell number…I found out his address wasn`t located too far away, so Mary took me over to his house and I was able to leave a note on his wife`s suv in the driveway…after a couple of hours had passed, some of our folks decided to return to Harrodsburg and drive out to a road cut to look for goodies, not knowing how long it might take us to get in. Fortunately tho, we had some locals stop by that knew him and tried to contact him for us. Eventually someone with his cell number stopped and provided it to me, and I was able to reach him pretty fast…he thought we were coming on Monday morning,  but he drove right over and let us inside, then showed me three areas that they had been working heavily on, let us know the rules and turned us loose to look for the good stuff. We started in the first spot we were at last year…back then it was a small spot but they had expanded it to three times bigger than before….

…and everyone hit the boulder piles pretty quickly, finding a lot of good stuff…everyone telling me that the wait to get in was definitely worth it….I texted Harry to let him know we were inside the quarry, but never did hear back from him til much later in the evening. 

 

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In the photo above, on the next level up from that red suv on the left side, I found a seam of orange calcite in ball form, from golf ball size to pea sized…pretty tho, so brought a few home with me. Dawson found some purple fluorite on some rocks in a druse fashion, on one side of this pit. we weren`t sure if it had rolled down from the level above or out of a pocket above.

From this pit we went over to the large older pit that we found some great geodes in the walls at, last year…well as with the first pit, they had re-worked this older pit and it was hard to find the old walls we had seen last year…maybe 100 feet of it remained and it was empty of goodies, so we spread out and searched the boulder piles and let me tell ya, no one left there unhappy at all…

It didn`t take my buddy David Bruce very long to find some suitable boulders to cob down with his saw…after looking around myself, I could see why, many of them were loaded with vugs full of gorgeous crystals…many of them pink dolomites with bright yellow calcite crystals inside them, some with sphalerites inside the crystals…great stuff for us rockhounds…

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here are some of the vugs I saw in boulders as I was walking around…

…and in this photo below…Don is the guy waving to me on the right, he is a good friend of the Russell brothers and in the same club in New York with Dale Russell…he is waving at me here to get Dean, on the left, to look at me.  good job Don !! 🙂

I found a nice yellow calcite vug in a boulder and pointed it out to Dale….

….he liked it so much he decided to see if he could pop it out with his hammer and chisels instead of his saw since he was pretty tired…

…unfortunately he hit his thumb with his hammer and had to take a little break, but he did finally liberate it and was happy with it…

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In the meantime, Mary from Ohio, had driven over to join us for the day and she wasted no time in finding a few buckets worth of crystals from the other side of that quarry pit….

…here is one I found under a couple of boulders, David Bruce was able to help me liberate it so I could bring it home….

Dorsey, the Quarry Manager, let us know we were welcome to return the next day if we wanted to so we drove back the next morning for a few hours again…some like John O had to head home right then and there, as did Mary and others headed back to Harrodsburg sooner than the rest of us did. We did so well, we stayed til 7 pm and then after I gave Dorsey a few dozen winter socks for his work crew, which he told me that his people really appreciated, I led Slade, Dean, and David Bruce back to Harrodsburg, we got in around 9 pm and drove down to Cheddars at Danville for dinner. 

After breakfast at Mc Donalds in Harrodsburg, a few of us did make the trip back on Monday morning to give it another shot…Stephie and Kim were part of the crew that returned that morning so they met us at the gate, as did Dawson and his girlfriend, joining Slade, Dean, David Bruce, and Onyx and I.

I only took a few photos on Monday morning…here you see Slade and Dean going back to the boulder pile we were working in Sunday evening…a pile we had been directed to by one of the New Yorkers and his son who were finding a lot of great vugs in the boulders there…

….we found more boulders with vugs of pink dolomite and yellow calcite crystals nestled in the pink dolomite crystals and went to work on extracting those vugs…I looked around for corner vugs that I could chisel off or loose ones around and under those boulders….found quite a few actually and with help from Slade and David Bruce, was able to take quite a few home with me, like these…I looked up about an hour in and spotted David Bruce walking around another boulder pile next to the one we were working, turns out he was shopping for more vug laced boulders to work over with his saw…

 

…a couple of my finds included the pink dolomites, yellow calcites, and some purple fluorite druse that we were finding alot of this morning…beautiful stuff up close….

I also found a medium sized chunk of limestone with a nice calcite rectangular shaped crystal in a bed of pink dolomite crystals…Slade kindly came over and used his saw to knock some of the weight off for me…

After a few hours, we all headed for home…Dean and Slade returning to Harrodsburg and then traveling south through Danville, with instructions to stop off at the roadcut and use their saws to extract some nice plates that Harry found there on Sunday afternoon. Onyx and I decided to drive south to Leitchfield and then take the Blue Grass Parkway and Western Kentucky Parkway back to I-24 and then on home through Southern Illinois, pretty much the same route we took down there. We were doing just fine, til we got within ten miles of I-57 and then northbound I-24 traffic came to a stop…we crawled along sporadically moving, took us an hour and 45 minutes to cover those ten miles, then found out there was an accident 2 miles north of the 24/57 interchange that had traffic backed up not only on I-24 but I-57 as well…I decided to go south on I-57 and exited on Hwy 146 west to Anna, Illinois and then over to Cape Girardeau, where after filling the fuel tank and hitting McDonald`s for some food, we headed north on I-55 and home by 10:30 pm. Only later did I find out it was a semi driver that struck the columns of the Hwy 148 Overpass, but refused medical treatment at the scene, and for whatever reason, Illinois State Police could not figure out how to move two lanes of traffic past a non-injury accident…plus Illinois`s DOT does not have messageboards along their interstates like MODOT does, to let you know of traffic backups like that so one can take an alternate route wayyyyy before they even get close to something like that. Guess that makes too much sense.

Other than that, had another great trip with good friends, good food, and great rock and mineral finds. Next week is Geode Fest in Hamilton, Illinois, across the river from Keokuk, Iowa and a few of my friends will be up there next weekend with me as well.  🙂

 

Annual Labor Day Weekend Trip to Central Kentucky

I normally take a spring vacation and a week off around July 4th, however this year, after my early retirement from nearly 16 years of fire / police dispatch work at East Central Dispatch in St Louis County, and picking up a seasonal job at Greenbriar Hills CC, I decided I would scrap my spring and summer vacations to show my bosses that I was truly dedicated and serious about working there, something I feel is important to do as a new employee in your first year of work. Doing so also allowed me to save up for my September Labor Day Weekend trip to Central Kentucky to join with good friends and members of the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Club there, on their annual trip to Kentucky for geode collecting. This year, as in the last year or two, we would be joined by members of two mineral clubs from New York state.

During my interview with my employers of the Golf Course, I mentioned that while I had taken five to six week long vacations in years past, there were specifically only two that were important to me, the Labor Day Weekend trip and my annual fall vacation in Arkansas…they told me that they would work with me on both trips, and despite being somewhat short handed this time of the year, having lost the college and high school guy`s help during the summer by mid August, they were true to their word allowing me to take my trip. I feel fortunate to work with bosses who have an interest in rocks and minerals….my Manager and one Supervisor with children that are starting to collect rocks and minerals, and another Supervisor that is interested in collecting and building his collection. I have helped them out with flats of different crystals and minerals from my collecting trips, and brought my Superintendent a few pretty drusey quartz yard rocks to dress up the front door entrance and garage entrance. A couple of my co-workers have also expressed an interest in rocks and minerals too, one even showed me some drusey quartz pieces in a box that his son had collected over the years and some cabochons used for jewelry that I was able to identify for him.

Onyx and I got up about my normal time of getting up for work, at 4 am on Friday morning, August 31st, and finished packing the truck for the trip…having packed it much of the way the evening before. I had actually been packing a little each afternoon after work for the entire week before, and sorted through several crystals two weeks before, to take down there for the buy/sell/swap tailgate event. I had the truck packed by 4:45 am and we hit the road shortly afterward, headed down to first visit with Gary, my fluorite miner friend in Southern Illinois. I wanted to see what new material Gary might have now…he indicated back in June when I visited with him at the Clement Mineral Museum, that the family mining work had been pretty sporadic after Gary lost his Dad to cancer, and then shortly after, lost two more family members, and the heavy rains had slowed them down as well, but he was sure they would eventually get back into it. He had let me know Thursday evening that he and his son Walter, had been remodeling his Dad`s house alot lately as well, especially during the hot weather spells recently, and would be around that morning. I was going to miss talking to his Dad, he was a super nice guy to talk to and had a lot of interesting stories from his days as a fluorospar miner all over Southern Illinois. About 20 miles down I-64 after Belleville, Illinois, the sun began to light up the sky and clouds that were hanging around, proving once again that God is a very creative artist of sunrises….

…this one hung up in the sky for about 20 minutes and just got prettier each second….traffic was light and we made it down to E-town four hours later, giving me a few hours to visit with Gary and purchase some beautiful fluorite. He came out of the house as I pulled in his driveway, told me to let Onyx out to stretch his legs…he had put his dog, Buster, up in his cage so Onyx could roam freely. We visited while I roamed around looking at the material he had available…one particular flat of material really caught my eye…he had told me about a fairly lrge cluster the week before, that he and Walter had found in a pocket, attached to the wall and just staring them in the face like a big flower in bloom, as they opened the pocket up…he said Walter got into the pocket and worked his way behind it as best he could and used a hammer and small chisel to lightly tap behind it and remove it from the wall in three places where it was attached, as Gary held on to it and hoped for little damage to it during this delicate process. Walter was careful and successful in removing it without any damage to the cubes, which were big and lustrous in appearance, the colors were dazzling as well and in the right light it really just sits there and shines very well….

…my images really do it no justice, but will give you an idea of its beauty…and the image below shows it with two additional smaller clusters that came from the same pocket….I purchased everything he had from that pocket thinking it would likely not be there for long. He told me on the phone the other night that several dealers from across the country were calling and coming by to see what he had on nearly a daily basis lately, and purchasing everything they were getting out…they didn`t even care if it was clean or dirty…crystals were going that fast lately…..

He had another longer specimen on matrix with some nice cubes and then several the size of the two small ones above, and several smaller pieces, from this one pocket. He also had some nice quartz pieces, some with fluorite cubes, deep purple color…so purple they were nearly black looking…embedded in the quartz crystals…and a few multicolor fluorite cubes with stair-steppng cubes….after looking at everything he had, which was not nearly as much as he usually has on hand when I am there…I purchased a few flats of material, the most gorgeous ones shown on the table in the next image….

…the oblong piece behind the Coke can is the next largest specimen from that pocket, the one to the left of the peanut butter jar is a gorgeous cluster of dark purple cubes with smithsonite in between the cubes on top…I really liked it…and the one in line with it near the edge of the table is another beauty…covered in quartz on top and one side…and there are some smaller beautiful clusters on the other end of the table there…Gary helped me load them up and after carefully wrapping them up, especially that huge cluster, carried them to the truck and safely loaded them into the floorboards. I wish now I had checked to see if he had any octogons…Gary chips them out of pieces of fluorite himself and is very good at it…some people call them fluorite diamonds…and they have also made some jewelry lately with the fluorite octogons, so maybe I should have checked on those too.

Onyx and I got back on the road soon after Walter arrived to work on the house some more, and I headed east to Cave-in-Rock to take the ferry over to Western Kentucky….we got to the crossing just in time to board and go across the muddy Ohio River…..

...I drove over to Princeton, intending to stop at the A & W Restaurant to get some lunch and a big cold root beer…grew up on A & W during my childhood…Dad drove a schoolbus and after we dropped the last kids off at their homes on the rural route north of town, we would always stop off at our local A & W, owned back then by Don Lakebrink, one of our fellow firefighters, and we would get a mug of frosty A & W rootbeer before heading home…Dad always got a big mug and I got a little guy`s mug !!  Talk about hitting the spot every time !! 🙂 

Well I was a little disappointed to find out that the A & W there had closed recently, so we drove across the street to Mc Donalds and got lunch there instead and then hit the Western Kentucky Parkway eastbound. About ten miles down the parkway I noticed dark clouds forming up ahead of us….

…and pretty soon, as we approached the turn off to Hopkinsville, we came upon wet pavement where the storm had passed over ahead of us….soon after that, it was one storm after another and rain showers every ten to twenty miles all the way over to Danville…three hours later, as we were passing St Catherine College in the valley by Springfield, we saw more clouds forming just south of the college….

…I checked some creeks on the way across the valley, having come in the back way from Bardstown, but they were running pretty high and full from recent rains, so I pushed on to the hotel at Harrodsburg. I received a text from Slade a few minutes later, he had just arrived at his hotel, the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel, where most of the members were staying…however it`s not a dog friendly hotel so Onyx and I were staying at the Baymont Inn on the north side of town, and conveniently I thought for us, it was located right behind the Dairy Queen. 🙂  My good friends Fred Mahaffey from East Texas, and David Bruce from north Georgia, were also staying at the Baymont. The Hickory Club had switched hotels this year, after some of us met with some attitude from the owner`s son of last year`s hotel…in the past couple of years we have ate breakfast and supper both at the restaurant of the Bright Leaf Resort, great buffet food there, so it was a natural decision to stay there as well. Had they been pet friendly, Onyx and I would have stayed there too. I let Slade know we were probably about 30 minutes out still and would give him a shout when we headed to the Bright Leaf for supper after checking into the Baymont. Slade is the Newsletter Editor for the Hickory, North Carolina Club…the hosting club for this trip…we have been good friends for a couple of years now and he is a member of my group as well. 

As we approached Perryville the clouds once again started darkening down…I was able to get through the beautiful old town square area in good light and then once up on the hill on the other side of town, it really got dark and ominous looking….

…this storm could have done something with the temps now about 85 degrees, but luckily for all of us I am sure, it did not do anything more than drop some rain showers on the south side of the highway. We rolled into Harrodsburg 20 minutes later with ease, found Fred`s jeep parked on the south end of the hotel, and after checking in for a three night stay, and freshening up a bit, I soon headed over to the Bright Leaf Restaurant to meet up with everyone for supper…as I approached the hotel there, another storm appeared just east of the highway behind some horse farms there…

Slade was waiting for me outside as I arrived…I left Onyx at the hotel room since I figured he was ready for a change of scenery. We found most of the group already inside the restaurant chowing down on the seafood buffet and joined them. Everyone was rested up from their long trip down there from North Carolina….the New York crews wouldn`t arrive for another couple of hours as they were collecting at roadcuts on their way down there…so it was decided to postpone the tailgate event til the next night when it was certain that everyone would be present for it.

We had a great meal, fried catfish strips, jumbo shrimp, clams, scallops, and about six veggies to choose from, as well as cake slices and cobbler to choose from….they used to have a soft serve ice cream machine but no longer, so I decided to get some DQ when I returned to the Baymont. After supper, we all wandered out into the parking lot to visit further, and I took that time to give Slade a couple of flats of material I had brought for him..he gave me some nice stuff as well…one a HUGE smokey quartz crystal that he got at Adam`s Farm Site near Hiddenite, North Carolina. The crystal is at least five or six inches high and wide too and a few inches thick, just beautiful…I will get a photo of it soon and put on here so you can see it as well…I haven`t yet opened the box that he filled with crystals to see what other treasures he brought me. As we were doing this, the New York Club members arrived and they were asking me to come over to the other side of the parking lot to let them know what to expect at the quarry the next morning…it was then, that Fred, Slade, and I noticed the beautiful sunset forming after the storm passed through an hour prior, and at the same time, a large half rainbow was forming straight east of us, so I first grabbed my camera to record it….

…and then turned behind us toward the golf course to photograph the sunset…it was gorgeous….

…then swung back around to shoot the pink clouds east of us….

…then back to the golf course side….

…which just kept getting better by the second….

 

 

…I then walked over to let them know what time we were leaving for the quarry and what to expect, that we would have four hours of collecting time there as long as everyone got out of bed in the morning and were lined up to leave by 7:15 am. Then Fred and I headed back to the hotel and me to DQ for a blizzard and small cone cup for Onyx. We were in bed soon afterward, after a long day of driving through storms, getting up at 5 am the next morning. 

Onyx and I were up at 5 am Saturday morning, I had to get some breakfast at the Bright Leaf and before that I needed to ice down the coolers, as it was looking like a warm day ahead….sunrise sure was pretty as I arrived for breakfast tho….

…I had parked in the first slot of the parking lot next to the exit to the highway…Slade was right behind me and then everyone else lined up behind him…everyone was standing around chit chatting when Harry and Larry pulled up and said let`s get going at 7:13 am…I had told Clay, the Quarry Manager, we would be there around 8 am if we could get everyone moving early…and driving through all the stoplights on the bypass around Danville is no easy task either…we made it through the first four just fine without losing anyone and then lost half the line at the 5th one…there was a mile stretch between stoplights there so we were able to slow way down in the right lane and wait for them to catch up…I couldn`t believe it when we got to the main intersection close to Walmart…we were all able to get through the green light just fine, which was amazing by itself !! 

We made our turn at the last stoplight and drove across the hills and dales to old Business 150, where the quarry is located, and entered through the open gate to park in front of the scale house/offices. I got out and lined everyone up in rows and then we waited for Clay to arrive. He had let me know enroute that he had a guy working the front end loader, loading up a dumptruck there that was making deliveries to a customer, and he let them know we were on the way…he just didn`t tell the guy how many vehicles we were traveling in. 🙂 

About ten minutes after we arrived, I called everyone over for a safety meeting, checking to make sure we all had hard hats to wear, steel toed boots on, safety glasses for those using hammers and chisels, and good gloves… then I went over the history of the quarry, and background of our field trips there in the past three years as well as what happened several years ago that kept many clubs from gaining access to the quarry for about the last fifteen years.

In front of the office/scale house, there is a huge boulder that has beautiful fluorite cubes on it in amongst bladed, weathered barite, and some nice calcite crystals as well. About 15 yrs ago, some knothead that was with a mineral club and there on a field trip one day, decided to venture up to that boulder and start chipping crystals off of it. He was caught doing so by the Quarry Manager…not Clay at the time…and removed from the quarry, as well as his club, and no clubs were allowed back into the quarry for quite some time….several years of time. About three years ago, I came upon information about the quarry and former field trips there, saw photos of crystals found there,and while at work one night in dispatch, I emailed the Quarry Manager on a form on the quarry`s website…Clay answered me a few days later and we started talking about me bringing a few close rockhound friends to the quarry to look for specimens and he was fine with it, with some safety conditions attached. After I published my story on that trip on my blog site…this site….Harry Polly sent me an email and asked if I could help his club, the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Club,  get into this quarry for their annual Labor Day Weekend trip…I had talked to Harry a few times on the McRocks board site and always enjoyed talking to him, he is a very nice guy and knowledgeable on many things as well. I let him know that I would do my best to help them get in there, and after talking to Clay and getting his permission, I let Harry know and he invited me to join them and anyone in my group that would like to come along, too. A few of my guys were able to join me that trip and then it just grew from there.

I let everyone in the group on Saturday morning, that I didn`t want to catch anyone doing anything that selfish or stupid, because not only would we all be removed from the quarry, but no other clubs would ever be allowed in there again either. Mindless actions of morons like that, is what hurts us the most as rockhounds trying to enjoy our hobby…I think everyone there agreed and assured me that they would not do anything like that….we took a group photo in front of that boulder….

…Clay arrived soon after, got waivers for us to all sign welcomed us and  gave a short safety talk with some history as well. Clay is a third generation Quarry Manager there, and works with his Dad and his sister as well. Larry gave Clay a big box of work socks for his work crew, while Richard, one of the Hickory Club members, gave him a big jar of honey, and then I gave him a few packages of Missouri gifts as well. Clay then led us down to the ground floor of the quarry and pointed out where we could wander around to and areas to stay away from, and everyone then took off in different directions…..some to the left side….

…some to the right side…..

…some walked down into the small pit in front of where we parked….

…and some worked the piles in the middle of the ground level where we parked at….

…I walked around a bit to see how everyone was doing, shot this video….

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….and took this photo from up the road a bit, looking back down to ground level where we all parked and spread out from there…

…the bench right behind our vehicles, is the bench with the most calcite in it…those white splotches on the wall indicate that…no other bench there has as much calcite as that one does…so if you are looking for calcite, and most of us were, this bench and below is where you will likely find it…Laura, Richard`s daughter, was working to the left of where we parked, in the boulder pile and found a nice dogtooth calcite vug in one…

…and soon after I walked over to photograph it, she found some more and her Mom, Shelda, helped her carry them back to their truck….

….and here is Laura working on yet another one in the same spot….

Way to go Laura….those are some beautiful dogtooths inside that vug !!  Not too far away from her, were a couple of the New York rockhounds, one with the same name as me…James and the gal with him I am not sure of her name…perhaps Slade can help me out again…they were working hard on some boulders over behind Laura…

…I then found Cheryl from New York petting Onyx and talking to him…by then he was a little bit muddy, having discovered a few mud and water holes to wallow in….

…and then I wandered down the interior boulder pile behind our vehicles, and found Harry working over a small boulder that had not only a nice vug in it….

…he also discovered a nice fluorite cube after cobbing down the boulder a bit more…

…I looked up and saw Larry Huffman not too far on down the rocks, working on a big boulder…he found some nice crystals on top and figured there had to be pockets inside the rock as well, so he decided to cobb it down and find them….

…from there I spotted David Bruce going after his saw, so I followed him over to a cove in a pile of boulders up above the lower pit area….by the time I relocated him, he was using his saw to remove some of the heavy dolomite matrix from around a beautiful vug….

…that somewhat resembles a big sparkley smile. 🙂

While I was up there, Slade came over to see it as well…and we spotted Fred down below in the lower pit area…Jim Hurd, a Hickory Club member who lives in West Virginia, was down there in the lower pit area also, said he was spotting several pieces of brown calcite…so I got my truck and drove down there to the lower level and walked back over to the area where Jim had been searching. Fred joined me shortly after and we began finding some nice pieces of calcite, as well as some stunning pieces of white bladed barite….

Kurt…another Hickory member, was down in the lower pit as well, on the left side…while Fred and I were working the right side…

I showed Kurt, who is new to rockhunting, what the white bladed barite looks like so he could look for it as well over on the left side….soon David Bruce joined us down there also….

After finding some nice bladed barites and a few calcites too, I decided to wander on down the lower pit canyon, which leads to an old blast pile at the very end…framed with cattails, it looked quite pretty….

After searching down there for calcites or fluorites, I wandered back up to the lower pit and found Fred loading up his Jeep suv with various finds…some of them were fossilized coral plates…I had heard others referring to them but had never seen any…Fred showed me some of his coral plates and I asked him where he found them…he told me they were in the lower pit over by the culvert pipe that feeds the lake down there with fresh rainwater runoff. I hiked over to that area and located about five nice plates myself…Slade then told me where there were some more…back down the canyon several of us went…we had thirty minutes left on the clock to dig there so we made good use of it and found some beautiful big fossil plates down there in the boulders by the wall…here George, another Hickory Club member and Kurt, work to get some of the fossil plates out….

while David and Slade were finding fluorite cubes in vugs in the huge boulder pile behind us…

…and Fred was finding more fossilized plates back up the road leading to the lower pit through the canyon….

After about fifteen minutes, we all headed out of the quarry so that the workers could close the gate and go home to enjoy the holiday weekend…many of the members had already left ahead of us and headed to south on 150 to the roadcuts near Stanford, where pink dolomite vugs could be found…we were soon headed there as well…

…and arrived to find many rockhounds spread out down along the roadcut on both sides of they highway looking for some accessible vugs to pop out of the walls…not an easy task mind you…some are weathered and some are so tight in the rock that they do not offer much accessibility to a chisel or hammer, so sometimes you just have to peel back the surrounding rock and hope they come out intact….

…while we were there, a small storm popped up about a half mile south of us and passed by to the east without so much as one drop of water falling on us…

…whoever received that rainfall was very lucky, because most of Kentucky is in dire need of rainfall as much as Missouri is…I wandered up and down both sides of the highway looking for some nice ones that had already fallen down to the ground, giving them to the new rockhounds from New York state that were close by…like New York James, who was talking to Jim Hurd on the other side of the highway…I noticed Jim was wearing a special hard hat this afternoon…what appeared to be a Flower Child Hard Hat….

…in amongst the pretty Black Eyed Susan flowers no less…and on the anniversary of his wedding to his wife as well…Congratulations again Jim to the both of you….I had heard of him but never met him til this trip…turned out to be a very nice guy. Soon after, I spotted another New York Club member helping James out with some vugs on the wall, trying to get them out….

…and believe me, every little bit of help…helps in this type of situation…..I then wandered back over to the north side of the highway again and found Slade watching David try to get a vug out of the wall, finally had to bring it down and hope for the best on damage to it….

…check out the video of it below….I think he was able to salvage some of it….

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Slade showed me a piece of pink dolomite rescued from the wall, shortly before we headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap before supper later…

After a good three hour nap that afternoon, my phone alarm failed to go off and wake me up…thankful for Fred for calling to wake me up for supper, and it was a good supper too, fried chicken and at least ten veggies too…after my good workout earlier, I made two trips to the buffet to take advantage of all my favorite veggies….and yes the chicken was good too. 🙂  Afterward we returned to the parking lot for the buy/sell/swap tailgate event. As soon as I started unwrapping my double terminated green/yellow calcite crystals encased in pyrite and my orange dogtooth calcite clusters from Missouri locations, I had a crowd all around me…I don`t mind trading minerals for them, but you have to have some nice stuff to trade evenly for my nice stuff, or be willing to compensate with cash…luckily there were several prepared to compensate…I did pretty good for the second year in a row…last year with fluorite and this year with the dogtooth clusters and pyrite encased calcites from the Viburnum Trend mines, both are big faves of mine…and fluorites I picked up from Gary on Friday did well too. The huge crystal cluster was purchased by Harry and Larry to showcase in their annual show next year and I traded the remainder of the fluorites with them for some of their beautiful treasures. Thanks again to Slade, Fred, and David for watching my truck when I was away dealing with the traders.

The next morning we would be able to sleep in a bit, as we were not going to leave for White Oak Creek at Junction City til 9 am, so I stopped off at Dairy Queen once again after the tailgate event and got Onyx and me some ice cream for dessert, then hit the hay after the 10 pm news, forecast was for a bit warmer on Sunday. We slept til 7 am and then headed to breakfast once again at the Bright Leaf. I cheated on my diet once again and had the biscuits and white gravy…and scrambled eggs…funny thing is the Manager there knows how to make chocolate gravy so I could have had chocolate biscuits and gravy, that my Mom made for me during my childhood…a recipe of her Mom`s handed down to her and her brothers and sisters. However, the Manager was not able to find any cocoa there at the restaurant to make it for me and the others to try…told her if she ever put it on the menu or buffet bar, their breakfast business would likely double or triple…she agreed. 

We headed out at 9 am and arrived at the creek about 30 minutes later, found that Mr. Phillips had brought in a bulldozer to straighten out the house side bank of his creek, due to the high rolling water nearly washing the bank away on Friday, after heavy rainfall. The dozer operator did a great job of sloping it down to the creekbed….

….and from the edge of the grass to the water, there were geodes laying everywhere, all you had to do was pick them up and weigh them in your hands, and if light enough, crack them open on the spot…within ten minutes of arrival, several were out in the shallow waters of the creek looking for the big ones in the dirt bank on the opposite side…..

…that is the New York crowd above…Fred Haynes on the far left sitting down…my buddy Fred on the right side in shorts and Matthew to his left…

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I cracked a few open right there in front of my truck and then grabbed a bucket and my crack hammer and walked upstream…Slade and David had gone way upstream and I met them coming back with several nice ones already collected…I came upon Harry on the second gravel bar above and Larry was further upstream from him…both were finding some nice ones. Harry rolled one basketball sized geode over that was sitting next to him and found a crack in it…he said someone had been striking it with their hammer just moments before but apparently didn`t roll it over to see the crack and moved on…so Harry cracked it open to find beautiful orange-red quartz crystals inside…STUNNING would be the word for me when I saw them….here they are on my tailgate about 20 min later….just so I could photograph them…

I then photographed a couple of nice ones that I found upstream too….

…I grabbed another bucket and went back upstream, meeting David and Slade on their way back downstream again, this time they told me to go upstream to the log across the water…they cracked open several up there that had double terminated quartz crystals inside…so that is where I headed….it was easy to find the spot they were in, geodes cracked open all over the place, some with the double terminated crystals inside too….check out this video of it…

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…and the photos aren`t bad either….

..that`s Harry sitting on the gravel bar down below working on cracking open more geodes..that is where he found the orange-red crystal lined one too…

…shortly after I filled a second bucket full and returned to my truck, we had a nice rainshower come down and soak us even better than we already were soaked in sweat…this one was really refreshing tho…so I was okay with it…and after that, Harry, David, Fred, and I headed to the Green River out of Stanford to check out recommended collecting sites there…we secured permission from nearby landowners before accessing the river in two spots…the first spot was pretty barren of geodes so we didn`t stay long there. The second spot was much better and we found quite a few, but most were solids, so we opted to find yet another location for Monday morning`s hunt….we drove back to the Bright Leaf where I dropped Harry off, he said we would discuss Monday`s location at supper that evening, then Onyx and I headed to our hotel to clean up and rest up a bit before supper. 

I decided to try and call the Quarry Manager of the quarry northwest of there, and his wife answered the phone on the third ring and handed the phone to him…he told me it would be okay if we came over there on Monday morning and said he would meet us at the gate at 9 am…I told him what I would be driving and told him there would prob be around ten of us. I then called Larry Huffman and let him know, he said he would let Harry know and they would check with everyone at supper to see what they wanted to do. I then let Slade, David, and Fred know too. When I arrived at the Bright Leaf for supper, Slade met me out in the parking lot and told me that some wanted to go to Kings Mountain and some wanted to go to the quarry, so seven of us got up the next morning, met at the Baymont Inn, and headed out at 7 am, figuring we had at least an hour and 45 min drive to the quarry…we made it there just fine, arriving at the gate about ten minutes before Dorsey the Quarry Manager arrived. He asked us what we were looking for there and we let him know we were interested in crystals and pretty ones if possible…he laughed and said there were plenty of crystals to choose from in at least two pits of the quarry. He took us to the first pit, which looked alot like limestone quarry walls here in Missouri…..as we were driving down a gravel slope into the pit, a bright red fox took off across the pit from left wall to right wall like a streak of lightning, bounding up and over the boulders and over the wall…he was moving on and too fast for me to grab my camera and shoot him….but this is the wall that he flew up and over like it was nothing…

…as we pulled up and took a closer look at the walls, we were able to spot  some large calcite vugs in the wall, as well as boulders on the ground….Dorsey pointed out a few large ones and then turned us loose…

…Slade and David headed over to the small blast pile in the left corner and started finding crystals almost immediately, mainly in boulders on the ground…

…here are a few I spotted and photographed in the wall on the left side….

…and discovered some were pink dolomite and there were some with small quartz balls…here is the first video I shot there…

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Slade let me know I should walk over and photograph the small boulder that David spotted with a nice vug…when I got over there, David said the vug that Slade found was even better, so I photographed it first next to a blue five gallon bucket for a size comparison…

…and closer up for effect….

WOW…is all I could think of….way to go Slade !! 🙂  David helped him extract it with his saw and then used the saw on his boulder to get his vug out.

In the meantime, Richard was moving along the wall back toward the entrance, and Laura and Shelda were checking out the wall on the right of where we all parked….

…and here is a plate that she found checking out the wall over there….

…and while I was checking out the wall to the right of the entrance slope…I discovered several chunks of calcite, orange in color…including this huge and thick plate…it did not go home with any of us…

…I did however take several smaller chunks home with me and they were just as pretty. After about 90 minutes in this first pit, Dorsey took us over to the second pit and pointed out the lower walls, which were dark brown in color, contained many vugs of several different crystals…

…while Slade and David headed initially to the boulder piles in the middle, I headed to the walls to check out the vugs…they were much more accessible in this pit, easier to reach for one thing, and very pretty with some loose crystals inside that I could reach into and pull out…within minutes I had my apron completely stuffed full of them…on the way to the boulder pile, Slade and David came upon this huge calcite vug in the top of a boulder near the wall….

 

…and a pink dolomite vug nearby as well, that was also not accessible to us….

 

…while they were then checking out the boulders in the center pile, I walked on down the wall and found a huge pink dolomite vug in the wall, and was able to pull out several pieces and one big ball of pink dolomite crystals…

 

….then I called Slade over to work the pocket so he could take some home to his daughters who were not able to make this trip…

…he got what he could get out of it and then it looked like this…..

 

…I then wandered over to the boulder pile in the center where David was trying to saw off a corner of a boulder where a vug was calling to him…and found several boulders with nice dogtooth crystals inside them in boulders nearby….

 

 

…and soon after that, Richard asked David to help him cob down a boulder that he found with some nice vugs, so we headed over to the parking area….

…where we also found Fred cobbing down some nice vugs in boulders that he found in the blast pile in front of our vehicles…including some calcite crystals that were orange and white and very irridescent looking….to the point they were almost jumping off the rock right at ya…

…I spotted another boulder with a vug of the same looking crystals…way too big a boulder to take home and unable to extract the vug as well…so I settled for the photo of them instead….

…and here is the second video shot at the quarry…..

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…by now it was noontime and getting very warm and humid out there…Slade decided he needed to get on the road headed home to North Carolina…Richard and his crew felt the same way…and Fred needed to head toward Texas…Dorsey led us over to the bathrooms and break room where they could change into dryer clothing to make their drives home…

David and I decided to check out one more pit that was available before we headed for home…so Dorsey led us over to it….

…..and we walked up the small hill on the right side of this photo below to check out the berms and walls….

….and yes that is a boat in the photo down the hill a bit…Dorsey said they had monsoon a few months ago and that pit below filled with water, nearly forty feet deep, and took three months to dry out….not far up the berm David spotted a rectangular black rock with small yellow fluorite cubes on it, very pretty, they were bright yellow…I didn`t have my camera at that point with me, so I did not get a photo of it…hopefully David will take some and send to me so I can put in here. We walked on up to the high walls, discovered a cave that appeared to be pretty good sized, in the middle of the high wall…no we did not go over to check it out and that was mainly because we were getting tired fast due to the mounting heat and humidity…the sun was really beating down on us by then, and maybe due to the fact that a huge vulture came flying out of the cave as we walked up to it…nahhh that couldn`t be the real reason….:) 

We decided we were not going to be able to find anything better up there, so we returned to our trucks and drove back to the break room to thank Dorsey for allowing us to rockhunt there…I gave him a sack of work socks that Larry Huffman had provided to me on Saturday morning at the Danville Quarry…and he invited us back next year…I think we are going to take him up on that offer. 🙂

David and I headed home afterward, he driving back to northern Georgia and I headed toward Missouri…Onyx and I got home safe and sound about 4:30 pm, and I heard from everyone else that they arrived home safe and sound as well. Now to catch up and clean up and post some more photos soon !!  🙂

Central Kentucky 2017

Last year at the conclusion of my trip to Central Kentucky with the Hickory Club during Labor Day Weekend, they informed me they would like to have me back again in 2017 and this time they were going to have their annual trip there two weeks before Labor Day Weekend, since some of their club members said they could make that date rather than the holiday weekend. So they set it up for August 19th to the 22nd this year, which lo and behold, turned out to be the date of the solar eclipse as well. They also told me that my core group members could join them once again, and I found out a few weeks ago, that two of the New York Clubs were invited too. I was able to get us access to the Danville Quarry once again and also set up a day trip to the 200 year old fluorite mine that Phil had taken some of us in the spring of 2015 when a few of my core group members joined me down there. I was able to tentatively arrange for one of my friends down there, to take us hunting for Kentucky Agate hunting on the morning of the eclipse, but that fell through when Josh let me know he was sick, so we opted for Plan B that day instead…one of the Hickory Club`s locations, and it worked out very well for all of us that were left to go hunting that day….several had left to return home for work and some drove to locations closer to the eclipse to get a better view of it…most of those were the young families with kids…and nothing at all wrong with that, either.  I was more interested in finding nice geodes and/or agates, so I opted to stick around and look down in the creek for pretty geodes….and an added bonus to that was that Onyx got to go swimming in the creek in the deeper holes. 🙂  

I had made plans with Gary Griffith to stop by his place on the way down there early Friday morning and pick out a few flats of fluorites, some for rockhound friends who would be joining me on the Kentucky trip and for a dealer friend from Atlanta as well. Onyx and I woke up at 3 am on Friday morning, August 19th and headed east on I-44 by 4 am….I had kept Chuck updated on my plans and he met up with me at Marion, Illinois and followed me over to Gary`s house in southern Illinois. We arrived about 8:30 and found Gary talking to his Dad, Guy Griffith, outside their home. It was beginning to get humid, so I left the engine running with Onyx inside the ac. I was introduced to Gary a few years ago by Tina and Bill of the Clement Mineral Museum, at their annual show and dig, where Gary was set up to create octagons out of chunks of fluorite, to sell at the show. He also had specimen pieces in all sizes to sell at the show and I recall purchasing a few of those pieces while there…I have been hooked since then, and between the three of them, Gary, his Dad Guy, and son Walter, we have been good friends since then. They are the kind of people I really enjoy visiting with, and I can stop by and do just that anytime, talk with them by phone or in person for hours, and it feels like we have been friends for years. From the way Gary talks about it, most of the dealers that stop by on a regular basis to buy from him, feel the same way. Here is a neat article I came across online recently, it is a bit dated from 2010, but the story of them starting out as a three man family operation is true, told to me by Gary and his Dad a few times before…

http://www.dailyregister.com/article/20100812/news/308129969

 

Gary showed us the new stuff that he and Walter had been finding recently, stuff he had told me about on the phone a week before, light purple edges surrounding deeper purple cubes on a brown fluorite base, and some with patches of quartz crystals laid out on top of the cubes. He had half of them cleaned up and half were still dirty, and let me tell you, some of them looked very similar to cubes that I have pulled out of the mud of the Eureka Mine on the other side of the Ohio River to the south. In other words, very pretty clusters of cubes right there on display in front of us. Since I only had a couple of hours to visit and hand pick some fluorite, I didn`t pull my camera out to photograph as I selected.As a matter of fact, I did not pull my camera out of my camera case til early the next morning to shoot the rising sun. 🙂

After a couple of hours, I had a few flats picked out and Chuck and I headed south to Princeton to pick up the Bluegrass Parkway and head east. We filled our gas tanks and grabbed some lunch at the A & W Restaurant first tho. 🙂  We headed east and within the first thirty minutes, we observed one to two state troopers every five miles, all of them were driving westbound…and not one of them was even remotely interested in anyone going eastbound on the Parkway…we were moving along at a good clip and many drivers were passing us like we were not moving at all, and not one of the many troopers we saw in the next 90 minutes was interested in stopping anyone at all. I told Chuck later, that perhaps they were returning from classes at the academy and headed home for the weekend. At any rate, we arrived at Harrodsburg about 4 pm, Chuck peeling off first, staying at the Baymont Hotel on the north side of town, while Onyx and I drove around town on the bypass to the Days Inn a mile south of town. John Oostenryk texted me on the way down to let me know that he and Mary would arrive about 5:30 pm, and others let me know they would be getting into the area later and meet us the next morning after breakfast.

Onyx and I found a few folks we knew in the parking lot waiting for us, as I had let Harry know when Chuck and I left Gary`s house. He and Larry Huffman had arrived earlier and discovered that hotel staff had lost a few reservations, mainly those that made their arrangements early…most were up on the second and third floors, however Onyx and I would be staying on the first floor near the entry door. After checking out the room and turning the ac on inside, I kept Onyx outside for a bit so the room could cool down adequately for his sake. He had a bath and shave the day before, but it was a bit warm in there even for him…he wears his jacket every day year round. I found out soon after that we would be walking over to the golf course restaurant next door about 6 pm for supper, and let everyone know that was already there or would soon arrive. Some of my core group members had decided to stay in hotels in Danville and were going to be arriving at different times on Friday, depending on the amount of traveling they had to do, some driving in from as far away as New York state and Texas, Ohio, Indiana and northwest Illinois. It was looking like there might be 70 to 90 rockhounds total on this trip. 

By 5:45 pm, the parking lot was alive with rockhounds and soon after, we were walking over to the restaurant to check out the seafood buffet, which turned out to be very good as expected. By 7 pm we were all back in the parking lot, those of us with pick up trucks parked side by side for the rockhound swap and trade show….we had so much fun this lasted a good couple of hours…and there were still folks out there talking when I brought Onyx outside before retiring for the night.

Breakfast came early the next morning, since we were scheduled to arrive at the quarry by 7:30 am, to sign waivers and then begin collecting by 8 am. Onyx and I were up and at em by 5:30 am, finding it still dark outside…a few of us walked over to the golf course restaurant by 6 am, and on the way back, the sun was beginning its climb up from the horizon, so after packing the truck, loading up Onyx, and parking at the front of the line, I grabbed my camera to snap a few images of it….

…and while this wasn`t a bad view, I walked over to the golf course to get an even better view of the sun coming up with a Kentucky farm in the foreground….

…now…I know what you are thinking…wow nice sunrise, how could it get any better than this ??? …and all I can say, is yes, it did get better than this…enter SUNBEAMS !!!  🙂

…and all in just a matter of fifteen minutes…while waiting for everyone to line up so we can get the line moving to Danville to pick up the rest of the crew. Ten minutes later we arrived in Danville and I texted Dale Walker, who had everyone lined up with him by the Hampton Inn, and let him know to just join the line as we went by. We entered the quarry gate and then I had everyone park in rows…we had so many vehicles, we created about six rows of vehicles in front of the quarry office…luckily Clay, the Quarry Manager,  had some good help waiting for us and the paperwork was quickly handed out for everyone to sign, then everyone got their hard hats on, and after a short safety talk by Clay, we proceeded down into the quarry with everyone following me. I parked near the bulldozer….

….and then got out to direct everyone into some parking areas, designated by Clay to keep us out of the way of a few of his guys working in other areas…a few folks wanted to park down below and I had to re-round them up, with help from Phil who arrived behind us, and re-park them in the proper areas, from the second mill to the dozer mainly….

All the new folks came to me and I let them know where we had good luck finding pretty stuff the year before, and let them know what was going home with me…anything pretty…and then everyone spread out in search of pretty stuff.  

I go by the golden rule…Keep It Seriously Simple…KISS for short. 🙂  

They had changed the layout of the quarry from the year before just a little bit, Clay had told a few of us they were building a ramp to the top and asked us to stay off of it, due to concerns that it wasn`t where they wanted it to be yet in terms of stability, he basically asked us to park in the area of the dozer and then walk to the upper and lower levels to look and collect. He did say that they had hit a huge vein of calcite and stockpiled much of it into a huge pile to the right of the dozer and across the big ditch, as he called it..it was located down on the level where Slade had hit the jackpot last year with all of his pretty discoveries…so many folks grabbed their stuff and headed in that direction….

…..in this photo you see alot of folks at the ground level checking out the huge calcite stockpile on the left and a few few folks up on the second level…

…the ramp we were asked to stay off, leads to the top layer, which would have been impossible to access due to the large amount of rock laying around up there. It took a while for us to locate the good stuff, much of it turned out to be down on the ground level again, but at the far end away from the huge stockpile, in a pile that actually went all the way down to the bottom level. I walked up to the upper level and looked around, but not seeing much up there, I came back down to the ground level and walked down to the far right side…Onyx had been going nuts with the water puddles up above, then he came down below with me and spotted a lake down below…I could only imagine what might happen next. Slade and Thomas found some nice vugs in the sides of some huge boulders in the pile that started at the north edge of the ground level and dropped down to the bottom level by the lake…soon after, as I was climbing down that pile, I spotted a nice plate of small brown dogtooth crystals all over one side of it. Soon after that, I turned over a good sized chunk of dolomite and discovered a large vug of gorgeous brown dogtooth crystals with a few small blades of white barite inside too…Chuck had joined us down at the lower end of the pile by then and sawed off both ends of the dolomite matrix on the chunk for me, making it much lighter for me to carry up the hill to my truck. I met Fred on the way up to the truck and he let me use his dolly to carry it up there…here it is on my tailgate….

…and closer up of the vug and crystals inside….

…and about 30 minutes later, I had to return about halfway down the hill and announce to everyone that we had fifteen minutes left, we had to be out of the quarry by noon…here you see Dale Russell getting ready to pop some beautiful brown fluorite cubes from a vug he found in this huge boulder the size of a dining room table in front of him…

…and Dale Walker working on a boulder down below Dale Russell….

…and Finn and Alina Klein off to the left of both Dale`s….

…and farther to the left of them and across the water from me, was John Oos, Mary, and Fred…John discovered a seam of calcite with some barites inside and was working that out when I yelled down that there was 15 minutes left…Fred and Mary stuck around to help him get the goodies out intact….

…we all got out of there with seconds to spare…this is usually what happens near quitting time…when you find something nice or have just a few minutes left to get the good stuff out of a pocket or vug…John and Dale started up the hill with their saws and Dale with his goodies on his back in his pack….

…while Fred and Mary brought up the rear with the rest of the stuff…I kept hearing from Harry and Larry who were up at the front gate with the rest of the crew, everyone waiting for us so they could all go to the Goat Farm to go geode hunting the rest of the day. As it was, not everyone in that lineup intended to go to the farm to geode hunt, some were going back to their hotel to rest up, so about the middle of the line, after one turned to the right, several followed and turned the wrong way also…most of them were in my core group, so I started texting to find out if they were going somewhere different…they said no, they thought the line had gone to the right and they were simply following…I was able to pull over and wait for several of them and let Harry know that we would be delayed getting there. Harry and Larry were leading the line, so they pulled off Hwy 150 and waited for us at the next turn and we caught up to them about 30 minutes later….then followed them down to the goat farm…where as it turned out, the owner was not home and the gate to the field was locked. I called my buddy Phil, and asked him if we could come and hunt at his creek access point instead and he said sure…so I led the way over to his house near Junction City. We were going to take a shortcut from Hwy 150 over to Hwy 127, however we had a few stragglers that were not keeping up and we likely would have lost them completely, so I opted to stay on 150 and then drive out 127 to Junction City. We were only driving about 50 mph, so I`m not sure why they couldn`t keep up. I stopped in the middle of the road when we arrived at Phil`s house, and directed everyone in the lineup down his driveway to where Phil was standing to direct them to parking spots around his shed and in the field leading to the creek, as some of them wanted to park in the shade near the creek….

…and after everyone grabbed their gear and assembled near the entrance to the shed, Phil pointed out the creek boundaries and areas to avoid, then turned them all loose to go hunt for not only geodes, but corals and fossils which I can attest can be found there as well. Shortly after a few of the stragglers showed up, having gone past his driveway looking for us. I wish someone had taken a photo of the long line of vehicles as we came down that valley on approach to Phils house…that would have been something to see. Here is Pat and Finn Klein walking across the field to the access point on the creek a few minutes later….

...I didn`t take my camera down to the creek with me, as I have been down on this creek before…back then, two years before in the early springtime tho, it was not nearly as grown up with foliage and brush tho. A few folks walked the creek downstream to the church parking lot and then drove their car down there to pick up their buckets of geodes. I found a couple of nice halves that someone had found prior and left behind, here is one of them, love that SUNSHINE QUARTZ….

About 4:30 pm, Onyx and I drove back to the hotel, with a few rockhounds following us…Chuck got held up by a couple of them and went a different route suggested by his gps…he told me the route he was taking and I let him know where he would come out and to watch out for the curves…that was the first route I took to Phil`s house a couple of years before, nice road, just gets a little narrow and curvy in spots…he confirmed that part quickly after. 🙂  We walked over to the golf course restaurant for supper about 7 pm that evening, and afterwards I pulled a few flats of fluorite out for Fred and John to look over, along with a few other choice items I had brought along for Slade and a few others to look over. Soon after doing so, we drew a small crowd, everyone thought we were having another tailgate party in the parking lot…as it were, it did turn into a nice small party tho, and I wound up selling a couple of flats of choice material to some of the more serious collectors there. The next morning, we lined up for the trip to the 200 year old fluorite mine at Mundy`s Landing didnt set their alarm clock the night before and had just woke up, requesting ten minutes delay before we headed to the mine so they could go with us. I sent everyone to the other side of the highway to wait for us on the shoulder while I waited for them at the hotel entrance. When they showed up I pointed out how to get in line on the other side of the highway and told them to keep it tight in line. Onyx and I then drove to the start of the line where Fred was holding my place for me and we headed north on Hwy 127. We crossed the Kentucky River near Shakertown and discovered the Highway Department was replacing the right lane of the bridge, with a traffic light set up on either side of the bridge for one way traffic…we lost about half the line in the crossing, Harry and Larry staying on the south side while the rest of us crossed over. Luckily I had a good signal with my cellphone in the rocky canyon as we started up the windy,curvy hill out of the river valley, and I was able to let them know where to turn at the top of the hill, where my wingman Chuck waited for the rest of them. The rest of us proceeded down the road and made the next turn, and by the time we reached a second turn a half mile later, Chuck had the rest of them caught up to us and we proceeded down the road to meet up with Phil at the old mine.

We passed by some beautiful old homes and farms along the way and a few residents were probably a bit amazed at the long line of cars and people making their way down their road, which kept narrowing down as we drove on down it. We met a large dump truck, luckily, on the wider stretch of the road…I am not sure what would have happened had we met him on the really narrow section of roadway that was ahead of us still by then. We drove down a large hill on that very narrow section of roadway and at the bottom of the hill, drove thru a gate and I parked everyone right after I parked my truck, in the big open field….

Phil came down behind everyone to give a safety talk for the mine and the tailings area, outlining the boundaries and off limit areas, before turning everyone loose to walk back up the hill to the mine tailings area. A few members of my core group had joined me at this old mine two years before and we had a blast digging there all day long in the tailings, finding some beautiful lilac, white, and gray fluorite cubed clusters, barite balls, and double terminated calcite crystals, on a much cooler day due to a difference in seasons. I turned Onxy loose and we headed up to the mine gate, where we found several already digging in to the tailing piles…John, the owner, had already filled up a couple of trucks and removed some of the tailings…the dump truck we met and another flatbed truck hauling some of them off to another location, but believe me, there were tons of tailings left to dig thru….

I decided to walk up to the top of the tailings pile after checking out a couple of areas of the piles below…up to the area that we had dug into two years before. Slade and a few others followed me up the trail and we came in on an upper trail above one of the old shafts of the mine, finding Harry digging into a small bluff and finding some good stuff there he said. As with two years prior, we started finding some good stuff shortly after digging in there, and stayed to dig for a few hours. I was hitting waves of calcites, at least four or five areas of calcite chunks before I found my first dt calcite crystal and then a few more of them, all smaller than two inches in length. Alina was digging to my left and her oldest son Finn was digging to my right…Chuck was behind me, Slade and his Dad were about fifty feet to our left and after digging in a bit, they started finding some nice crystals too. After a few hours up there, everyone decided to take a break for lunch and some started leaving to head off to other areas of Kentucky in preparation for the eclipse the next day. I walked back down to the truck to get a bottle of water or two, and Mary offered me a chicken salad sandwich for lunch…I love chicken salad so I accepted and of course Onyx helped me with the last few bites of it. He was beginning to warm up a bit so I put him in the truck, turned on the ac for him, and repositioned my truck in the shade nearby…I noticed a few others doing the same thing with their vehicles. Pat, Alina, Finn and Cohen took off shortly after, headed to Hopkinsville to do some camping that evening for the eclipse event the next day, it was great seeing them again. I havent heard yet how they did with that event down there yet. 

I returned to the digging spot and moved over to the spot Alina had been digging in, and within a few minutes, I found two larger DT Calcite crystals…shhhh…keep that under your hat tho, dont tell Alina about it, okay ? I wouldnt want her to feel bad about that. Harry returned to his digging spot but was just out of view behind that small outcropping of rock from my location, and Slade and his Dad kept digging at their spot for about an hour more, before heading back to the hotel. Fred joined me for a bit up there and I lasted about another hour before my hands started getting sore…by that time it was about 4 pm and I walked down to the truck to check on Onyx and grabbed my camera again…found PJ and Paul still digging above Mary in the tailing pile below by the gate…John, Abigail and Mary were up above everyone on the hillside…

I heard from several later that day that they had all found some pretty stuff…Phil was down below showing everyone what he was finding and what to look for. During one of my breaks, I had a good chance to talk to him and he was able to bring me up to speed on the Kentucky Agate situation over near Irvine and Berea and let me know a place we could go look for it at, where to park and where to collect and hunt at if needed. He told me why Mr Flynn had moved into town…that he had suffered some medical issues, which I hated to hear about because he is such a nice guy and knows so much about Kentucky Agates..I really hope his health improves so that he can continue to enjoy the agate hunts and work that he does with them. I started hearing from my buddy Josh, who was scheduled to take several of us hunting for Kentucky Agate the next morning…but it sounded like he was sick and wasnt going to be able to take us, so I let Harry and Larry know that later on and we reverted back to their original plan of returning to the Goat Farm to look for geodes in the creek instead. Onyx and I headed back to the hotel about 4 pm, leaving a few diehard diggers there, wore out and ready for a good shower and then some supper. Fred and a few others followed us out…I stopped up on top of the hill to photograph an old barn with blue doors….

After another good supper at the golf course restaurant, alot of us hung around in the parking lot once again that evening…there were about twenty folks less and some said they were going to go explore some other areas the next day. John broke out some of his barites from Iowa while he was re-arranging Mary`s suv, they were quite popular with everyone too, he had a few with him this trip that had pyrite in amongst the barite blades, making them look great and very be-jewelled. Here are a few I have purchased from him in the past year, some are quite pretty….

…anyway they were a hit with everyone who saw them and as usual, he didn`t bring enough of them with him…but as he said, one never knows how many to bring when dealing with large groups like that and not everyone likes to buy pretty specimens like that one rockhunting trips…some go just to collect and hunt, some go to also visit and trade with rockhounds, and some go to do all of that and buy even prettier stuff that is basically inaccessible to them…I am one of those types of rockhounds, interested and willing to do all of it…because I know there are locations that produce great stuff that is mostly inaccessible to many of us and you have to break down and buy them if you want them in your collection, as I do. I know people like John, who realize this stuff is pretty and in demand by collectors all over, however they also realize that most people cannot afford to pay a lot and so they dont charge an arm and leg like some dealers do. I pulled out some stuff that John had asked me to bring, some old material that I purchased from the Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine in my area that was probably at least 50 years old and some new stuff coming from an hour south of me that included gray bubbly druse with chalcopyrite covering it blanket style, snow white bladed barite and sphalerite balls. I also brought some dogtooths from area quarries that I find alot of and I had some fluorite for Fred as well…when I pulled the fluorites out, everyone came over to look them over and several folks purchased a few of them…John had the same thing going with his barites.  Harry and Larry were really taken with those barites, as I had told them about a few weeks ago…I really don`t know anyone that isn`t mesmerized by their razzle dazzle and beauty.

The next morning we had another great breakfast next door and I shot this sunrise afterward….

I checked out of the hotel after that,  intending to head home after hunting for geodes during the morning at the Goat Farm…I figured it would be better to drive home all afternoon and get a good nights rest before going back to work the next night, than to get up early the next morning and drive home, then take a two hour nap and go to work, figured I would be tired from driving and a two hour nap just wouldn`t cut it for me. Harry and Larry led the way down to the Goat Farm near Crab Orchard and this time we found the owner home and the gate unlocked, and we drove down thru the field to the creek below. This location is known well for large geodes upstream and buddy let me tell you, several rockhounds found as many as they could carry back to their vehicles. After I let Onyx loose, he headed for the creek and found a couple of deep holes he could swim in, so he was in hog heaven pretty fast…I took a few photos of the parking area and creek first….

…and I saw Slade looking over geodes at the creek crossing before heading upstream to look for some big ones…

Fred, Harry and George were all working the creek as I finished shooting a few photos and joined them, finding some that had been left by others that were quite pretty and cracking open some new ones that were filled with sunshine quartz, as Harry and Larry call it….

…just upstream from our location, was Larry Huffman and a couple of gals further upstream from him…Larry was cracking open some sunshine quartz geodes…

I walked back down to see how many geodes Fred had piled up…he had cracked one open that I had tried to crack open earlier, he used a chisel that I did not have with me, and it opened perfect for him…so he gave me half of it…his half is at the center base of his white bucket, the large one with the beautiful white and yellow quartz crystals….

…and here is one of his basketball sized ones…

…in the meantime, the rest of the crew downstream was doing quite well too…I checked with a few of them and they were quite happy with what they were finding just a few yards below us….

…after shooting some photos and loading up my tailgate with my finds, I decided to walk upstream and see what I could find that might be bigger. I met Dale Russell coming downstream with his arms full of a huge geode half that was full of gorgeous sunshine quartz and in big bubbles of it too…and his backpack was full of a few smaller ones equally beautiful too. Here is that half he was carrying downstream in his arms…

…and here are the two halves he had on his back in his pack while carrying that one downstream in his arms….talk about loaded down….

 

He told me where he left his bucket, up by Slade, and said there were more up there just laying all over the place, so Onyx and I headed upstream, running into Slade as well….I picked up a couple of halves I found laying around up there, after making sure they were not any that Slade or Dale had cracked open to take home…and returned to the truck tired…I photographed Dale with his beauties and Dale Walker as well who had found one downstream too…..

Both of these Dales are great to rockhound with and they both have great taste in gloves…I like the heavy leather ones at the quarries and quartz mines like Dale Russell is wearing and when I am digging in water or mud or both, I like the rough rubber face of the gloves like Dale Walker is wearing. Both of these types of gloves are long lasting, too, takes a lot to wear them out.

I spent the next hour repacking the truck bed to accomodate all of my geode finds, while Onyx did a little more swimming, then we said our see ya laters to everyone in sight and headed over to Mt Vernon to pick up I-75 to head north to Lexington and then west on I-64 to St Louis. We were on the eastern outskirts of Louisville when the eclipse began, spotted thousands gathered in a city park on that side of town to observe it, then noticed all the streetlights in Louisville that lined I-64 were activated for it…they wasted some electricity as it never even darkened down a tiny bit. We caught up to some eclipse traffic headed home when we hit northbound I-57, luckily that only lasted a few miles, all of it going northbound…I filled the gas tanks at the Phillips 66 there and we headed west on 64 again with normal traffic. I did drive thru a nasty little cloudburst complete with some straight line winds just east of Okawville…everyone slowed down to about 45 mph and turned our flashers on and headed on, lasted about ten minutes only. I ran into a little northbound eclipse traffic when I hit 270 but all traffic going westbound was just fine…we finally got home about 7 pm and I was in bed after unpacking the truck, by 10 pm. All in all, another great trip and one for the record books this time around. Hope everyone else had a great time and made it home safe and sound. If anyone needs any of my photos, just give me a shout at my email addy below. 

 James at jwjphoto7@gmail.com  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Kentucky Again By Invitation

A few months ago I received an email from Harry Polly, of the Catawba Valley Gem and Mineral Club out of Hickory, North Carolina…I consider Harry a good friend, have talked to him extensively on the McRocks board and even exchanged minerals with him during the secret santa events…over the years he has given me information on sites and I have given him some as well. I thought this would be a great opportunity to travel back down to the Danville area and meet him in person, but to rockhunt again and this time with another nice group of rockhounds, because I have always heard good things about the Hickory club and their members. I had to move my schedule around a bit, mainly because where I work, a new policy was in place for on-call status due to staffing issues, but I was able to make that work two weeks ago and let Harry know that I would be able to make it down there afterall. I also contacted Clay at Caldwell Stone and obtained permission to return to the quarry there and bring the Hickory Club with me. I decided to leave Onyx with my Mom as she was preparing for a huge garage sale the weekend after, and I figured he could keep her company while I was gone…she and Dad loved him just as much as I do so I knew they would be just fine and keep each other company. I took Thursday off so I could get to sleep and get on the road early Friday morning, as I intended to stop off at Garden of the Gods on the way down and visit with a friend there, get some hiking in, before driving on down to the central part of the state. I shot this beautiful sunset Thursday evening while filling my water cooler with ice at the Zephyr station….

01-sunset-night-before-trip

Friday morning I was up and out the door by 5:20 am…having packed the truck down the day before with some flats of minerals and crystals from Missouri and Arkansas, as well as some Texas agates that the club from Tyler had brought me…I knew that Harry liked to cut up lapidary minerals and figured some others in his club would like some as well. I also took them some dogtooths from Missouri as well as some Viburnum Trend calcites, and some quartz crystals from Arkansas. I crossed the JB bridge over the Mississippi from south St Louis County into Illinois about 6:30 am as the sun was starting to light up the morning sky….

02-jb-bridge-eb03-sunrise-on-jb-bridge

and then drove on down to the Garden of the Gods to meet up with my friends down there to do some hiking. If you have never been to Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock Trail nearby, do yourself a favor and go there sometime…I am looking forward to getting over there this fall and seeing how pretty it is that time of the year as well.

From here I drove down to Cave in Rock and boarded the ferry for the short ride across the mighty Ohio River, then drove on down to Princeton where I picked up the Bluegrass Parkway east…sorry I didn`t have time to stop and visit with Tina and Sherry at the Clement Museum this trip…I knew that Harry and most of his crew were due to arrive at the Days Inn at Harrodsburg about 5 pm and I had just enough time to get there at the same time. From here it was about a three hour drive and I would lose an hour as well…I arrived just before 5 pm and discovered on check in, that they arrived about an hour before I did. On my second trip up to my room with my stuff from the truck, I discovered Harry and one of his club members, Slade Harvin, waiting outside my door. I had my September issue of my Rock and Gem Magazine in my hands and he let me know that one of his club members, Larry Huffman, had written one of the articles inside the magazine and was along for the trip and could autograph the article for me. He let me know that the group would be assembling down in the parking lot for supper in about an hour..giving me time to freshen up from the trip and check my email, and let Mom know I had made it down there fine.

Harry introduced me to everyone as they all assembled in the parking lot at 6 pm, and then we walked over to the Golf Course Resort Restaurant for a seafood buffet supper there. It was great meeting everyone, I have always heard good things about the Catawba Valley Club members and even discovered that there were three brothers in this group that had made the trip out, Dean Russell with his son-in-law Ryan Sims from North Carolina, as well as his older brothers Dale and David Russell from upper state New York. As it turned out, Dale was a good friend of Dale Walker, a rockhound I met online on the McRocks board a few months ago and gave some good information to about digging for fluorite at the Eureka Mine in Marion at their August Open Dig…small world after all.

We had a great time at supper, good food and good conversation, then walked back to the hotel parking lot……Harry had told everyone I was bringing them some goodies from Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas, so they were all anxious to see what I had brought them. I walked over to the east side of the hotel to get my truck and brought it to the south side where they were all parked at…and shot this sunset image while doing so…

06-sunset-harrodsburg-hotel

As I pulled out several flats of material for them to look through and select, it was obvious from their reactions, that I had selected some nice stuff for them to take home. I brought a couple of flats of Viburnum Trend calcites as well as some druse quartz and dogtooths from both of the quarries I go to locally. I also brought some flats of Arkansas quartz and wavellite, and some agates from western Texas that the club members of Tyler shared with me. I detected a few members drooling over the Viburnum Trend calcites and dogtooth crystals. Harry and a few members of his club really like the lapidary side of things so I knew they would enjoy the agates as well. We stayed in the parking lot for a good 90 minutes talking and they also gave me some nice crystals and minerals to take home with me….some blue calcites, kyanite, some quartz clusters, and some limonite morphed garnets. Many of them also provided me with locations for each one…something that I am not used to…so far, I just remember in my mind where I find my stuff, but they def had it all together on paper, very nicely done I might add. Very phenomenal group to visit with, I was very much looking forward to rockhounding with them the next two days. We decided on 7 am for breakfast and then meet in the parking lot at 8 to prepare for the trip to the quarry at Danville. Travis Tracy, my buddy from Knoxville, was set to drive up early the next morning and arrive about 8 am, as well. After checking my email, I retired for the night and was soon asleep after a nice long day.

After breakfast with a few of the club members the next morning, and then checking my emails, I met the rest of the group in the parking lot…Travis arrived soon after and I introduced him to everyone as well, we then shot a group photo….I will try to identify everyone in the image below…front row L to R is Travis Tracy from Knoxville, Dean Russell from NC, Robin Coulter from NC, David Russell from NY, Ryan Sims from NC, Larry Huffman from NC, Danye and Thomas Davis from NC. Second Row is Harry Polly, Field Trip Leader for this trip from NC. Third Row is Slade Harvin from NC, Sue Russell, and Ken Twardik from NC.

07-part-of-group-sat-morning

We then loaded up and drove down to Danville, I led the way to the Caldwell quarry there, set to meet Clay at the gate at 9 am…we arrived a little early and I showed the group the large boulder in front of the office that was covered by barite, fluorite and calcite crystals…I had told them about this boulder the night before at supper, relaying to them how a member of an unknown club, that had been allowed access to collect at the quarry there, had decided to chip some of the calcites off the boulder one day before leaving the quarry after a field trip there, which is what cost his club, as well as many other clubs, the priviledge of being able to go there and collect from that point on.

I made contact with the quarry manager back in March earlier this year and gained access for my group to go there in April and collect…it had been some time since any clubs had been allowed in there due to the reckless attitude of that one disrespectful rockhound.

This boulder is just gorgeous up close, and after Ken wet down the right half of it, it was even more beautiful in the sunlight….

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We met with Clay about 9 am when he and his son arrived…he gave us a safety talk and told us where certain minerals could be found in the quarry, had us sign paperwork and joined us for a group photo with his son…..

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L to R is Ken, Travis, Robin, Sue, Joan, Ryan, Rick, Larry, Dean, Dale, Harry, Slade, Tom in red shirt behind Slade, Danye, and Clay…his son is that big guy in the blue shirt in front of Dale holding the crystals we gave him. I also brought Clay some goodies from Missouri. 

….then turned us loose to collect for a few hours. Everyone headed for the lower level when they saw a huge blast pile in that area…it was about three stories high and every bit of fifty yards across….

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15-slade-heads-out-looking

….after getting my steel toed boots, hard hat, and gloves on, I grabbed my tools and walked over to check it out…Travis did a walk around as well and after finding nothing at that level, we drove up to the next level, which is where we found some nice stuff back in April. After about thirty minutes of searching the west side of that bench, joined up there by Slade and a few others that followed our lead and drove up there too…we wandered back to the center of the berm and within a few minutes, new rockhound Slade made a HUGE discovery of a couple of small boulders with vugs of gorgeous brown dogtooth calcite crystals and some big white calcite crystals nestled inside the sprays of dogtooths….here they are set out away from the berm a bit….first two are boulder number one….with a small chunk of crystals on top that was found separately….

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and boulder number two featured a nicer vug with the white calcite crystals in the spray of brown dogtooths….

30-2nd-boulder-with-calcite-crystal-vug

…and it had some smaller vugs full of calcite dogtooths in other areas of the boulder as well….

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34-boulder-2-extra-vugs

….talk about a great find for a newbie !!  He was elated and so were the rest of us when we saw what he had found…luckily for the rest of us, there were some great smaller pieces of nice sprays of dogtooths to find too…here are three that I found fairly quickly after….

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…after that find, everyone fanned out to search that specific area of the berm and surrounding area quickly…

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Pretty soon, we heard Dale start up his power saw, he had found a nice boulder as well and trimmed it down to get this nice chunk of brown calcite dogtooths from….

26-dale-russell-put-his-saw-to-work27-sawn-section-of-calcite-pocket

Then a few minutes after that, we heard him down in the lower pit just south of the ground level we were working on…the pit where Jimmy Ericson discovered a big yellow snake laying around when my group was there in April…Clay must have found that snake and disposed of him cause we never saw him and the waterhole that had been there was pretty much dried up now…at any rate, Dale told me to check the floorboard of his van and this is what he found down there…

36-another-dale-russell-find

…a big beautiful yellow calcite crystal in a pocket of dogtooths !!  gorgeous stuff there…I walked down into the lower pit to see what else he had found, followed by some of the others and he pointed out a huge boulder on the side of the pit covered on top with some huge masses of calcite in white and yellow colors and a small section of purple fluorite crystals as well….

37-huge-boulder-lower-pit-grnd-level39-huge-boulder-fluorite-in-calcite

…and then on the other side of the lower pit pile, he was working on yet another one that he found with three pockets of dogtooths on top of it…

41-another-boulder-with-multiple-pockets-nearby42-nearby-boulder-vug-of-dogtooths

…he was very happy with his finds so far and by now, everyone else was as well and they were thanking me for helping them gain access to the quarry there. In fact, I don`t remember seeing anyone there that morning that wasn`t happy with what they were finding. Travis and I drove over to the southwest corner of the quarry to check out an area that Clay said they had hit a seam of calcite in…Harry and Larry were already there checking it out when we arrived, but it turned out to be massive calcite in the floor and no pretty crystals at all, so Travis and I returned to the lower pit to find the Russell brothers carving down yet another boulder with pockets that Dale found in the sand at the bottom by a water pit occupied only by cat tails now….

46-dale-cuts-as-ryan-dean-watch47-dale-cuts-boulder-down-to-size

…he made several saw cuts and then started applying wedges and hammering them lightly into the cuts…I shot some video as it sounded like music when he started tapping those wedges in…

48-dale-applies-force-with-wedges49-breaking-open-boulder  and pretty soon the pocket split off of the boulder and he had several nice pieces to take home from it.

 

 

 

 

 

Around 1:30 pm, we noticed that some of the members had tired of the quarry and left, so the rest of us packed up and decided to go get some lunch and then head south toward Stanford and see if we could locate the roadcuts I had been told about that contained purple fluorite cubes, so after a short lunch break at McDonalds we headed south to the cuts…and after searching about eight of them, finding very little pretty stuff and a few fossils…we all headed back to the hotel to clean up for supper. We decided to walk back over to the Golf Resort Restaurant for their buffet of fried chicken and roast beef, and it was yet another great meal. Afterwards, Larry, Harry, Slade, Travis and I drove down to see my good friend Phil Daly, who lives just south of Junction City…I had told them that he had his entire collection for sale and these guys wanted to so see what all he had for sale. We got there just after dark and had a great time visiting with him, and even bought some of his collection to add to ours…I purchased some of his calcites from the quarry that we were at that morning, and one of his nice plates with fluorite and barite on it as well…..

barite-fluorite-plate-purch-from-phil-dalydogtooth-calcites-in-dolomite-vug-from-phil

dogtooth-calcites-in-dolomite-vug-from-phil-2

Larry purchased some of Phil`s fluorites from the Eureka Mine. We headed back to the hotel about 9:30 pm to rest up from the long day.

Breakfast came early again at 7 am….

50-sunrise-sunday-morning

…..and then we headed south to an area farm where the Hickory Club goes for geodes each year…I had been there about seven years ago with my buddy Jimmy Ericson of Minnesota, he is an avid geode fan as well, and we did pretty good that day seven years ago there. As we entered the valley, I remember telling Travis that there were a few new homes along the road that had not been there seven years before when I was last there…we soon rounded the curve and there sat the house and barn that I remembered. After visiting with the farmowner for a few minutes, we drove thru the gate and down to the creek and fanned out to look for pretty geodes…its not hard to find geodes at this location, they are all over the place, in the creekbed as well as up on the banks…the hard part is finding the pretty ones and the large pretty ones that you want to take home with you….

51-travis-searches-for-geodes52-dean-ryan-cracking-open-geodes-in-creekbed53-ken-searches-for-good-geodes54-dean-russell55-slade-joan-hunt-downstream57-david-russell-cracking-open-geodes56-david-russell-cracking-open-geodes58-david-examines-opened-geode

Above you see David Russell, cracking open a few geodes that he found in that one spot on the gravel bar…by the time he finished, he had nearly built a dam across the creek with the ones that he didn`t want to take home with him. I shot some video as well and just missed Slade taking a bath in the creek when he slipped on a wet rock…only photographing him after standing back up….I think he was a little worried yet that I had caught him taking a bath there….

59-slade-slipped-got-wet

…here are a couple of sets of beautiful citrine center geodes that I found and cracked open there, and brought home with me…

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Joan even photographed me in the creek looking for geodes and then holding a pair that I found upstream….thanks Joan…

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here is another one I found upstream, just sitting there, half gold colored interior and half black…told everyone it was my hometown school colors…black and gold geode….

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and a beautiful agate filled one that I brought home too…

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…and while we were taking a break, Dale got out his power saw and trimmed up Slade`s beautiful boulders some more from the day before….

67-dale-trims-down-slades-boulder-more68-pocket-exposed-more69-vug-exposed-diff-angle70-boulder-1-closerup71-boulder-1-closerup72-vug-exposed-diff-angle

…from there we decided to drive over to Kings Mountain, an infamous location for geodes with amethyst, pink dolomite, barite, and arragonite interiors…with quartz and calcites as well…its a huge rail cut thru high rock walls for at least three quarters of a mile, that replaced an old tunnel there for train traffic. Trains pass thru these high walls every 15 to 20 minutes and cannot travel fast due to the high grade there, most trains are one to two miles long in length….we saw the first one as we walked into the cut….

74-walking-into-kings-mtn75-walking-into-kings-mtn76-larry-harry-walking-in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked in on the right side since it was much easier walking on the ballast on that side, and then started seeing some geodes in the walls on the far side, so after the initial train passed by, we crossed over to check them out…btw, buckets were best to carry out my geodes at this location as they get heavy fast and sometimes with a lot of matrix attached to them as well…it was a lot easier carrying them in buckets here cause we had to take many breaks on the long walk back to the vehicle and was able to sit down on your bucket to rest as well…and I should have taken a dolly with me too…hindsight is always 20-20 tho….here is Ryan standing by the wall on the other side by the first geodes we saw in the wall there…

77-ryan-studies-geodes-in-wall78-kings-mountain-rail-cut

…something that one has to always be careful about this place, other than the high volume of train traffic, is that sometimes the geodes fall out of the walls from high up, due to the vibrations of the train traffic, which you can feel through your feet when standing on the ballast…and sometimes snakes fall with the rocks from the high walls, as they sometimes sun themselves up there with the rocks…I put in a request with the Almighty the night before and he answered well…we saw no snakes on that trip, nor any other location that weekend…I was very glad and I know others were as well…pretty soon we were all scattered out along those walls and the next train came from the west…here you see Travis, Ken, and Harry searching along the high walls….

79-ken-travis-looking-for-geodes80-harry-searching-for-geodes

..and as the train passes by approaching the signal, you can see the Russell clan working down near the bridge at the wall where we initially saw the first geodes in the wall…they never moved past that spot the entire time…

81-russell-crew-on-right82-sb-train-approaches83-sb-train-approaches-signal84-sb-norfork-southern-train85-sb-norfork-southern-train

 

 

 

 

 

…they were finding some very nice amethyst and pink dolomite interior geodes in that high wall but it was brutally hard work taking them out of that wall as well…while the rest of us were finding some very nice geodes on the ground already having vibrated out of the high walls..the first few I found had some pretty arragonite interiors and some orange barite as well…below you see Harry and Slade, then Slade and Travis searching along the base of the high walls…and Dale Russell joined us as well before moseying on down around the bend…

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Harry helped me and Travis get started finding some nice ones that had fallen unbroken, before finding a few of his own…many of us were tired from the farm creek location and it didnt take long for that to catch up with us, as warm as it was in the cut. A few folks including Travis, Thomas, Tonie, Ken, and Dale had walked down and around the bend to check things out down below and soon were wandering back with full buckets of goodies…and we all began the long trek back to the vehicles…

90-thomas-carries-buckets-back91-thomas-carries-buckets-back93-thomas-carries-buckets-back    here you see Thomas making the long haul back to where we were standing about halfway down the rails and cut…a very long walk and even longer when carrying a full bucket or two of geodes…

 

…add to that some heat, humidity and exhaustion and you can understand why we were not there longer that day…luckily it wasn`t very humid at all that weekend. I was checking out the main Russell Clan work party up near the bridge…Larry was supervising and Slade had joined them as well on his way back….they were finding some very nice geodes there and were doing a great job of pounding them out of the hard rock wall….

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…when Harry and Dale caught up on the other side of the tracks. Harry stopped to rest while Dale searched a bit more…

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…..I helped Harry carry his bucket up to the bridge from there….that helped me on my carry as it evened things out for me…we took a few breaks before reaching the nice refreshing cooling shade of the bridge, and waited til Ken and Travis caught up with us, before walking on back up to the vehicles…watching the last train come up around the bend and go by us….

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…where we packed up and headed back to the hotel to rest up, clean up, and prepare for supper in Danville. Everyone had the option to stay the next morning and go to yet another available location for geodes, however most of us opted to make the drive home…I left about 5:30 am Monday morning headed for home, picking up an hour on the way back and took a three hour nap that afternoon before my return to work that night. I had a great time collecting with a great bunch of folks and really appreciate the invitation to hunt with them Labor Day weekend as well as the invite back next year as well. Thanks again Harry and look forward to hunting with you some more next year !!  

I cleaned up some of my geodes finally and will get those photos posted soon. 

 

Spring Fling in Kentucky 2016

After my recent trip to Kentucky, I might have to make this an annual trip and decided to come up with a name for it, so it will be easy to categorize and refer back to. For the past twelve years I have driven down to western Kentucky to perform a machine dig to help out the folks at the Clement Mineral Museum in Marion, as they provide great opportunities for rockhounds across the US and around the world as well. We rockhounds know that it is becoming increasingly difficult each year to find good places to go and spend a day or two digging for beautiful crystals, and this is one of those places worth going to visit and dig at. A small group of us get together each year and pool our resources to hire an excavation company and operator to come in, dig at our direction and move alot of dirt and mud out of the way, opening up new areas where beautiful purple and yellow cubes of fluorite can be found, sometimes with other minerals present, including calcite, sphalerite, galena, and occasionally greenockite. We dig into the Eureka Mine, that dates back to the early 1900`s, which as always been a fluorite mine, likely called a fluorospar mine back then, or simply ” spar ” as the locals referred to it. Much of the spar they were mining was massive and solid, whereas we look for the cubes of fluorite, in the form of small plates, clusters, and large plates and cubes associated with the other minerals present. By opening up additional areas of opportunity, we enable all rockhounds who visit the rest of the year, to more easily access those areas and an easier dig as well.

This year I was joined by rockhound friends Jim Ericson from the Minneapolis area, Chuck Reed from the St Louis County area, and David Sorrells from the Paducah area. Jim had quite a trip down there, leaving last Thursday morning early and driving through a foot of snow on the ground and roads, dumped there the night before from that storm that barreled across Colorado the day before, which stranded motorists all the way across the state under 17 inches of snow. Jim made it thru southern Minnesota and then Iowa as well, snowing on him the entire time until he safely reached Missouri, where the snow finally stopped clinging to everything and he was able to make much better time on the roads. He sent me some images of his harrowing, white knuckle drive down there….

Jimmy Drove Down Thru This Across MN and Iowa 2Jimmy Drove Down Thru This Across MN and Iowa

…luckily for him, his suv has all wheel drive, which combined with his common sense, steady nerves and rock solid determination, brought him through the snow and ice unscathed. The rest of us had uneventful drives, Onyx and I arriving by 2 pm in Marion…I had Onyx shaved down the day before by the groomer at my local vet office, but forgot to pick up some flea and tick prevention tablets for him, so after a quick call to Tina, who recommended a local vet, we drove over there to pick one up for him. That is when I spotted these gorgeous sunbeams near their rural fire station….

06 Sunbeams Over Marion Fire Station

…the night before, while packing, I noticed the clouds lining up for what appeared to be a good colorful sky as the sun dipped down, and as I made my way over to my neighbor Glen`s house to let him know we were leaving the next morning, I stopped in the street in front of my house to capture this stunning sunset….

01 Sunset Night Before My Trip

…Onyx chewed up his tablet and was set for the next thirty days…I had heard from several that the ticks in Kentucky can get quite bad and I didn`t want to take any chances with him especially. We then headed back to the hotel in Kuttawa to wait for Chuck and Jim to arrive, before going to supper. We were staying at the Days Inn there, next to the well known and liked, Oasis Southwest Grill, one of the best steakhouses in the country, bar none. Chuck was set to arrive around 8 pm and Jimmy figured he would be there soon after, but told us not to wait on him as he had munched on sandwiches all the way down there. Chuck and I walked on over to the steakhouse after he arrived, and ordered our food, and true to his word, Jimmy showed up about 45 min later to join us. We caught up on old times and then I explained the layout of the Eureka to them, as well as explained what our mission was the next day. Chuck had never been there and it has been several years since Jimmy was there. We had a great meal and conversation and then headed back to the hotel to get some rest for the next day.

David drove down early the next morning from Paducah, and was at the mine when Chuck, Jimmy and I arrived…we passed the trackhoe and operator as we drove down the hill to the mine. He followed us down to get instruction and directions on how to get the trackhoe down to the mine, and we found out his name is Marlon….he had never dug there and was unfamiliar with that particular area, but knew as we did, that the sixty thousand pound machine would not be able to cross the little metal bridge over the creek at the foot of the hill. I showed him how to drive down the hill through the fields on the other side of the road and the cattle crossing in the creek, offered to walk him down and assist with the gates, but he said he would be fine, and so we set about getting things ready while he returned to do just that. The new pit that we had dug out last year over the course of two separate machine digs, had weathered the winter pretty good, yet was full of water on one end while high and dry, so to speak, on the other….

07 New Pit After Winter

…I say so to speak, because it was as dry as could be expected after a half inch of rainfall the day before…dryer than we have found it in past years anyway. I can remember the early days when you stepped off in the old pit…that area filled in behind that water hole above….and sunk down to your knees easily, and wondered if you were going to be able to pull your feet out and keep your boots on. Many boots and waders have been lost to that Kentucky mud over the years, let me tell ya.

Last year, at the second machine dig, we brought the end of the new pit right up to the old logging road that runs along the mine on the west side….

11 Logging Road Along Pit

…..and stopped digging there, even though we could see a vein of purple at the base of it. Bill Frazer, the landowner and President of the Museum Board, discovered that there was an offshoot vein traveling off the original vein that we had followed for the first ten years, this one seemed to come off at a forty five degree angle…Bill came to this conclusion after looking at some of the old maps of the mine, then dug an exploratory trench two years ago and struck fluorite. We followed his lead last year with both of our machine digs and found more fluorite each time we dug, and we also exposed a large bench, or saddle, at the bottom that also produced alot of pockets of deep dark purple cubes and plates of fluorite…

09 Bottom of New Pit

This year, I consulted with one of my geologist friends Mike Streeter, who knows the area well and Bill as well, and we decided to explore under the logging road to see if the vein continued in that direction. Bill also asked if we could fill in the deep water hole on the east side of the new pit, so we had Marlon take care of that job first…here you see the new pit below and the deep water hole in the upper part of the image, as well as the pocket producing saddle in the lower part of the image…

10 Filled In This Section

12 Marlon Gets Started Filling In End of New Pit

…when he finished that job, he had covered that entire deep water hole and bridged across the hole at the end of the saddle…which is still accessible to the serious hard rock diggers who will come there to dig. He then moved around to the other side to move the huge tailing pile around for us….

Eureka Mine Machine Dig Trackhoe Arriving - Davids Pix

…..and when he did that, David climbed up on top to see if he was stirring anything up….

13 David Searches Tailings14 David Searches Tailings

Marlon then came back to the logging road on the south side and began extending the trench in the direction of the forest behind him….at the start I went down into the pit to direct Marlon on where to begin digging….

Eureka Mine Digging Out Trench - Davids Pix

…after that, Jimmy or Chuck stayed down in the pit at all times with me, to check his progress. Jimmy took the first turn and everytime we spotted purple, we would stop Marlon and then climb into the freshly dug dirt and check for cubes. David took some photos while Jimmy and I were down there, and after Chuck and Jimmy exchanged places, Jimmy took some photos of Chuck and I checking out the progress of the trackhoe…

David Looks Down As James & Chuck Dig in Trench

…and here is Chuck in the pit while I was getting my perspective again on the progress…hard to do when you are down in the pit and looking up, trying to figure out where you are at in relation to the logging road above…..

16 Digging Trench Toward Road

…and you can`t tell from the angle I shot this, but Chuck is a good thirty to forty feet from the new area that Marlon is dropping that bucket into…Marlon turned out to be an excellent operator and excavator…kept a watchful eye on us all the time and made eye contact each time he emptied the bucket and brought it back around. We were very impressed with his skills and methods…we had worked with Wayne Crider for many years and Wayne was excellent to work with as well…we found out that he had recently sold his business and retired, now in his 80`s…we wish him only the best of luck and health.

In the meantime, Jimmy and David were on top keeping an eye on us and on the goodies in the bucket each time Marlon would bring a load up from below….

17 Topside View

..and here is another view of Chuck down in the pit, while Marlon was working over the tailings, as the new pit expands into the old logging road….

Expanding the New Trench Pit

…we were finding a lot of little plates and cubes along the way…much of it mud covered and hard to tell what all we had…here is one of David`s little plates all cleaned up….

One of Davids Finds 2

We took the trench cut across that logging road, finding two veins of purple fluorite about two feet apart down the middle of the trench cut from near the top to the bottom of the cut. We were pulling a few small plates out…at one time, Chuck called me over, he found an opening in the matrix, and after retrieving my flashlight from my truck, I shined it inside and we saw one inch cubes on both sides of the opening, at least a couple of plates inside….David was able to take a nice photo of it…and then I proceeded to chip three plates out of it…

Eureka Mine Plates Inside Vein - Davids Pics

While the guys continued to dig out what they could find in the trench, I had Marlon cut a new temporary road thru the edge of the forest and back over to the main north side…he first piled some dirt and rocks up on both sides of the road cut, and we also staked a line across with some fence posts….

18 Setting Large Smooth Rocks On Road

…I had never seen large limestone/dolomite boulders like the ones he pulled out of the pit and piled up on the road, they were water worn and smooth with rounded corners where once I am sure, they had hard sharp edges. Tina drove down later and was immediately both drawn and taken with them, she wanted to take a couple of them home with her…one was even big enough to serve as a small picnic table. Once finished with that, I had Marlon dig a trench on the north side of the old pit to see if we could locate the old horizontal tunnel that we had followed in the first ten years of our machine digs, when we found quite a bit of good to great specimens along the way. Jimmy photographed me standing at the edge of the trench cut that Marlon is making for us, again it looks as though I am in the pit from the angle taken, but rest assured I am standing up on the bank and a couple of feet from the edge….

I am Looking For Signs of Fluorite North Side Trench Cut

We didn`t locate much of anything on this side, following some hunches, and the water table is very high here too, we were down maybe ten feet when Marlon punched thru some base rock and water started gushing into the trench cut…that alone would have made it extremely difficult to dig in even if we had found anything worthwhile there. It was noon by then and we decided to break for lunch. Bill had kept in contact with us all morning by phone, checking on our progress, so I called him once again to let him know where we were at. He was in Paducah but on his way back and said he would come by to discuss another place to dig at. Jimmy drove Marlon back up the hill to his truck so he wouldn`t have to hoof it up there, and he drove back down in his truck after his lunch break.

Bill arrived soon after and told us there was a location close by where a drill core several years before, had turned up some purple fluorite as well as some blue fluorite, calcite, and some other trace minerals, and if interested, we could have Marlon work a trench cut up the hill to see if we could find it. We all agreed to that, everyone likes blue fluorite afterall so we moved Marlon down to a likely spot, cut the fence, and had him commence trenching. He was having some difficulty in the spot we started him out at, so Bill relocated him to the hill above and had him begin again, eventually working his way up the hill behind him….

19 Moved Trackhoe Up to Hill By Columbia Mine

…as you can see, we were near the old Davis shaft tailings close to the old Columbia Mine, which is located down the hill to the left in the photo above, the Davis shaft tailings in the foreground above….and below…..

Digging Up Side of Hill in Pasture Near Columbia Mine 2Digging Up Side of Hill in Pasture Near Columbia Mine

…the next image shows the old generator building for the Columbia Mine which was back behind us and just down over the hill with the cattle grazing down in the valley near the creek….

20 Old Generator Bldg by Columbia Mine

…and since this was taking a bit of time for Marlon to complete, Chuck stretched out on the tailing piles to get a little shut eye time in….

21 Chuck Resting On Columbia Mine Tailings

…as Marlon continued to dig, Jimmy watched and hoped for a glimmer of blue or purple….

22 Jimmy Watches Progress of Trackhoe on Hill

…however, we reached the top of the hill with only a handful of chert and some sandstone found and Bill decided to stop the dig at that point. We had Marlon fill in the trench cut and he even went so far as to smooth it out as best he could for the sake of the cows that frequently graze that area….

23 Trackhoe Fills In Trench on Hill24 Trackhoe Fills In Trench on Hill

…I stayed up on top of the hill with Marlon as he completed this work, and sent Jimmy, David, and Chuck down to divide up the finds….and when I returned forty minutes later, found that they were still picking and choosing. We cleaned up shortly after and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and then over to the Oasis for another great dinner.  The next morning, we slept in an hour extra and then drove over to meet Tina at the Clement Mineral Museum to get a tour of it…Chuck had never seen it and it had been some time that Jimmy had seen it as well, both of them were interested in seeing the rocks and minerals on display that glow under the blacklight lamps as well…here are some photos that Jimmy took there….

Blacklight room at the Clement Mineral Museum

Purple Fluorite Cluster with Calcite

…the Clement Mineral Museum is always worth a visit to see the gorgeous crystals and minerals there…no matter how many times I have been there, I love to go back inside and look around again…bout like a kid in a candy store there, can never get enough or see enough.

From there, we drove on over to Danville, Kentucky, in the central part of the state, where we would be rockhunting the next few days for mainly geodes, or so we thought. I had made contact with a buddy of mine who likes fluorite, too…I met Phil and his wife Shirley at the Eureka Mine a few years ago, two very nice people that were hosting the Eureka for a few years, and one day Phil gave me a piece of white fluorite with a hint of purple on the edges, that was simply beautiful. I had no clue until this year that he lived close to Danville…for whatever reason, I thought all those years that he lived further south and east in Kentucky. I emailed him a couple of weeks ago when I had a better idea of my trip schedule and he invited us out to his place on our arrival, to show us his collection and offered to take us to a few places. I gladly accepted his offer on behalf of my friends.

I had also made contact with the manager of a nearby quarry and he texted to ask me to contact him on our arrival in town, so he could show us the quarry that afternoon, so I called him when we arrived at our hotel and arranged to meet him there 45 minutes later. I let Phil know that we would be out there as soon as we cleared the quarry, then Jim and Chuck joined me and Onyx as we drove to the quarry…I should prob say that we would be joined the next morning by a couple more people. 

This quarry is known for Limestone, Fluorite, Barite, Calcite, Sphalerite, and some fossils, in that order…here are a few photos of what has been found there before…

Barite With Fluorite 2Barite With Fluorite 3Fluorite With Barite On ItFluorite With BariteLavendar Fluorite CubesFluorite and BariteCalcite Crystals 2Calcite Crystals

We met the manager, Clay, at the front gate and loaded up into his truck and drove thru the gate…I left Onxy in my truck at the front gate with the ac running…knowing no one would mess with my truck because Clay said so and also because anyone that looked inside and saw a dog that looked like a lion would be a fool to try and break into it. Clay showed us the highlights and the lowlights both, areas to check out and areas to avoid, and explained why as well. He asked and we assured him that we had indeed brought our hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, and steeltoed boots with us and would be wearing them the next day.

He wished us good luck and we headed down to Phil`s residence, which is south of Danville, about a ten minute drive. We drove by several black colored barns…

25 Barn Forkland Road Valley

….painted black down there either because black paint is and was cheap, or because many farmers grew tobacco leaves down there and those leaves were harvested and placed in the black barns to cure properly. I had always heard it was due to the tobacco farmers. We also drove up and over a steep knob to get to his house…knobs down there are what they call hills up here, they are shaped like doorknobs down there, tradional shaped doorknobs, that is, so they refer to them as knobs…..

19 Knobs of Central Kentucky

We arrived to find Phil waiting for us outside his tool shed, which is a large outbuilding and holds much of his rock and mineral collection. He gave us the grand tour, and let me tell ya, he has some spectacular stuff there, plus he has his 16 inch rock saw in there, faceting machine, grinding/polishing wheels, everything needed to make jewelry and he had some of that as well….

20 Agates21 Malachite24 Amethyst From Michigan23 Septerian Nodule Clock

…he is a retired machinist and knows how to make and repair many things, he can wreak havoc or create stunning art. a master craftsman. Phil showed us some nice crystals of fluorite that he had been collecting the last few years, similar to the piece he gave me a couple of years ago, and told us he could take us to one of those mines to see what we could find. Since Chuck had been planning to leave Sunday evening for home, I asked Phil if he could take us to the mine on Monday morning and he said that would be no problem….luckily Chuck was able to get an extension on his departure. After checking out the rest of Phil`s collection, Phil took us back into Danville and had supper with us at Giovanni`s Pizzaria, where they have great pizza buffet style, as well as salad and pasta, all you can eat for about ten bucks each. We then retired to the hotel for the night and Phil said he would see us the next morning at 9 am. After a good nights rest, Onyx and I drove over to McDonalds the next morning for a good hotcakes and sausage breakfast, about the only meal that will stick with me all day long and hold me til supper…Mark Bishop was the first to arrive a few minutes later, and then Travis Tracey showed up, both drove up from Georgia and Tennessee early that morning, to join us for the next couple of days. We waited a few more minutes to see if anyone else might join us for the day, I had told several friends about my trip and some had indicated they might be available to go with us, however no one else showed up except Phil and so we ambled on over to the quarry from there. Clay had warned us that we might find the gate locked and if so, just give him a quick call and he would have an employee close by to come unlock it for us…and that is exactly what we found on our arrival there, so we prepared for their arrival….

Caldwell Stone Waiting At Gate - Mark Pic

..one of their dispatchers arrived shortly after and unlocked the gate for us…and we followed Phil into the quarry as he has been there before….starting at the lower level so he could show us the fault line…

Caldwell Stone Driving In - Travis PixCaldwell Stone View From Above - Mark Pic

We all donned our hard hats, boots, grabbed buckets, bags, and tools, and then listened as Phil explained the mechanics of the quarry and showed us the fault….which is that slanted white line on the right in the third photo down from here….

Caldwell Stone Tying My Boots - Chuck Pix

04 Phil Points Out Mineralized Zones at Quarry07 Fault Line in Walls08 Looking West Caldwell Stone

We went to several levels while there and found very little at the top, so we then relocated to the lower levels where more rock was laying around and then started to find some nice stuff….

Caldwell Stone 2nd Level - Chuck PixCaldwell Stone Chuck & Phil - Trav PixCaldwell Stone Phil Looking - Chuck Pix

12 Second Shelf Down Caldwell Stone13 Second Shelf Down Caldwell Stone

I think I was the first one to find something substantial, and just happened upon it by accident, big chunk of heavy rock with a beautiful face of white calcite, with small purple cubes on the calcite, and some barite mixed in….

16 One I Found in Pile 2nd Shelf16B Crystals on Face Up Close

17 Mark and Travis Search Rocks15 Looking Toward Entrance

Little was found as there was little fresh rock down, but we did manage to find a few nice ones…from there we drove out to Phil`s house to look for some geodes in his backyard creek….first we made sure to show Travis and Mark the beautiful collection that we had seen the day before, and soon after, Jim and Chuck ambled on down to the creek and began checking out the geodes there. Mark stayed behind to talk to Phil some more….

Phils Collection - Mark Pic

….and then came down and took some photos of everyone in the creekbed……

26 Chuck Looks For Geodes27 Jimmy Looks For Geodes30 Travis Searches for Geodes31 Jim in Fine Company32 Jim Creekside With Geodes Everywhere

Phils Location Group Discussion Creekbed - Chucks Pix

Phils Location Onyx in Creek - Chucks Pix

Phils Location Travis Mark & Phil in Creekbed - Chucks Pix

Phils Location Jim in Creekbed - Trav PixPhils Location Jim & Phil Look For Geodes - Chuck Pix33 Jim With a Gorgeous HalfPhils Location Mark & I in Creekbed - Chucks PixPhils Location Group in Creekbed -Chucks Pix

Phil had a couple of gravel bars we could search, however we never strayed from the one main one for the most part. As far as I could tell, everyone found as many geodes as they wanted to…Jimmy loaded up several buckets and then had to take them up to his suv, luckily he also brought a wagon that carried two buckets at a time….

Phils Location Jims Haul From Creek - Chucks PixPhils Location Jim is Exhausted - Chucks Pix

We left here and drove over to a few roadcuts on Highway 150 near Stanford, a couple of them Phil knew about and then we went to a few that I had been told about. We found some dolomite crystal pockets in some of them, and Travis found a nice calcite crystal in the bottom of one of the pockets, yet no one could figure out how to extract it from the pocket without damaging it…..

34 Searching Roadcuts36 Travis Looks For Minerals in Roadcut39 Crystal Travis Found In Dolomite Pocket41 Travis and Phil on Roadcut42 Phil on Roadcut Wall43 Phil on Roadcut WallHwy 150 Roadcuts - Mark Pic

After checking and digging into five roadcuts, we were tiring quickly and it was soon apparent that our breakfast had worn off long ago…so we soon loaded up and headed back to Stanford. As we approached the city limits, I looked to the north and spotted what appeared to be rain clouds coming in from southwest, rain had been predicted that day earlier, however we had not seen any yet…these slid on by without dropping any rainfall as well….

44 Dark Clouds Cruise By Stanford

The restaurant there that Phil wanted to go to was closed due to Easter so we headed on to Danville and returned to Giovanni`s for more pizza. Phil said he could take us to an old fluorite mine the next morning where we could also find barite and calcite crystals, so we decided to meet again at McDonalds the next morning. Onyx and I drove down to Stanford to my friend John`s house, where we would spend the next couple of nights. I didn`t get a chance to visit with John as much as I would have liked to, between his schedule and mine, we only got to visit between supper and bedtime. 

After another good nights rest, we were up and on the road to Danville`s McDonalds again to meet up with the guys on Monday morning. Phil was running a little late that morning, I think we wore him out the day before, but we had a beautiful drive over to the location for the morning dig. This old mine dates back to the early 1800`s and was always a fluorite mine, producing predominantly white colored fluorite cubes, some with yellow barite attached, sometimes attached in balls of barite, and sometimes in the company of calcite as well. Phil had dug there for a few years after befriending the owner of the privately owned mines and we had seen some of his collected crystals that were stunning, to say the least. We were all looking very forward to getting over there to see what we could dig up and take home as well. The morning dawned cool and cloudy, but it sure was pretty along the way, we drove down through some impressive canyons and saw a few waterfalls along the way too, finally arriving at the old tailing piles, which were pretty also….Phil led us up to the top of the piles and we began there, however a few of us throughout the day wandered around and checked other areas to see what could be found as well….

Old Fluorite Mine Digging in Tailings - Mark Pic

54 Mark Digs Toward Jim56 Jim Uses Shovel59 Jim at His Dig Spot

 

 

We discovered as Phil had told us, that you didn`t have to dig down very far to find some great stuff, many of the calcite crystals we were finding were just under the grass line even, like this one that Mark found….

Old Fluorite Mine Calcite Crystal Found - Mark Pic

Chuck found several alongside us and then had to hit the road headed home around noon…soon after he left, I dug into his spot and pulled out some nice small clusters of fluorite cubes and some calcite crystals too…then a few of us decided to take a break and grab some water and something to snack on. Mark and I made our way to the bottom of the hill as some folks were walking down the road, out getting their daily hike in…they stopped to chat with us and were very pleasant to talk to…the man`s name was Mark also and he was retired from Lipton…told him I sure did like their sweet teas and he said he worked in their spaghetti sauce branch for many years…I had no clue Lipton produced that. They were walking four miles a day so we saw them three more times as they passed by while we were there. I let Onyx out of the truck then as the sun was now out and the temps were beginning to climb, and he promptly went over and found a sunny spot in the grass and lay down to catch some rays….

61 Onxy Soaking Up Some Sun60 Onyx Takes it Easy

Mark and I wandered down the road a ways to stretch our legs after sitting up on top for a few hours, and came upon some pretty wildflowers and trees along the way…

62 Color in Rural Fields

…and afterwards, Jim and Mark returned to the top of the hill while Travis and I puttered around the base of the tailings pile….

47 Old Mine Tailings

I decided to dig into an area a few feet up the hill from the bottom that looked to be a seam or opening across the pile about thirty feet long…I had my small extendable  potato rake with me and started raking a few rocks out and on the second try, I pulled two chunks of fluorite out about the size of a loaf of bread…was beginning to think I might be on to a pocket and said as much to Travis, so he came down and joined me on the right side of that seam. I reached in and pulled out yet another one and then called out to Jim and Mark…Mark soon came down to see what I had found and decided to join us there as well…eventually Jim came down and joined us on the left side too….

63 Pocket I Found At Base65 After Working It Over

…and we stayed there til about 6 pm, pulling several nice pieces of fluorite and calcite out of there. The landowner came by to check and see how we were doing and remarked that it was a good spot to dig into, and I have to agree with that. He asked about Phil and we let him know that he had to leave earlier in the day to take delivery of a truck…we thanked him for allowing us the opportunity to dig there that day and he wished us well, seemed like a very nice guy. Jim and Mark returned to the top of the pile for another thirty minutes, and then we decided to call it a day. There were some scenic areas about ten miles to the north that we wanted to check out and photograph, so we left with just enough daylight left to do so…..

69 Blue Door Barn71 Fence72 Shaker Village74 Stairway Trustees Office Shaker Village

…we got back to Danville just before dark and stopped to change into cleaner jeans, then headed over to Cheddars for supper. Everyone was going to head home the next day after our morning location…I had tried to contact Mr. Flynn to set up an agate hunt, but was told he was under the weather, so we opted to go to the horse farm instead…I had been in contact with Sharon and Richard, and they said we were welcome to come down and take as many geodes off their farm as we wanted to. Jim, Mark, and Travis decided to meet Onyx and I at the Stanford McDonalds the next morning about 8:30 am. I had to take three alleves in order to get to sleep that night, I was sore in every square inch of my shoulders, back, and legs from nine hours of digging that day, but woke up the next morning free of pain and just a little bit sore in places. After repacking my truck so I could get everything in, Onyx and I took off to meet the crew, arriving just ahead of them. On the way out, I noticed a bright and shiny Ladder Truck pull into the parking lot, so I drove over to talk to the driver as he was getting out…I was surprised the little town of Stanford had one, and he told me they were a fire district too and could afford nicer trucks due to that and they had quite a few tall churches and three story buildings. Turned out he was a paid firefighter in Danville and a volunteer firefighter in Stanford, and lived just a few houses down from my buddy John. Small world.

We headed on down to Eubank and then turned east and drove over to the horse farm, and Sharon came out to meet and greet us. Jimmy and I had been there a few years before while Mark and Travis had never been there, so she explained where we could walk to collect, they have several pastures there for their horses and had moved them around for us prior to our arrival. 

78 Kaleidoscope Farm

Sharon and Richard had moved down there several years ago from the state of Montana, to be closer to their horse buyers…they have nearly twenty acres of mostly pasture and the geodes come up each year with the thawing of the ground and cause them problems for their brush hog blades, so they welcome individual and small groups of rockhounds, they just ask for a little notice so they can move their horses around to accomodate rockhounds. If you are interested in going there, email me at jwjphoto7@gmail.com and I can put you in touch with them. Soon we were scattered across their pastures looking for geodes…Travis followed Mark and I up into the main pasture and soon found out that many of them were down in the ground and all you could see of them initially were the tops of them….

Kaleidoscope Farm Geode in Ground - Trav PixKaleidoscope Farm Pasture - Trav Pix

Jimmy started out in the wooded area behind the main barn, but then wandered over to a drainage area where he found some large geodes….and the rest of us soon found ourselves over there as well….

Kaleidoscope Farm Jim Finds Sev Big Ones - Mark PicKaleidoscope Farm Mark Finds Large Geode - Mark Pic

…and soon we all had as many as we could pack into our vehicles and headed for homes in all different directions…Jimmy had the longest drive home, fifteen hours or more, he arrived home about 2 am central time. Onyx and I arrived home about 7 pm. Everyone got home safe and sound, a little on the exhausted side, but also very happy. All in all, it was a very nice trip with great weather, great finds, and great friends !! Thanks to my friends for making my Spring Fling 2016 a good one !!

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