Bladed Barite from Washington County

Last weekend I drove down to Washington County to the Washington State Park to meet members of the St Louis Rock Club and hunt for barite and galena. We met at the Petroglyph site of the park and checked out the fossil footprints on the rocks, as Dr Bruce Stinchcomb told us about the history of the area rocks. We then drove a little ways over to some property that Dr Bruce owns, crossing a creek and then driving up a small mountain of a hill to several old tailing piles of ” tiff ” mines. Tiff is a term that the locals use to describe barite, which was heavily mined in that area back in the early to mid 1900`s, leaving many old tiff pits all over the countryside of Washington County. I have to stop and say one thing here…that is the first time I have ever seen anyone cross a creek in a very small Chevrolet car, and not just once, but two of them went across that ten foot wide creek with no problem at all, and I was totally amazed !! After stopping to talk to one of the neighbors up on top of that huge hill for a few minutes, we caravanned on down the road to a ” Y ” intersection where we parked and fanned out in search of goodies.  I began by helping a few of the other members find some nice ones, Chuck Reed and his daughter Mackenzie, and a couple of guys named George and Darrel, weren`t sure what we were there looking for. I also had taken a few flats of calcite crystals from the quarry at Eminence and let everyone know they were welcome to come over and take some home with them…even Dr Bruce liked what he saw in the flats too. After a few minutes, I took off up the road to the south and then down an embankment to a red clay looking tailing pile about 20 yards away, and after walking around a little bit, I climbed up on a small hillside and found some really nice looking bladed barite pieces just sitting there waiting on someone like me to take them home…..

15 Newer16 Newer17 Newer

…I looked around and found four or five right on top and gathered them up in my arms and headed back to the truck. This time I grabbed a bag and my mini mattox and let Onyx out on his leash to walk him around a bit. Two of the members had their dogs with them on leashes as well. We headed back to the spot where I dug around a little bit, while Darrel and George were in the area searching as well. Darrel and I found a barite shelf in the top of that pile but we didn`t find any more nice bladed pieces like I had found. I wandered on down the hill and around a corner where I spotted yet another small pile, and within a few minutes, I had found some nice druse chunks with bladed barite blended in with the druse….

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…Chuck and Mackenzie joined me a few minutes later and we dug up a few more nice ones, before Dr Bruce decided to drive on down and around the area to find some more areas to dig in. While we joined them and dug around a bit more, we never did find another area that had as nice of stuff. Shortly after I ran out of time and had to head home to get a nap in before I returned to work that night once again. I had a great time while there and always enjoy looking for Missouri Bladed Barite. Thanks to Dr Bruce for a great field trip !!

More Bladed Barite

I no sooner returned from the second weekend in Kentucky with more fluorite after a successful sixth spring season, than Docia and I decided to return to the barite area and see if we could find some more pretty bladed barite. Since its a very open area and we could go through the week, we opted to meet down there again on Thursday…meaning this report is about two weeks old, thats how far behind I am. We both studied the maps a bit and decided to checkout that middle road and see if it would lead us to the red clearing that is on the map, that we had been looking at for weeks now. On our last trip down there, we had searched the roads on either side of the middle road, without finding this spot, so the middle road was our objective this trip. We had to do a little cleanup along the way down this road, since its so brushy down there, so it took a little longer to get down the road than we figured. Plus we had to cross that gully again in four wheel drive…

01 Gully to Cross First

 

…with that barite ledge on the other side….I had Docia wait til I crossed it so I could photograph her coming across it….and as I crossed it, she photographed me….

13 Me About to Cross Gully

14 Dropping Off Into Gully

15 Coming Up Out of Gully

 

 

…I was no sooner there than here came Docia across it….

03 Docia Drops Off Into Gully

 

04 Headed Down Hill

 

 

…and she came across just fine….

05 Out of Gully

 

….we parked here and walked down the middle road a little ways to see how brushy and rocky it might be. After a little bit of trimming, I went back and got my truck and started down the road…

06 Road to Trim

 

…it looks good here…but believe me, it was a bit brushier in the next photo which is around the turn….

07 Road to Tiff Mines

 

…and after another hour of walking and trimming, we finally came to the clearing we kept seeing on the map…an area of old tiff mines…

08 Old Tiff Mines

 

…we searched the entire old mining area and only found a few spots with some quartz and druse…this hillside being one of the main areas. We found that a little odd, since we were right up the hill above an area that we find it quite often and heavily….

09 Hillside We Dug Into

 

…so we searched and dug a little here and pulled a few nice quartz druse pieces out…here is the area I was digging into….

10 Quartz Chunk I`m Digging Out

 

After an hour here and not coming up with much, we decided to return to Docia`s blazer and then drive over to the bladed barite hill we found two weeks before and see if we could locate more barite around that side of the hill as well as surrounding areas. We had some friends coming up from Oklahoma that weekend that we were sure would love the bladed barite as much as we like it too. We found enough to fill two bags each and I found a couple of nice sized ones for my mom`s flower beds too. We also left quite a bit for our friends to find, too. Here are some of the pieces I found….

 

17 Barite Found

We crossed back over the gully and went north…..

12 Gully Exit Ramp

 

11 Leaving The Gully

 

 

We decided to check out a couple of other areas around there and see if we could locate more pretties, but after an hour of driving and looking, we came up empty handed, and decided to head over to the secret spot and see if we could find some nice druse there…thats the next story since its a different animal…

Mom`s New Rock Garden

Wednesday afternoon last week, I woke up early and went over to my parents house to help them clear off an old flower garden and convert it to a rock garden with rose bushes and iris flowers. I had been gathering several medium to large druse crystals for it lately and put it all together by Wednesday evening. While we were out there arranging things and digging up older flowers to take out, I kept hearing wild turkeys chattering around the area, and finally spotted six of them deep in their neighbors backyard across the street…they were running all over the place and didnt seem to mind us out in the yard working…

Wild Turkeys Across the Road

 

Wild Turkeys Across the Road 2

…there appeared to be a couple of gobblers and four females…they almost looked like large geese, since a couple of them were pure white…anyway we finished the garden about suppertime…

Just About Finished

…there is druse, Arkansas Quartz, Poker Chip Calcite Crystals, Bladed Barite, and Fluorite in the Garden now…with the knockout roses my Mom put in there too.

Finished

 

…and a few more I helped her create this past year as well….

 

Front Yard East Side

 

Main Front Garden 2

 

Main Front Garden

 

Closeup Main Front Garden

Bladed Barite and Druse

Saturday morning Missy and I headed out to meet up with Docia down in the National Forest west of Potosi and since I had filled the gas tank on Friday, I decided to go down the backroads to reach the meeting spot. I was able to drive down some roads I hadn`t been to in while, the last time when Potosi had a lumbermill fire and I drove a fire truck down to assist them with it and we sprayed water through a portable deck gun for about ten hours on a burning pile of lumber thirty feet high by 100 yards long. I drove right by that same lumberyard and found it now to be a three times bigger operation than it was back then. Sure hope they are more careful these days.

As I approached the meeting place I drove by a few old tiff mine workings that date back to the 40`s and 50`s…tiff is what the locals down here call barite, and most of the old pits are now filled with water and the tailings remain above the undergrowth and brush.  We met up with Docia who was walking up the road I drove down on, looking in the ditchline for druse and barite. Missy and I stretched our legs for a few minutes and then we loaded back up and drove back up the same road, to check out the tiff pits.…we checked out a few older mining sites and pits and found absolutely nothing, so we decided to drive down to an old smelter site that Docia found the week before. We turned down a road that soon turned into some deep ruts of wash outs that a standard car would not be able to navigate….

05 Four Wheel Drive Access

 

03 Came Down Rutted Road

 

…and all that remained of the old smelter were some foundation walls and steel rails…

04 Old Smelter Along Rutted Road

 

06 Road By Old Smelter

 

 

…it was obvious the roads weren`t going to improve so soon we were four wheeling down the trail in search of druse and barite….

07 Roads Dont Get Any Better

 

…I haven`t done any true four wheeling for quite a few years but it was alot of fun reliving the old days…about a quarter mile down we drove through a couple of large and wide mudholes and then came to a gully crossing…I got out and looked it over first as there was a drop off and then a short ditch crossing, then up the other side and over a small rocky ledge to the top…figured if I could clear the ledge than Docia could as well as her Blazer sits higher than my Colorado does...but as soon as you drop off into the gully, you cant see anything for a few seconds, til the nose of your vehicle catches up with the tires on the downhill slant….apparently that makes Docia a little nervous so when we reached the top on the other side…..

11 Smelter in Distance

 

….above you can see the starting point on the other side and the edge of the rocky ledge at the top on this side…we parked at the intersection of three trails and she decided we should walk a while….so we walked down the trail leading to the right….

08 Walked This Road

 

…bout a half mile down this trail til we started hearing gunfire down the hill below us and decided it wasn`t a good spot to be out walking in, so we returned to the trucks and walked a short ways down the middle trail, but decided it was a bit rough looking to drive down and then chose to try the left trail. I grabbed a bag in case we started finding some nice stuff.

Soon after heading down the left trail, we spotted a clay bank off to the left and down across a holler on the next hill over and decided to walk over and check it out for druse. While we didn`t find much druse on the near side where we first started, as we worked our way around the hill, we started finding more of it. Docia headed up the hill to check for some and I continued around the clay back to the northern face of the hill and soon started finding large specimens of druse and hematite and limonite in colors of orange, yellow, and purple……just past this chunk of hematite/limonite above, we started finding bladed barite and druse all over the face of the hillside…

13 Bladed Barite in Woods

 

…like this one nestled in the pine needles and leaves…..and then I found a chunk of it buried in a clay bank and broken up some, but some large pieces of it still intact and quite pretty….

14 Bladed Barite Pocket

 

…and after filling my bag about half full, we started back to the trucks…that barite is quite heavy, so after about a hundred yards, I decided to stop and high grade along a trail…we then walked on back to the truck. We had a spare hour, so decided to drive back over to the barite spot and collect some more before heading back to Viburnum….

15A Road To Barite Area

 

…when we arrived back at the spot, I found some large bubbles of druse buried in the clay dirt and tried to dig them out…a few came out and a few were too big to come out….so we left them there for Mother Nature to take care of….here are a few of the photos of Docia`s nice bladed barite specimens that she found there….

Another Docia Found in Big Ditch

 

Docia`s First Find

 

 

…and a plate of druse with barite attached that she found….

Docia`s Druse with Bladed Barite

 

…I will get some of mine cleaned up this week and posted for you to see as well…one last note…I did notice that even though Docia admitted to being a ” wus “, when it came to four wheeling, she sure had no problem charging into and through the mudholes down there…

09 Fear Factor

10 Docia Goes Muddin