Guided Druse and Poker Chip Hunt

Last weekend, a friend of mine came up from the Atlanta area after arranging with me in March, to take him and a couple of his friends to some good locations to find druse quartz and poker chip calcite crystals. They definitely wanted to go to the quarry at Eminence and they wanted to find some druse quartz in varying sizes, so I took them to two different locations for the druse and we spent all day Saturday at Eminence. We had a few days of wet weather before they arrived and all the creeks and rivers were way up when they arrived Thursday evening. They were thinking of visiting Peck Ranch to see the elk herd being restored by the Conservation Department of Missouri, however they were not traveling in four wheel drive vehicles, so I suggested they avoid that area, as the roads there crossed several low water bridges and could be flooded easily. As it was, a good buddy of mine who works for the Conservation Department, advised me that the area was closed because additional elk were being brought in to add to the herd. 

I had to work Thursday night all night, came home about 8 am and got a four hour nap, then took Missy to get beautified and arranged with my parents to pick her up afterward, and then I headed south to meet them at Viburnum and take them to a great druse quartz spot nearby. I pulled into the Caseys Store and found Chet in his cargo van, sitting next to Don and David, in their smaller passenger van. After introductions and some small talk, we drove on out to the druse spot…..

01 Friday 19th Druse Spot

We started finding druse quartz all over the place, with the aid of beautiful sunlight…it had been a few days since we had seen sunlight, and while it was a bit cool on Friday, the sunlight made it feel alot warmer and was a welcome sight. Granted, we needed the rainfall, but five inches in a day or two is a bit much in my book. As a result, I had warned these guys to bring boots and expect to get muddy, and so they did. I have been to this spot before when every step you took, you added four pounds of mud to your boots, and eventually it becomes a workout just to walk around there, let alone pick up quartz clusters. 

I started out helping Chet, Don and David find some pretty areas of smokey colored druse and citrine colored druse, and then began looking around for a few pieces myself. Pretty soon they were immersed in a few gullies…..

02 Don Searches for Druse

 

03 Don Examines Druse

….and I was walking all over the hillside spotting some bigger clusters for them and pointing them out when I did find one. This is a great place to visit after a good hard rain, cause most of these pretties just erode and wash out of the clay dirt….

06 Don & Dave Searching

We only had access to about half of the area as there was some work being done and we didnt want to intrude or get in the way….

07 Chunk of Druse in Clay Mud

 

08 Box of Plates Found

 

I found some beautiful seams of smokey colored quartz here and there all over the place, here is one below….

09 Seam of Smokies

 

…and then I walked upon a chunk of bubbles that had eroded right of out of the clay dirt….

10 Bubble Chunk Found

 

…pretty soon, I came upon David with his head down and burrowing uphill in a gully, looking for druse and finding it all up and down it….

11 Dave Examines Druse

 

12 Dave Follows Smokey Seam

 

he was following a seam of smokey colored druse in that gully….

13 Smokey Seam

 

14 Smokey Seam

 

I also found some pretty white druse plates laying around all over the place as well….

15 White Druse Plate Found

These guys had brought me some beautiful quartz crystal plates from Diamond Hill Mine in South Carolina, close to Atlanta, and I was so busy since last weekend, that I didnt get a chance to unwrap them til today. There was also a very beautiful cluster of smokey amethyst and a nice small plate of smokey quartz crystals as well….

34 Smokey Amethyst from Diamond Hill

 

By the time 5 pm rolled around, I was wearing down pretty fast…the hill at this location isnt all that big, but after walking up and down it several times and carrying bags of crystals back to the truck a few times, my four hour nap after a fourteen hour shift the night before, was soon catching up with me. By 5:30 pm, I was headed out of there and back to the house, stopping off at my parents house to pick up Missy and then heading home to get some supper and then to bed. I stayed up just long enough to catch up on emails and then hit the hay, as I was getting up early to meet Don and David at the Eminence Quarry the next morning.

After dropping off Missy with my parents once again, I was on the road headed to Eminence a little after 6 am, stopping off in Steelville, to get some donuts and then back on the road. I made good time, running into very little other traffic and all the way down, kept seeing several squirrels and chipmunks on the pavement around every turn and over every hill. I had a good sized gobbler run out in front of me on Hwy KK, as I started down a hill south of the Buick Mine turnoff….I had passed several turkey hunters all the way down from Steelville to Hwy 106, most of them were warming up in their trucks when I passed by….it was pretty cool that morning and still a bit damp wind blowing as well, I can remember a few cold turkey hunts myself. The closer I got to the quarry, it seemed like the squirrels on the road just multiplied greatly…it was like driving an obstacle course at times, luckily I didnt hit any of them, although a few didnt move very fast and I held my breath a few times. 

I drove down the last hill on approach to the quarry entrance and spotted David walking the ditchline and as I pulled into the entrance, spotted Don outside their van pulling on his boots. David walked over and said he was looking for old bottles, another of his hobbies. We drove on down to the first bluff area and parked and I pointed out the area that Ian and I had worked for pockets of poker chip crystals with dolomite druse clusters, and they grabbed their tools and wasted no time in attacking the rocks….

17 Em Q Sat Working Small Bluff

 

Don decided it would be safer to work the point without that large overhang of rock above him so he first started working on bringing it down with his prybars….

 

18 Dave & Don Look For Pockets

19 Don Knocks Off Big Rock

It was apparent that the rains down there had been hot and heavy as well, due to the way the clay dirt had washed down over the rocky bluff there. I helped them look for some possible pocket areas, before driving on over to the newer area where the rock has been more actively worked lately….

20 Blast Pile Dwindles

I no sooner pulled up at the more recent spot, and stepped out, when I started spotting some beautiful dark grey and chocolate colored poker chips  laying all over the floor of the quarry at the base of the sloped rock pile…..

21 Blast Pile Dwindles

 

22 Blast Pile Dwindles

….and pretty soon, I had the entire tailgate of my pickup covered with them…..

23 My Finds So Far

 

24 Dark Grey or Black Poker Chips

I grabbed my mini mattox and a couple of bags and walked down the small pile of rocks at the very base of the pile along the floor and continued finding some great crystals and even a few clusters, including a couple of green ones….

25 Poker Chip Cluster

 

26 Smaller Poker Chips Found

I decided to stay there and see if I could find some pockets for Don and David when they decided to amble over and work it. I followed a couple of trails of crystals that had rolled down from above, way up above even, and dug a few out of some loose roll down material from above as well. I spotted a couple of potential pockets in the walls and made a mental note to point them out to Dr Destructo Don when he arrived later in the day…Chet arrived about an hour later and after visiting with Don and David at the smaller bluff area, drove over to see what I was finding as well. He liked the color of the crystals in the fresher area and then drove back to the smaller bluff to work with David, trading places with Don, who came over to work the fresher area with me….

29 Dave Searches for Pockets

I pointed out the mentally marked pockets and he went right to work with his bar, knocking down the loose stuff and working on the more confined stuff, to find pocket openings and soon found some nice clusters…..

27 Don Prepares to Work Left Wall

 

28 Don Finds Cluster Fast

I stopped to take a break and get another donut down, having worked off the other two already. As I was standing there watching Don work up on a shelf, my buddy, Jim Bay, pulled up in his pretty blue Dodge pickup, to see how we were doing with the rocks and see what we were finding so far. His girlfriend was with him and she was amazed at how we were working the rocks and what we were finding there. You cant see the pretty stuff from the highway when you pass by, so most people prob have no clue what type of pretty rock is actually there with the plain looking rock and stone that you generally see. They had been out turkey hunting early morning and then napped a bit before driving down to check on us. I had called him about an hour before that. After a bit, they headed on into town and we continued to break down the rocks and find some pockets. Don did a good job of pacing himself while I did a good job of wearing myself out. David ambled over while taking a break, took one look at the height of the walls and decided to go back to the small bluff area to work the pockets there…..

30 Dave Searches for Pockets

Don and I continued to work the fresher area for a couple more hours before I wore out….I wandered up to the top of the pile and looked around, but couldnt locate any newer stuff…I did spot a couple of large poker chip crystals cradled up high on the wall, but impossible to get to…I commented to Don if we only had a long pole with a metal catch on the end like they used on light bulbs in gymnasiums, we could prob dislodge those crystals but then would need a large basket to catch them in with lots of padding in the bottom….Don wanted a rapelling rope. I headed home soon after that..my legs were sore as could be and I was exhausted as well. It was decided to meet at Viburnum again Sunday morning and travel out to the second druse location where larger druse pieces could be found.

Sunday morning, Missy went with me and we headed down the road about 8 am, arriving in Viburnum at the Caseys Store just ahead of David, Don, and Chet…and after they filled their fuel tanks, we drove north out of town to the other druse spot. I stuck around about an hour and showed them a few different areas there to check out, before heading home to help my parents with some more storm damage work. I heard from them later on, they had found several nice large pieces of druse and then returned to the quarry at Eminence, discovering a pocket that they wanted to check out, had already been cleaned out that morning by someone else. All in all, I believe they had a good trip up here and found alot of nice material. I found some nice material, made two new rockhunting friends, and got some more beautiful Diamond Hill specimens as well…a very good weekend….

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

March Fluorite Digs at the Eureka Mine in Kentucky

Bear with me folks, I am going to have to re-write this article for the fourth time, sure hope WP saves it this time. 

After many months of planning another machine dig at the Eureka Mine in Marion, Kentucky, and coordinating all the details with Tina at the Ben E Clement Mineral Museum and Bill Frazer, the mine owner, Mike Streeter and I set the dates up for the last two weekends in March this spring. As usual, we set the machine dig the weekend before the group dig and Mike took care of getting the machinery set up for it, contacting Wayne Crider to once again dig out the pit for us. Wayne always does a great job and is quite easy to work with, and he operates his trackhoe with great skill and precision, plus he is a super nice guy to be around. 

As the time neared, we ran into a unexpected roadblock…I received a call from Bill Frazer, seems some jerk called the Kentucky DNR office and complained to them about the way the digs were being handled at the Eureka Mine and made up a few other things as well. The DNR decided to shut down the digs and entire operation of the Museum, until the complaint could be investigated. Bill advised me that it should be just a temporary halt, but said he would keep me updated. I called Mike and he advised the other guys what was going on, and we let our group members know that the scheduled dig might be postponed as well. 

True to his word, Bill called a couple of days later and let me know that we were back on for both digs and with just a few minor stipulations set out by the DNR, that we could easily live with. After a few back and forth emails and phone calls, we decided not to let some jerk spoil things for us, nor the hundreds of rockhounds across the nation who enjoy traveling to the Eureka Mine to dig for pretty fluorite specimens to add to their collections. It was decided that three of us would be making the trip this year for the machine dig and then I would return for the group dig as well. 

I contacted Tina to let her know about what time I would arrive on Friday, March 22nd because I would be hauling several hundred pounds of crystals to them,  for their grab bag booth at their annual show in June. The weather forecast was calling for all sorts of weather again this year…thought we might be up to our eyeballs in mud the first day and snowed on the second day… one never knows what to expect down there in March, or here in Missouri for that matter, so I packed rain gear, cold weather clothing, and warm weather clothing, three pair of boots and six pair of gloves….ready for the best and prepared for the worst. Since the forecast wasnt for much dry weather, I left Missy with my parents for the weekend. She loves to go on walks with my Mom, who takes about three walks a day, so I knew she would be better off with them this weekend. 

I took off on Friday morning, getting a little later start than I had anticipated, and when I filled up the gas tank, it was 3.59 a gallon here, when I crossed the river into Illinois, it was 3.83 a gallon, and then when I arrived in Paducah, it was 3.43 a gallon…I had decided to drive all interstate this time, since a good friend of mine told me that the road construction delays in Illinois were a thing of the past, much of it completed finally, and she turned out to be correct about that. I took my time cruising down the roads at 65 mph and got 23 mpg for it, even with the heavier load in the bed. I crossed over the Ohio River and arrived in Paducah about 2 pm….

01 Crossing Ohio River

….and called Tina from the gas pumps at the Pilot Truck Stop on the north side of town, to let her know I should be there in an hour….little did I know that there was a major traffic jam waiting on me in a road construction zone about twenty minutes east of Paducah. She wasnt aware of it either or she would have warned me to take Hwy 60 instead, but as it was, Kentucky DOT didnt want to let anyone know about it either, apparently, because their warning signs were pretty much nowhere to be found…I was up and over the Tennessee River bridge on I-24 before I realized that the long line of traffic stopped in the left lane was for the construction lane restriction ahead, rather than for an accident ahead. Luckily, I was able to slow down fast and get over in front of a truck driver and instantly get bogged down in the crawl ahead for ten miles…here I thought only our state allowed stupid road construction zones…I say stupid because driving along for the next ten miles at a crawl, we did not see one, NOT ONE area of construction activity on that eastbound side at all !!!! NOTHING !!!!  and at the very end, maybe half a  mile from the end, on the westbound side, was one very small area of roadwork activity, and even then, the road crew was off the roadway, over on the right of way, prob fifty feet from the shoulder, placing rock into a ditch to prevent erosion, or so it appeared to me…but they had to have traffic both directions crawling along for that….thought to myself, this is exactly the type of stupid stuff we see in Missouri on a daily basis.

So I arrived at the Museum about 20 minutes later than I should have, and found Tina hard at work with one of the Museum volunteers, moving cabinets around in one of the display rooms to make room for some maps…they also showed me the new cabinets designed and built for the Museum by the Amish folks just north of town and let me tell you, they were very nicely built. They were getting ready to put them to some very good use in all the display rooms there. Tina helped me unload my haul of crystals with her trusty dolly and then I presented her with some more druse quartz for her personal collection and a nice chunk of chalcopyrite as well, from one of the Doe Run Mines up here in Missouri…I had picked it out special for her from a buddy of mine that works at the mines.

After visiting with them a bit and catching up on everything, I headed out to the Eureka Mine to see how it looked. It always fills in over the winter months with alot of heavy mud from the walls and the natural sump will fill in as well. Here is what it looked like after I arrived ten minutes later…

02 The Pit on Friday Looking North

 

 

….I`m standing on the south side looking to the north, toward the bridge over Hurricane Creek…and as you can see, alot of mud had drained down into the pit on all sides of it. I walked around to the north side to shoot back to the south…..

03 The Pit Looking South

 

…and as you can see, the south side had been filled in somewhat by the dozer sitting near my truck….Bill had Wayne`s crew come out the day before and fill in a bit on a couple of sides. This is also the side, where much of the mud slides down into the pit and covers up the natural sump below….

04 Road Side of Pit Looking South

 

….and you can see here, it looks like the entire bank just slid down and into the water below.

I called Mike to let him know what it looked like and he was glad Bill had some fill work done, as we had intended to have it done as well. The only problem with it, was that we also intended to have Wayne dig that end out a little to see how far back the saddle with purple fluorite pockets extended back that direction. Oh well, something to work out the next day. After talking to Mike and then to Jeff Deere afterward, I headed to the hotel at Kuttawa because I was starting to get hungry for one of those great tasting steaks at the Oasis Grill next door to the hotel. Earlier in the week, I had talked extensively to both Jeff Deere, of Georgia and Pete Stoeckel of eastern Pennsylvania, about the drive to the Eureka Mine. Jeff planned to get up very early Saturday morning and make the five hour thirty minute drive up…Pete left at midnight Friday morning, with a thousand mile drive ahead of him…told me he was going through West Virginia and would stop at Eubank, Kentucky, and visit with Sharon and Richard Michael, and get some more of their crop of geodes that they harvest each year at their horse farm. Pete said it would make a great pit stop after being on the road all night and day…he got there about noon and then after a few hours of digging out geodes, he drove on down to Pennyrile State Park to set up his campground spot and then headed over to my hotel, the Days Inn, to go to supper with me. He texted me as I was driving to the hotel to check in and let me know he was on the way from the campground. I also got a call after that from a buddy in Paducah, Kayden, who was also driving down to visit and have dinner with me, as he was going to be busy the rest of the weekend making a move to St Louis. 

I got checked in and soon after, Pete showed up, no doubt as hungry as I was, after digging for geodes and cracking some open at the horse farm…I explained to him about Kayden, who I figured was stuck in the traffic jam just west of us. and as it turned out, he was… so after he arrived, we all walked over to the Oasis and ordered some delicious food…the atmosphere in there, as always, was great, lots of friendly people chowing down on good food. Normally it gets a little loud in there on a Friday and Saturday  night, but we were there much earlier than normal. After a good supper, Pete took off and headed back to the campground to take advantage of the well heated bathhouse to get a shower and get ready for the next day, and Kayden and I returned to my room to catch up on old times. The next morning came early, despite hitting the hay right after the news…I headed over to Miss Neda`s Donut Shop in Eddyville and then grabbed a sausage and egg biscuit before driving on out to the mine…finding Bill had been there just ahead of me and got the pump started…I also saw that Wayne had a newer and smaller trackhoe this year, the larger older one apparently had worn out and he was unable to get parts for it any longer…the only problem with this smaller one was that it didnt have the reach the older one had and the bucket was a bit smaller. 

03 The Pit Looking South

 

…..Wayne`s crew of Danny and Mike showed up soon after I did, and then Pete showed up soon after. Jeff arrived right about 8 am, as he had planned on and pulled the maps out that Mike had sent him with the tunnels and shaft information.

Danny was new to us, we had never met or worked with him before,…Mike explained to us that Wayne was letting Danny take on more of the trackhoe work because the rattling around in the seat was beginning to hurt Wayne`s back…after seventy years of digging, I could definitely understand that and I would think Wayne should be able to take days off as often as he wanted to…so we talked to Danny and Mike a bit about what we wanted to do this year with the pit. At some point they were going to need to dig out a containment pond to satisfy the requirements of the DNR, to pump the water into once it became muddy after stirring it up. As they went off to fire up the dozer and trackhoe, Jeff and Pete and I decided on what we were going to do as well.

Danny started by digging out the south side where the saddle was located, so we could check on the extension of it……

17A Pit Backfilled Some

 

….and then he moved down the logging road side of the pit to clean up the bank. Shortly after, the investigators with the DNR showed up and Danny moved over and began digging out the containment pond so that the now muddy waters could be pumped into it….

15A Containment Pond

 

 

…and while Danny was digging the pond out, we had Mike move some of the backfill from the tailing pile over into the creek side of the pit to reinforce the creek bank itself and attempt to shut down the water coming into the pit from the creek. This has been a major problem in years past, since the pit now sits below the creek, the creekwater wants to naturally filter through the clay and dirt banks and into the pit, sometimes coming thru the bank in a waterfall or two.

16 Attempting to Backfill Corner

Mike was able to shove a lot of dirt and clay over there while Danny was busy working on the containment pond….and once he finished, we had yet another tailing pile above the pond for rockhounds to explore…

14A Tailing Piles by Road

 

…the other tailing piles we had placed once again, between the logging road by the mine and the pit itself…once Danny finished digging out the pond we had him return to the road side and finish cleaning out the high bank, then move around to the north side and begin expanding the pit in that direction. He began concentrating on the northwest corner first…

11B Digging Out North Side

 

….and pretty soon it became evident that he had found an old horizontal tunnel of sorts…first slicing down through and bringing up some old timbers and we began to see changes in color in the mud and clay as well…

08A Sand & Timbers NW Corner

 

 

..and pretty soon the darker dirt and mud began to collapse downward, leading us to believe it was a horizontal tunnel or shaft at some time…

10A Appears to Be Old Tunnel

 

 

…and up closer here…the lighter colored stuff looked more like sand but seemed have some stickiness to it like clay too…

12A Dug Out Area of NW Corner

 

…and after about another thirty minutes of digging, we hit the four hour mark and had them stop digging. As Danny was going across the north side of the pit, he was finding no fluorite whatsoever, not to mention that the saddle or bench on that side, just dropped off into nothing at all and basically just disappeared. We certainly werent expecting that at all. The last few years we had been inching across the pit and finding luscious purple cubes, occasionally some yellow cubes, galena and sphalerite, and now we were basically finding absolutely nothing coming up in the bucketfuls of dirt and mud. More so than disappointment, we were actually more scared than anything, because this mine and the public digs here are what keeps the Museum and their staff going each year.

After paying Wayne for digging it out for us, we pumped the remaining muddy water into the containment pond and began exploring the saddle and bench to see what we could find. Here is the pit after the digging was done…..

17B Pit After Digging

 

….you can see the bench on the far lower left, full of galena and fluorite pockets last year, and you can see how it just abruptly stops on the far side, just drops off and there is nothing beyond it….Jeff and Pete began working on that bench and tried to cobb it down some, succeeded somewhat, but found very little on, around, or even underneath it…we also checked out the saddle on the south end and found just a few small pockets….

19A South Side Saddle Has Fluorite

 

 

…and after a long day of waiting and digging, even longer for Jeff who got up early and drove up, we packed it in for the day and headed out, except for Pete, who decided to stay til nightfall so he could go up to the Columbia Mine and check out his new blacklight with the hope of finding some fluorescent minerals for some friends of his who enjoy the ” glow in the dark light ” minerals.

Jeff and I headed to the hotel, him to check in and clean up, me to clean up, and then we met over at the Oasis Grill for supper. We had been snacking all day long, but after a few hours of digging in the pit and the tailing piles, that little bit of food was long gone. I was out in front of him when I left and as I neared the top of the hill, I spotted a few whitetail deer in the field on the north side of the road….

20 Deer in Field Leaving Mine

 

…they apparently didnt like the barrel of my lens sticking out the window of my truck and may have mistaken it for a rifle barrel…they wasted no time in taking off for higher ground…..

21 Deer Flee For Safety of Woods

…..but soon regrouped at the edge of the field by the wooded area for yet another group portrait…

22 Deer At Edge of Woods

While waiting for our food to arrive, we discussed what we found today, as well as what we expected to find and yet didnt find…and we were both very concerned about it…I was sure Pete was as well, he was staying busy to likely keep his mind off it. Jeff told me that he wished he had thought to ask Danny to back off from the north wall and make a trench cut across to see if we could relocate the vein again…see if it was still there closeby….maybe it had just pinched off where we stopped Danny earlier. I suggested that we see if Wayne could come back Sunday morning and dig a trench across there and see if we could relocate it…he was in total agreement so I called Bill and pitched the idea to him…he called Wayne and set it up for us…Wayne agreed to come do the digging even… and we soon felt much better with an improved plan of action and disposition. Supper sure tasted great after that phone call.

We arrived at the mine the next morning bright and early once again, and Wayne showed up about 7:30 and fired up the trackhoe…which by the way, I forgot to mention, is a smaller version than the one he has operated the past several years…in fact, he told us that it got to where he couldnt find parts for it any longer and had to part it out. This one takes a cubic yard less dirt than the older larger one. He brought a new guy with him this time, another one we werent familiar with, and after talking to him for a bit, found out that his father had done quite a bit of digging in the fluorite mines in the area as well. Wayne came over and asked us what we wanted to do, something we really like and respect about him…we pointed out where we wanted him to make the trench cut and so he started on it right away. Once he got back to a certain area, he started hitting solid bedrock about ten feet down and pretty soon, the water started pouring in as well. He began backing up and Pete had to jump in and move his Hummer…good thing he did, cause a few minutes later, Wayne pulled up a huge boulder, it was about ten feet long and three feet thick, and as he was setting it over in the spot Pete had been parked, he took out a dead tree which fell right where Pete`s Hummer had been sitting. Whewww…..that was close. Pete and Jeff took a closer look at the big…excuse me….HUGE boulder, and began trying to cobb it down some to see if there were any cubes on it. I stayed with Wayne and within a few minutes, he had dug down and sliced through the horizontal tunnel that we thought we had spotted over at the edge of the pit, again coming up with timbers perfectly preserved in the clay mud and then slicing down thru that black dirt once again…..

25A Vein Relocated With Tunnel

…..only this time, there were chunks of galena and some massive fluorite as well mixed in….plus the collapse was alot more evident this time, too. Water again poured in to the trench cut and we had Wayne widen the cut here just a little more and then we had him stop digging…..here I am zoomed in on the tunnel to see the galena shining at us….

26A Tunnel Top

….and that yellowish looking stuff next to it, is actually yellow massive fluorite that was combined with deep purple fluorite down there in the tunnel….here seen closer up….

27 Purple & Yellow Fluorite

 

 

….well we were elated that we had actually found some more fluorite, even if it was more massive than cubed…we like the cubes more than anything but didnt find any down in that trench cut anywhere…leading us to believe more exploration needs to be done to find the vein once again. Bill came by to check on us and we showed him what we found, the massive that we found was the purple and yellow combined, but no cubes….he was now as concerned as we were for the future of the Museum and its purpose. He headed back to the Museum and we decided to see what else we could find….I didnt stick around very long, as I had received a phone call from my Mom, letting me know that heavy snow was falling at home and making its way east across Illinois, so I decided to hit the road and see if I could make it home. Jeff took off shortly after I did and made it home safe and sound, while Pete decided to stick it out a few hours before heading home. He would have to cross the mountains in West Virginia and he figured the longer wait time would give road crews a good chance to clean the roads off before he arrived. He actually  made it home safe and sound as well, early the next day, after driving all night long. I hit the snow just west of Mount Vernon, Illinois on I-64, but luckily for me, the roads just stayed wet and the heavy fluffy looking snow just made everything look pretty….

29A Snow Gets Pretty Near O`Fallon

 

 

31 I DOT Snow Plow on I-64

 

 

32A Approaching JB Bridge

 

 

33A Heavy Snow on Trees

 

 

34A WB At Antire Hill

 

 

35 Pine Grove Near AH

 

 

 

 

Only had to shift into four wheel drive once I reached the road to my parents house to pick up Missy…their road rarely gets plowed early on….

 

36A Approach to Mom & Dad`s

 

The following week I had taken off the entire weekend, which gave me the entire week off from Wednesday to Wednesday, so I had more time to pack the truck with more crystals for the Museum`s grab bag adventure at their annual weekend show in June. I was able to take off a bit earlier this time and had Missy with me as well and after unloading the crystals at the Museum again and visiting with Tina once again, I headed to the hotel to get checked in. While at the Museum, Tina told me that a couple from the Atlanta area had been by earlier in the day and toured the museum and were probably staying at the same hotel as I was. Mike called me later in the evening to see if I would like to have supper with him and his wife at the Oasis, and I thanked him, but had already ate and was just about to conk out from the long day. The next morning, I grabbed some donuts at Miss Nedas in Eddyville again and then headed to the Museum to get checked in there and help everyone who was coming for the dig. Mike Streeter and I had sent out emails to everyone that had made reservations for the trip, and we had warned them about the results of the machine dig the weekend before…everyone said they still wanted to come and see what they could fine despite this. I had prepared myself for the worse, but as it turned out, the day was a pretty good one for them.

I no sooner pulled into the parking lot and parked next to a dark colored van, rolled my windown down and discovered it was Tammy and Todd Bromley from central Michigan…boy did they have a long drive down there. While waiting for the others to show up, Doug Harris and his son came in…Doug is a math teacher at a high school in north central Illinois. He and his son were also interested possibly in the night dig but decided to wait another time for it. Several of them took a brief tour of the Museum while there, led by Fred, one of the Directors, as Bill Frazer was out at the mine getting the pump started for us. I met Fred a few years ago at one of the celebration digs, he is a very nice guy and a great asset to the museum as well, a man of many talents, as he was there to help another member work on the cabinets. Tammy and Todd and I talked to his partner who had family up in central Michigan near them, but he had moved down to the Marion area himself a few years prior from the northeast coastline where the winters are as brutal as Michigan. 

After the tour, I took the group outside and gave a short safety talk on the mine and then we headed out to the mine in our vehicles. I called Bill on the way out and he waited for us to arrive, told me it was a muddy mess because Wayne`s crew had come in the day before and filled in our trench cut and stirred up the piles as well. Since I had four wheel drive and no one else did, I was able to drive up the mine road and park in the edge of the woods so Missy would have some shade, but the others had to park in the field across the creek and on the right side……

01 Arrival Sat AM Muddy Mess

 

 

As soon as they got their boots on and assembled their tools, we met at the edge of the pit and I pointed out the pitfalls to watch out for and the tailing piles to search and then they took off for the piles…..

02 Diggers Hit Upper Tailing Piles 1st

03 Diggers in Upper Tailing Piles

 

While many of them worked the tailing piles on the south side, I wandered over to the north side older pile and started finding cubes and small plates all over the place…Todd and Tammy Bromley saw me picking up cubes and plates and came over to check it out and I told them to start looking all over cause there was stuff scattered all over the floor in the mud and in the piles. Pretty soon more of them came over to the north side and began finding some as well. The pump was starting to lower the level of the water considerably by now as well, so it wasnt long before we were able to check that out too. Mike and his wife found a nice plate, she found it actually, upside down in the mud, we possibly even stepped on it a few times and when she turned it over and discovered cubes, she called Mike over and he promptly took it to the waterfall under the bridge to wash it off. I never did see it but understand it was quite a honey piece and they left soon after. 

Pretty soon, many had left before the water level dropped enough to enter the pit, leaving it to Tammy, Todd, David, and myself to find some stuff in the pit. My curiousity got the better of me soon and I climbed down in the pit on the south side saddle to see if I could locate any other pockets in the mud…I began pulling mud from the south backfil wall and soon enough, had pulled some nice cubes out from the mud down under. I gave some of them to Tammy and after about an hour or two, turned the pockets over to her to keep searching in. I had decided to leave by 2 pm and head home, as I had some other things I had to do on Sunday. I gave them some nicer specimens of fluorite before I left and let Bill know that they would be returning on Sunday morning and he told them he would meet them at the Museum at 9 am Sunday. 

All in all it was a good weekend as everyone went home happy as far as I knew. While I am concerned for the future of the Museum and the public and private digs there, as many of us are, several of us have pledged our continuing support to Bill Frazer and the Museum for their future and assistance to rockhounds. I told Bill many of us stand ready to help in any way we can, and are ready to respond and assist if needed. I will keep you all updated as future events unfold there and information becomes available. 

 

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