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…..
…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….
…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 !!