I started collecting rocks around the age of ten, thanks to some friends of my parents, who worked at the local Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine south of Sullivan, they were able to bring me some pretty quartz crystals, calcite crystals, and hematite and magnetite specimens covered in pyrite and marcasite, often found in goodie pockets or pretty pockets deep down in the mine. Hence my quest and journey began for pretty rocks and minerals.
I remember my parents taking several trips each year and would always work in a rock collecting adventure along the way whenever possible, or at least a rockshop visit in the area.
I had to make a decision when I turned eighteen, my parents told me to choose between collecting rocks and photography. I chose photography at that time, having started photographing fire calls at the age of sixteen for the fire department as a volunteer firefighter, and also enjoyed shooting sunsets and weather and steam trains. After college and a few years in law enforcement dispatch and police work, I opened my own photo finishing store and portrait studio and operated it for several years, and continued my journey through the fire service, my vacations often consisting of working as a firefighter at the Missouri State Fair in August each year, and photo shoots in pretty places. After twenty years in business for myself, I returned to emergency dispatching work for Union Pacific Railroad for a few years and then switched back to police and fire dispatching work in the St Louis area, where I presently work primarily as a fire dispatcher. It can be a stressful job at times and after a few years there, I returned to my first love of rock and mineral collecting.
I met and made some great friends on an online rockhound board, called the McRocks and from those initial contacts, have been able to travel to various places both locally within Missouri as well as surrounding states and find some beautiful crystals and minerals to add to my ever growing collection.
People ask me all the time, what do you enjoy the most about collecting rocks and minerals..I used to think it was displaying beautiful crystals and minerals…however I came to realize soon after taking the pastime back up, that the enjoyment is truly realized when hunting and finding the remarkable and beautiful treasures created by God, who created many great and beautiful treasures on and in our earth. While I enjoy looking at my treasures inside and outside my home, it`s the memories of actually digging and finding those treasures, while in the company of good friends, that make that enjoyment even sweeter.
So, I hope that as you browse through the many blog stories and photos in my new site, that you enjoy what you read and see as much as I do, and if I can assist you in any way in your journey as well, please do not hesitate to contact me.
James W Johnson