Dynamite Dogtooth Pockets

It`s been a great winter so far, only about six weeks of normal cold weather and two weeks of very cold weather, and then in February, we started warming up like it does in May…we still have March to go thru, it may come in like a lamb as it did this morning and go out like a lion, but who knows…I just know that everyone really likes the weather we have now, we hit 76 degrees yesterday alone !!  Last weekend, Nathaniel Reid and Chuck Reed joined me on a trip to Eminence to check out the quarry on another warm day, we had not been there since November last year, mainly because there had not been any activity down there. I received word from my good friend Jim a few days before the weekend that they had blasted the northwest corner of the quarry. In the past year since they began removing rock from the west side of the quarry, we never found anything more than the poker chip wanna bees on that side, but we had not been there in a while so we decided to go down and look things over…glad now that we did.

Onxy was in rare form that morning, rarin to go do some rockhounding with me, cause he had not been with me on the St Louis County trip to look for Union Road Agates a few weeks before. Chuck and Nathaniel joined me on that trip as well, where we walked in to a couple of creeks in the South County area and found quite a few of the geodes for the few hours we were there. There was a third location that we wanted to check out, but didnt have time and instead went to a buddys home, where he sells geodes from the Keokuk area. I had purchased a few flats of geodes from Ken a few weeks earlier, to include in my bathroom remodeling project…have my tile guy place them into my shower walls with the barnwood tile. When I went there to pick them up, Chuck met me there and Ken showed us his private collection, this time we had Nathaniel along and he got to see it as well. We got up early on Sunday morning, Feb 19th to discover heavy fog outside…visibility was maybe quarter of a mile…thick enough Nathaniel got turned around on his way to my house to catch a ride with me to the quarry.

We got on the road about 7:30 and by the time we reached Licking, the fog was starting to lift with sunlight burning it off. East of Houston the skies finally cleared off and remained that way til we dropped off into the Jacks Fork Valley near Alley Spring Mill, then the fog enveloped us once again all the way to the quarry. We arrived around 9:45 to find Chuck sitting on a rock up on top of the blast pile, cobbing down a boulder and wrapping up specimens to put into his bucket….

and some fog still hanging in the wind….

Nathaniel grabbed his tools and bucket and headed to the west side of the pile while Onyx and I started up the east side along the wall, toward Chuck….

About midway up to him, I spotted some green calcite at the base of the wall and stopped to check it out…there was some brown mixed in with it and pretty soon, I pulled a few dogtooth crystals out of the pocket, showing them to Chuck, and decided to park myself right there and explore some more….

…here is the pocket when I got about halfway down into it, after removing at least one bag of wrapped crystals and clusters….

…and some of my finds…I also passed a few of them off to Chuck as well….he came down and started looking closer at the wall below me at the same level my pocket was at….

In the meantime, Nathaniel started shouting to us that he had found some huge yard rocks and some nice smaller clusters over on the west side of the pile, some of them covered in what looked like aragonnite….here they are on my tailgate….

Soon after, Nathaniel and Chuck took a break and drove over to the other side of the quarry to check out the walls there, while I continued to dig out my pocket…an hour later and I had it cleaned out, all the way around the sides and down to the very bottom, which took awhile cause I just kept pulling clusters and doubles and triples out of the bottom of the pocket…for awhile I thought it was gonna be a bottomless pocket. Many of the crystals are dogtooths, a black or brown center inside a green or brown poker chip, and then I was able to remove a few of the top and side wall plates of clusters, as well.

By this time, I had three bags completely full of wrapped crystals as well as three large clusters that I had no room for in the bags, so had to make two trips down to the truck, where I took a short water break, got Onyx some more water in his bowl, and then took another bag with me, back up to look along the wall for more pockets. When I got to the top of the pile, I located more pockets and soon after, Chuck and Nathaniel returned from their exploration break. Nathaniel joined me up on the top wall where I had located four pockets close together. I worked one pocket and let him have the others, as I was beginning to tire already….before heading out, Chuck grabbed my camera in the truck and snapped a couple of Nathaniel and I working the wall too….

I filled one bag halfway up with wrapped crystals and then walked down the west side of the pile to take a look at the two huge yard rocks he found over there…he said they were too heavy for him and Chuck to lift and then carry to my truck. As soon as I got to the floor of the quarry, I spotted them sitting there…

I got my four pound hammer and chisel and cobbed down the plate on top of the first boulder, getting one large plate and a smaller plate intact. I remember someone telling me that calcite was only a hardness of four…sure didnt feel like a four to me, more like a seven…seemed like it took a lot longer to hammer those two plates off than it should have…I was wore out by the time I carried them to the truck. The second boulder had a lot of damage to the crystal tops, many sheared off, so I didnt even try to cobb it down. Nathaniel decided not to try either. Chuck left a few minutes prior headed home, so Nathaniel and I wrapped up our crystals, loaded up my truck, and headed to my dealer buddys house to see what he had in Viburnum Trend minerals. We hadnt been to his place in a few months and he had let me know that he had some new stuff, buying a few collections in the past few weeks. We arrived there about an hour later and found that he did indeed, have some beautiful new stuff, and after about 30 minutes, we both had a flat full of some nice new crystals…the first two of mine were smokey calcite clusters from an old collection, the clusters from the forbidden crystal cavern at Brushy Creek Mine, likely removed from there over twenty years ago…..

here is the second smokey calcite cluster….

…plus when he purchased this collection, it came with a nice barite piece from an Iowa quarry that was super sweet looking, so I got all three for one price….

..and some chalco pieces on druse, one with a green crystal on the end of the plate….

…sure ended a very nice day of collecting, thats for sure !!




Blue Fluorite in Southern Illinois

My apologies to all of those who have been watching for my story on my latest trip to Southern Illinois to dig blue fluorite a couple of weeks ago…between catching up and my schedule at work increasing in the past few months, its been tough to find some free time to work on my story…and getting the photos edited up is half the battle as well, but here goes….

I had taken off the entire second week of November for my annual fall vacation to Arkansas for the elusive quartz crystals, and had been talking to a landowner in Southern Illinois by email all summer, who has an old fluorite mine on his property. The trip to Arkansas was a success and by the time I returned from there, I had about a week to prepare for the trip to Southern Illinois, but luckily with the help of good friends who were going to join me there, it all came together quite nicely.

Joining me on this trip were Chuck Reed, David and Janyce Sorrells, John Oostenryk, Pete Stoeckel, and Virgil Richards. Pete had the longest drive in, 14 hours from Philadelphia, Virgil a close second with an 8 hour drive from Tulsa, and John in third with a 7 hour drive from Fulton, Illinois…talk about dedication and a love for fluorite !!

When I began looking at lodging in the area back in October, Chuck and I were able to book the last two log cabins close by, just down the road from Garden of the Gods. Unfortunately there was no pet friendly lodging in that entire area, so I left Onyx with my Mom this trip. It worked out for Chuck to bring his entire family with him, while I was able to offer John Oos and Pete a place to stay as well, since they are two bedroom cabins with a sofa bed couch as well. I also researched a few places to eat at nearby…nearby meaning at least 15 to 20 miles away where the closest towns were located from where we would be, deep in the sticks. Luckily there was a gas station closeby that had a little convenience store and warm food and sandwiches served daily, where we could meet each morning for breakfast. Chuck arrived on Friday afternoon, Nov 25th, about 30 minutes before I did…I was taking the scenic route getting there, going through some of the old coal mining areas on my route, while he skirted around Harrisburg to get there. Soon after pulling up in front of my cabin, Pete called me to let me know he was nearby and would arrive soon…little did I know that he was up on top of the nearby hill at Garden of the Gods, til we all drove up there to catch the last rays of the setting sun and found him at the entrance gate. We got up there with a cloudy sky and just enough light to allow me to shoot a few photos at 400 speed ISO….


Trust me, the images look like I shot them mid afternoon, but thats what good editing can do for you and a good editing program as well. it was dark up there and luckily the paths going to the rocks are brick lined and nicely put together, so you arent tripping over rocks and tree roots all the way down there and back…we had just enough ambient light to see our way in and less on the way out. Garden of the

Gods is one of those magical places that just has to be seen to be appreciated tho and it never fails to amaze me…



( Well I am having problems once again with my local server keeping the internet connection, not sure if its a Windows 10 issue or some problem with the server, but its getting to be very aggravating, just spent thirty min writing up the intro to the first day digging and lost the entire thing. so bear with me while I try this again, just called my server, and I think they now know how ticked off I am about this on-going issue. )

Trust me, the images I shot at Garden of the Gods look as though we were there in mid afternoon, but as it was, we had ony ambient light to walk to the overlook, just enough light to see the path in forest that the US FS created with bricks so that one doesnt have to trip over rocks and tree roots to get there. Thanks to an amazing editing program, my images just look great in low light sometimes. Garden of the Gods is an amazing place to go to, magical in the right light, thankfully we had enough ambient light to see that evening, mainly due to the cloudy skies in place all day. Had the skies cleared off, we probably wouldnt have been able to see by the time we arrived.

We drove back to the cabin and got Pete settled in, then headed to Harrisburg to have supper at Morellos Italian Restaurant on Main Street…highly rated for fine dining there. Finding a parking place proved to be a challenge and after driving into the third lot, located across the street, we were able to find one finally. We walked inside to find a fairly well packed dining area and we were greeted warmly by staff and seated quickly. I had every intention of having Italian food that evening, but when I found out they had a special on filet mignon, I changed my mind and ordered the steak instead. Everyone else ordered Italian and said it was all good, as was my steak and food. Afterward, on the way back to the cabin, Pete and I stopped off at DQ so I could get a blizzard for dessert…shortly after we arrived at the cabin, John showed up and moved his stuff inside…Chuck came over shortly after and we had a pretty good mineral jam session til it was time to retire for the night.

The plan was to meet up with David and Janyce at Harbisons Country Market the next morning, they were bringing up their tractor on a trailer to assist us with digging into the tailing piles at the old mine. John rode with me to save parking space at the mine, so we drove over to Harbisons at 7 am, and after Virgil showed up, we all went inside for some breakfast…the place has a deli inside and can grill up biscuits, gravy, and eggs, plus they have sausage and egg sandwiches too. Afterwards, we drove down to the landowners residence, so he could lead us down to the old mine. I had stopped by to see and visit with him earlier this summer on my way to a dig at the Eureka Mine, and he had offered to allow me to bring my group to his mine and dig into the tailings to see what we could find. We stayed in touch and he let us bring and use the tractor as well. He led us down to the location and helped us with parking, directing David to a flat spot so it would be easier for him to unload the tractor. After introductions, we all gave him some nice crystals and minerals from our respective areas and he then showed us where we could dig and hazards to avoid, and soon after we had all spread out all over the huge tailing pile in front and began there…I brought a rake with me and used it to rake down the heavy carpet of forest leaves from the pile…John had offered to bring a gas powered leaf blower to make things easier, but I told him it would take up a lot of room in his car, and possibly deprive him of space in case we hit the jackpot in goodies there.

David unloaded his tractor and started digging around in various spots up and down the hill around the main tailing pile….

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…and pretty soon we were all finding some pretty blue colored fluorite in the pile….


David continued to move up the hill digging in various spots with his backhoe attachment, while Virgil and Janyce combed the dig areas to find the elusive fluorite pieces. Pete, John, and I were mainly working on the back side of the tailing pile, concentrating on the lower end where it met up with the creekbed on the other side from the others, while Chuck and Mackenzie were digging into the top of the pile….


…and by noon, after a break for food and water, we all wound up down at the northern base of the tailing pile looking for goodies, which seemed to be naturally just falling out of the dirt and into our hands each time David made a pass with the bucket into the pile…David spotted me taking photos and said I had better get down there cause everyone was finding some nice stuff….




We all got a good workout in that day, digging out the loose dirt and pulling out the gems hiding inside, covered by the clay, discovering not only blue fluorite, but colors of green, yellow and clear as well. David would dig into the hillside of the tailing pile with the bucket and drop it out at our feet, and then we would rake it back and spread it all out to find the hidden gemstones…lots of fun and lots of hard work..we dug this way for about four hours, stopping as it began to get dark. Here is some video on the dig above….click on ” Download File ” then double click on the file name below and it will pop up in a separate window for you to view it….

The landowner stopped by to check on us a few times and see how we were doing, we showed him our finds and he was happy as well. We loaded up the tractor and tools, to head back to the cabins to get cleaned up before heading to Golconda for supper. Virgil headed back home before that, antsy to see his new grandson and wanting to stop off at Eminence on the way to check out the quarry there. Since John had never seen Garden of the Gods, I drove him up there to see it at sunset and snapped a few photos of it again as well…




Over on the left point, above image…there were some guys from Texas that were admiring the view and in front of us, below image…there was a young couple admiring the view…



…and an entire family on the point to our right…below image….


By the time John and I returned to the cabin, everyone was ready to go get something to eat, so we followed David and Janyce to the small town of Golconda, which is about a twenty minute drive south to the Ohio River. While researching places to eat at, I had come across a bar and grill named Diver Down, located on Main Street in Golconda, known wide and far for their catfish fillets, chicken fingers, and steaks, all fresh food prepared and cooked to order. We arrived soon after dark and walked in to find the place nearly empty, the staff seemed a bit surprised that we had a group numbering nine but quickly seated us and provided us with menus. I discovered that they had a special on prime rib that night as well as catfish fillets…so naturally I ordered the prime rib and everyone else decided on nachos and chicken fingers. The wait was long and there were a few smaller groups that came in after us that seemed to get their food quicker than we did…but the food was good when we did finally get it and true to their word, it was definitely fresh food, not frozen at all. The chicken fingers at this place are large, but they dont come with fries or anything else, so you have to order fries or anything else with it, possibly because they are so big. I helped Chucks wife Lynn, who wasnt able to eat all of her chicken fingers, that is how I know they were freshly cooked and good tasting. We tried to get back to Harbisons before they closed, to get some hand dipped ice cream, but I made the wrong turn and we got there just a few minutes too late. We headed back to the cabins and had another mineral jam session, this time John bringing in some crystals and minerals to share with us from the Iowa quarries that he goes to collect at, and some barite specimens to buy from his dealer friend Craig….




















We woke up the next day to a very frosty cold morning, a bit on the froggy side too and frost so heavy it looked like a dusting of snow everywhere….

58-frosty-sunday-morning          59-frosty-grass61-frosty-leaves

David left the tractor and trailer with us at the cabin, so the next morning they arrived about 7 am and then we all drove down to Harbisons for breakfast again. After arriving at the old mine and digging for about an hour, still finding alot of blue fluorite pieces during that time, we decided to stop and head over to Elizabethtown and visit with Gary Griffith, who mines fluorite in yellow and purple colors at the Hasty Mine nearby….Gary also sells the fluorite and makes octohedrons by hand as well. I met him and his son at the Eureka Mine Show earlier this year and found out they have some beautiful stuff that they sell by the flat. David has bought from them as well so he and Janyce led us to Garys house. Gary had several pallets completely covered by purple and yellow fluorite, plus he had some raspberry colored fluorite as well, so we all grabbed a flat and started selecting what we would like to buy from him. While we were doing that, he chipped out a couple of octohedrons for Janyce….



I shot some video of Gary creating these octohedrons for David and Janyce….click on ” Download File ” and it will come up and play in a separate window for you….


…that is Gary`s dad in the background he is talking to about lottery tickets while he chips away at the fluorite piece….and carrying on a conversation with David as well. Here is a video showing a pallet full of beautiful purple fluorites that he has for sale there….


When we got back to the mine, Chuck headed home, leaving Pete, John, David, Janyce, and I to continue diggging for a couple more hours..


David and his tractor made the work much easier for all of us and helped us enjoy the dig and hard work we all put into it as well….thanks for bringing your tractor David….


We thanked the landowner once again before heading home. I arrived home about 7:30 pm Sunday evening and by midnight had heard from everyone but Virgil and Pete…luckily this time John made it home safe and sound without any mishaps along the way as he did on the conclusion of his journey home from Arkansas…Pete arrived home about 4 am safe and sound, and from the looks and sound of it, everyone was pretty happy they had made the trip down there as well. Here are some of my cleaned up goodies….




and one of the only ones I found with any cubes on it in deep blue color no less….


…another successful and enjoyable trip to wrap up 2016 very well….if you have any questions, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com 

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years !!














Hot Springs Arkansas November 2016

Onyx and I were up and at em as they say, early Tuesday morning, Nov 8th, preparing to south to southern Arkansas for our annual fall vacation…as we stepped outside to finish packing the truck, I noticed a gorgeous sunrise in the skies above…..


….my Mom always travels with me down there and we drop her off at Fort Smith, usually to stay with one of her ” little brothers ” to visit with everyone in the area, but this year we dropped her off at the airport to pick up a rental suv so she could stay at the Marriott and visit with her older sister who was driving in from California.  One of my Springfield area friends was going to go with me on this trip, but he was mugged the night before, the thief stole everything from him including his phone, and I was unable to contact him once we got down there, so had to continue on without him. He was in need of a good vacation before that and we motored on down the road hoping that he could borrow someones phone and call me before we got too far down the road to turn around and return to pick him up…unfortunately, that never happened and still to this day, I have not been able to contact him, so can only hope for the best. I have discovered that its nearly impossible to find out anything about anyone in that area, for some reason.

We arrived in Fort Smith around noon and after dropping Mom off, Onyx and I drove over to Sallisaw, Oklahoma, to see my buddy Adam Lagaveen. Adam and I have become good friends in the past couple of years, he is into quartz crystal collecting, and while he likes other pretty rocks and minerals too, his passion these days is for knapping Native American knives and arrowheads out of native rock…he also uses glass too but he is especially talented when it comes to rainbow and mahogany obsidian and novaculite too. He heat treats this material which really brings out the colors and makes the minerals easier to work with, from what I have gathered over the years about knapping. It has taken over his garage and work area at his house and slowly but surely, he has allowed me to take over his older collection of quartz crystals and minerals to make more room for his knapping collection. Today he was a bit tight on his schedule, so I picked up some more quartz from him, some wavellite as well and a tub of Iowa geodes that he had laying around, as well as a big chunk of petrified wood that was in his way. It was great visiting with him again, as always, and we were soon on our way back to Fort Smith to pick up Hwy 71 south.

After stopping off in Waldron to fill up my truck at the Phillips 66 there, we headed on south to Hot Springs…Waldron is the area that my Mom and Dad were both born and raised at…on dairy farms about ten miles west of town out near the Oklahoma line in the mountain valleys. Its an area that I have become fond of visiting when down there and we have many relatives and friends in that area. Onyx and I arrived at the condo that I rent each time I go to Hot Springs, located on Lake Hamilton near the Sunbay Resort, just after sunset…I dont mind getting there in the dark anymore since I know the area pretty good now…it was a little daunting the first time there, but am very comfy with it these days. Onyx seems to remember it well too, he runs around the area lawns there very knowingly and seems to remember we are going up the stairs to the upstairs unit as well. I dont even put him on a leash there anymore, he is so used to it. I really enjoy this condo, as it has a balcony that is right out over Lake Hamilton and the view out there during the day and the nighttime, is just phenomenal…here is the standard night view….


As soon as we unpacked, Ray Roth, my friend from New Orleans who meets me there each year to go quartz crystal collecting with me, texted to let me know that he had snacked all the way up there on his trip, so he wasnt going to join me at supper. Onyx and I soon headed to Habachi Sushi Buffet, near the mall in Hot Springs…not for the sushi, but for the great buffet they have there, serving American and Chinese food, plus a sushi bar if you are into that type of food…I am not…and one can eat there for ten bucks a meal. Afterwards, I stopped by the Scoops Homemade Ice Cream Store to pick up a couple of pints of ice cream and then we headed back to the condo to settle in for the night.

For what was prob the first time down there, I actually slept in til 8 am the next morning, missing the gorgeous sunrise, which is totally a first for me, but I def needed the rest too. The next two days there, I scheduled a few model shoots and planned to visit a mineral dealer friend as well. Ray and I had breakfast at the Best Western Hotel near Oaklawn, where he was staying at, they have probably the best continental breakfast I have seen at a hotel in a long time, serving not only muffins and cereal, but scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, and biscuits and gravy, albeit the wrong flavored gravy in my humble opinion. Later that morning I had a photo shoot scheduled and another one the next day, but also wanted to go by and see a mineral dealer friend of mine. Ray decided to take his little dog and head up the mountain in town to the tower to see the view. I texted Justin, my rockhunting buddy in Hot Springs and made plans to meet him later and take him to see my mineral dealer friend Gary, who had some Elmwood pieces that I wanted to see and possibly purchase from him. I knew Justin would appreciate this type of visit and he brought along some of his crystals that he had been finding lately to show to Gary, and Gary was able to give him a good appraisal on them as well as give him some good solid information on them as well. I let Gary know that I would be joined by about a dozen friends later that weekend and he said we could come by on Saturday evening to visit. Soon after getting back to the condo, I shot this sunset over the lake to the west with some fishermen boating by…..








…and then the Belle of Hot Springs coasted by on their daily night tour of Lake Hamilton as well….


Onyx and I woke up at our traditional vacation time the next morning at 6 am, in time to catch the beautiful rays of sunlight illuminating the wispy layers of fog floating across the waters of Lake Hamilton outside the window….


Onyx and I met up with Ray at 9 am for breakfast at Best Western again and then we did some shopping before returning to the condo. I usually drive around the area looking for pretty spots to photograph, but the color down there was nearly non existent, the leaves had already turned brown in many places and simply fell off. I had an email from a rockhound that had been down to the area back in September, who said that he had found some baskets of quartz crystals, clusters, and plates, at one of the area mines, so I decided to drive over to both of the Coleman mines and check on it. I found one dirt basket at Ron Coleman`s mine that looked like a lot of broken quartz crystals, so I called ahead to Miller Mtn Mine, which was under new management this time, and was told they had fifteen baskets there. I decided to drive on up and take a look at them…Ray and I both have purchased baskets from there in the past when Bill and Faith were operating the mine for Jim Coleman, however since they had retired from operations there, things had not been going so smoothly there since. The new caretakers were a country couple and were very nice to talk to, however the baskets there were full of broken crystal plates and not worth the asking price at all. I did find a couple of burr clusters for sale tho that were bargain priced so I purchased them instead, paying what I would have spent on two baskets, they were coated on both sides with quartz crystals and many burrs of crystals as well, both of them beach ball sized. I was happy. I didnt know it til later, but my good friends David and Janyce Sorrells were over in the tailing piles at that time digging for quartz there…I found out the next day when they joined me at the Southfork Mine.  I headed back to the condo for another shoot and shot this gorgeous sunset…..



Later I met up with Ray for supper at the Outback Steakhouse, everyone else was traveling in and arriving later that night, some not arriving til Friday night to go to the quartz mine with us…..think it is going to become my new steakhouse favorite, it was delish !!  

Onyx and I retired early, as Friday morning was going to be an early one, meeting up with everyone who was going with us to Southfork Mine. We woke up just before 6 am again, to some gorgeous hues of red filling the eastern skies…like the sunset last night, this appeared to be a gorgeous duplicate of last night and just got better and better every few minutes….







…and a few minutes later, it morphed into this stunner as well….



..and just kept getting better as the skies lightened up….





…simply gorgeous is all I could think that morning….one of the best sunrises I have seen there for sure. Onyx and I drove up to McDonalds to meet up with Chuck and MacKenzie there for breakfast..they were already there waiting on us. We then drove over to the Valero Gas Station on Higdon Ferry Road just south of Hwy 270 to meet up with Jon and Ray, and then motored west to meet David and Janyce at the pull off spot across from the Crystal Inn, before heading on west to Mt Ida. More folks would be joining us the next day.

We met Tony at the entrance to the mine road and he led us down to it and thru the gate, that he had already opened for us…he had acquired a newer truck, this one a full size Dodge pick up with a flat bed on it, giving him more power and more cargo room than his older model Toyota pickup, which his girlfriend told me later that he still has. Chuck and MacKenzie went on up to the top of this mountain to start up at the older mine while everyone else walked into the newer mine to check things out. Janyce walked past and then backed back up a nice vug that was chock full of plates with large points all over the sandstone rock…

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Janyce was so excited, she called David down from the top wall to check it out and then he got excited and called John down to take a look at it, that was fun to watch and listen to….


…after that John came up to my location on the upper wall to check out the vertical pockets in front of me and was quite impressed with this potential area right below me…


…hard to see in the photo above but there were crystals laying everywhere in that clay mud…I climbed up higher on the wall and worked another area that was chock full of crystals as well…while David and Janyce set about trying to liberate the crystal plates from that pocket down below…


…and John appeared to be trying to figure out where to start on his wall section…..


…and here is what I was looking at in front of me….



After prying several crystals from the pockets in front of me, an area including this pocket above and then an area above and below it about 2 feet wide by 8 feet high, for about four hours, I decided to get up and go get some water, and then do some surface collecting up on top. I let John know he could work the pockets if he wanted to, and Onyx and I headed up to the top of the mountain. Tony and his girlfriend had headed into town and locked us in, locking the gate behind them so we would not be disturbed by anyone else. He had some friends camped out nearby so we were definitely not going to be bothered by anyone. I got up on top of the mountain and parked down by Chuck, found him chiseling plates from a wall up there while Mackenzie was resting up……


…he told me that he had found some great plates and was able to liberate quite a few nice ones…I checked out the wall and saw some great little burrs of crystals all over the rock as well as some big points that were two to three inches in length. While he continued to hammer, I decided to walk the entire area up on top so I would have a good idea of what to tell everyone else when they returned with us the next day. Onyx and I walked down to the area right above the newer area where John, David, and Janyce continued to work…


…and then I turned around and began to look for crystals…finding several all the way back up the hill to the tailing piles above….they were literally laying all over the place, just like back in July when we were there and last fall when Virgil, Doug, and Ray joined me there for our first dig there….here are a few that I spotted, some I dug up and took with me and some I left for others…


…the last one above is a yard rock that I dug out the rest of the way, then rolled it over, the top of it was really nice, so I grabbed my four lb hammer and chisel, then popped the top of it off, came off very nicely, too. After that I took a few minutes and wrapped up my finds and downed another bottle of water…by then it was starting to get warm up there on top of the small mountain…course wearing a long sleeved sweat shirt didn`t help either. We loaded up and drove back down to the lower area to check on the rest of the crew, finding them tuckered out like we were, and ready to head back to Hot Springs to get some supper.

We did just that and had some great time at Habachi Sushi Buffet, David and Janyce stopped off at their camper to clean up and then drove down to join us there. Alan and Debbie had made it into Hot Springs by then, driving in from Memphis, so they joined us as well a few minutes after we started eating. Afterwards, Onyx and I headed to the Scoops Ice Cream Shop again, got another pint of chocolate chip and then headed to the condo to rest up.

The next morning, I grabbed a sausage and egg biscuit at McDonalds, then drove up to Valero to meet up with the rest of the crew including the Tyler, Texas folks that drove up Friday night to join us for the Saturday dig. As I pulled in and parked to lead out, Fred Mahaffey, the Field Trip Director from the Tyler Club walked over and let me know that he had a few folks along for the dig. Chuck and Mackenzie joined us soon after, as did Alan and Debbie, and John. Ray decided he had too much fun the day before at the quartz mine, and was going fishing that day instead. We loaded up and headed west to Mt Ida, picking up David and Janyce at the gas station on the west side of town, then drove on out to the mine. When we stopped at the gate this time, those of us not wearing neon orange or green shirts,  donned our orange protective vests and proceeded up the hillside to the mine…this was the first day of gun deer season and we wanted to make sure no one mistook us for a deer.  Fred, Jim, and Sydney, Jim`s daughter, Alan and Debbie, followed Chuck and Mackenzie up to the top of the mountain to search up there, while Janyce, David, and John returned to the new area to work the wall some more. Onyx and I drove on up to the top to see how everyone was doing and after the strenuous day before, I decided to simply help everyone new get started on finding some nice quartz. By the time we arrived, Alan and Debbie were doing pretty good surface collecting and the Texas crew was moving around finding some nice ones as well. I showed Fred, Jim, and Alan the wall that Chuck had been working and let them know that there were literally crystals laying all over the tailing piles as well. I spotted a few and handed them off to Fred, who started surface collecting in the piles near me in the middle….



….then noticed that Chuck and Mackenzie were surface collecting the old pit wall today…she was all decked out in multi colors today, in addition to her orange vest….


..in the meantime, Alan and Debbie were surface collecting…Alan down by the walls where Chuck was located the day before, and Debbie up on top of the hill…







After I could see that everyone was finding some nice stuff, I took a water break and then grabbed a bag and my mini mattox and set off in search of crystals once again. I started in the pit, found Jim and Sydney working the crystal wall and Fred looking around the backside of the wall…


…and then I climbed up on top of the hill to check out the boulders up there. Lo and behold, once up there, I discovered some nice clusters of small burr like crystals embedded in dirt in the top of a small boulder…small but not so small that I could get it into the bed of my truck…so I walked over to the truck and retrieved my hammer and chisel….here is what they looked like up closer….


…and here they are in the dirt on the boulder up close….


…I took a stretch break and looked around, spotted Janyce walking down into the old tailings area and Mackenzie and Sydney were working together at the bottom of one of the piles….


…Alan and Debbie came over to check out the clusters and I gave them a couple of them…then after clearing the boulder I decided to do a little surface collecting at the top of the hill piles and spotted some smokey colored crystals, so I sat down and started digging in..within a few seconds, I pulled out a big ball of clay that turned out to be a gorgeous burr cluster the size of a baseball in my hand. After I pulled out yet another one, Alan decided to sit down and dig into the huge pile next to me..within seconds I had a third one removed…all in all, I think I found about half a dozen of them…not all of them were smokey colored, but they were definitely pretty…I gave Alan a couple of them too. It was now approaching 3 pm so I wrapped up my clusters and then drove down to the new area to check on everyone down there. I found Janyce and David ready to pack up and head out, and John had a big smile on his face…


…..he was working on removing a huge burr cluster at the top of the vein he had been working all day. I let him know that he had about 20 minutes to do so and he started working on it a bit more earnestly…Chuck and I helped him as much as we could while he worked on getting it out intact….I found out later that he had a good reason for not having removed it earlier, he was also able to remove a couple of big points while we were there with him as well….


….and here he is trying to chip those out….



…and after removing those, he then started prying out the huge cluster above…within a few moments he had liberated it from the confines of that clay pocket and that smile on his face moments earlier now turned into a huge grin….



…soon after getting this wrapped up, I carried his tools down to his car, Chuck helped him carry the goodies to his car, and after he wrapped everything up safe and secure, we headed down the hill and out the gate, and down to Gary`s residence…to look over some beautiful Elmwood calcites, fluorites, sphalerites, and barites combined into gorgeous specimens. Gary has been collecting for 44 years, at one point he had a quartz mine of his own in the Mt Ida area and not only is a neat guy with a wealth of information but has a great collection of crystals and minerals as well. He enjoyed the visit with everyone as we did with him, and soon we were all headed back to Hot Springs for supper at various locations. The Texas crew headed to the Purple Cow and then headed home to Tyler…Chuck and Mackenzie headed to one of the Mexican Restaurants, David and Janyce headed back to their camper, and the rest of us, Alan, Debbie, John, joined me at the Habachi once again. We made plans to meet up again at the Valero the next morning about 7:30 am to drive down to Magnet Cove for a visit to one of the novaculite quarries. Onyx and I picked up a pint of butter pecan at Scoops and then retired back to the condo.

The next morning we had yet another foggy sunrise over the lake…


I decided not to eat any breakfast that morning as I would be leaving about 10:30 am to drive up to Waldron for our annual family reunion at the Thomas Family farm, my uncles and cousins cook and prepare a huge feast up there for many friends and family members who show up by early afternoon there.  Onyx and I drove over to the Valero and found David, Janyce, Mackenzie and Chuck waiting for us, they were browsing inside when we pulled up…I checked my gas gauge and decided to fill the tank…as I was doing that, Alan and Debbie pulled into the next pump over to fill theirs as well. Now we were just waiting on John…I knew Ray wasnt going to make it cause he doesnt like novaculite like the rest of us do…I tried to call John a few times, called the hotel where he was staying and there was no answer so we decided to just give him a few minutes…and oila…he suddenly appeared…he had to load up the goodies he had brought for me to purchase from him and to trade with the others. He was also going to trade with Gary later that day for some luna agates from Mexico that Gary has in his collection. I called Mr. Parker to let him know we were running a bit late and he said he would wait for us at his shop in Magnet Cove. We took off and luckily the fog that was up on the hill in Hot Springs did not extend down into the valley of Magnet Cove, so we made good time and arrived shortly after our agreed upon meeting time of 8 am…then followed Mr. Parker over to his quarry, that required a bit more time as it was over some rough and super dusty gravel roads to reach it. Soon after arriving, he led us up to the area where they find many colors of novaculite and gave us a short history on the area first….


Mr. Parker is a super nice guy, he has owned and operated the Magnet Cove Stone Company for many years, it has been in his family for many years beyond that as well, operated by his father and grandfather both. He allows rockhounds and mineral clubs to come and collect there, as well as knappers, and sells much of the beautiful colored and translucent material to commercial markets, some of them overseas. Some of his material has also gone up in space on one of the space shuttles, used in the protective heat shield of the shuttles. There are about ten colors at the quarry in different sections there…I prefer the gray blending into the deep reds, found in the location we were standing in….


…and when we arrived, we met one of his employees who was cleaning out the rock in one of the new pits they had just dug out up there, he was also his best jackhammer man….


…we then all divided up and began looking for some pretty stuff to take home…Chuck and Mackenzie were finding some nice stuff pretty quickly….


…I picked up a couple of pieces there and then wandered over to the area on the other side of the vehicles, where I found John in the gray and red section…I found several nice pieces there that I wanted to take home. Mr. Parker only charges fifty cents a pound which is a good price for collectors and knappers alike.  John broke out some of the material he brought down for me to look through, and some of the others came over to look it over too, and pretty soon they were all trading and buying from him. I was soon out of time and had to head out…I led David and Janyce a different way out, shortcut over to Hwy 70 where we turned west and headed back to Hot Springs, they going back to their camper to load up and head home to Paducah, and me on west to Waldron to my family reunion. Chuck and Mackenzie left about 30 minutes later headed home to St Louis County, Alan and Debbie headed back to Memphis, and John drove out to talk more with Gary and do some trading with him, before then heading on home to Illinois. Onxy and I arrived at the family farm about noon and visited with family members before the meal.

I had cousins there that traveled in from California that I had not seen for a few years, two sets of Korean cousins, of the four, my cousin John is a rockhound while cousins Marilyn and Carolyn are simply quartz crystal fans. It was about 2:30 when everything was done and everyone was fed and beginning to leave…I wanted to get back before dark if possible, so Onyx and I headed out soon after.  I heard from Chuck by email when he and Mackenzie got back to the St Louis area safe and sound, and John kept me updated on his progress as well, he had the longer drive, ten hours at least. About a week after, he told me that when he was close to home, he struck a huge raccoon that came out into the highway in front of him, leaving him no choice…this thing was soo big that it took out a chunk of his bumper and also completely damaged his radiator…he spent the night in a gas station to keep warm and then his parents brought a flat bed trailer down to transport his car back home the next morning…his parents sound just like my parents…ready to help whenever needed. Onyx and I were relaxing down in the condo watching tv when I looked outside and thought things really looked bright out on the water…I walked out on the balcony and looked east and saw the moon rising up over the lake, looking HUGE….


…it doesnt look like it in these photos but it sure did look big there…it was super bright out there for one thing…I had been seeing it about five nights in a row by then and I didnt remember it being that bright the other nights…I shot some video of it that night as well and then shot some closeups of it as an airplane passed by it….



…we were now in relax and wind down mode, I had scheduled my vacation to include a few days of it, some at the beginning and one full day of it at the end…I really intended to sleep in the next morning but for whatever reason, was unable to do so..in fact we got up before the sunrise this time… I took Onyx out and saw the super moon dropping down to the horizon in the western skies right over the lake once again….


…and a few minutes later, the sun did come up in an orange glow at the other side of the lake….



Since I didnt hear from anyone else, it was a safe bet that by Monday morning that Onyx and I were the only ones left down there, so after repacking the truck for the return trip home….I visited with friends all day and one even drove up from Camden to have an early supper with me that evening at Outback…soon after he left for home, I took this pretty sunset photo….


…and after yet another relaxing evening with ice cream and tv shows…Onyx and I retired to bed and got up about 8 am to finish packing the truck, then we were on the road by 9 am headed to Fort Smith to pick up Mom and head home from there. I had four large yard rocks and three bags of wrapped quartz crystals, a flat of wavellite, a tub of geodes, and some novaculite pieces, and just enough room left over for all of Moms luggage…all in all, another great Arkansas vacation. If you have any questions, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com 




Eminence and Park Hills Show 2016

I forgot to complete my story on the weekend of the Park Hills Show, the weekend that David and Janyce Sorrells came up for the show and then went rockhunting with me at the quarry in Eminence…and my buddy Travis from Tennessee came up to meet us there and rockhunt with us as well as his two sons. David reminded me this morning and so here I am, three months later, completing the story on the weekend, my apologies to all….that was a rough week and a rough month…as my Dad passed away that week as well and I went to the show on Saturday and rockhunting that Sunday to give myself a break…something that I took a bit of heat for later on, and knew would happen, but sometimes you have to listen to your heart and mind and do what is best for you.

David and Janyce were camping out south of Park Hills, so they met me in the middle of Eminence at the junction of Hwy 19 and 106…I had been in touch with Travis, let him know what time we were meeting there and he was there soon after Onyx and I arrived. I then led them over to the quarry, and we found a huge blast pile waiting for us on the west side, to check out…it didnt take them long to get their gear on and head up the pile of rocks to do just that….


…if memory serves me correctly, we found some of the deformed dark calcite chunks, they were laying all over the place, and alot of massive calcite as well…I honestly have not been impressed with that side of the quarry since they started blasting over there, much of it plain looking rock and massive calcite layers, very little crystalization like we have seen in the other areas. Here lately tho, we have been finding some of those longer dogtooth crystals, brown and black colored, that I always refer to as not knowing what they wanted to grow up to be, cause they have great form but on the outside, are rough edged and pitted much of the time, but still in a classical dogtooth formation. Whatever David and Janyce were finding, they seemed happy with and filled two buckets pretty fast….below you see David carrying them to the truck while Janyce keeps on digging into a pocket….


I had told them to check out the walls in the coved area, because we find many more nice pockets there, plus in the heat of the day, its cooler there as well, the high walls retain that cooling shade longer and there is a cooling waterfall there too, that you can stand under and get soaked and cooled down fast if needed. So soon after working the western pile, we moved over to the coved area and found Travis and his two boys already there. David found some big boulders there that had some vugs of calcite druse with some poker chips inside and began to work them while the boys were working the small piles to the left side looking for goodies…



…and pretty soon, Travis was up in the cove corner looking for pockets where the 07-travis-works-the-corner-of-the-covewaterfall was located…while David continued to work those boulders….


…pretty soon the boys wore out and it was down to Travis, David, Janyce, and I to continue looking for goodies….



I told Travis to check out the wall behind David and Janyce, cause we had found several pockets full of nice dogtooths in there a few weeks earlier…


…and pretty soon he was scrambling all over the pocket wall to look for goodies…


…despite the heat, we had a pretty good time and everyone found some nice crystals…by the time 3 pm rolled around, everyone was done in from the warmth of the day and headed home. It capped off a great weekend of rockhunting, starting out the day before at the Park Hills Show where the old Federal Mine and Mill is located….






Some of My Geode Finds at Geodefest and Keokuk 2016

Finally had some free time to get some of the geodes I found at Geodefest a few weeks ago, at Keokuk, cleaned up…used Super Iron Out, also now known as Iron Out, to clean the gunk off some of the ones that were discarded by others and left to rot I suppose..I was quite pleasantly suprised at many of them, how gorgeous they were once cleaned up, even found that one of them was a citrine colored snowball half. I`m also posting below, some of the beauties that my good friend John Oostenryk brought and traded with me, some gorgeous brown irridescent calcites that shimmer in purple, pink and green colors and some gorgeous brown barite clusters from a few of the Iowa quarries that are no longer accessible by rockhounds…thanks again John….









…this set of geodes above and below, I purchased at Geodefest this year from Ken Vaisvil…he is a dealer I always see at the Park Hills Show and he always has some gorgeous geodes big and small there…this one appeared to have a poker chip calcite crystal in it, and it was the only set he had like this…since I am known as the Poker Chip King in some places…I decided I had to have this one for my collection….


…and here are the goodies John brought me to trade with me for the goodies that I brought him…







Thanks again John, was great to finally meet you, rockhound with you, and trade goodies with ya as well…look forward to seeing you again in a few weeks. 🙂


Joplin Mineral Show, Field Trip, & Geodefest 2016 All in Same Weekend

On Friday, Sept 23rd, Josh Click joined me for a full weekend of mineral shows and rockhunting field trips at two different locations at opposite corners of the state of Missouri. The third weekend in September is utilized by both the Tri State Mineral Show in Joplin and the Geodefest Show and Digs at Keokuk, Iowa and Hamilton, Illinois, so we were going to take in both shows and sets of digs, splitting the weekend up and traveling from the southwest corner of the state to the northeast corner of the state in a matter of hours.

So about 10 am Friday morning, Josh and I headed west on I-44 to Joplin, to take in the Mineral Show there for the first half of the weekend at Schifferdecker Park, with plans to join some members of the Kansas City Mineral Club in a joint field trip with Friends of Mineralogy as well on Saturday morning at some tailing piles that were still hanging around the area. I say hanging around because in the past few years, the EPA has been active in remediating many of the left over tailing piles from many old lead mines, scattered all over kingdom come in the tri state area, which is where Joplin is located, smack dab in the middle of that lead mining district. Many of the mines folded back in the 1960`s and the rest were pretty much done ten years later, yet the tailing piles remained for many years, wasting away, some creating a blight of the area even after the EPA created the Superfund plans to clean up the blighted areas and remove the piles to restore the lands. Here recently, those plans have started to see movement finally in terms of action from the EPA and only a few of the tailing piles remain, many of them located on private land, sometimes those lands entail many owners and co-owners, permission to look thru the piles a daunting challenge to any rockhound or group of rockhounds that would like to comb thru them in search of buried treasure. We visited with some friends Friday afternoon on the way down there and then I took him and one of our friends to Grand Falls on the west side of town to show him one of the prettiest waterfalls in Missouri and the Midwest. 


A friend of mine named Carrie, is a member of the Kansas City Mineral Club, she told me of a friend of hers named Bruce, who was heading up a group to go to some of the old tailing piles to look for galena, sphalerite, and calcite on Saturday morning, said they would be meeting at the Tri State Mineral Museum in the park, where the Mineral Show is also held at, and going out from there. She contacted Bruce and secured permission for me to join them on their hunt that morning. Bruce had contacted all of the owners of this tract of land where the piles were located and obtained permission to hunt there that day.

Josh and I arrived at the museum…..


….by 8:45 am Saturday morning and met up with Bruce and a few of the members who were already there. I gave Bruce a couple of flats of poker chip calcite crystals and let him know the members there that day could have as many of them as they wanted. One of the members who showed up, was Larry who owns the Rock Shop in Rolla…I have hunted with him on some of the MAGS sponsored trips as well. Larry is a geologist and works in the oil fields of central Illinois quite a bit.

By 9 am about twenty rockhounds had showed up and Bruce gave us a run down on what to find and what we could expect to find over there and then we headed out, following him to the northwest side of town. Bruce stopped briefly to let a deputy sheriff who lives nearby, know what we were doing and who we were. We then proceeded to the first tailing pile on the property, right across the driveway from the deputy`s home and we spread out trying to find some pretty stuff to take home. Bruce had been to this location before and said that galena cubes had been found there in some places…there was also some massive calcite chunks spread out all over the place as well. A few people did find some sphalerite and some galena there, but nothing real spectacular, so after about an hour, we drove on down the drive….01-nw-corner-of-joplin



…..into a larger area where huge tailing piles and even a very large pile of rocks awaited us…Josh and I hiked over to the huge pile of rocks with Larry and a few others, including some new rockhounds to the group, while Bruce and some members of the KC Club drove on down into the valley to check the piles down there for goodies. 


…our group checked out an old tailing pile in front of where we parked on the other side of the brush line from the parking area, first….


…and then on over to the huge pile of rocks, when no one found anything but crushed gravel on the pile…the huge pile of small boulders was under the canopy of forest and next to some old concrete foundations of what appeared to be an old mill with a water race possibly next to it. The new younger rockhounds, including a few gals and a guy, began climbing up on this huge pile, every bit of 60 to 70 feet high, small boulders stacked up on top of each other, similar to pyramid type structure…the base was several yards around it…and it appeared someone had cut some trees down in an attempt to create a road around the huge pile, possibly preparing for remediation very soon. Josh climbed up on this huge pile with the newby rockhounds and pretty soon I heard him call out that he had found some nice chunks of calcite up there…most of the rocks and small boulders appeared to me to be leaverites. I checked the time, because he and I had to leave by 12:30 to get back to the hotel in time to clean up, then go to the mineral show for a bit, and then head home…where I would repack the truck for the trip to Keokuk, Iowa and we would get a few hours of sleep and then hit the highway headed north by 3:30 am Sunday morning. We had a little time left, so I left him with the folks on the huge pile and I walked down to see what Bruce and the others were finding before we headed out. Bruce and his crew were up on a tailing pile in the valley and were finding some nice galena cubes and sphalerite down there as well…


…here is Bruce showing me some galena cubes they found on top of some boulders at the base of this pile in the valley…they were finding even more boulders with them as well….



…I let him know that Josh and I were headed out and that we enjoyed hunting with them, we wished them great success on the remainder of their hunt that day and hoped to visit with them again sometime. Josh and I headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up, change into fresher clothing, and then after checking out of the Candlewood Suites, which I might add, was a very nice hotel to stay at…we drove over to the take in about 90 min of the Tri State Show. I parked under the shade of a huge hedgeapple tree there…



Mike Shumate had asked me to say hi to a couple of dealers for him, so I looked them up while there and passed on his salutations to Marv and Jimmy…I remembered buying some Brazilian Quartz and Southern Illinois fluorite from Jimmy several years ago when I first visited the Joplin Show. I purchased a pyrite sphere from a dealer there that was a Marine veteran and visited with him for a few minutes, he had some very nice stuff for sale at his table…he pointed out Marv to me as well, who was just across the way from him. After visiting with Marv a bit, we walked over to see my buddy Virgil Richards who had a booth there as well, manned at the time by my Tulsa rockhounding buddy Doug Cunningham, and his wife, while Virgil was doing his normal routine at shows, working the room and gabbing with other dealers. Doug gave me some cracoite from Australia and a Fulgarite from California that Virgil had set out to give me when I arrived there…he also had some very old minerals from the Tri State District that he had picked up in an old collection. I visited with Doug and Virgil for a bit and then we headed for the front door…stopping briefly to look inside the neat Tri State Museum there….






 We stopped off in Lebanon to fill the gas tank and had supper at Bandannas BBQ as well, before heading on home. We arrived home about 7 pm, I quickly repacked the truck for the Iowa trip, and we headed to bed soon after…3 am would arrive soon enough….and did, believe me…but luckily after six hours I was good to go, once again, and didnt even have to drag Josh out of his bed either. I checked with Chuck, as soon as we got to Hwy 109 and started north..he was two hours north of us on Hwy 61…said he wasnt able to sleep so he got an earlier start on the road, than we did…we made one pit stop for gas at Bowling Green, then as we approached the turn off to Keokuk, I stopped for this sunrise photo…told Josh to look for a water spot on the right side of the road…he spotted this small pond and it worked great for a good reflection of the gorgeous sunrise that morning…


..and then soon enough, we were turning on to Hwy 61 to continue northeast now to Keokuk, as the four lane continued as Hwy 27 up into Iowa. We stopped a few min later on this bridge over the Fox River when the sunrise deepened….I shot a few photos of it and had to wait a few minutes while a dump truck crossed the bridge from behind me, the weight of his truck caused the bridge to sway pretty good…


…we arrived in Keokuk just a few minutes later, and drove across the Mississippi River by the Lock and Dam, into Hamilton, Illinois and then north a little ways to the Chaney Creek Access Parking Lot, where Geodefest 2016 was being held. Arriving about 7:20 am, we quickly spotted Chuck`s truck and parked. Very few folks were stirring yet this early, we had arrived early so we could get registered and pay our fees for the last dig of the weekend, however we soon found out that registration would not open til 8 am on the last day, so we had some time to kill, so we went looking for my buddy John Oostenryk, who I had been talking to online for about six months, introduced to him by my KC friend Carrie…John is a museum curator at his local college in Rock Falls, Illinois and also a huge mineral collector too. John and I agreed to bring each other some goodies..to trade with later today and then he would take us collecting the next day as well. He told me that he would be operating a 600 lb geode cracker under a blue and red canopy, which we found easily enough, but discovered that John had not yet arrived and was due any moment. We decided to wander around the booths set up already and see what we could find…I quickly spotted Ken Vaisvil at his booth about two down from John`s booth and we walked down there to see what he had for sale…I always see Ken at the Park Hills show and he always has some nice geodes of all sizes for sale. Within minutes, I spotted one with some citrine colored quartz inside it and a medium sized gray colored poker chip calcite crystal inside as well…I purchased it from him and everyone was impressed with it…it was the first one I had ever seen with a poker chip crystal inside.

As we were wrapping that up, someone at Johns booth pointed to a silver van that had just arrived and said that was John arriving. After introducing him to Chuck and Josh, we were soon talking about prior emails, Carrie and her son Bentley, Bruce, the Joplin show, and past trips I have taken to collect minerals, as well as some upcoming trips too. John also told us we should forget the location for Rods, due to the fact that not very many good geodes were being found there this year as opposed to years past, and he recommended another location, so we went over to the registration booth and signed up for that location instead…which is located on Railroad Creek just outside of Hamilton. Rockhoundblogspot Bill and Debbie showed up soon after and we made plans to go rockhunting later in the day after the initial dig with the Geodefest folks. A little after 9 am, we followed our guide, which happened to be John`s friend Diane and headed south out of town to a nice farm. We parked next to the creek in a huge creek valley area….


….and started unloading buckets and tools, getting my boots on, grabbed gloves and gave Josh a mini mattox to use, then listened to the guide on directions regarding the creek and a ditch nearby that was full of geodes as well. Rockhound Bill had advised us to go upstream to the railroad bridge, so we started that direction after another guide showed us the path leading there….for some reason, he told us we had a mile walk up the creek to the bridge, but as it turned out, it was more like a quarter of a mile…not sure how they were so far off on distance like that much….


…we crossed the creek back and forth in a few spots and went up thru the brush in a few spots to avoid deeps spots and slippery rocks, making record time…finding another couple up there ahead of us searching on up the stream….


…and they may have been looking for certain types or certain sizes of geodes, yet they were laying literally everywhere in the creekbed…we were told there was a discard pile up by the bridge as well, but we never saw one…could have been already gone thru by the time we arrived on the third day, too. This location is known for snowball geodes and most of the geodes we were seeing were from baseball to grapefruit sizes. I was finding several that were already cracked open, halves if you will, that appeared to have some interesting centers inside them, some that were shaped like snowballs too. Within five minutes, I had my bucket half full….Josh and Chuck spread out in the creek bed and began hunting as soon as we got there….



Pretty soon, all three of us had some nice geodes in our buckets and we decided to turn back and search more diligently going downstream…there was another railroad bridge upstream, but we were not sure how far it was up there and we only had about 90 minutes before we had to be back to the parking lot, per the male guide. Chuck was the first to head back in that direction and by the time I got back to the bridge, he was already fifty feet down below the bridge and on the other side of the creek…he let me know that it was shallow if I hugged the left side of the creek and then crossed over a set of rocks that stretched all the way across the creek to where he was located…the first thing I noticed when I came out from under the bridge was this beautifully curved tree stretching out across the water and creating a beautiful reflection in the water….


We were back at the trucks within the hour and found we had at least another hour left to hunt if we wanted to…apparently the big male guide didn`t know nearly as much as he claimed he did…after a water break and loading up the geodes we had collected upstream, Chuck took an extended break while Josh and I wandered over to a branch that went up into the woods off the main stream. I had talked to a guy in the parking area who said that if we walked up that streambed, dry for the most part, there was a bend and high bank up there that was just geode city he said…I wandered over to the bank and found these two geode halves just sitting there….


and then I didn`t go far before finding these two halves…sitting there waving at me…


…and was stunned both times because all of them had pretty crystals inside…okay, I reasoned, they didn`t have snowballs inside but they were PRETTY !!!  I was bewildered as to why someone would leave pretty geodes behind….so in my bucket they went….I called out to Josh to see how he was doing and he said the guy was right, there were geodes in the bank that could be dug out and laying all over the place upstream in the creek bend. Here is a shot of the streambed at my feet….


…and the forest floor where I found several more just laying around…


After loading up another half bucket, we loaded the truck bed one more time and then paid our bucket fees to Diane before heading back to the parking lot at Chaney Creek Access. Some dealers were starting to pack up to head home, so we did some more shopping…then discovered that John had suffered a traumatic injury while we were out that morning…he was cracking open a large geode for someone with his hydraulic geode cracker, when a large rock splinter came off the geode and penetrated the towel he had the geode wrapped in…likely speared thru that, and then penetrated the heavily padded welders gloves he was wearing and lodged inside his ring finger. He told me that they were able to remove the splinter, and he applied a copious amount of neosporin to the wound, and then wrapped it well. i told him he had done well in that respect and it appeared he had controlled the bleeding as well. Others were pushing him to go to the area hospital and get stitches, but he was hesitant to do so, asking my opinion of it, I guess due to my experience as a firefighter. I let him know that in my experience, I never had stitches for wounds like that, and I had had plenty of them…that I had merely done what he had done..applied neosporin heavily and then wrapped up the wound….neosporin is some great stuff and works wonders on healing up such types of injuries. I asked him if there were any medics on scene, and he said there were some in a trailer a little ways down in the parking lot, but they had both gone into town for some supplies, he said he would have them look at it on their return. They returned about an hour later and gave John the same prognosis I had….he was relieved because he really didn`t want to have to go get stitches. 

In the meantime, Chuck decided to lend his muscles to one of John`s hometown friends, Jamie, and they continued to crack open geodes for folks that brought them to John. This continued most of the afternoon until everything wound down and then we were able to load up and head over to Macomb to check out some areas for rock and mineral collecting. We had about 90 min left before the sun set…Rockhound Bill and Debbie went with us as well as a female friend of Johns named Abigail.  I didn`t shoot any photos til the sun started setting there, here you see a pile in the middle that Bill and Debbie were checking out….


From here we bid John and Abigail goodbyes as they were heading back to Rock Falls from there and we headed back to Keokuk to our hotels to get cleaned up and then go find some place to eat at…problem is that Keokuk rolls its sidewalks up on Sunday nights. After checking in to the Super 8, where Chuck, Josh, and I were staying, we discovered that the place next door, the former Golden Corral, was now a bar and grill called Vs…so we decided to check it out instead of going to a fast food place. We called Bill and Debbie, who met us there instead…lo and behold they had great food there. I had the chicken fingers and fries, and let me tell you, they believe in feeing you there, plus it was not high priced either. We decided to sleep in a bit the next morning…Bill and Debbie were going to take us to a private location nearby…I woke up around 8 am and went down to clean up the truck and re-arrange the bed load too. Josh woke up about an hour later and we met Chuck over at V`s for a hearty breakfast, leaving us enough time to gas up and get Josh an extra pair of jeans at Walmart, then head to the meeting spot, which we amended to a different location soon after. Bill and Debbie soon showed up at that location and we followed them down to the creek location that they were taking us to…we quickly parked and headed down to the creek with them to see what we could find…



…we walked upstream past this wall and to the railroad bridge over the creek, watching a passing BNSF Industrial Lead train pass by overhead…..


…..Josh and Chuck walked up above the bridge to see what they could find while Bill, Debbie, and I walked back down to the wall…I found a couple of softball sized geodes in the bank on the way to the high wall. Pretty soon Josh and Chuck returned and we all decided to work the wall and see what we could find…here you see Josh up above us checking out the higher part of the wall…


…and Bill checks the lower wall for geodes, while Chuck watches from the creek…



…here are some of the geodes we were looking for…in a line down low on the wall and another line of them up higher, out of our reach….



..some were whole and nearly out of the wall, so we had to get our hammers and chisels out to chip these out of the wall…as we did, the sun really began to warm up and this wall was going to be in the sun all day long…needless to say, we got a good workout in getting a few nice ones out of the wall..mm


..and here is Chuck patiently working a nice geode half out of the wall….




…we decided to wrap it up shortly after this…here are a couple of Chucks really nice one that he chipped out after a lot of patience and hard work….looks like a small snowball of quartz inside it….



..and a couple of my finds as well….


we decided to go north to another creek location or two, but after driving over there, we discovered that the 14 inches of rain received by central Iowa locations the day before, was making the Des Moines River rapidly rise to bank full in many places, which in turn was going to make it nearly impossible for us to collect in those areas…we finally found one creek where we were invited to search by local residents in the Bonaparte area…while we did find a few, none of us have cracked any open to figure out what is inside them…I will keep you posted on that tho. From here, Chuck and I decided to head home about 3 pm, so we loaded up and took off for our respective homes…stopping off in Hannibal at the Caseys Store, across from one of Hannibals Fire Stations….


…..to gas up and grab some eats…Chuck texted me about 7:15 pm to let me know he had made it home safe and sound, five minutes before Josh and I rolled into my driveway. We were soooo tired that we left the truck loaded til the next morning. After a good long soak in the hot tub, my bed never felt better and I was sound asleep soon after. We did manage to sleep in the next morning tho. 🙂






Justin Comes to Visit

Back in July, my good friend Justin emailed me to see if he could come visit with me and asked if I would take him rockhunting here in Missouri. I met Justin a few years ago on one of my annual trips to the Hot Springs area of Arkansas…one of my quartz crystal excursions in the fall time, and we quickly hit it off and became good friends. I met him in the parking lot that evening shortly after I arrived at the condo I stayed at on Lake Hamilton. I brought him some flats of Missouri crystals and minerals and told him back then to come visit with me and I would take him rockhunting up here…so he was finally taking me up on the offer. Justin is a neat guy, very mature acting for his young age…he works in what some of us would consider a stressful job…hospice care…a very vital and caring field these days and one that is much appreciated as well by many….so I highly respect him even more for choosing such a field to work in. He drove up a few weeks ago on a Friday and arrived early evening…he checked out my collection inside the house that evening since it got dark soon after his arrival, and then the next day checked out my rock gardens during the daylight. I have heard many refer to my interior collection, like ” walking thru a museum ” but Justin thought the outside gardens were like a museum as well, although they could prob use some weeding and its been way too hot for that this summer.

We decided to drive down to Eminence the next morning, getting up and headed out by 7 am, stopping off at the donut shop so I could get one of my favorite donuts, the unfilled white icing long john with nuts sprinkled on top, and a chocolate milk. Soon after, Onyx, Justin, and I were heading west to Rolla and then turned south on 63 toward Eminence. They had done some blasting there a few weeks before and I told him that maybe they would have that pile cleaned up to where we could check the lower wall for dogtooth pockets, as we had found several in that wall there years prior. As we started down into the Jacks Fork River valley, we noticed some heavy fog and I told Justin that we might have some fog at the quarry as well, and sure enough we did have just a little bit of it when we arrived soon after, stopping off briefly in town at the Sinclair Station to get some water for Onyx that I forgot to bring….here you see Justin halfway up the pile finding some nice calcites…


…he had his boots on when we arrived, so he took off and started walking and searching for crystals before grabbing a bag or anything to put them in….he was too excited to even grab his gloves or tools…as you can see, he made do with his shirt tail when he started finding them up there…..like a kid in a candy store believe me…..







…and as you can see from the photos above, the blast pile was hugely still there, little had been worked to remove it…stretching back to the west much as it was the last time I was there. Soon I had my boots on and grabbed my gloves, tools and a bag and headed up into the base of the pile…and soon I was finding alot of dogtooth crystals, or what I would refer to as wanna be dogtooth crystals, five to ten inches long and a beautiful nestle chocolate brown color to them…many were upside down in what appeared as pockets blasted down from the wall intact and held in place by dirt, much,and rock around them. It appeared they had been uncovered by the machinery recently, because they sure were not to be found or seen when I was there last…Justin was hollering every few minutes about finding something here and there, showing me some of his finds…..


…..and finally made his way back to the bottom with this shirt full of crystals…


…one thing was for sure, we sure had a beautiful day to collect there….gorgeous sky and nice weather, but it was warm just without the humidity if I recall correctly…but we did eventually warm up….


…I pointed out the coved wall and told Justin that when MAGS was there in April, the quarry personnel had cleaned off the upper ledges and hundreds of dogtooth crystals landed down below on the floor and in the smaller piles near the coved wall….so he migrated over there to see what he could find…


…and actually did pretty good this time as well, eventually having to use his hat this time since he shed his now dirty shirt for the heat….I had forgotten to tell him about the short cleft wall we had pulled down with prybars when the Tyler Club was there with me, mainly to make it safer, but we also found pockets behind it and Justin was able to find several under the rocks in that area, many that made him happy. 🙂  

Here are some of my finds that morning just doing some surface collecting mainly….1718






That cluster up above was one that I just found sitting in the pile and picked up…has a little damage to it but very nice spray looks like…I dont have it cleaned up yet or would post a photo of it, but will eventually….


…I also found a few small orange dogtooth crystals too, here and there….


Justin had so much good luck on the right side of the coved wall, that he went back over there and looked some more, and found even more good stuff, this time using his hands and arms to hold them…


…then we moved back over to the big pile to look for more dogtooths…by the time we finished I had four bags full of them and I know Justin had more than I did, he was ecstatic over them too. 🙂  Pretty soon he was back up near the top of the pile looking for more….


…by this time, it was approaching 1 pm and we wanted to go to Rocky Falls and cool down a bit, then go see my buddy Dave so I could show Justin the pretty minerals and crystals that come out of the Viburnum Trend Doe Run owned mines just north of Eminence, so we did a little high grading….or I should say Justin did….






…and then we headed over to Rocky Falls for a bit of a cool down…found a church group there…we hiked up to the top for the bigger view….






..and then we drove up to see my friend Dave, where Justin learned even more about lead minerals from the Viburnum Trend in Missouri. all in all a great day. The next day we drove down to the druse spot near Viburnum…we didnt get an early start, slept in a bit as we were wore out from the day before. I had told Justin all about this location, assured him he would have no problem finding some nice stuff to take home, depending on what colors he liked in druse quartz…I think he was a bit skeptical of me…but within about five minutes of arriving, all that skepticism went right out the window. Onyx and I were up on the hill above him and we could hear him talking about it…sometimes to me…sometimes to Onyx…and sometimes I think, to himself…I even captured it on video…


…just click on download file and let it load up, then click on it and it will open and play full screen for you. Took Justin a while, but he finally made it about halfway up the hill to where Onyx and I were hunting….




…he was like a kid in a candy store and fun to watch…I dont believe I have ever seen one person so enthusiastic about finding druse quartz at this location especially !! I also dont believe I have ever seen anyone load up as much druse quartz to take home with him from this location…he was starting to worry about having enough room in his car for it all by the time we got done.  In the meantime, I was finding some nice stuff up the hill and to the south a little ways from him…


…next thing you know, Justin is halfway up the hill toward us, as Onyx and I are starting to move to the south to search the erosion ditches on the hillside…


…and then I found a smokey druse pocket….


….at the same time,  Justin made it to the top of the hill and then checked out a freshly dug out area, where he also found some nice smokey plates and a ton of other nice stuff including some bubbles that he was searching for. A couple of hours later and we were fairly exhausted…Justin had a few buckets full plus his backpack, and I had a couple of bags full of wrapped pieces.  We drove up to the Caseys Store and took a snack and water break. 

From there we drove over to the Bixby Quarry to see if we could find some poker chips or dogtooth crystals…while we were searching for pockets, Onyx decided to go wading and swimming….

01-onxy-goes-wading0403bJustin got his hard hat on and took off up to check out the old pockets at the base of the west wall and started exploring…due to his size, he was able to squeeze into some of the smaller pockets and pull some crystals that remained in them, out of them….






…I looked down at my feet and was surprised to see golden rod growing in the floor of the quarry….see it in the fields all the time, never expected to see it growing out of the rocks….



By this time, I was quickly running out of energy, having spent most of it at the druse spot and using up much of the rest of it trying to find Justin a dogtooth pocket so he could take home some beauties….its great to receive minerals and crystals as gifts but everyone likes to find them on their own even more, the thrill of pulling them out of a pocket is just much more exhillarating. I wasnt able to find anything substantial, so Justin decided to try the wall on the north side, which is more vuggy and has produced many of the huge pockets I have found in the past. He walked over and came in from the top, taking my advice on how to reach the bottom, watching for plates of druse quartz that are often found over there…he did….



…and after about an hour over there, he finally had a shirt full of crystals and was ready to leave as well….


I`m not sure, but I think I was more worn out than he was…but a good meal at Missouri Hick really helped us both out and restored us just a little bit and the hot tub finished it up later on. After sleeping in again on Monday morning, Justin took some time to pack his car from the front seat to the trunk and then set off for home at noon, arriving about eight hours later safe and sound.  It was great seeing him and rockhunting with him once again. See ya again in November Justin !!


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….


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….


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…


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.


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….




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…..


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….









….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….



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


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



….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….


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






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….


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…


…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….


…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…


…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….


…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…..



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….


…..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….


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….


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


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


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….



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


…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….


…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….









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…


…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….


..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…







…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…









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….


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


…..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….


…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. 


Green Poker Chip Pocket at Eminence

Friday afternoon I received word from my buddy Jim in Eminence, that more activity had occurred at the quarry that morning. Since I had to work that weekend, I let my buddy Chuck Reed know about it and he decided to drive down Sunday morning and see what he could find. I had driven down there the weekend before and discovered then, that more activity had occurred on the west wall of the quarry again, but they were drilling up on top of the wall between the cove and the west wall, and that wall had been full of dogtooth crystals pockets some years back. I let Chuck know this and wished him well. I called him Sunday evening on my way to work to see how he did, and he told me that he did pretty good, so I decided to take Onyx…despite the forecasted heat…and drive down Monday afternoon and see what I could find. After dealing with morons all Sunday night at work, I got a good five hour nap in Monday and then we headed south to Eminence. Here is what it looked like when we arrived…the cove is on the right side and to the left it tapers down to the ” West Side “, which you really cannot see in this photo below……

32 New Blast

I parked about midway down and rolled the windows down, got my boots on, my apron on, and took the next few photos with my camera….

01 Coved Wall02 Blast Area Just West of Cove

…and the next photo shows the activity on the newly created ” west side ” of the quarry…

03 New Blast Area West of Cove

…after that I started hearing some rumblings of thunder just to the north of the quarry, and started studying the clouds above…to see which way it was moving…took awhile to figure it out cause they were moving extremely slow to the southwest…too bad, cause that blast pile was extremely dusty looking and I would have had no problem sitting in the truck waiting for a good washing off. I also started seeing some neat sunbeams…aka windows to Heaven…all over and above the quarry…I took them as a good sign…and maybe more than that….

07 Sunbeam City10 Sunbeams to West

Beautiful Sunbeams on Arrival

…everyone that knows me, knows I LOVE sunbeams, sunsets, and sunrises…pretty much in that order, rainbows too, but they are much rarer to capture….and my Dad knew that I liked sunbeams too…and here I was at one of my favorite places to rockhunt at and within a few minutes, sunbeams started popping out all over the top of that quarry….

13 Sunbeams

14 Sunbeam City15 Sunbeams Before Storm

…and I took that as a good sign of things to come and more…this happened yesterday and today is my Dad`s birthday. Onyx and I took a quick sashay around the front of the blast pile to see if we could find anything interesting, looked at the big boulders in the pile and checked for vugs..didnt see anything worthwhile, so I left my bag down near the bottom and climbed up along the wall starting on the west side to check the walls out for pockets….

17 Started On West Side

18 Moved Across to East Side

…and moved to the east side along the wall…finding very little of anything but the calcite that looks either rotten or ill formed, or looks like it belongs in a cave. I moved all the way across the east side and then came to a point sticking out….



…and as soon as I rounded that corner sticking out, I spotted about four pockets, but only one really caught my eye, due to the content of it that was plainly visible to my eye…

20 Pockets To Right of Broken Wall

If you can see my red handled mini mattox in the photo above, look to the left of that about ten feet to see the pocket I saw….if you still cant see it, here it is below…

24 Pocket of Poker Chips in Red Druse

…filled with greenish brown poker chips nestled in red dolomite druse and several came out nice and intact, while some did look like they had some blast damage, which does happen from time to time. Shortly after cleaning it out, which took about 30 minutes to do, I looked back to check on Onxy in my truck below….

29 Truck in Cove

…and then pulled this huge center plate out of the pocket, revealing two smaller pockets behind it…which took only a few minutes to clean out each one of them, and then we headed for home, stopping off for ice cream at the Bourbon Family Center and then on home for a late supper. If you have any questions or just want to give me a shout, my email addy is jwjphoto7@gmail.com 

Tyler Texas Gem and Mineral Club in Missouri Late July

The first morning of my vacation in early July, I was standing on the front porch of a landowner`s bed and breakfast near Bismarck, Arkansas, talking to him and Andrew Stauber, new rockhunting friend from Conway, about an old lead and copper mine located on the property. The landowner was showing us photos of the old mine back in its heyday and telling us what could be found there, when my cellphone rang. Not expecting a call that morning, I answered it and found WC Mc Daniels on the other end, the club President for MAGS…the Memphis Club I am a member of…and he wondered if I might be available to take the Gem and Mineral Club from Tyler, Texas, out rockhunting, as they were going to be up in Missouri later in July. I told him what weekends I had free in the few weeks ahead and then he asked where I was right then, and I told him I was checking out an old mine near Hot Springs, something I am sure he is used to hearing me say these days. He said he would put the Tyler bunch in touch with me next week and let me go to check out the old mine there a bit more. We actually decided against walking up the hill to check it out that day, due to the weather being very suitable for copperheads and water moccasins, both of which the landowner said were very prevalent near the old mine lately..me being allergic to both, we decided to bypass this exploration til the fall time when it would be cooler and more likely not to see any of them.

A week later, I received a call from Fred Mahaffey, the Field Trip Director for the Tyler Mineral Club and worked it out that his group could come up the weekend of my birthday to go rockhunting with me. The following weekend they were going to be on the other side of the state at Lincoln, to dig for Missouri`s state gemstone, Mozarkite, however I had to work that weekend, so they decided to come up a week before and stay over. On Saturday morning, the 23rd, I was already committed to something else, so I agreed to meet them at the Caseys Store in Cuba at 3:30 pm…Onyx and I arrived to find them compacted into two pickup trucks, and after introductions, we headed south to the druse spot in the Viburnum area. It was extremely hot out there, and I had already been outside much of the morning, but had kept hydrated and was hoping the heat would relent a bit or provide us with a bit of a breeze, so we could do some decent hunting out there. Alas, that did not happen, and while there was drusy everywhere to be found, and they found plenty of it, we only lasted about ninety minutes in the heat. I had taken them an assortment of crystals from Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky, from my travels, and let them go thru them and pick out whatever they wanted to keep. The rest of the material was placed in the truck of one of the members to take back to the rest of their members. Everyone headed back to their motels and campgrounds, some were staying in Rolla motels and some were staying at a campground near Steelville…we decided to meet at 6 am the next morning at Rolla for the Eminence Quarry trip.

Onyx and I got up early Sunday morning and drove up to Rolla, arriving at the JC Penney parking lot at four minutes to 6 am…and found the Texas rockhounds waiting for us and raring to go hunt on a much cooler morning. I had brought them some more material, in case we didnt find anything at the quarry this morning, which sometimes can happen, and I also brought them a nice quartz cluster from my favorite mine in the Mt Ida area, for their club collection as well. We headed south, stopping off at Licking for a bathroom break and then continued south to Eminence, finding the Jacks Fork Valley completely socked in with heavy fog as we dropped down the hill into the Alley Spring holler and crossed over the Jacks Fork River. I figured we would find fog at the quarry as well, but was pleasantly surprised to only find a cool shade waiting for us there…..









I told them as long as the shade stayed with us, we would be much cooler, but when the shade disappeared, we would need to as well, cause that sun would be unbearably hot by then…everyone spread out and started looking for poker chip crystals…a few of us walked down to the western side to check the recent blast area but found very little…and then we wandered back to the walls inside the shaded coved area…


Kenny, the guy in the blue shirt and hard hat above, and I, walked over to the east wall of the coved area and I showed him some of the pockets that I had worked there two weeks before…Fred wandered over and looked them over as well. I told them how you can look into older pockets along the wall and sometimes other openings and pockets will open up in the walls behind them, hiding even more pretty crystals and sometimes some neat looking dolomite and calcite druse plates and pieces too. We started working the area I had been in two weeks before….


…while some of the gals were working the berm piles looking for crystals…which a lot of folks take for granted, but a few months before when MAGS was there, we were finding dogtooth crystals all over the place including those berm piles…..


..Kenny and I worked a few pockets there and did a little clean up along there as well, then when we finished, Fred came over and started working some pockets up higher as well….


…and here are a few photos of what Fred was able to extricate from the walls there….



…while Fred was working his pockets, the rest of us were taking it easy and cooling down with water and snacks…I took a few minutes to look over the flat of Texas agates and black palmwood that they brought me from Texas….



…and a few minutes later, when the shade left us, we left as well, headed north to see my buddy Dave, to show them what Viburnum Trend minerals look like, including the fab double terminated green and yellow calcite crystals encased in pyrite that have been coming out of the Fletcher Mine lately…they were very taken with the minerals and crystals he had on hand and purchased several from him. On the way up there, I had a buzzard take off in flight from the road right in front of me as I crested a hill…feathers flew and there was a pretty hard thump, and he spiraled up and over my truck and to the grassy shoulder on the far side of the road…I stopped a few miles down the road to check my grill, thinking I might have a damaged headlight…but to my surprise, I had no damage to the headlight or the grill. From Daves house, they headed back to their motel rooms and campers, and Onyx and I headed home…took a nap, and then I drove back up to Cuba to MO Hick to meet them for supper there. I invited them all down to my house the next morning to look at my collection and they decided to come down about mid morning. Like everyone else, they thought my house looked like a museum and really enjoyed my rock gardens. They were going to stick around a few days and then drive over to Lincoln to look for Mozarkite.

I heard from Fred a few days ago, seems they had very good luck at Lincoln, their guide there had just dug out an electric line underground to his house, and they were able to find some nice stuff in that ground cut. He also asked if they could join me on my vacation trip to the Hot Springs area in November, they are interested in getting some nice quality quartz crystals and novaculite for cutting material…so I am sure I will see some of them down there then. 🙂

If anyone else is interested, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com