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 


Pocket City Wall at Eminence

Onyx and I had not been rockhunting for a few weeks, so we drove down to Eminence on Sunday May 29th to see what we could find there. My buddy Jim had been laid up recovering from surgery and so I had no information on the quarry down there, just figured we would drive down and check things out. We got a later start, and arrived about 10 am, finding that the entire west side of the quarry where they had been pushing the hilltop back lately, had been terraced and walls of rock replaced all the clay dirt…..



…the first photo shows the far west end of the area and the lower photo shows the right side of the new area going into the coved wall. I laced my boots up and grabbed my tools and gloves and started a surface hunt from left to right and when I reached the short wall on the right side, had quite a surprise…pockets all over it….


…and I don`t even know if the photo above even does it justice, as the pockets were hard to see until you walked right up on the wall. I was able to photograph several of the pockets as I worked on them as you will see from here on….here are a few of the first ones I started working….

04 19



…and pretty soon it was evident I was going to be there for quite a while, because after working several pockets that were visible, I discovered there were one to two pockets more behind the pocket I was working on, hence the name pocket city….so I grabbed another bag of cloths and a bottle of water and kept on pulling crystals from pockets….


…pulling plates of crystals like these out…







…including some nice black dogtooth crystals….


…and this unique pocket too…


All in all, after four hours, I had six bags full of wrapped crystals and plates, some gorgeous stuff, will post some more photos as soon as I can of them cleaned up. 

MAGsters Rockhunt Missouri 2016

Members of MAGS, the Memphis Archaeological and Geological Society, a club I am a member of as well, came up to Missouri two weeks ago to go rockhunting with me in the Viburnum and Eminence areas. Also on that day, I was contacted by Bill from Rockhoundbill Blogspot….he had contacted me the week before by email, said he was an avid fan of my rockhunting blog site…this site….and that he enjoyed my stories and photos…I was floored, because I had been reading his site recently about some locations he had been to recently, and told him that I enjoyed reading his stories too. He and his girlfriend Debbie were up in the KC area at that time and would be traveling back to the Chicago area by way of the scenic route, they were planning to drive to Potosi to look for druse…I advised him that they might want to avoid that area, because recently many locations where we used to be able to go to and collect both druse and barite at, had become closed to rockhunters. Many of those areas are very rural properties, they have become infested with meth labs and overzealous rockhounds, so property owners in that area are no longer tolerant of rockhounds on their property there. I suggested that he instead join MAGS members on their druse hunt in the Viburnum area…he and Debbie stopped off at my home to visit with me and see my outside rock collection. Before heading on to Potosi for the night, they decided they would drive over to Viburnum the next morning to join MAGS as members and go with us for the druse hunt. 

Many of the MAGsters drove up on Friday afternoon, April 1st, some camping out in various areas, some staying in motel rooms…. Onyx and I drove down early Saturday morning to meet them at the Casey`s Store in Viburnum.  We arrived a few minutes before 8 am and soon after, Bill and Debbie showed up, and then some of the MAGS members started showing up as well. WC, the club President, had told me a week earlier that he was not sure how many were coming up for the trip, he figured it might be a small group, but as more and more folks showed up, I decided we had better relocate to the parking lot just north of the Casey`s, before we completely filled the Casey`s parking lot and smothered the small business.

While waiting for some of the members who had spent the night in Park Hills, Bill and Debbie joined the MAGS Club and I was able to meet Charles Hill, the Field Trip Director for MAGS..I have been talking to him for months but had no idea what he looked like and vice versa I am sure for him…it was nice to finally put a face to the emails. My friends Carrie, Jeff, and Bentley from the KC area, arrived soon after, camping just north of Viburnum, and I was able to visit with them as well. WC and a few other members arrived soon after from Park Hills, bringing Betty Marler with them…I hadn`t seen Betty in a couple of years and wondered how she was doing. One of her nephews brought her over to join us and she looked and sounded just great…it was a real joy to visit with her that day, she and her husband Lloyd were some of the founding members of the Park Hills Mineral Club, they host the Park Hills Show at the old Federal Mine each year, which over the years has become a well attended and well liked show each year in June.

We soon were all headed down the road to the druse location, everyone following me in single file and we soon arrived there…I pulled over and directed everyone into the entrance, some driving up a small hill to the right and others pulling in to the left side to park…we had several vehicles but had plenty of room for all to park off the road. From there, everyone booted up, grabbed tools and buckets and headed out in different directions to hunt for druse quartz….

03010205 Bill and Debbie of Chicago


…while there, one of the local neighbors, who lives on down the road, and had invited us to her property when we finished collecting there the year before. stopped by to visit with us and see how we were doing. After collecting there all morning, we drove over to a second location, an area that I have often referred to as the secret spot. There were some MAGsters who had inquired about getting some larger druse, and so we drove over there because as Onyx and I had discovered a few weeks prior on a scouting trip, there were several large chunks of druse quartz there, and the members that drove over there looking for them, found several nice ones to take home with them. We were there for a couple of hours and then I led a few of the rockhounds still with us, down to the home of a good friend of mine who is a Viburnum Trend mineral dealer…he doesn`t charge an arm and a leg and is very knowledgeable about the minerals that come from the area mines as well. He had several pyrite encased double terminated calcite crystal pieces as well as lead cubes…..

01 Calcites With Marcasite08 Pocket 31 Pieces14 Pyrite & Chalco Calcite PiecesCrystals Available For Purchase 3

….and those who purchased from him left very happy. Most of the MAGSters headed to Salem or Eminence to spend the night, while Onyx and I headed home, scheduled to meet them at Eminence the next morning at 8:30 once again. Once home, I loaded up the bed of my truck with twelve buckets of grab bag material for the club`s annual show which is held the last weekend in April each year. 

Early the next morning, a fire truck woke me up going by my house at 4 am, enroute to a house fire north of town…Onxy and I drove out to the location, where I photographed the fire for the local paper….which I do quite often. It was a devastating fire, the family escaping with only the clothes on their backs and had to break in a front side window to get their grandson out as well. 

02 Fully Involved on Arrival

Forty five minutes later I was back home, editing up a few photos for the paper before heading south to Eminence to meet the MAGSters at the quarry. Onyx and I took Hwy 63 down there and came down Hwy 106 from Summersville…when we reached the top of the hill above the Jacks Fork River, there were some redbud trees fringing the side of the highway and down below, I could see fog rising above the water of the stream illuminated by the light of the rising sun….

08 Jacks Fork River09 Hwy 106 Near Alley Spring Mill


…and soon we dropped down the hill and I decided to stop and stretch our legs a bit, see if there was some fog down at the spring pond by the Alley Springs Mill as well….

11 Alley Spring Mill15 Alley Spring Mill

…lo and behold, there was a nice mist coming up off the waters there…..

17 Alley Spring Mill18 Alley Spring Mill19 Alley Spring Mill

..and then we drove on over to the quarry, arriving a little after 8 am, to find a couple of members from Mississippi there waiting, and soon after, Charles, Mike, and a few others arrived, having spent the night in Eminence. It was about thirty minutes later that the members who spent the night in Salem, arrived…finding out that Highway 19 is a bit curvy and hilly, requiring one to slow down from the Shannon County line south…soon after arriving, we all proceeded down to the coved wall area of the quarry….

23 Eminence Quarry

…..and spread out to look for goodies, which were high in abundance that day, including many dogtooth crystals found laying all over the place, prime for the picking….


24 Eminence Quarry26 Eminence Quarry2930

I walked up on the knob in front of Charles in the middle of the center mass of rock and found a pocket at the base of it…everyone was busy with their own finds, so I grabbed my new mini mattox and was able to dig it out shortly after….


…soon after that, Chuck Reed and his daughters and wife showed up from the St Louis County area…Chuck and his daughter Mackenzie recently joined MAGS…he and I are also members of one of the St Louis area clubs, however MAGS is very proactive with field trips for its members where many clubs these days are not…field trips can be the very lifeblood of a club these days. We hunted there for another couple of hours before folks started heading for home…while I was out helping others find some nice crystals to take home with them…Bob Cooper, the Membership Director for MAGS, transferred the many buckets of grab bag material that I had transported down there in my truck, over to his heavy duty diesel truck to transport back to Memphis. If you find yourself down in the Memphis area the last weekend in April looking for something to do and see, The Earth Wide Open is a great rockhound show to attend there, something for adults as well as the kids. More info can be found on the show at www.theearthwideopen.com 

We were finding alot of dogtooth crystals laying all over the floor of the quarry, as well as in several of the berms next to the walls…there were many pockets high up on the wall and it appeared the they had likely rolled out of the pockets and fell to the floor, many of them undamaged by the fall. Needless to say, many who found them, were quite happy with their finds, much easier to pick them up then to have to work a wall pocket to find them. Chuck and his family followed me up to my mineral dealer`s home shortly after everyone took off for home, and we purchased a few more crystals there before heading home as well. A long weekend for sure, but a very worthwhile and nice time visiting with good friends.

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


Took My Buddy Mark Bishop to Eminence

A few weeks ago my buddy Mark Bishop from northern Georgia, emailed me and told me he heard that MAGS, the Memphis based club I am a member of, was going to be coming up to Missouri to do some rockhounding, and taking some other trips in the southeast as they often do throughout each year, so he decided to join MAGS to reap the benefits. I told him, as I have told him and countless others in the past, MAGS is by far one of the best clubs I have joined, their members are some of the nicest people I have met in the rockhunting hobby and many are good friends now as well. Mark said he and one of my other buddies in northern Georgia, Jeff Deere, wanted to come up and rockhunt with me at Eminence that weekend as well….Jeff has been talking about getting up here for a while now to hunt with me…he is affectionately known as Jeffadilla to a close circle of friends of ours and named by Mike Streeter, a good rockhound friend from North Carolina and geologist as well….if you ever saw Jeff digging, you would know why we call him that.

Mark was going to be driving up to KC to see his sister and Mom, wanted to check and see if I had the weekend off to take him to Eminence as well. I checked my calendar and just happened to be off that weekend, so I told him that Onyx and I would meet him at Eminence about mid morning on Saturday the 20th. I contacted my buddy Jim Bay, who recommended lodging in Eminence that Mark could stay at on Friday night, and then Jim called me a few days later to tell me that a blast had occurred so we would have fresh material to comb thru, plus the weather was going to be about 75 degrees down there that day…a win win for us. Onyx and I got up about 6 am and were on the road soon after stopping by the donut shop and headed to Rolla, then south to Salem and Eminence. I don`t mind taking Hwy 19 from late fall to early springtime since the traffic is always sporadic down thru there at best, and there is no construction traffic to contend with on the weekends. Modot is in the process of replacing three bridges about ten miles north of Eminence from the Round Spring Park to the Current River State Park, and rebuilding the roadways as well, plus the state is building a new state park right in the middle of all the road and bridge work. Mark called before I reached Rolla to say he had finished breakfast, checked out of the cabin there and asked if I minded him ambling over to the quarry to start looking…I just chuckled, figured he wouldn`t be able to wait on me. 

We made good time getting down there, despite a little fog just south of Rolla on Hwy 72, arriving a little after 8 am. This is the view from the east side looking west…the last time I was down there, the ramp from the east side to the coved wall was completely blocked and covered in rock scattered all over the floor from the prior blast, which was centered on the east side of the nose rock sticking out there…

03 Looking West

…and this time the blast was just east of that one…..

04 Looking North New Pile

05 Looking NE

Mark was already working over some small boulders near the wall at the back of the blast pile when we arrived…..after changing into my boots, I grabbed my tools and bags and started walking the pile to see what I could find as well. We found a few spots where there were obvious signs of a pocket at some point, possibly one that had landed intact for the most part with some damage resulting in the fall from above, but several crystals intact and beautiful…and many of them were green poker chip crystals…which we find alot of on that side of the quarry, yet most of the time, we have found that the green crystals shatter more easily. One has be extremely careful when chipping the green crystals out of the pockets, placing your chisel way back from it in order not to break it while chipping it out. I rarely am able to get one out intact with no blemishes. After a couple of hours, I had filled two bags with crystals already, and had a few bigger ones as well…the day was heating up into the 70`s. I stopped for a water break, grabbed another bag, and Mark joined me in walking the wall to look for pockets. We found some nice ones on the east side of the pile and I was able to chip some nice combos out of  them to give to Mark….

17 Pocket I Found and Worked

14 Onxy and I Working a Pocket

16 Pulled This Combo From That Pocket







15 Pulled This Combo From That Pocket

…and while we were over next to that pocket, Mark found another plate with two or three large green poker chips nestled in some pretty druse as well….he took the photos of me above working the pocket I found, and I took these pics of him holding the plate that he found….

01 Mark With One of his Clusters02 Mark With One of his Clusters

…and after working the coved wall and other areas along the wall, he showed me his finds…he was one happy camper….and glad he had made the drive and stopped off to hunt with me…..

12 Crystals Mark Found13 Crystals Mark Found

…and from there, we drove up to visit with a friend of mine who sells Viburnum Trend minerals…he always has great material for sale and doesn`t charge an arm and a leg like some dealers will try to do. Mark picked out a few nice selections, getting a variety of minerals and crystals for his collection, including some of the greenish yellow double terminated calcite crystals encased in pyrite that came from pillar pockets at one of the mines and may never been seen again. I have several of those in my collection as well….

37 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite38 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite

39 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite40 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite



41 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite

05 Dbl Terminated Calcite & Marcasite


31 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite15 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite02 Yellow Calcites With Chalcopyrite







…from there, Mark headed north to I-70 and then west to KC….while Onyx and I headed home…shooting these beautiful sunbeams on the way….

06 Sunbeams On the Way Home07 Sunbeams On the Way Home

All in all, another great day of rockhounding with good friends and great weather….jwjphoto7@gmail.com if you would like to chat. 

Eminence Again on the 16th

After a few weeks of bad weather, flooding and then snow and ice, I decided to take Saturday the 16th off, so I could return to Eminence and do some rockhounding again. Nathaniel was out of the country with his chef activities and Chuck was tied up with his college classes and flooring work, so as soon as I got home from a long night at work and caught a three hour nap, Onyx and I headed south. We took the scenic route this time, driving down Hwy 72 from Rolla…got to take a look at Fugitive Beach, which is an old limestone quarry converted into a big commercial swimming hole now, and then south of Salem just inside of Shannon County, we got to see the new temporary bridge over Sinking Creek…Modot will be replacing the old Arched bridge over Sinking Creek soon…and the huge rainstorm we endured a few weeks ago, brought the floodwaters right up to within a few feet of the temporary metal bridge with a heavy mesh floor. The temporary bridge sits at least six feet lower than the old arched bridge, so maybe the new bridge will be as high as the old one or higher. Modot had also done some roadwork thru there, attempting to straighten out some curves due to the new state park entrance that is now located in that area, one entrance on the north side of Sinking Creek and one on the south side of the creek. They will have their work cut out for them there, cause that part of the road is so windy and hilly through there, that one has to slow down in many places to about 35 mph, and probably slower for those pulling campers and recreational vehicles as well. I do not drive down that way to Eminence in the spring, summer, or fall because there is always heavy traffic thru there then, and you can easily add an extra hour to the trip if you do. This time of the year tho, there is no one on the roads down there, we saw maybe two other vehicles down there that day before we reached Eminence about thirty min later. We did see a few deer and turkey and a few people outside their homes burning leaves and that was about it.

We arrived at Eminence about 1 pm and I had four hours of daylight to collect in….

01 Looking East

…so we didn`t waste any time getting started…above is the view to the east from the coved wall….my buddy Jim had told me Friday that there was no material on the ground that he could see, so no new blasting had taken place in a while…the last time we were there, they had material on the ground in three different areas to clean up and it was apparent that they had cleaned up that huge blast pile and the one to the right of it, both of which would have been visible in the photo above if they had still been there. In the middle of the coved wall tho, there were the remains of a small blast pile….

03 West Side Coved Wall

…and very little to the right of it….

02 Center Coved Wall

…so I decided to check the remains of that pile for pockets first and then make my way to the right…altho now, in retrospect, I wish I had started on the wall to the right first, and made my way to the left, cause I found some really nice dogtooth pockets along that wall to the right by the end of the day. When we arrived, there were also some folks on the far left side with a trailer, and some four wheelers, told Jim I thought they were four wheeling up at the top, but as it turned out, they were actually cutting trees up there and using the four wheelers to drag them down to the truck and trailer. They were up there all day too. When I reached the center of that pile, I found a huge boulder set into the loose stuff and a large opening in the boulder, where it appeared someone had found some nice stuff and pulled it out, leaving this huge opening in it….you can see it behind my truck over the top center below….

05 Pocket Under Boulder

…and closer up in the photo below….

06 Pocket In Hole

…I began checking the pocket and on the sides and top of the pocket, I found some beautiful poker chips with matrix encrusting and enveloping them, inseparable from the matrix, and soon I was pulling several out that had big and gorgeous dogtooth crystals sticking out from the ends of them as well, some were a bright orange color and some were a bright chocolate brown with some irredescent razzle dazzle to them. It took a couple of hours just to clean that pocket out, let me tell ya and then I was able to move over to that wall to the right, and when I did, I found four pockets in a row in a seam a few inches wide at the entrance, that looked very promising. By that time, the sun was beginning to set, and I had to work fast….

08 Setting Sun

…the pockets were along the bottom third of the wall and are only faintly visible in the photo below, right in the middle and above that white line across the bottom of the wall….

02A Pockets Along Bottom of Wall

..in short order tho, I was able to remove several small plates of orange dogtooth crystals and some larger brown ones as well, one pocket even had some green and brown mixed colors of calcite…I filled two bags of wrapped crystals pretty quickly and then Onyx and I got out of there, but not before snapping a few photos of my truck with the new Cooper tires on them that a friend had requested on the Tacoma website…Onyx decided to pose for me from the passenger seat so I snapped a few extras….in one photo he was licking his chops as if to say…” come on dad, lets get out of here, I`m hungry “…..

09 New Tires on Truck09A  New Tires on Truck10 New Tires on Truck11 Onyx Says I`m Hungry Lets Go



Life After Arkansas

Took all of two weeks after my return from Arkansas before I was driving down to Eminence once again, this time it was just Onyx and I making the trip. We arrived about 10 am and discovered one large blast pile right in the middle of the quarry, and two smaller piles remaining from prior blasts, one to the right and one over to the left in the coved wall area. This one was spread out extensively and covered the back road going around the crusher to the coved wall. It was huge and I photographed it from right to left in four photos….

01 On Arrival New Blast Pile in Middle02 On Arrival New Blast Pile in Middle03 New Blast Pile Cuts Off Back Road04 Piles All The Way Over to Dumpster

Onyx and I got out and stretched our legs a bit and then as I was getting ready to hunt, he got in a couple of wind sprints and then returned to walk up the right side of the new pile with me…within fifty feet I started finding crystals and clusters laying all over the place….I was finding so many initially that I decided to drive my truck over to that side as well…

05 New Blast Pile in Middle

…and took this photo looking back at the front side of the pile and how scattered the rocks were toward the entrance….

06 New Blast Pile Fringes

…within a few minutes, I had two bags full of loose crystals and small clusters, many appeared to have a white sugar frosting poured all over them…and I started finding several yard rocks toward the middle of the pile as well…some I carried over to the far side and stacked them up on the edge of the pile so I could simply drive over and pick them up later. I didn`t take my camera up there with me, and just got them cleaned up this weekend so will snap some photos of them once the soggy rains stop in the next day or two and post them on here. I can safely tell you that I was afraid I wasn`t going to have enough room in the bed of my truck nor enough wrapping cloths to protect them either. As it was tho, I had just enough room in the truck, utilizing the front and back floorboards for many of the yard rocks. Afterwards, I drove over to the coved wall area….

08 Coved Wall Remains of Blast PIle

…where there was a small pile remaining…very steep tho, so wasn`t gonna be climbing it up the middle.  I was able to scramble up the sides tho and check the wall for pockets, and near the top discovered a few small pockets with some beautiful red colored calcite crystals that resembled hexagonal nuts rather than poker chip formations. There were also some pockets with the calcite that resembles cavelike formations, most of those I left there due to damage to them. 

09 Coved Wall Remains Up Close

…I filled another bag here, giving me a total of six bags, five at the new blast pile…and many yard rocks…by this time I was ready to leave and head home to get a nap in and grab some dinner. First I had to drive back over to the western side of the new pile to load up the crystals I stacked up on the edge….

10 Can Only Go So Far

I was a bit soaked from the light rain that had begun to fall shortly after we arrived, and Onyx had stayed in the truck when I got over the coved wall area…by the time we were leaving, he was nearly all dry once again.  I changed shirts and into my street shoes before leaving, planning to stop off and see a new miner friend on my return, not wanting to track mud into his house….he had some interesting pieces that I had not seen before, and I was able to pick up a few of them from him, one was a very small set of twin calcite crystals with malachite color at the base of the crystals. I`ll get a photo of it posted soon as well.

Thru the week, I received emails from Nathaniel and Chuck, both asking if I intended to drive down there again the next weekend…I had a couple of holidays to burn before the end of the year, so I took Sunday off to make the return trip. Nathaniel rode down with Onyx and I, while Chuck and his daughter Mackenzie, drove down the scenic route of Hwy 21 and 106 to arrive shortly after Nathaniel and I did. It was Mackenzie`s first time there and I think she was pretty impressed with the place. Nathaniel and I had only been there a short while before they pulled in, enough time for me to scout out some in floor pockets for her to check out, with some nice looking loose crystals and small clusters laying on the surface. She and Chuck started digging in when I pointed it out to them…while Nathaniel took off to check out the coved wall pile, which looked much the same as it did the weekend before when I was there. He climbed up the right side of the pile and was checking out wall pockets when I glanced over there about an hour later. For whatever reason, probably because I simply forgot, I did not take any photos at all that day, but I can tell you that we all did well…I only filled one bag with crystals that I found, but they were very nice crystals and plates from a few pockets that I discovered down the east wall…and after picking up a few plates, I called Chuck over and let him work the rest of the plates out of it. There were a lot of druse pockets along the wall as well and I pulled a few nice plates of those out as well as some druse pieces with poker chips attached to them….those always make beautiful sparkly plates to display…I have about four shelves of them at home…they glitter in the light like you would not believe, and are second to dogtooths in my book. By 1:30 pm, we were tired and happy, and headed up the road to see one of my miner friends to see some new material…both Nathaniel and Chuck wanted to get some nice Viburnum Trend minerals and we were able to do just that. I`ll get some of those posted soon as well. This weekend I took advantage of the beautiful unseasonably warm weather for December to move some rocks around in the backyard and made room for more. Today while it was raining outside, I high graded my crystals on the inside and made room for more that I have collected recently, including my Arkansas quartz crystals. 

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


Another Dandy Dogtooth Pocket Day

Earlier this week I decided I was going to drive back down to the quarry at Eminence and see if I could find anything good, after checking out both of the most recent blast piles last Sunday, and finding some nice yard rocks. I figured after they stirred up both piles a bit, if they decided to work both piles evenly that is, that more material could be uncovered…little did I know what lay in store for me.

I had talked to Nathaniel and he decided to ride down with me and on the way down, he told me that he sure would like to find one of those chocolate brown colored dogtooth crystals….little did he know what lay in store for him. I always pray for a few things before I make each trip…I pray for a safe trip for Onyx and I, pray for no flat tires, and I pray that I will find some pretty crystals and minerals. Sometimes when I get where I am going and there is some rock overhanging a pocket in front of me, I will say a quick prayer to keep me out of harms way and when I find nice stuff, I thank God for that as well. On really hot days, when the wind stirs up and brings us a nice cool breeze, I thank God for turning on the fan, too…and I usually thank him for nice weather as well….I realize he is super busy, but I believe in keeping the lines of communication open.

We didn`t get a real early start yesterday morning, but as I told Nathaniel, it wasn`t gonna get light til about 7:30 am, and it was gonna be cooler than what we were used to so far, so if we arrived around 9 am, with full sun, that would give it time to warm up a bit. We loaded up the truck as the sun was rising prettily…..

01A Sunrise

On the way down there, we spotted two bald eagles in a tree top next to the highway near Houston…as soon as we passed them and confirmed it, I turned around and returned so we could both photograph them, pulling off the side of the highway to do so…..as I turned around, one took flight and passed overhead, leaving one in the tree for us….

02 Bald Eagle in Tree Near Houston

…we had to approach from the side so as not to spook him, and after a few seconds of snapping images, he took flight…we just kept shooting images….

06 Bald Eagle Takes Flight

07 Bald Eagle Takes Flight

…a local farmer stopped by to make sure we were okay and told us that there were alot more eagles that could be seen along the river at Houston. Nathaniel used his phone camera and I was shooting with my Nikon D200 and zoom lens. I wasn`t sure what I had in my images until I got home last night and looked at them after loading them into my computer, sometimes my autofocus doesn`t work as well as I would like it to…needless to say, I was pretty happy with my images of the eagle. As I told Nathaniel, I have never seen two eagles in a treetop like that, so I took that as a good sign for our day ahead.

We stopped shortly after that at Alley Spring Mill to see how it looked with the fall colors…, only finding one small maple tree in color nearby….

09 Alley Spring Mill

Shortly after, we arrived at the quarry and found the pile on the left side to be quite a bit less than when I was there the week before. The pile was steeper so there would be no climbing to the top, and we could see stuff sliding down so we both donned our hard hats and grabbed tools and bags….

11 Other Side of Pile

….setting out to check for signs of pockets. Nathaniel went to the right from the middle…..

10 Looking For Crystal Pockets

…..and I went to the left from the middle, stopping at a big boulder 20 feet from the middle, where it appeared that a few pockets were located, one under the boulder, and one or two on the left side of it……

12 My Pockets

…pretty soon, Nathaniel went past me to the left and set up camp about ten feet from me, finding some openings in what appeared to be a vuggy wall….

20 Working Our Pockets


…and pretty soon after that, he was telling me that he had some nice dogtooth crystals inside…

21A Nathaniel Works His Pocket


…..I had walked back to the truck to get my flashlight to look inside my pocket at the base of the boulder, and I grabbed my camera as well. When I returned to the wall to see what he had found, he was pretty excited and I saw that he had good reason to be excited…..

14 Nathaniels Pockets15 Nathaniels Dogtooths

JACKPOT !!!   I was excited for him and told him to get his phone out and photograph them before and after, then told him how to remove the ones that were anchored in there, after carefully removing the ones that were loose, and to go ahead and wrap them up soon after removing them if possible…yes Virgil, I told him to wrap them up, just as I wrap mine up as soon as I can after removing them from the pockets…and yes I told Nathaniel all about you, Virgil….lol….

16 Nathaniels Dogtooths

….I then returned to my pocket and said a quick prayer, that while I was glad Nathaniel had found a great pocket of dogtooth crystals, I would sure like to find something similar as well…

18 My Pockets


…..and what do you know…the next thing you know, I am pulling dogtooths out of my pocket soon after too….Nathaniel took some photos of me with my finds, every time I pulled a nice one out…

Me Holding Up Dogtooth From My PocketHappy Camper Me


….he said I was killing him pulling one after another out…as he was chipping that huge plate of his out of his pocket….

Cluster of Dogtooths Nathaniel Chipped Out


…and in no time at all, we had been working those pockets for about three hours, opening the mouths of the pockets pretty big from the small openings we started with. Nathaniel had to open his up big time to remove that huge plate that he was chipping out, that alone took him about thirty minutes to do. When I was finally able to open mine up more, I shined my flashlight inside to see what all I had yet to pull out, turned out to be about fifteen inches deep inside and almost two feet across, with a massive base of chocolate colored calcite latched on to the top of the boulder and pointing down, those were the singles I had pulled out before, having broke off the base and were just laying there when I started reaching into the vug. 

22 My Pockets

When that pocket ran out on me, I moved a few inches to the left and right and found a few more and then another pocket under the boulder on the left side of it, opened up….

19 My Pockets

…as I was checking it out, pulling a few plates of black and brown sparkly druse out, Nathaniel finally liberated that huge plate of dogtooth calcite crystals from his pocket, he turned around with it in his hands and a big smile on his face, and I snapped this photo of him holding it….

23 Nathaniel With His Huge Dogtooth Cluster24 Nathaniels Dogtooth Cluster

…and here is another photo of another nice one he pulled out of there as well….

Dogtooth Cluster Found By Nathaniel

….after a short water break, we loaded Onyx up and drove over to the other side and checked out the wall over there, and found some more nice pockets of dogtooth crystals once again, spending about 90 minutes before heading for home. I stopped off at Rocky Falls to see if there was any fall color there, and found some nice color and some kids there…..Nathaniel remembered swimming there as a kid growing up in the Ellington area….

26 Rocky Falls

28 Rocky Falls29 Rocky Falls Pond

…on our way home, we saw several deer including a doe and two fawns, both fawns were as big or bigger than their mama….sure was nice to see so much wildlife, made for an even better day. Here are a few of my crystals from my pockets Saturday…..

30 Double Terminated Dogtooth30A Double Terminated Dogtooth34A Large Single Standing Up31 Small Dogtooth34B Large Single Standing Up

32 Small Dogtooth Cluster35 Large Single Standing Up

38B Set of Three Dogtooths35A Large Single Standing Up37 Large Single Slim Dogtooth Up39 Set of Bubbles42 Calcite Druse Plate44 Calcite Druse Plate46 Dogtooth With Bubbled Base46B Dogtooth With Bubbled Base47 Dogtooth Standing Up48 Dogtooth Partially Exposed45A Dogtooth Twins51 Dogtooth Partially Exposed52A Brown Druse Piece54A Dogtooth With Crown

…and a closeup of Nathaniel`s huge cluster, that he photographed yesterday and sent to me……


Close Up of Nathaniels Huge Cluster

…..it still has him pretty excited…which is always a good thing. 🙂


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





Secret Spot and Eminence With Rockhound Friends

Last weekend I took a couple of rockhound friends to a couple of places I frequently go rockhunting at in central Missouri. One of my friends is from northern Georgia, I had the pleasure of digging with Mark Bishop at the first machine dig at the Eureka Mine this year, courtesy of a referral by good friend Jeff Deere, who wasn`t able to make it to the machine dig. Mark had mentioned to me that he would be driving up to Keokuk, Iowa in September to attend Geodefest and would love to stop by on his way home and go rockhunting with me if I had time. As soon as I got home, I cleared my calendar for that weekend so I could take Mark to the Secret Spot and to Eminence. A few weeks ago, one of my Kentucky rockhunting friends who is fortunate to live within an hour of the Eureka Mine, met a new rockhound at one of the public digs there, found out he was living in the St Louis County area, and referred him to me for information and put him in touch with me by email. Nathaniel, it turned out, is a renowned Pastry Chef and loves to collect the same thing I like to collect, pretty crystals and minerals…he had a really nice large specimen of fluorite given to him by a fan in Florida while he was living and working down there a few years ago, yet had no clue where it might be from. I gave him my opinion, that it appeared to have come from the southern Illinois mines, and we started talking about rockhunting…I found out that he had not been on any other field trips in quite some time if ever, and invited him to go with Mark and I. He was available that day and accepted.

I had to work the night before for a few hours, and then left early to come home and get a good nap in, prior to Nathaniel arriving about 7 am, followed shortly by Mark about 7:30 am. My carpenter Joe Johnson, arrived in between them to make a small repair on my kitchen ceiling and when he finished, we loaded up and headed down to the secret spot. It was a cloudy and cool morning, there was a threat of light rain possible, however the temps were pretty much perfect for a good workout ahead. After a brief stop at the donut shop, we arrived at the secret spot by 9 am…after showing them around and explaining things to them, they divided up and set out to explore the place and see what they could find. The water holes that I normally have to contend with there, were completely dried up and made walking around there much easier….

05 Secret Spot

…and that enabled us to dig into a few areas where there were indications of dogtooth crystals…while we found a few, it appeared that maybe we had only found the top of an old pocket that had mostly been removed way earlier….from there both Nathaniel and Mark wandered over to one of the walls to look for pockets….

01 Brandon & Mark Exploring Wall

…after a short water break, I wandered over to the wall below them a ways and looked for some pockets too…Nathaniel snapped a few of me doing just that….

Me Up On the Short WallMe Up On the Short Wall 2Me Up On the Short Wall 3

…..and soon enough, Nathaniel found a good pocket and was able to find some poker chips with matrix attached….the look on his face was priceless….

04 Brandon Finds Good Pocket

…shortly afterwards, we decided to pack up and head to Eminence and see what we could find there. Mark decided he was too worn out after the past few days at Keokuk, digging and lifting and hauling around some large geodes, so he decided to head for home from there, while Nathaniel and I drove over to visit with a good dealer friend of mine, who sells Viburnum Trend minerals. Nathaniel really liked what he saw there and picked up a few from him. We then headed on down to Eminence and arrived about 1 pm, to find about a third of the wall remaining. After a short lunch break, Nathaniel decided to snap a photo of me getting prepared to find more goodies…..

On Arrival Getting Ready to Hunt More

….we started looking around at the face of the wall and found pockets staring us in the face all over that wall….

15 Remainder of Wall

…Nathaniel dug into this one spot above and below and soon was pulling out several brown dogtooth crystals from it….while it looks a little shaky looking, this particular spot he was in was quite solid around and above him, even forty feet to the right….

01 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket

03 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket

04 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket

06 Dogtooths Up Close Nathaniel Found

08 Dogtooths Up Close Nathaniel Found10 Brandon In Front of Dogtooth Pocket

…to the left where I started, was quite a different story, alot of overhang, so I didn`t mess with it much, just pulled out the easy ones out of the much and moved on…

02 Brandon Works Dogtooth Pocket11 Whats Left of Coved Blast Wall12 West Side of Wall

…after walking around and pulling out some loose crystals, I walked over to his crevice along the main wall and found a small pocket up about midway on the wall, and after retrieving my chisel and hammer, was able to pop out a few plates with brown and black dogtooth crystals all over them, they appeared to have sugar frosting all over them as well….

14 Blk & Brown Dogtooth Pocket

…after that, we walked around and found several nice twins and clusters in the loose rock below that high wall as well…each of us filled a couple of bags before we headed for home, Nathaniel snapping this selfie of both of us with the walls behind us….

Nathaniel and I at Crider Q

…..as we came into Rolla, this beautiful sunset appeared to the west…..

16 Sunset On Way Home Rolla

17 Sunset On Way Home Rolla

18 Sunset On Way Home Rolla

…we were both tired but happy with our finds…Onyx on the other hand appeared to be exhausted, having stretched out across the back seat of my truck on the way home. I found out later on that Mark made it home by 10:30 that night safe and sound. I returned to work later that night and then took the next night off, my exhaustion catching up with me, having been up for about 22 hours straight…haven`t done that in a very long time….had a great time tho and can`t wait to go again. 🙂

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


How I Spent My Labor Day Weekend 2015….at Eminence…

That`s right…Onyx and I spent our 2015 Labor Day Weekend at Eminence on both Saturday and Sunday, after receiving word from my buddy down there that a new blast occurred on Friday afternoon. We drove down early Saturday morning, arriving about 7:30…..sure was a pretty sunrise to greet us tho along Hwy 17….

01 Sunrise Saturday

01A Sunrise

01B Sunrise

…and we saw some deer and a wild turkey on the way down, so I knew then it was going to be a good day ahead….the fog increased as we drew closer to Eminence and I knew it was going to be a hot one once the fog burned off….

03 Froggy at Quarry

…and here is the before in the fog, and after the fog burned off later in the morning, images of the pile that greeted us on our arrival….

05 Blast Pile

33 Blast Pile Coved Wall

As I was lacing up my boots for the day ahead, and one snapped, I briefly thought I sure hope this isn`t a bad sign…luckily for me, within five minutes that thought went quickly out the window like a rock was attached to it. After switching to my spare booths, I started up the right side of the pile…..

07 Right Side of Pile08 Boulders Covered by Poker Chips

and came upon these boulders about halfway up, and circled around them to the left and then back to the right, looking carefully around each side of them, picking up a few nice loose crystals all the way around them, and then came to the right side of that one that appears to be in the middle on the right side…

09 Huge Boulder Poker Chips on One Side

…and wait til you see what was on top of the boulder to the left of this one…

10 Huge Boulder Poker Chips on One Side

whooeeee…. I was in dogtooth heaven……

11 Cluster Dark Grey Poker Chips on Boulder

…I climbed back down the pile to get my hammer and chisel and another bag of wraps as well as a bottle of water…luckily for me that nice mass of dark colored crystals above chipped out of that boulder rather nicely….while you might not be able to tell here, many of them turned out to be dogtooths, too….turned out to be alot of red druse in the pockets surrounding these beauties too….

12 Pocket of Chips on Boulder

13 Pocket of Chips on Boulder

14 Dogtooth Chips on Boulder

…by 9 am, the fog was burned off and luckily for me, there was a vast area of shade remaining to work with, and stay cool inside of, since I had a lot of territory to cover ahead of me. I was only halfway up the pile and seeing poker chips laying all over the place, many of them with dogtooths sticking out the ends. I was in poker chip heaven for sure…another prayer answered….

15 Midmorning Saturday

Onyx was staying pretty close to me today…he found a bed of soft dirt about halfway down the pile in front of me, after climbing up with me and walking around the top to check things out before I got up there…he took advantage of the soft dirt and laid right down there…

16 Onyx Stretches Out in Shade

17 Onyx On the Move Again

he stayed there til the shade burned off…..as I got to the top of the pile, I started finding a few more chunks of crystals with the red druse prominently stamped on and around them….beautiful stuff for sure….

18 Big Chunk of Pretty Found

…I climbed down from the top into this little niche of a depression and checked the wall for pockets…not finding any, I turned around and spotted this boulder in front of me, with a small looking vug at the base, so I grabbed ahold of what looked like a loose piece at the base of that vug and pulled out and back, and a gorgeous cluster of brown dogtooth crystals came loose from the vug and boulder. Here is the boulder after I have opened up the vug some…I will post photos of the cluster a little later….

21 Huge Boulder With Deep Vug

…and some of the vug itself after I had halfway emptied it…this boulder is about five feet tall, and that vug was about 2 feet deep and every bit of fifteen inches wide….about a foot high in front…..

22 Huge Boulder Vug Closer Up

23 Deep Vug Inside Huge Boulder

…in the image below, the cluster on the right is what I pulled out first to reveal the vug….the cluster on the left was the next one waiting for me inside the vug, has a nice dogtooth sticking up on the right side there….looks like a blade sticking out….

24 Dark Gray Cluster

…it took me the better part of an hour to clean out the vug…after that I wandered back up the middle of that depression and found some breathtaking chalcedony type chunks of what looked like red and yellow druse with poker chiips embedded in them…I`m describing them after the fact of cleaning them up, but when looking at them with the dirt and dust all over them, all I could tell was that they looked like chaledony and were red and yellow colored….I found about half a dozen of them….

20 Several Chunks Of Pretty

…they were in the last bag I cleaned up, yesterday, so I will try and get some photos of them tomorrow to show you what they look like cleaned up. By this time it was approaching 11 am and getting hot…so I grabbed the bags and headed for the truck, having to make a couple of trips back up to get some of the chalcedony chunks, wrapping them in my t shirt as I was by then, out of wrapping cloths. By the time I got back down to the truck, and got Onyx inside in the ac, and those beauties wrapped up in bubble wrap, and changed into clean clothes, I was pretty done in, and had only covered a third of the pile. I decided to return and see if I could check the rest of the pile the next day. I had no other plans.

Onyx and I did the same thing the next morning, only getting an earlier start this time, this time finding an even prettier sunrise as we drove into Houston, the county seat of Texas County, the stockyards enveloped in layers of fog with the sun rising over the top….

28 Sunrise Texas Co Stockyards

…after grabbing some donuts at the Caseys Store there, we drove on out Hwy 17 to Hwy 137…where I shot the sun rising up over a small barn in front of us at the intersection….

30 Gorgeous Sunrise on Sunday

…and catching some foggy sunrise scenes on down Hwy 17 toward Summersville as well….

31 Gorgeous Sunrise Sunday32 Gorgeous Sunrise Sunday

…arriving to find the quarry enshrouded in fog once more. I climbed up to the top of the pile once again and began finding dogtooth crystals all over the place along the top of the pile, and every five to ten feet were smaller boulders with clusters of poker chips covering them…and loose ones in the dirt and loose rocks below….I didnt take my camera up there with me this time, but I recall finding about five pockets embedded in the dirt under a few boulders. I was able to split one boulder open and found the interior of the two halves coated with sprays of brown dogtooth crystals. here are those two haves with the spray of dogtooths inside one of them…

39 Boulder Half With Spray of Dogtooths39A Boulder Half With Spray of Dogtooths

…and some more images of the chunks of red calcite druse that I found laying all over the place as well, must have come out of huge pockets when the blast occurred, they were literally laying all over the place…and in boulder vugs too….

34 Red Druse Chunks40 Chunks of Red Druse

41 Chunks of Red Druse54 Red Druse With Poker Chips

52 Red Druse Chunk45 Beautiful Druse Plate

…and then I found a boulder up there at the top that had some beautiful clusters of crystals on the top…I wasn`t sure I would be able to chip them out, they looked like they were solid but lo and behold, they came right off the top with just a few whacks on the hammer, and I was astounded….here they are all cleaned up with just a little bit of damage to the ends of them…

35 Dogtooth Cluster Chipped From Boulder

35A Dogtooth Cluster Chipped From Boulder


36 Dogtooth Cluster Chipped From Boulder

…and I found this one down in a pocket in the dirt nearby….

38 Dogtooth Cluster Chipped Out


37 Dogtooth Cluster Chipped Out

and here are some of the many nice dogtooths that I found in those dirt pockets and vugs….the nicest one being this plate that I was able to chip out of one of the boulder vugs…

75 Dogtooth Plate

75B Dogtooth Plate

75C Dogtooth Plate

46 Small Dogtooths

47 Small Dogtooths

48 Small Dogtooths

49 Small Dogtooths

50 Small Dogtooths

51 Dogtooth Chunk

51A Dogtooth Chunk

55 Small Dogtooths

56 Dogtooth Cluster

57 Dogtooth Cluster

58 Dogtooth Cluster

59 Dogtooth Cluster

60 Dogtooth Cluster

61A Red Druse With Poker Chip




62A Cluster in Red Druse

63 Dogtooth Cluster

64 Dogtooth Cluster

65 Poker Chips

66 Dogtooths

67 Dogtooth Clusters

68 Chalcedony Piece

69 Black Druse Chunk


71 Dogtooth Cluster

72 Dogtooth Cluster

73 Dogtooth Cluster

74A Small Dogtooths

76 Dogtooth Crystal

77 Dogtooth Crystal

81 Small Dogtooths

83 Dogtooth Cluster

85 Dogtooth Cluster

86 Dogtooth Cluster

87 Dogtooth

Another great day that wrapped up a great holiday weekend for me…Onyx and I packed up and headed home by 11:30 am and rested up the rest of the day. Hope everyone else had a nice holiday weekend too !!

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







First Field Trip For Two Young Rockhounds

Earlier this summer I was contacted by good rockhound friends Matthew and Carolyn Lybanon of the Memphis Club MAGS, they emailed to tell me that they would be up in the St Louis area the weekend of August 22nd and 23rd and wondered if I could take them rockhunting on Sunday the 23rd. After checking the calendar to make sure I was off that weekend, I answered them and said I would love to take them rockhunting that day. They were interested in finding some dogtooth calcite crystals so I knew exactly where I would take them, the secret spot and Eminence Quarry. In the weeks leading up to their visit, I drove down to both locations and did some hunting and digging to see if I could spot some specific locations where we might open up a pocket. During one of those visits I found out that Onyx likes to swim, one of the quarries has some water holes that are about three feet deep on one end…the only problem with that is that I have to give him a bath a day or two later as that water has been there a while and is a bit on the dirty stale side of things, but that`s no big deal either, he smells better and I get a good workout in doing so.

 A few weeks ago, Tina from the BE Clement Mineral Museum in Marion, Kentucky, contacted me and told me that she had received a visit from a family located in Waterloo, Illinois, and there was a young man in that family that was starting out as a rockhound and looking for some assistance…she provided me with their contact information and I made contact with Mike Sabo last week, soon after they returned from their vacation. Mike told me his son Cianan was 12 years of age and just getting started collecting rocks and minerals and that they had not been out on any field trips as of yet. I asked them if they would like to go with us on the 23rd  and after checking with the rest of his family, Mike said they would love to join us. I let them know what tools and clothing to bring and we were set for their first field collecting trip.

Last week I was working with a new model named Josh on some photo work and while talking to him, found out that he likes to collect rocks and minerals, but he too, had never been out on an actual field collecting trip, so I invited him along as well and he was able to go with us also. Sunday morning rolled around finally and Josh was the first to show up about 7:30 am….he, Onyx, and I had just returned from McDonald`s where we picked up some breakfast, and we were met at my house by Mike and Cianan. Luckily they had already stopped for breakfast and had no problem coming inside to talk with us while we wolfed down our hot cakes & sausage patties, while we waited for the Lybanon family to arrive. Matthew, Carolyn, and daughter Julie were due to arrive about 8 am, which they did, and then Alan, Debbie, and the twins arrived about 20 minutes later, finding most of us out in the backyard touring the rock gardens, and then walking inside to look at the rest of the collection including the dogtooth room. Everyone also got to meet Onyx and discover what a cute attention ham he is. 

Soon after, we loaded up and headed to the secret spot, arriving soon with cloudy skies and cool temps still intact.  Mike and Alan were driving vans, so we had to take it a bit easy going down the mine road at the secret spot due to the road being washed out in a few places…I even had Josh jump out of my truck and move a basketball sized boulder in the middle of the road as we were descending down the steep part of the hill. I had assured them the road was solid earlier and so we had no problems, acquiring just a little bit of red clay paint is all. Soon after arriving and gearing up, everyone spread out to look for crystals and pockets….and Onyx headed for the water holes….

01 Everyone Looking For Crysals

02 Everyone Looking For Crysals

…I took Alan over to a pocket that I had located two weeks before and showed him how the pocket expanded back into the hillside, explaining that with a small sledge hammer and chisel, he could prob get back into the deeper pocket and pull out some nice crystals and clusters. I left him there as he started hammering away, and headed to the other side to see if I could help others locate some likely looking areas to find crystals loose on top and what to watch for in terms of potential pockets. Cianan and his Dad were already checking out some old pockets and finding some loose crystals laying around on top. Josh called out and I walked over to where he was standing over a rocky bank with a ledge of poker chips embedded in the gravel and what appeared to be some openings in the dolomite ledge…he indicated he would work it but would appreciate some help, so I looked around and spotted Alan at another location and asked if he would like to help Josh work it…Alan came right over and teamed up with Josh to see how deep the pocket would go….

03 Josh & Alan Check Out Pocket

04 Josh & Alan Check Out Pocket

…I heard Carolyn and Debbie talking behind me and looked over my shoulder to see them checking for some sign of a pocket on the ground about thirty feet away…they were looking in an area that I had found several floor pockets over the past few years….

05 Carolyn & Debbie Look for Crysals

…and now that everyone was looking around and digging in, I grabbed my gloves and mattox and began to see if I could find a good pocket for them as well….soon after, I was joined by Cianan and we started digging into a couple of likely spots….

06 Cienan Searches for Pockets

…I got a chance to talk to him for a bit and found out he was a pretty sharp young man and totally into searching for pretty crystals and minerals. Back at the house, right before we left, I gave him a couple of flats of crystals from the Viburnum Trend area mines that a friend had given me the week before…I had cleaned them up and got them sparkling again with some super iron out just last weekend. We were able to find some shallow pockets of druse and poker chips but no big pockets opened up for us…Josh and Alan pursued the pocket on the bank as far as they were able to and then wandered off to explore other options….I took a water break about an hour later and spotted Josh on the wall on the far side, looking for signs of crystals and pockets….

08 Josh Searches Wall

…and looked back and saw that Cianan was still hammering away looking for a pocket…a good sign of a dedicated rockhound in the making….

09 Cienan Searches for Pockets

…then I heard some more hammering in the other direction and spotted Alan hard at work with two sidewalk supervisors behind him directing his every move….

10 Alan Seeks Crystals

…he was working some old pockets that I had discovered about a year ago, another location with potential to find more if a guy is willing to work and look for the pockets, moving a lot of rock to do so….

11 Alan Works Pockets

…in the meantime, Josh was down along the wall in the area that I had located several good dogtooth pockets during 2014…

12 Josh Seeks Pockets

…and Cianan continued to look for pockets and crystals in the clay dirt….

13 Cienan Searches for Pockets


…by this time it was nearly 1:30 and we had been digging a few hours there, and we decided to drive on down to Eminence and see what we could find there…Alan and Debbie decided they were going to head on home to Memphis tho as they had a short night of rest in St Louis and were worn out now…and Mike and Cianan decided to head home as well, so the Lybanon`s followed Josh and I down to the quarry at Eminence soon after everyone else peeled off on to other highways. Josh took a nap while I drove south and soon we arrived at the quarry…I had received word from my good friend Jim that much of the higher bench material had been dozed off to the bottom, so when we arrived, we found a huge pile of rock leading up to the bench above like a giant stairway…..

08 Julie At Foot of Huge Pile

…we all walked over to the base of the pile and were pleasantly surprised to start seeing alot of red boulders and small chunks of red druse with poker chips and many with dogtooth crystals in vugs on the boulders too…..

01 Huge Boulder to Cobb Down

02 Small Pieces of Huge Boulder

03 Big Boulder of Druse & Chips

04 Big Boulder of Druse & Chips

…Carolyn took some of these home with her, she was ecstatic to find some beautiful stuff here….she likes to surface collect and this place was a dream come true for a surface collector like her that day….

04A Big Boulder of Druse & Chips

05 Top of Huge Boulder

06 Huge Boulder I Cobbed Down


I grabbed my new three pound hammer and chisels…my old ones were buried under quite a bit of tailings dirt in the old pit at the Eureka Mine by the trackhoe operator that we had problems with at the last machine dig….and I began cobbing down some of these boulders, as Josh decided to climb up the pile and see what he could find on top….

07 Josh Climbs Huge Pile

…joined by Julie down at the far end who was walking around on the base of the pile looking for more crystals too….and it was about this time that the sun finally made an appearance with the cloud cover rolling away….

08 Julie At Foot of Huge Pile


09 Sun Begins to Pop Out

10 Josh Climbs Pile

..and about halfway up, Josh stopped a few times, finding some nice small clusters of poker chips entertwined into each other and successfully tossed them to the soft sand bottom near my truck to pick up later and wrap up to take home….yes Virgil, I was able to convince him to wrap them up before placing them into his backpack….

11 Josh Finds Some Nice Ones on Pile

…about an hour later, Matthew, Carolyn, and Julie decided to head home, a five hour drive ahead of them yet to Memphis, and Josh and I wrapped up shortly after as well, the heat taking its toll on me and sapping my remaining strength for cobbing any remaining boulders. By this time, we had the back end of the truck completely packed with wrapped specimens, Onyx was soaking up the ac in the cab for the past hour, and we were ready to cool down, so we loaded up and headed east to Rocky Falls to do just that….

14 Rocky Falls  13 Rocky Falls

…one of those beautiful treasures of the Missouri Ozarks that some folks don`t know about…there were several locals there when we arrived, sitting out in the shallow edge of the pool in front of the base of the falls while their kids were sliding down the falls into the deeper base pool…..

17 Looking Down The Falls

…we were there about 30 minutes and then headed on up the road for home…about ten miles down the road, coming down the hill toward the turn off to B Highway, we spotted a beautiful doe and two spotted fawns in a field on the right side of the road…I slowed down and shot through the windshield to capture them…..so pretty…..

Doe & 2 Fawns On Way Home

…all in all a great day, albeit a long one, but full of so many enjoyable moments and time well spent with good friends….does it get any better than this ??? I doubt it.

James 🙂