Mid October at Eminence

Back in October I was contacted by Chase,  a young rockhunting friend of mine, and he asked when I was going rockhunting again…it just so happened I was going that weekend and I told him…then he asked if he and a friend of his could ride along…after asking about his friend, I said sure. I have known Chase a couple of years through the fire department and his dad has been my Captain for a few years, plus his Uncle Tony is a good friend of mine and a gem hunter as well. He and his friend Austin arrived at my house early that morning and we headed south soon after. I drove down the smooth and easy way down, Hwy 63 south of Rolla to Houston and then east on Hwy 17 thru Summersville to Eminence. We stopped off briefly at Alley Spring Mill to stretch our legs and allow Missy to get a drink of water. They had never seen Alley Springs, so it was a real treat for them. 










After a good hike around the spring and photograping the pretty fall colors surrounding the mill, and talking to a group of photographers that were there to photograph the mill for the first time, we loaded back up and then headed on down Hwy 106 to the quarry. 

After explaining a few safety rules to Chase and Austin, and showing them a few areas that had alot of potential for pockets and crystals, we walked over to what was left of the knob and I pointed out a few pockets. Chase spotted a few himself and climbed right up into the cleft of the knob and began working on some pockets….

01A  Chase Up on Knob


He soon found a few pockets and came to borrow my big hammer and chisels. I chipped out a couple of them for him, to show him how to go about it without destroying anything, and then he climbed back up and started chipping out crystals….

02 Chase Chips Out Crystals


…while Austin had found some pockets over along another wall that I had pointed out on arrival as well….

03 Austin Checks Out Crystals


A couple of hours later, we went on down to the newer blast area and climbed up on some smaller piles of material that had rolled off from above, and at the top of those piles, I located a couple of pockets of druse…after filling a couple of bags, I turned the pocket, which was still quite full, over to Chase and Austin. While up there, they climbed up and found a few smaller pockets themselves. We called it a day after they filled a bag each, and headed home. 

Had a Virgil Richards Day at Eminence Quarry

Missy and I drove down to the quarry Sunday morning, hoping to find some more pretty crystals. I had received word from a  good friend down there, that there had been some blasting activity there ealier in the week, so we were on the road a little after six am. It was a bit chilly when we hit the road, high forties, and it was only forecast to reach a high of sixty two that day, with some gusty winds expected. I had hoped to get down there the previous morning but the rain forecast for that afernoon, came in a bit earlier than expected, so we waited instead. My right arm was still hurting, but it seems like I have been adjusting and getting used to the pain somewhat.

However,  I saw my doctor yesterday and he said I have tendonitis and gave me a few options on how to treat it…trying option one now, which includes alleve twice a day with some minor exercises and using my tens unit twice a day. If that doesnt help it, then he can inject cortisone in my arm and see if that takes care of it…and if that doesnt do it, then surgery is an option as well….I`m hoping we dont have to go that far. Original injury occurred over thirty years ago while I was in college and helping a state trooper buddy chip out his driveway of two inch deep ice so he could get his patrol car in and out just fine…I basically just overworked the muscle tissue of my arm that day and back then, the prescription was to rest it in a sling for ten days, easy enough back then since I didnt have a job then. Even helped me get out of a few tests, lol.  

Missy and I arrived around 8:30 am and it was still just a bit cool when we got out of the truck….didnt phase Missy at all, cause she now has her winter coat back on and am sure it felt quite nice to her. I started out with a long sleeve shirt and made it thru the day with it on, actually, mainly because that gusty wind was quite a cool breeze all day long. She bounded out of the truck and took off to check things out and I didnt see her again for about  thirty minutes. I got my boots laced up and put a light core jacket on and decided to walk around and see what I could find on the surface first.  The main obvious changes were that the cove pile had been completely removed on the west facing wall on the north end…..

01 Former Pile is Removed


…and the blasting had occurred above our heads where the north end upper bench had previously been, now the wall up above was completely even with that north end upper bench wall…..

12 Upper Bench N Side is Gone

….after walking around and not finding much along the wall…it was also obvious that there were many pockets way up high from all the glittering I could see where the sun was hitting the wall high up, but I found no pockets down below at all. I decided to walk down the wall to the east and see what I could find, checking along the base where much of the ground material had been scooped up and removed as well, since my last visit. I soon came upon a section of the wall where there were some apparent crystal formations….

03 A Series of Pockets


…so I stopped and started exploring…pretty soon I had found a few nice pockets that were chock full of beautiful crystals and druse combinations, and within minutes, I was pulling one cluster after another out of the pocket opening, each one covered with dogtooth crystals…I took a break and went to the truck to get a couple of bags full of wrapping cloths….these were way too beautiful and delicate looking to take any chances…I decided to wrap them double before setting them in the bag. After about twenty minutes, I had two bags completely full of double wrapped crystals and clusters, and after placing them into the backseat of my truck for better ride stability, I returned to the wall with another bag of cloths. I worked my way down the wall about ten feet and looked up and saw this….

04 Pocket Opened by Blast Vibration


…and closer up….

05 Pocket Closer Up


…I could see the end of a crystal sticking out slightly…after cleaning out the surrounding area carefully first, I reached inside and pulled out this large double poker chip with exposed dogtooth crystal tips….

07 Double Dogtooth Pocket Opening


…and further inside the initial pocket opening, you can see yet another pocket opening up deeper inside the wall from the first one…and let me tell you, about every cluster that I pulled out after that initial shock, consisted of alot of oohhhs and ahhhsss and  holie cows too….within five minutes I had the third bag filled and was headed to the truck for yet another two bags….an hour later I had those two bags filled and the pockets were empty. I decided to drive over to the newer blast pile area and see what could be found there.

Missy had trotted off in that direction already, so I loaded up and drove on over to that pile next. I had seen a trackhoe up on the upper bench on the south end when we drove into the quarry and it appeared that the hoe was pulling material off the upper bench and pushing it over the edge and down below…..

11 Upper Bench

….that material had formed a couple of small piles which could be climbed, so climb I did…..

08 Downstream Again


…and when I reached the top, after cutting out stairs to climb up on, I found a couple of large openings at the top…you guessed it, more pockets…..

10 Pockets At Top of Pile

….opened up from the vibrations of the blasting on the wall two hundred feet to the north, and crystals laying all over the place up there in the opening space of each pocket, and underneath the loose crystals were clusters of crystals laying all over the place, many with very pretty bright yellow calcite druse nestled all around the crystals. I was pulling several crystals out that had orange centers, some had brown centers, and some had black centers, some had frosting all over them and looked like the brown dogtooth crystals that my buddy, Virgil, had found several years earlier one day there.

The two pockets on the left seen above, were the first two I located once I reached the top of the pile, and the ones to the right were additional pockets that I found by following the bread crumbs while up there, a line of crystals going from the first pockets to four more pockets…..plus two of the pockets went deep down and one went underneath a huge rock that was sitting up there on the right side, too. I had to make four trips to the trucks to get more bags and wrapping cloths as I kept pulling crystals and clusters out of each pocket opening and kept running out of wrapping cloths, the initial pocket required at least an hour and two bags,  to clean it out !!  That brown trail you see on the right side of the rocky slope in the image below….

09 Pockets At Top of Pile


…is the trail I left, when I slid down the pile each time on my butt, like a big slide…carrying one filled bag in my left hand, and a large cluster in my right hand or on my lap…it was quite fun sliding down each time, but let me tell you it was a lot of work climbing back up each time, and cutting those steps out each step of the way….but well worth it too.

By 3:30 pm, I was wore out and decided to go up above to the upper bench to check it out…I figured it the track hoe was up there, maybe there was something worthwhile up there to be found.

13  Upper Bench

I hadnt been up there since Ian was down the first time, and once up there, I only found a few green clusters and that was all. Needless to say, I wasnt up there long and soon enough Missy and I were headed home. We stopped briefly in Summersville, on the way back to Highway 63, and I photographed the old mill building there, which has been restored….there is a nice pond behind it and with the cloudy skies, the water reflections were quite nice…

14 Summersville MIll


15 Summersville MIll

I stopped off near Raymondville, to visit a good friend, at his family`s dairy farm and finally got to see what chocolate milk cows look like. They have a large herd of Brown Swiss and Holsteins both. 

James 🙂


Rockhound Buddy Ray Roth Visits

True to his word, Ray Roth came up to see me on his way to Keokuk, Iowa last week, and stopped off for a few days to go rockhunting with me.

I had a rough week before he arrived, tooth pulled on Tuesday, thought it was gonna be cut out but the oral surgeon was able to get ahold of it and it came right out…or at least it felt that way…after all I was very numbed up and could only feel the pressure thankfully. The week before that, somehow, I re-injured my right arm…yes the arm that I injured in a fall while rockhunting earlier this year, but also injured it thirty some odd years ago as well while at college, and still have no idea how I re-injured it two weeks ago..memory isnt what it used to be any longer.  Original injury was a tendon injury, from helping a trooper friend chip out his ice covered driveway so he could get his patrol car out, treated back then with a sling and tylenol,  and doctors orders to rest as much as possible for two weeks…so I treated it this time with pain meds, arnicare salve, a tens unit, and lots of rest when possible…I say possible because the tendons are in my elbow joint and I have to use my arm everyday, and no matter what you do with your right hand or arm, the tendons come into play no matter what you are doing, whether you are moving your fingers like typing, or moving your wrist or arm. Between the arnicare and pain meds alone tho, if I had something I had to do with it, both products sure made it feel quite normal….course when they wore off, it was quite a different story. 

Ray was on the road most of Saturday and stopped off in Van Buren for the night…he told me he would be off the road by 6 pm and eating supper while watching the LSU football game, lol….so we made plans to meet in Eminence on Sunday morning around 8 am. St Louis Ray and I got up early Sunday morning and drove down to meet Ray at the junction of Hwy 19 and 106 in downtown Eminence, and led him to the quarry. It was a little froggy when we arrived….

01 A Bit Froggy on Arrival

02 A Bit Froggy on Arrival

…but it soon burned off and we were left with a gloriously beautiful day of normal temperatures and sunshine all day long, with nice cool breezes as well. As we pulled into the cove area, we discovered the knob that we had been working the past several weeks, was all but gone…..

03 Cove Pile is Gone

……now just  a few piles of rocks left at the bottom of the wall…we checked the piles first and found a few remnants of clusters, then checked the wall pockets and St Louis Ray spotted a pretty crystal cluster sitting about ten feet up in situ matrix…and was able to climb up and retrieve it without any problem. For the next couple of hours, we scraped along the wall and found a few pockets of small clusters….

04 Pockets Found

After checking this wall, we moved on down to the east to the other blast zone and while St Louis Ray wandered down to his special place further east, to find more vugs in boulders, Ray and I searched the remainder of the blast pile and found some goodies…Ray checked along the edge and I up the slope a bit, found a pocket that had apparently blasted down from the high wall intact, and buried near the top of the pile. After pulling half a dozen small clusters out from under some small boulders, I went back to retrieve a few bags and wound up filling two with wrapped goodies alone ! After another hour of this, we decided to head to the secret spot and see if we could find anything there…Ray had never been there but had heard about it from several of my posts. It hasn`t been blasted in a while there now, but we were able to liberate some goodies from some older pockets there and found some vugs in some boulders that had some nice druse and poker chip combos as well. The water spots there made for some great reflections late in the day there, too….

05 Secret Spot Next 07 Secret Spot Reflections

After digging all morning and into the afternoon a bit at Eminence and then a few hours at the secret spot, Ray and I wore out by 4:30 pm and decided to call it quits….my right arm was ordering me to stop now….I hadn`t overdone it again yet, but it was telling me it was time to stop for the day and I decided to listen.   We were covered in dirt and dust, and had several goodies to clean up yet from our digs, plus Ray needed to check in at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba and get cleaned up for supper. We checked with St Louis Ray and he was ready to call it a day as well, so we loaded up and headed home.  

After taking St Louis Ray back to his truck at my place, I cleaned up quickly and headed back to meet Ray at Mo Hick for some fantastic BBQ in Cuba. I had to stop off at my parents house and drop off some goodies that Ray had brought up with him for them…cooking goodies and some great brownies from a company in Louisiana too.  When I got to MO Hick, he was already sitting inside admiring the beautiful cedar wood interior that the owner had made on his own. 

The next morning, Ray drove down to my place to get one of his tires fixed, he had picked up a nail somewhere along the road up to Missouri and while it wasn`t leaking, he wanted to get it repaired before driving on up to Keokuk and then back home. I took him over to Harry`s Tire Service in Sullivan, where I always get my tires serviced at, and after about 20 minutes, the guys there had him in good shape once again and ready to travel. We decided to head to my house so he could see my collection and while there, decided to have breakfast at Cracker Barrel before heading out to hunt more. My parents met us at CB and paid Ray back for the cajun cooking goodies that he had brought up with him and given to them the day before. After a great brunch, Ray and I headed to the new druse spot to check it out…it had rained pretty good a few days before and as I told Ray, that`s the best time to search there.

08 Druse Spot


We walked up to the top of the hill as seen in the photo above, first…as I explained to Ray after arriving and getting our boots on…I have had better luck finding beautiful bubbles up there. We each grabbed a couple of bags and tools and headed up the hill with Missy in hot pursuit. I stayed to the left  and walked up a trail that had been drastically eroded by heavy rainfall and Ray went up the little road going up the hill to the right….within thirty minutes, I spotted a pile of dirt and on closer inspection, found several plates of smokey colored druse quartz…one of my favorite colors there…I walked back to the truck to get more bags and wraps and returned to wrap them up. 

About two hours later, we both had three or four full bags each and were a bit tired, but we managed to take a water break, then walk over to the other side and check the drainage ditches and filled yet another bag each. By this time, we were both done in for the day, and we headed back to town. After cleaning up, I met Ray over at our Chinese Buffet Restaurant and we had a great meal there…Ray topping off his meal with two huge dips of ice cream.  Here are some neat sunbeams I shot on the way to the restaurant….

09 Sunbeams on Tuesday Evening

We were gonna go horseback riding the next morning, but my friend who has the horses, got called into St Louis Tuesday morning so we postponed to Wed morning instead and spent the day goofing off and cleaning up our finds from previous days. Ray decided to also give his suv a good wash and then re-arranged the rock load so that he would be sure to have some room for geodes once he got to Iowa. 

Ray came over to my house bright and early on Wed morning…ready to go horseback riding…..I asked him where his jeans were cause he was wearing shorts, and he said he figured he would be okay in shorts…lol…he rode with me up to my friend`s horse farm out of Bourbon, the Meramac Farm Bed and Breakfast Horse Farm….its a Century Farm, over 100 years old, they have a few horsebarns there, one is over 125 years old and built with wooden pegs instead of nails…you can see them in the huge loft beams. They have several horses there and easily accomodate groups for trail rides with over 900 acres of farmland and forested hills. This is a view of their farm back in 2009 from one of their hilltop views….

Farm from hilltop


...and it shows both barns and the original farm house where my friend Carol, has lived much of her life, the farm in her family for many generations. Tragically in 2010, during a severe storm, the farmhouse was struck by lightning and burned to the ground despite the best efforts of several fire departments who responded. Despite the tremendous loss, Carol and her family and staff, bounced back from it and built a new farmhouse, a North Carolina style farmhouse, complete with a bright copper colored metal roof…

Carols House Finished


…and a beautiful white picket fence surrounding it….it`s like a bright beacon from the roadway and is just as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. We arrived at the farm a little after 10 am and found Carol and Jerry saddling up horses for us…Ray was no sooner out of my truck and walking across to meet Carol…..

10 Horse Back Riding Wed AM

….when she asked Ray, if he had any jeans to ride in….I just chuckled when he gave them his answer…they shook their heads and said, okay…they were waiting on a lady that wanted to go riding that morning as well and she was running late, having trouble finding their farm. Carol pointed out an Eagle perched high in a dead tree top way across their north field, about three hundred yards…I put my camera lens on it, but it was still way over there…

11 Carol Spotted Eagle


and my lens wasn`t able to pull it in sharply at all….

12 Carol Spotted Eagle In Tree


13 Carol Spotted Eagle In Tree

We signed the releases and got saddled up while waiting for her to arrive. Here you see Jerry adjusting the stirrups for Ray as he is sitting on his horse….

14 Jerry Fits Rays Stirrups


…and soon after, we were on the way…we rode down into that north field first, as Carol wanted to see if we could get closer to the Eagle, but as soon as we got into the bottom of the field, we saw that the Eagle had flown off. This is a pretty pasture, I go there often in the spring when bluebell flowers bloom all over the place on the river side….

Bluebells Fenced In


…and we soon were up on the main road, on our way to the back side of the farm where more pretty trails awaited our arrival…here you see Ray and Jerry bringing up the rear of the trail ride….

15 On the Road and Trail Riding


16 Ray and Jerry Riding


17 Ray  Riding


…all in all, we had a great two hour ride…it had been ten years since Ray had gone horseback riding and only four years for me. He texted me the next day to let me know he was out looking around and finding geodes, but was being picky as to what he was going to take home with him due to the restrictions on space.  He  was a bit sore while up in Iowa geode hunting, but had a great time while here. 

James 🙂