Welcome to JWJ Rock Hunting blog

Welcome to my new site, jwjrocks.com

People always ask me, what types of rocks and minerals do you look for and collect ?  I always tell them, pretty rocks.

I started collecting rocks around the age of ten, thanks to some friends of my parents, who worked at the local Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine south of Sullivan, they were able to bring me some pretty quartz crystals, calcite crystals, hematite and magnetite specimens covered in pyrite and marcasite, often found in goodie pockets or pretty pockets deep down in the mine.  Hence my quest and journey began for  pretty rocks and minerals.

I remember my parents taking several trips each year and would always work in a rock collecting adventure along the way whenever possible, or at least a rockshop visit in the area.

I had to make a decision when I turned eighteen, my parents told me to choose between collecting rocks and photography. I chose photography at that time, having started photographing fire calls at the age of 14 for the fire department as a volunteer firefighter, and also enjoyed shooting sunsets, scenery, weather, and steam trains.

After college and a few years in law enforcement dispatch and police work,  I opened my own photo finishing store and portrait studio and operated it for several years, and continued my journey through the fire service, my vacations often consisting of working as a firefighter at the Missouri State Fair in August each year, and photo shoots in pretty places.

Through the 1980`s and early 90`s, I became the Training Coordinator for my local Fire Department, setting up all of the training for our firefighters and coordinating all of the classes and outdoor hands on training as well, which took up a lot of my free time apart from my business. I was also in charge of the umpires and ground crews for the local Little League Baseball Organization in Sullivan for about 15 years.

After twenty years in business for myself, I returned to emergency dispatch work for Union Pacific Railroad Police for five years at the Response Management Communications Center for UPRR in St Louis, where we handled calls from all over a 27 state jurisdiction and dispatched UP personnel by phone to emergency locations, after first notifying local first responders. We also handled all state and federal notifications required by each state agency. I had great bosses and supervisors there, it was truly one of the best workplaces and environments I have ever worked at. Had they stayed in St Louis, instead of moving the operation to Omaha, I likely would have stayed with them.

UP decided to build a new building in Omaha, and move the RMCC operation there in 2002, so I then took a job offer at East Central Dispatch Center in Richmond Heights, for police and fire dispatch work of 8 cities in the St Louis County area. This included answering non emergency phone calls, answering 911 calls, handling several radio frequencies including 2 police channels with 4 departments on each channel, fire frequency with all 8 departments on one channel, mutual aid channels for both police/fire agencies, and paperwork. I worked there nearly 17 years, the last ten years I worked primarily as a fire dispatcher, and with my background in the fire service, it was very enjoyable for me. It can be a stressful job at times tho, mainly due to some of the people you have to work with and deal with on a daily basis….luckily most of the time, I had good bosses and a great supervisor, but the stress took its toll eventually,  and I took early retirement and returned to my first love of rock and mineral collecting.

I took early retirement from ECDC early in 2018, after spending 25 years total in  dispatch and emergency communications work and had nearly 40 years as a volunteer firefighter with Sullivan Fire District.  I then worked 2 years seasonal full time at Greenbriar Hills Golf Course in St Louis County, then a few months one winter stocking shelves at a local Walmart Store, before heading out to New Mexico in March for my first trip out there with my group of rockhound friends.

When I returned from the Deming area, with a truckload of pretty rocks and minerals, I began working at my current seasonal job at Wolf Hollow Golf Course, near Washington, Missouri. Again, great bosses to work for, plus working outside doing advanced yard work plus some specialized work details, and being allowed to take many short rockhounding vacations through the season, and many golfer friends, some of whom also like rocks and minerals, makes for a very enjoyable work experience.

I also do a lot of guiding work for Mineral Clubs and groups, taking them to rockhunting locations I have access to go to with permission from the owner. I have about a hundred rockhound friends now in my personal group that often travel with me on my out of state trips these days. Many also like to travel here to Missouri and spend a few days rockhounding with me locally.

Years ago I met and talked to many of my current great friends on an online rockhound board, called The McRocks,  and from those initial contacts, have been able to travel to various places both locally within Missouri as well as surrounding states and find some beautiful crystals and minerals to add to my ever growing collection.

I was also part of a small group of rockhound friends,  formed from the McRocks site, that traveled to an old fluorite mine in Kentucky, where we were able to help a museum Board of Directors open up areas of the old mine with machinery and manpower, so that rockhounds who later went there to dig and collect pretty fluorite could do so in a much easier fashion.We did this for about 15 years in all types of weather and enjoyed every minute of it.

People ask me all the time, what do you enjoy the most about collecting rocks and minerals..I used to think it was displaying beautiful crystals and minerals…eventually tho, I came to realize that the enjoyment is truly realized when hunting and finding the remarkable and beautiful treasures created by God, and the memories of actually digging and finding those treasures, while in the company of good friends, that make that enjoyment even sweeter.

So, I hope that as you browse through the many blog stories and photos in my new site, that you enjoy what you read and see as much as I do, and if I can assist you in any way in your journey as well, please do not hesitate to contact me at jwjphoto7@gmail.com

If you have Facebook, my personal FB page is at https://www.facebook.com/jwjphoto

and my new FB page for Rock Guiding Trips is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/322253830735906/


James W Johnson                                                                                           Rockhound and Guide                                                                                   Retired Firefighter                                                                                          Sullivan, Missouri