Kentucky Central Trip 2020

Back in May or June, after first checking with Slade to make sure the Hickory Club intended to make the trip to Kentucky again on Labor Day Weekend this year, and confirmed with both Quarry Managers that we would be welcome to return to their locations again,  I put the word out to all my rockhound friends in my group, that the Central Kentucky 2020 Trip was a GO !!

In the past six months, I have picked up another half a dozen or so new rockhound friends and invited them to come along with us if they wanted to, and many decided to do just that. Some from as far away as Virginia, obviously wont be able to make all the trips due to the distance, and timing of them all, but the Central Kentucky trip is usually very central for most of us to go to, from any direction. The next trip after it is the southern Arkansas trip and plans are already in the works for it, one location being a new quartz mine down there.

In years past, I have stopped off and picked up some beautiful fluorite specimens available for purchase, on my way down to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and this year was even better, with the recent discovery of a huge pocket of purple and yellow fluorites in the Cave-In-Rock area. I stayed in touch with my contact in Southern Illinois and was able to visit him a couple of times before the Kentucky trip, purchasing some beautiful cubes of purple and yellow fluorite in all sizes, as well as some hand cut octohedrons. He had also sawed some slices of the purple and yellow specimens, so I picked up 30 slices from him as well.

This year I split the trip down there into two days, so I could do a little visiting on the way without being pressed for time, as I lose an hour going east. This year, I was also requested to bring some Viburnum Trend minerals and crystals, some Missouri Druse Quartz in various sizes, and some Washington County Quarry specimens that have three different colors of druse quartz, blue, grey, and maroon red, as well as DT calcite crystals, snow white bladed barite, chalcopyrite with brilliant blues and purples, and sphalerite balls, big to small on them. So I had several flats of each in the truck. It took me 12 hours to pack the truck, leaving just the front seats for me and Miss Onyx, my new lab mix dog…she usually has the entire back seat to stretch out on, but this time the back seat was completely full of flats of my Missouri crystals, from door to door and floorboard to the cab ceiling…

So Onyx and I left about 11 am and drove down to visit with Gary and Walter on Thursday, September 3rd. She never gets to ride up front with me, so it was a real treat for her this time. We had a good trip down there, went through some small towns like Carrier Mills, Illinois…a historic coal mining town, to get there…beautiful country down through there, not far from Garden of the Gods, too.




And the truck bed was pretty full as well…I had reserved a few feet in front of the tailgate in case Gary had some yard rocks worthy of picking up too…

My first trip down to see him on August 12th, I had purchased a couple of large yard rocks with quartz, calcites, some small purple fluorite cubes and some veins of azurite and malachite running through the entire rock matrix of each one…yes, you read that right, azurite in a bright blue and green malachite !!






And he had several nice purple and yellow fluorites as well, so naturally I picked out several of those on this first trip too…

..but one that really caught my eye was a big one, beach ball sized..wish now I had purchased it from him, he had a good price on it for the quality it had, large cubes on both sides, purple on one side and yellow on the other….one of those you kick yourself for not getting later on….

On the next trip down there, Thursday, September 3rd, I was asked to get some more smaller sizes if possible, so that was on my mind that morning…he had several in all sizes making it much easier on me to pick out some good ones for everyone…





Once I had the small ones selected, I had to make some hard decisions on the bigger ones…he had several nice ones…with large cubes on them…2 to 4 inches square in size…and each piece had some dings on them…you have to remember, these come out of a mine, they blast much of the time to find the spar, the ore that they mine is called spar…these specimens here are the pretty rocks, the perks…they are not what is being mined, the  massive / solid stuff is being mined, the perks are sold on the side…when you are blasting, crystals inside pockets get tossed around and so you have dings on them…anyone that thinks crystals come out of blast pockets in perfect condition, is either not thinking well or is delusional about it. Here are some of the bigger ones I selected…

…this one was a beauty, selected by a friend for purchase, love that yellow center spot in the purple crystal that Gary is pointing to….as you can see in the next photo, he had several nice large pieces available that day…the next day, he told me later, everything was purchased that was left…

…that piece in the upper left corner in the photo above, is completely covered by barite and quartz….the next photo shows one he pulled out from between two limestone seams, it was in a clay pocket…

…this next one is one that I wound up taking home to add to my collection…my friends thought it had too much damage, they chose another one and this one came home with me…I like it…i has a triangular window on the corner of a big purple cube that is phenomenal to me..Gary is holding it up so the sunlight shines through to show me the colors in it….








Onyx and I crossed the Ohio River on the ferry…her first on a boat, too…and spent the night in Eddyville, Kentucky at the Super 8…great hotel there, clean immaculate rooms, very comfy, but it was a ghost town that night there…we were one of three guests in the two story hotel. I left her at the hotel to rest up after that ferry ride and headed over to one of my favorite steakhouses, Oasis Southwest Grill on the south side of I-24 a couple of miles south of the hotel in Kuttawa…and as I walked out the door and got in my truck to leave, I ran smack dab into this GORGEOUS sunset….


I had to go down to the Dollar General Store first to get Onyx a leash, I had driven off and left hers at home, and when I came out of the store, the sunset had deepened and widened, so I shot it again from the parking lot, showing how wide it had spread across the sky. This would have been a great sunset to have shot from the east side of Lake Barkley, which is just a few miles south of Eddyville….

I had a great meal at the steakhouse, ordered my favorite there, two large boneless pork chops, they both fill up one whole plate…marinated in their BBQ sauce, and cooked medium…with a big baked potato and steamed broccoli…and yes, it was DEEEE-LICIOUS !!

We were up and on the road by 7 the next morning with a little light rain falling, and some humidity…for some reason, I was having trouble getting the fan to work in the truck, wanted a little cooler air, so I cracked the windows open once we turned on the Western Kentucky Parkway and headed east toward Lake Cumberland. A few miles down the parkway and my fan started working again…first red flag of the trip. I was coming in sooner than normal this way and decided to stop and photograph an old mill that I had been to before, heard the organization that maintains it had opened up some areas to view the waterfalls there too.

We drove through a few short light showers of rain down by Bowling Green that morning and by the time we reached Somerset, I had the ac turned on……we reached the mill about thirty minutes later…there are some beautiful waterfalls at the bottom of the hill below the old mill where the millrace water dumps into the lake…ten years ago, you had to fight your way through heavy brush just to catch a glimpse of them…this time, they were much easier to find and view…

.and the old mill with a steel water wheel as well…it looks better from the back of it, the front looks like a storefront…

After a couple of hours at the mill, Onyx and I headed north up Highway 27 to Stanford and then turned northwest toward Danville, arriving at the Baymont Hotel in Harrodsburg, around 2 pm. It took a little longer to check in because the desk clerk, new to me, was conducting personal business on her cellphone instead of attending to her work. She kept giving me room keys that did not work, nothing more aggravating than having your hands full of luggage and you cant even get into the building at the side door…much less walk up the stairs to your room. After the third trip back to the front desk, I was pretty aggravated and I am pretty sure she was able to detect it…she kept blaming it on everything but the inattention she had given me the first two times…this time she got it right after putting her phone down and going through the steps she should have taken the first time…and yes, I did note this in my review of the hotel after I returned home…and yes, the hotel owner read my review and assured me that he would take care of that problem. Once I got my luggage inside, I returned to the truck for Onyx, having left her in the ac while I went through all that BS…not long after that, my buddy David Hodge showed up at the hotel too, and I think his check in went a lot smoother than mine had.

He and I drove over to the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel, where most of the crew was staying at, around 5 pm…an hour before supper so we could visit a little with Slade and new friend Randy Gentry from Nashville, his friend Gerard, as well as Tammy and Todd Bromley from Michigan. It has been several years since I had seen Tammy and Todd, think the Eureka Mine was where I had last rockhounded with them, so was great seeing them again. We eventually walked over to the Bright Leaf Restaurant where we found everyone else already at the tables and having supper…they have a buffet every night or you can order something else as well….great food and great service there, and we eat breakfast and dinner/supper there daily on this trip. After a great meal, we paid our tabs and walked back down to the parking lot and got ready for the tailgate swap and sell event…we do this on Friday evening and Saturday evening after dinner/supper…this is what I had  my truck loaded down with so many flats of material for…that and some extra flats for Slade as well. 🙂 While I was unpacking my flats, I got to meet Sam Linton and Aaron Baker from Virginia…they had started toward Kentucky a couple of days before as well, to do some rockhounding on the way and had stopped at a couple of roadcuts on the way down to get some neat stuff, too. Sam showed me some of the material that had worked the bluffs to get the day before and that morning, before they drove on down..some brachiopods with vugs of calcite crystals inside…gorgeous stuff. I gave them each a box flat of some Missouri stuff that I had brought for them and they had brought me some nice goodies too. I think everyone had a good time that evening, fun and fellowship, and then headed back to our hotels for the night to rest up for the quarry on Saturday morning.

Onyx and I were up by 6 am and drove over to the Bright Leaf to join everyone for breakfast…as we drove south down the bypass around Harrodsburg, I looked at the orange glow coming up on the horizon to the east…it was going to be a great sunrise…the closer I got to the Bright Leaf, the more I wished the speed limit was a little higher. I pulled into the parking lot to find Slade waiting to meet Miss Onyx…while he and her were getting acquainted, I took some photos of the STUNNING and GORGEOUS sunrise…

There is a large farm up on the hill across the highway from the Bright Leaf, with nice wood fences surrounding it, barns and other outbuildings, that make a great backdrop for the sunrises there….

…this was one of the best sunrises I have seen there, it just kept getting better and better every minute…as I was shooting a video on it, Onyx about wandered out into the highway traffic, luckily Slade was able to snatch her out of harms way very quickly…thanks again, buddy…

Central Kentucky 2020-0905 AVI 774 Sunrise Sat Morning at Harrodsburg

After a good breakfast, we gathered out in the parking lot…Sam, Aaron, and Dawson Barrott with his buddies Thomas and Mike Hewlett were all waiting for us when we came out, soon we were lining up and heading south to Danville for our morning field trip at Caldwell Quarry.

Always a roll of the dice for this place, never know if you are going to find a little, a lot, or nothing at all there…there is a small seam of calcite when you look at the big picture there, ten stories deep and this seam only extends from the very bottom of the pit to nearly the second level, and you do not want to get near the walls of this quarry due to the height and safety risks associated with them. We arrived to find Clay, the Quarry Manager, driving a front end loader, and headed down into the pit to load up a dump truck making a delivery to a customer that morning…talk about a talented guy. 🙂 He gave us waiver forms to fill out and sign before he took off to the pit and then on his return, gave a brief history on the quarry and safety talk too. We were all outfitted with our hard hats, steel-toed boots, and safety glasses, ready to go find some treasure. Since Clay had to leave soon, he assigned one of his top guys to look after us while we were there and Jeff took care of us very well, nice attitude and very safety minded, he stayed right with us the entire time we were there. I think he learned a little bit about rocks from us, too. We took a group photo at the big boulder by the office…..

…and then followed Jeff and Clay down to the initial staging area, where all parked…Clay pointed out some obvious changes from the year before. We normally parked at the lower level or the first floor up, last year there was a huge pile of blasted material on the right side between the lower and first level, where we found many plates of calcite…dogtooth calcites I might add…but this year the first level consisted of a three story high pile of limestone rock that had been brought down from higher levels to clean them off….

…so using the photo above, the road in the middle going down, leads to the lower level…normally, as in years past, we would have driven straight into where that huge pile is now located, to the first level and parked, then spread out from there, but this year that huge pile was completely covering up the first level. Those that had been here before in my group, knew that if they could not locate anything within an hour, they could walk to other areas where they had found vugs and pockets of pretty stuff before…they were armed with their saws and after I walked around a while to help others, I soon heard their saws and knew exactly where they were at. Onyx, in the meantime, found all the waterholes down there and was exploring those…I mean, what else would a dog do while on vacation. 🙂

One thing we did see alot more of this year here, was Petroleum Calcite…Calcite that is normal colored and then a petroleum base on top and mixed in, looks just like it sounds…

we also saw a lot of pink calcites on the boulder surfaces too…haven`t seen calcite in that color there before…









At any rate, I shot some video of David Bruce doing something he enjoys, cutting up boulders to extract pretty vugs of crystals….

Caldwell Quarry 2020-0905 AVI 804

I received an email from Clay back about mid summer, letting me know they were finding a lot of corals this summer at the quarry, Two years ago, we found some huge plates of corals down at the lower level near a drain pipe, and I was able to get a couple of those before they disappeared…I still have them, they survived the last couple of harsh winters here in Missouri just fine. I found this one down in the area Slade and David were working at….








…and a huge boulder or two of it nearby as well….

As I had walked down there, someone was telling me they found a nice calcite vug in a small boulder with a fluorite cube inside…

….the small boulder also believed to have some bryzoan fossils on it as well…here is a close up of the calcite vug…

…something else we find there occasionally, this year quite a few of, is chalcopyrites and pyrites…Slade found this rock with a whole ribbon of it about 8 to 10 inches long and at least half an inch wide going all the way across the rock….

and here is another rock I spotted that had several smaller spots of chalcopyrites and one larger section covered in it…

…and here is another fossil plate that was found this year….and a close up of the fossils too….














It was about that time that Miss Onyx came to let me know she had taken another mud walk through some puddles…


I wasn`t worried too much as I knew our next location would take care of any and all dirt she acquired without any problem whatsoever…

Geode Creek Junction City KY 2020-0905 AVI 833

This is one of my favorite creek locations for geodes and the landowner here is one of the nicest Kentucky gentlemen I have met. The Hickory Club has been going to this location for years and they always bring him some jams and jelly jars as a token of their respect and appreciation. Some members of my group also left some gifts for him as well. One thing I really like about his creek frontage, is that you can search the banks as well as the water for good geodes, as Mary is shown doing here in this photo….

The week before we were there, this area received about four inches of rainfall from the remnants of a hurricane and this helped wash some geodes out of the clay dirt banks upstream…the ones you see in the photo above that Mary is looking through tho, are from the huge flood they had last year before we arrived, those floodwaters deposited many geodes high up on that side of the creek and the landowner had to have that whole bank graded to about a 45 degree slope to make it easier to walk up and down it. We were able to pull down into his backyard and right up next to the creek as well, and there was some good shade to park in as well. The water there is crystal clear too….

















Pretty sure everyone there had a great time looking for geodes and those that cracked the ones they found, open on the spot, and liked what they saw…well they definitely had a great time there…I was one of those…I found a couple of really nice ones and have a bucket full that I need to crack open at some point later on. When I finally got time to walk downstream, I saw Gerard working the bank and he was rolling some basketball sized geodes out of the bank, offered me one and I chose one and cracked it open right there…turned out to have an internal chamber of dark orange and yellow sunshine quartz…meaning from the outside rind inward, was two inches of solid rock to the internal hollow chamber…I have never seen one like that but I definitely like it. When I get a photo of it, I will post it so you can see what I am talking about. Here are some photos that show everyone having a great time searching and collecting…



































Even Onyx had fun there….she got all cleaned up and loved looking around…that look says it all…” we need to come back here again Daddie…this is a GREAT creek !! ”   🙂

We drove back to the hotels and got cleaned up, and then met at the Bright Leaf Restaurant for yet another great meal, then relocated to the parking lot for another evening of Tailgate Swap and Sell. Breakfast came earlier the next morning, as we were headed to Irvington, a 90 min drive west of Harrodsburg, for a field trip at Liter Quarry. We were on the way shortly before 7:30 am and had a good drive there, much less construction along the way to deal with this year. We arrived a little after 9 am, mainly due to a few red lights we hit midway through the convoy, and had to wait for everyone to catch back up. We entered the gate and lined up at the office, spotted a car coming toward us from the back of the quarry, and discovered someone had entered ahead of us. Once I straightened that matter out, I led the group down to the first pit, which had given up alot of nice treasures last year and the year before…this year we found it to be a few feet deep in water….

…that island on the left side out in the water…is actually a big boulder field that has a lot of vugs in them full of pretty crystals…those that ventured out there, were once again, not disappointed in what they found there. Luckily for others, the left wall was accessible for a ways and many were able to find some nice pockets to work pretties out of…















…and some were working the boulders up where we parked on the next level up as well….










…that guy in the yellow hard hat center photo two above, is Thomas Hewlett, friend of Dawson`s…I think he was doing the eenie, meenie, miney, moe thing…said he was having a difficult time making a decision on some vugs he found in that boulder field up by the parking area….the guy in the white hard hat in the bottom photo above, is Gerard Richmond, he came down with Randy Gentry from the Nashville area and turned out to be a nice guy like Randy.

While some were not finding much at the first pit area, some were and we stayed there a little longer so the ones finding some nice stuff, had time to get as much as they could…we then loaded up our vehicles and drove over to the next pit. Most clubs and groups work within safety rules that include staying with your group and not venturing off by yourself or selves, especially without asking the field trip leader about it first…when we arrived at the next pit, I discovered someone had done just that…I dont feel it is fair to others when that happens, so I drove down and had a little discussion with the rockhounds about that, and explained it was a safety rule and what could have happened had one or more of them become injured in that other area while the rest of us were in the first location and had no idea anyone had wandered away. Since they told me they were new to rockhunting, I truly hope they learned something from that, but I didn`t get a strong impression that they had. Believe me, I have found out the hard way that some clubs do not do any training or provide any safety instruction when it comes to newbie rockhounds and quarries. Communication is key, but that is often overlooked by many new rockhounds.

Everyone spread out and started looking for some vugs in boulders and many found some pretty quickly. I decided that since I have a lot of nice stuff from this quarry, I was going to mainly make sure that everyone had a good time and found some great stuff there this trip…Onyx and I walked down to the center field of boulders, which was huge and extensive, and found Sam Linton carrying out a nice chunk of calcite from it right off the bat….









…we hadn`t been there ten minutes and he had already found something nice !!  talk about a lucky guy. 🙂  turns out he and Aaron Baker had zoned in on the center area of that extensive boulder field and were finding some nice vugs in there…he showed me another nice one he found in there as well….a nice vug with a beautiful yellow calcite crystal in the vug….

….I decided to go see what they were finding…






















Not all of these are the ones they were looking at, some were just some I randomly found around the area. We started collecting at 9:30 am and by noon, it was getting pretty warm out there…problem was, when I turned off my truck at the first location and then started it back up, the fan was no longer working for the air conditioner…I wasn`t worried about me as much as I was for Onyx…

…her being brown and black in color, I was watching for her to come to me and let me know when she had had enough of the heat…maybe she was able to sense that the truck fan wasn`t working…whatever it was, she handled the heat of the day by searching out the cool spring fed water pools there and plopping down in them, and I was just fine with that. That is what factored in to my decision to head back to the hotel a little earlier than the rest did, as did David Hodge…before we took off tho, we climbed up to higher level in the back of the second location..a couple of guys had gone up there and found some nice bigger vugs…we climbed up and spotted them as well as a few more behind some bigger boulders…









…we pointed out those vugs to David Bruce and Slade before we took off…many others had already left ahead of us…I intended to take a nap on our return to the hotel but wound up repacking my truck instead. I am pretty sure David was able to get a nap before supper and Onyx did as well…I had just enough time to clean up before driving over to the Bright Leaf for supper. Slade texted to let me know they were on their way back and might be there by 6:30 pm for supper…we had a great meal once again and then walked out to see what all David and Slade were able to harvest at the quarry with their saws….these are some of David`s finds…



…that last one is a close up of David`s fossil plate from Caldwell Quarry the day before…he and a few others decided they were going back to Liter Quarry the next morning while many others were going to head for home…I decided since the fan was not working consistently, that Onyx and I would head for home a day early. I understand that Dawson and the Hewlett brothers joined David at the quarry the next morning and did quite well finding some pretty calcites…here are some photos they took and shared with me of their finds…first one is Dawson`s nice plate…

the second is Thomas Hewlett`s find….a 3 foot long calcite and dolomite plate….

…and a calcite sculpture he found there as well…

…and a calcite sculpture plate found by Michael Hewlett….

Onyx and I took off at daylight and made pretty good time going home, through Louisville and across southern Indiana and Illinois on I-64…not a stretch I enjoy driving to tell you the truth, but this trip, the time seemed to go by rather quickly for us. This time, I also drove through East St Louis and St Louis City on my way home, avoiding I-255 and the road construction nightmare there. Sure hope they get that work done soon, tho, for the sake of many that depend on that route on a daily basis.

Hope everyone had as great a time as Onyx and I did !! 🙂



New Fluorite and Quartz Finds Southern Illinois

I have a mineral dealer friend coming up from Georgia next week who is interested in some fluorite from southern Illinois, so I gave Gary a call Thursday on my way to work to see if he had anything new. He is a good friend in southern Illinois that mines fluorite full time these days and he had told me a few months ago, that he would keep an eye out for quartz plates for me as well…I am a big fan of quartz as many know by now, and he has shown me several smaller chunks of it that he has found while fluorite mining. He told me that they sometimes hit pockets full of plates of quartz crystals and usually where they find quartz, they also find lead cubes as well. He told me that I would want to see the quartz plates that he pulled out of a pocket on Monday at the mine, that some of the plates had big fluorite cubes nestled in amongst the quartz crsystals too…that news alone got me all excited, so I told him I would drive down there early Saturday morning again. I had picked up a few flats of smaller fluorite cubes for the mineral dealer a few weeks ago from him, but then had sold 80 percent of it a few days later, and needed to replenish my supply of those as well. I let a few close friends know that I was going to drive down, but as luck would have it, no one was available to go with me. 

 Onyx and I were on the road by 5 am this morning and we were halfway to Mount Vernon by the time the sun started to rise in the eastern skies….

As I drove east on I-64 just east of Fairview Heights, I was pleasantly surprised to see NO MORE construction going on…in the past year, I was used to slowing down from 65 mph to 35 mph for construction work from that scale house just west of Fairview Hts to the Mascoutah exit…ILDOT was constructing a third lane with a wall in between east and westbound lanes, and then built an overpass out in the middle of nowhere and then they were doing something else no one could figure out…and on and on and on…was beginning to think it was going to be a never ending project…but lo and behold, today was shockingly different ride wise…and pleasant to boot. I thought to myself, could it get any better than this ??? and sure enough, about 45 minutes later, I got my answer…YES it can !! At the south end of Marion, Illinois on I-57, I looked across to the north bound lanes and was amazed once again…construction crews were tearing up that bumpy and holie section of the driving lane…four miles of it south of Marion to be exact…and they were digging it out and rocking it too !! Now, I was totally AMAZED…and then thought to myself…well its only been 15 years at least that you have been driving that rough and bumpy section, returning from western Kentucky, rough enough that most people out there, myself included, would move over to the smooth left lane of that five or six mile stretch of right lane. Today it was down to one lane on the northbound side, but thankfully, they were at least replacing it finally…wow, small miracles still do occur I thought. 🙂  

We arrived about 8:45 am at Gary`s house…normally when we pull into his driveway, he and his Dad, Guy, are already outside waiting on us, but I had failed to tell him what time we would get there and they both stepped outside a few minutes later. We visited a few minutes first and then he showed me the quartz plates, he had a tub full of them as well as the back of the trailer was loaded down with several too…

…if you like these crystals, click on and enlarge the photos above, and really take a look at these gemmy crystals up close…the big ones are as big as your thumb and that point at the end is razor sharp, let me tell you…but they are very gemmy crystals, kinda prism shaped and just beautiful…that gorgeous yellow color is INSIDE the crystals, too…in case you were wondering….and yes, some of those plates are actually smokey quartz….the next image shows the back end of the trailer again, this time what is covering it besides those quartz plates…take a look at the left side of the trailer, covered with some very large clusters of dark purple fluorite cubes…talking BIG cubes folks…some of them four and five inches across…

…and HEAVY too !! …and covered on both top and bottom and sides with those BIG cubes….those were in the bottom of that pocket Gary found Monday as well as several smaller clusters, from volleyball sized to baseball sized clusters…and those quartz plates were hanging down from the top of the pocket and along the walls of it…

…and this one above and below, came out of that pocket too….

…there were several in the pocket like this one above, but this one I selected because of the quartz attached to it. Gary told me Thursday about some other ones that were very neat looking too…very dark cubes… they were such a deep purple they looked black…here are several of them in a tub and yes, I purchased the entire tub when Gary made me an offer I could not refuse….

…darker image above and lighter image of them below….

Gary was also telling me that Walter, his son who helps him mine, has been receiving several inquiries about a HUGE cluster that he found a few months ago at the mine…and I mean BIG when I say HUGE…also very heavy too….so far, no one has made the right offer for it, but everyone definitely likes it….here it is up close….

…and a bit back away from it to give it better perspective on its size…..

…and here are some more of the beautiful fluorites that he found in the past few weeks since I was there last as well….

…the ones with the coating on them, were there the last time and I didnt have my camera with me to record them….and it looks like arragonite on the coating but could simply be barite or calcite too….the second image below is a close up of that one on the left center of the next image….

…and this next image, shows a good sized chunk of fluorite cubes covered by a thick coating of calcite….very pretty….

…and here are a few butterscotches that Gary still has available…from an old collection that he purchased locally earlier this year….I purchased one but not from this group….

…and this is the pile of calcite crystals, big ones and smaller ones on matrix plates, that he has for sale too…several people always ask me about this pile, so here it is…he tells me all the time, he is willing to let it all go for a good low price if anyone wants to come and get them all….

…and here are a few more pretties for ya as well…these have not been power washed as of yet….



Central Kentucky 2017

Last year at the conclusion of my trip to Central Kentucky with the Hickory Club during Labor Day Weekend, they informed me they would like to have me back again in 2017 and this time they were going to have their annual trip there two weeks before Labor Day Weekend, since some of their club members said they could make that date rather than the holiday weekend. So they set it up for August 19th to the 22nd this year, which lo and behold, turned out to be the date of the solar eclipse as well. They also told me that my core group members could join them once again, and I found out a few weeks ago, that two of the New York Clubs were invited too. I was able to get us access to the Danville Quarry once again and also set up a day trip to the 200 year old fluorite mine that Phil had taken some of us in the spring of 2015 when a few of my core group members joined me down there. I was able to tentatively arrange for one of my friends down there, to take us hunting for Kentucky Agate hunting on the morning of the eclipse, but that fell through when Josh let me know he was sick, so we opted for Plan B that day instead…one of the Hickory Club`s locations, and it worked out very well for all of us that were left to go hunting that day….several had left to return home for work and some drove to locations closer to the eclipse to get a better view of it…most of those were the young families with kids…and nothing at all wrong with that, either.  I was more interested in finding nice geodes and/or agates, so I opted to stick around and look down in the creek for pretty geodes….and an added bonus to that was that Onyx got to go swimming in the creek in the deeper holes. 🙂  

I had made plans with Gary Griffith to stop by his place on the way down there early Friday morning and pick out a few flats of fluorites, some for rockhound friends who would be joining me on the Kentucky trip and for a dealer friend from Atlanta as well. Onyx and I woke up at 3 am on Friday morning, August 19th and headed east on I-44 by 4 am….I had kept Chuck updated on my plans and he met up with me at Marion, Illinois and followed me over to Gary`s house in southern Illinois. We arrived about 8:30 and found Gary talking to his Dad, Guy Griffith, outside their home. It was beginning to get humid, so I left the engine running with Onyx inside the ac. I was introduced to Gary a few years ago by Tina and Bill of the Clement Mineral Museum, at their annual show and dig, where Gary was set up to create octagons out of chunks of fluorite, to sell at the show. He also had specimen pieces in all sizes to sell at the show and I recall purchasing a few of those pieces while there…I have been hooked since then, and between the three of them, Gary, his Dad Guy, and son Walter, we have been good friends since then. They are the kind of people I really enjoy visiting with, and I can stop by and do just that anytime, talk with them by phone or in person for hours, and it feels like we have been friends for years. From the way Gary talks about it, most of the dealers that stop by on a regular basis to buy from him, feel the same way. Here is a neat article I came across online recently, it is a bit dated from 2010, but the story of them starting out as a three man family operation is true, told to me by Gary and his Dad a few times before…


Gary showed us the new stuff that he and Walter had been finding recently, stuff he had told me about on the phone a week before, light purple edges surrounding deeper purple cubes on a brown fluorite base, and some with patches of quartz crystals laid out on top of the cubes. He had half of them cleaned up and half were still dirty, and let me tell you, some of them looked very similar to cubes that I have pulled out of the mud of the Eureka Mine on the other side of the Ohio River to the south. In other words, very pretty clusters of cubes right there on display in front of us. Since I only had a couple of hours to visit and hand pick some fluorite, I didn`t pull my camera out to photograph as I selected.As a matter of fact, I did not pull my camera out of my camera case til early the next morning to shoot the rising sun. 🙂

After a couple of hours, I had a few flats picked out and Chuck and I headed south to Princeton to pick up the Bluegrass Parkway and head east. We filled our gas tanks and grabbed some lunch at the A & W Restaurant first tho. 🙂  We headed east and within the first thirty minutes, we observed one to two state troopers every five miles, all of them were driving westbound…and not one of them was even remotely interested in anyone going eastbound on the Parkway…we were moving along at a good clip and many drivers were passing us like we were not moving at all, and not one of the many troopers we saw in the next 90 minutes was interested in stopping anyone at all. I told Chuck later, that perhaps they were returning from classes at the academy and headed home for the weekend. At any rate, we arrived at Harrodsburg about 4 pm, Chuck peeling off first, staying at the Baymont Hotel on the north side of town, while Onyx and I drove around town on the bypass to the Days Inn a mile south of town. John Oostenryk texted me on the way down to let me know that he and Mary would arrive about 5:30 pm, and others let me know they would be getting into the area later and meet us the next morning after breakfast.

Onyx and I found a few folks we knew in the parking lot waiting for us, as I had let Harry know when Chuck and I left Gary`s house. He and Larry Huffman had arrived earlier and discovered that hotel staff had lost a few reservations, mainly those that made their arrangements early…most were up on the second and third floors, however Onyx and I would be staying on the first floor near the entry door. After checking out the room and turning the ac on inside, I kept Onyx outside for a bit so the room could cool down adequately for his sake. He had a bath and shave the day before, but it was a bit warm in there even for him…he wears his jacket every day year round. I found out soon after that we would be walking over to the golf course restaurant next door about 6 pm for supper, and let everyone know that was already there or would soon arrive. Some of my core group members had decided to stay in hotels in Danville and were going to be arriving at different times on Friday, depending on the amount of traveling they had to do, some driving in from as far away as New York state and Texas, Ohio, Indiana and northwest Illinois. It was looking like there might be 70 to 90 rockhounds total on this trip. 

By 5:45 pm, the parking lot was alive with rockhounds and soon after, we were walking over to the restaurant to check out the seafood buffet, which turned out to be very good as expected. By 7 pm we were all back in the parking lot, those of us with pick up trucks parked side by side for the rockhound swap and trade show….we had so much fun this lasted a good couple of hours…and there were still folks out there talking when I brought Onyx outside before retiring for the night.

Breakfast came early the next morning, since we were scheduled to arrive at the quarry by 7:30 am, to sign waivers and then begin collecting by 8 am. Onyx and I were up and at em by 5:30 am, finding it still dark outside…a few of us walked over to the golf course restaurant by 6 am, and on the way back, the sun was beginning its climb up from the horizon, so after packing the truck, loading up Onyx, and parking at the front of the line, I grabbed my camera to snap a few images of it….

…and while this wasn`t a bad view, I walked over to the golf course to get an even better view of the sun coming up with a Kentucky farm in the foreground….

…now…I know what you are thinking…wow nice sunrise, how could it get any better than this ??? …and all I can say, is yes, it did get better than this…enter SUNBEAMS !!!  🙂

…and all in just a matter of fifteen minutes…while waiting for everyone to line up so we can get the line moving to Danville to pick up the rest of the crew. Ten minutes later we arrived in Danville and I texted Dale Walker, who had everyone lined up with him by the Hampton Inn, and let him know to just join the line as we went by. We entered the quarry gate and then I had everyone park in rows…we had so many vehicles, we created about six rows of vehicles in front of the quarry office…luckily Clay, the Quarry Manager,  had some good help waiting for us and the paperwork was quickly handed out for everyone to sign, then everyone got their hard hats on, and after a short safety talk by Clay, we proceeded down into the quarry with everyone following me. I parked near the bulldozer….

….and then got out to direct everyone into some parking areas, designated by Clay to keep us out of the way of a few of his guys working in other areas…a few folks wanted to park down below and I had to re-round them up, with help from Phil who arrived behind us, and re-park them in the proper areas, from the second mill to the dozer mainly….

All the new folks came to me and I let them know where we had good luck finding pretty stuff the year before, and let them know what was going home with me…anything pretty…and then everyone spread out in search of pretty stuff.  

I go by the golden rule…Keep It Seriously Simple…KISS for short. 🙂  

They had changed the layout of the quarry from the year before just a little bit, Clay had told a few of us they were building a ramp to the top and asked us to stay off of it, due to concerns that it wasn`t where they wanted it to be yet in terms of stability, he basically asked us to park in the area of the dozer and then walk to the upper and lower levels to look and collect. He did say that they had hit a huge vein of calcite and stockpiled much of it into a huge pile to the right of the dozer and across the big ditch, as he called was located down on the level where Slade had hit the jackpot last year with all of his pretty discoveries…so many folks grabbed their stuff and headed in that direction….

… this photo you see alot of folks at the ground level checking out the huge calcite stockpile on the left and a few few folks up on the second level…

…the ramp we were asked to stay off, leads to the top layer, which would have been impossible to access due to the large amount of rock laying around up there. It took a while for us to locate the good stuff, much of it turned out to be down on the ground level again, but at the far end away from the huge stockpile, in a pile that actually went all the way down to the bottom level. I walked up to the upper level and looked around, but not seeing much up there, I came back down to the ground level and walked down to the far right side…Onyx had been going nuts with the water puddles up above, then he came down below with me and spotted a lake down below…I could only imagine what might happen next. Slade and Thomas found some nice vugs in the sides of some huge boulders in the pile that started at the north edge of the ground level and dropped down to the bottom level by the lake…soon after, as I was climbing down that pile, I spotted a nice plate of small brown dogtooth crystals all over one side of it. Soon after that, I turned over a good sized chunk of dolomite and discovered a large vug of gorgeous brown dogtooth crystals with a few small blades of white barite inside too…Chuck had joined us down at the lower end of the pile by then and sawed off both ends of the dolomite matrix on the chunk for me, making it much lighter for me to carry up the hill to my truck. I met Fred on the way up to the truck and he let me use his dolly to carry it up there…here it is on my tailgate….

…and closer up of the vug and crystals inside….

…and about 30 minutes later, I had to return about halfway down the hill and announce to everyone that we had fifteen minutes left, we had to be out of the quarry by noon…here you see Dale Russell getting ready to pop some beautiful brown fluorite cubes from a vug he found in this huge boulder the size of a dining room table in front of him…

…and Dale Walker working on a boulder down below Dale Russell….

…and Finn and Alina Klein off to the left of both Dale`s….

…and farther to the left of them and across the water from me, was John Oos, Mary, and Fred…John discovered a seam of calcite with some barites inside and was working that out when I yelled down that there was 15 minutes left…Fred and Mary stuck around to help him get the goodies out intact….

…we all got out of there with seconds to spare…this is usually what happens near quitting time…when you find something nice or have just a few minutes left to get the good stuff out of a pocket or vug…John and Dale started up the hill with their saws and Dale with his goodies on his back in his pack….

…while Fred and Mary brought up the rear with the rest of the stuff…I kept hearing from Harry and Larry who were up at the front gate with the rest of the crew, everyone waiting for us so they could all go to the Goat Farm to go geode hunting the rest of the day. As it was, not everyone in that lineup intended to go to the farm to geode hunt, some were going back to their hotel to rest up, so about the middle of the line, after one turned to the right, several followed and turned the wrong way also…most of them were in my core group, so I started texting to find out if they were going somewhere different…they said no, they thought the line had gone to the right and they were simply following…I was able to pull over and wait for several of them and let Harry know that we would be delayed getting there. Harry and Larry were leading the line, so they pulled off Hwy 150 and waited for us at the next turn and we caught up to them about 30 minutes later….then followed them down to the goat farm…where as it turned out, the owner was not home and the gate to the field was locked. I called my buddy Phil, and asked him if we could come and hunt at his creek access point instead and he said sure…so I led the way over to his house near Junction City. We were going to take a shortcut from Hwy 150 over to Hwy 127, however we had a few stragglers that were not keeping up and we likely would have lost them completely, so I opted to stay on 150 and then drive out 127 to Junction City. We were only driving about 50 mph, so I`m not sure why they couldn`t keep up. I stopped in the middle of the road when we arrived at Phil`s house, and directed everyone in the lineup down his driveway to where Phil was standing to direct them to parking spots around his shed and in the field leading to the creek, as some of them wanted to park in the shade near the creek….

…and after everyone grabbed their gear and assembled near the entrance to the shed, Phil pointed out the creek boundaries and areas to avoid, then turned them all loose to go hunt for not only geodes, but corals and fossils which I can attest can be found there as well. Shortly after a few of the stragglers showed up, having gone past his driveway looking for us. I wish someone had taken a photo of the long line of vehicles as we came down that valley on approach to Phils house…that would have been something to see. Here is Pat and Finn Klein walking across the field to the access point on the creek a few minutes later….

...I didn`t take my camera down to the creek with me, as I have been down on this creek before…back then, two years before in the early springtime tho, it was not nearly as grown up with foliage and brush tho. A few folks walked the creek downstream to the church parking lot and then drove their car down there to pick up their buckets of geodes. I found a couple of nice halves that someone had found prior and left behind, here is one of them, love that SUNSHINE QUARTZ….

About 4:30 pm, Onyx and I drove back to the hotel, with a few rockhounds following us…Chuck got held up by a couple of them and went a different route suggested by his gps…he told me the route he was taking and I let him know where he would come out and to watch out for the curves…that was the first route I took to Phil`s house a couple of years before, nice road, just gets a little narrow and curvy in spots…he confirmed that part quickly after. 🙂  We walked over to the golf course restaurant for supper about 7 pm that evening, and afterwards I pulled a few flats of fluorite out for Fred and John to look over, along with a few other choice items I had brought along for Slade and a few others to look over. Soon after doing so, we drew a small crowd, everyone thought we were having another tailgate party in the parking lot…as it were, it did turn into a nice small party tho, and I wound up selling a couple of flats of choice material to some of the more serious collectors there. The next morning, we lined up for the trip to the 200 year old fluorite mine at Mundy`s Landing didnt set their alarm clock the night before and had just woke up, requesting ten minutes delay before we headed to the mine so they could go with us. I sent everyone to the other side of the highway to wait for us on the shoulder while I waited for them at the hotel entrance. When they showed up I pointed out how to get in line on the other side of the highway and told them to keep it tight in line. Onyx and I then drove to the start of the line where Fred was holding my place for me and we headed north on Hwy 127. We crossed the Kentucky River near Shakertown and discovered the Highway Department was replacing the right lane of the bridge, with a traffic light set up on either side of the bridge for one way traffic…we lost about half the line in the crossing, Harry and Larry staying on the south side while the rest of us crossed over. Luckily I had a good signal with my cellphone in the rocky canyon as we started up the windy,curvy hill out of the river valley, and I was able to let them know where to turn at the top of the hill, where my wingman Chuck waited for the rest of them. The rest of us proceeded down the road and made the next turn, and by the time we reached a second turn a half mile later, Chuck had the rest of them caught up to us and we proceeded down the road to meet up with Phil at the old mine.

We passed by some beautiful old homes and farms along the way and a few residents were probably a bit amazed at the long line of cars and people making their way down their road, which kept narrowing down as we drove on down it. We met a large dump truck, luckily, on the wider stretch of the road…I am not sure what would have happened had we met him on the really narrow section of roadway that was ahead of us still by then. We drove down a large hill on that very narrow section of roadway and at the bottom of the hill, drove thru a gate and I parked everyone right after I parked my truck, in the big open field….

Phil came down behind everyone to give a safety talk for the mine and the tailings area, outlining the boundaries and off limit areas, before turning everyone loose to walk back up the hill to the mine tailings area. A few members of my core group had joined me at this old mine two years before and we had a blast digging there all day long in the tailings, finding some beautiful lilac, white, and gray fluorite cubed clusters, barite balls, and double terminated calcite crystals, on a much cooler day due to a difference in seasons. I turned Onxy loose and we headed up to the mine gate, where we found several already digging in to the tailing piles…John, the owner, had already filled up a couple of trucks and removed some of the tailings…the dump truck we met and another flatbed truck hauling some of them off to another location, but believe me, there were tons of tailings left to dig thru….

I decided to walk up to the top of the tailings pile after checking out a couple of areas of the piles below…up to the area that we had dug into two years before. Slade and a few others followed me up the trail and we came in on an upper trail above one of the old shafts of the mine, finding Harry digging into a small bluff and finding some good stuff there he said. As with two years prior, we started finding some good stuff shortly after digging in there, and stayed to dig for a few hours. I was hitting waves of calcites, at least four or five areas of calcite chunks before I found my first dt calcite crystal and then a few more of them, all smaller than two inches in length. Alina was digging to my left and her oldest son Finn was digging to my right…Chuck was behind me, Slade and his Dad were about fifty feet to our left and after digging in a bit, they started finding some nice crystals too. After a few hours up there, everyone decided to take a break for lunch and some started leaving to head off to other areas of Kentucky in preparation for the eclipse the next day. I walked back down to the truck to get a bottle of water or two, and Mary offered me a chicken salad sandwich for lunch…I love chicken salad so I accepted and of course Onyx helped me with the last few bites of it. He was beginning to warm up a bit so I put him in the truck, turned on the ac for him, and repositioned my truck in the shade nearby…I noticed a few others doing the same thing with their vehicles. Pat, Alina, Finn and Cohen took off shortly after, headed to Hopkinsville to do some camping that evening for the eclipse event the next day, it was great seeing them again. I havent heard yet how they did with that event down there yet. 

I returned to the digging spot and moved over to the spot Alina had been digging in, and within a few minutes, I found two larger DT Calcite crystals…shhhh…keep that under your hat tho, dont tell Alina about it, okay ? I wouldnt want her to feel bad about that. Harry returned to his digging spot but was just out of view behind that small outcropping of rock from my location, and Slade and his Dad kept digging at their spot for about an hour more, before heading back to the hotel. Fred joined me for a bit up there and I lasted about another hour before my hands started getting sore…by that time it was about 4 pm and I walked down to the truck to check on Onyx and grabbed my camera again…found PJ and Paul still digging above Mary in the tailing pile below by the gate…John, Abigail and Mary were up above everyone on the hillside…

I heard from several later that day that they had all found some pretty stuff…Phil was down below showing everyone what he was finding and what to look for. During one of my breaks, I had a good chance to talk to him and he was able to bring me up to speed on the Kentucky Agate situation over near Irvine and Berea and let me know a place we could go look for it at, where to park and where to collect and hunt at if needed. He told me why Mr Flynn had moved into town…that he had suffered some medical issues, which I hated to hear about because he is such a nice guy and knows so much about Kentucky Agates..I really hope his health improves so that he can continue to enjoy the agate hunts and work that he does with them. I started hearing from my buddy Josh, who was scheduled to take several of us hunting for Kentucky Agate the next morning…but it sounded like he was sick and wasnt going to be able to take us, so I let Harry and Larry know that later on and we reverted back to their original plan of returning to the Goat Farm to look for geodes in the creek instead. Onyx and I headed back to the hotel about 4 pm, leaving a few diehard diggers there, wore out and ready for a good shower and then some supper. Fred and a few others followed us out…I stopped up on top of the hill to photograph an old barn with blue doors….

After another good supper at the golf course restaurant, alot of us hung around in the parking lot once again that evening…there were about twenty folks less and some said they were going to go explore some other areas the next day. John broke out some of his barites from Iowa while he was re-arranging Mary`s suv, they were quite popular with everyone too, he had a few with him this trip that had pyrite in amongst the barite blades, making them look great and very be-jewelled. Here are a few I have purchased from him in the past year, some are quite pretty….

…anyway they were a hit with everyone who saw them and as usual, he didn`t bring enough of them with him…but as he said, one never knows how many to bring when dealing with large groups like that and not everyone likes to buy pretty specimens like that one rockhunting trips…some go just to collect and hunt, some go to also visit and trade with rockhounds, and some go to do all of that and buy even prettier stuff that is basically inaccessible to them…I am one of those types of rockhounds, interested and willing to do all of it…because I know there are locations that produce great stuff that is mostly inaccessible to many of us and you have to break down and buy them if you want them in your collection, as I do. I know people like John, who realize this stuff is pretty and in demand by collectors all over, however they also realize that most people cannot afford to pay a lot and so they dont charge an arm and leg like some dealers do. I pulled out some stuff that John had asked me to bring, some old material that I purchased from the Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine in my area that was probably at least 50 years old and some new stuff coming from an hour south of me that included gray bubbly druse with chalcopyrite covering it blanket style, snow white bladed barite and sphalerite balls. I also brought some dogtooths from area quarries that I find alot of and I had some fluorite for Fred as well…when I pulled the fluorites out, everyone came over to look them over and several folks purchased a few of them…John had the same thing going with his barites.  Harry and Larry were really taken with those barites, as I had told them about a few weeks ago…I really don`t know anyone that isn`t mesmerized by their razzle dazzle and beauty.

The next morning we had another great breakfast next door and I shot this sunrise afterward….

I checked out of the hotel after that,  intending to head home after hunting for geodes during the morning at the Goat Farm…I figured it would be better to drive home all afternoon and get a good nights rest before going back to work the next night, than to get up early the next morning and drive home, then take a two hour nap and go to work, figured I would be tired from driving and a two hour nap just wouldn`t cut it for me. Harry and Larry led the way down to the Goat Farm near Crab Orchard and this time we found the owner home and the gate unlocked, and we drove down thru the field to the creek below. This location is known well for large geodes upstream and buddy let me tell you, several rockhounds found as many as they could carry back to their vehicles. After I let Onyx loose, he headed for the creek and found a couple of deep holes he could swim in, so he was in hog heaven pretty fast…I took a few photos of the parking area and creek first….

…and I saw Slade looking over geodes at the creek crossing before heading upstream to look for some big ones…

Fred, Harry and George were all working the creek as I finished shooting a few photos and joined them, finding some that had been left by others that were quite pretty and cracking open some new ones that were filled with sunshine quartz, as Harry and Larry call it….

…just upstream from our location, was Larry Huffman and a couple of gals further upstream from him…Larry was cracking open some sunshine quartz geodes…

I walked back down to see how many geodes Fred had piled up…he had cracked one open that I had tried to crack open earlier, he used a chisel that I did not have with me, and it opened perfect for him…so he gave me half of it…his half is at the center base of his white bucket, the large one with the beautiful white and yellow quartz crystals….

…and here is one of his basketball sized ones…

…in the meantime, the rest of the crew downstream was doing quite well too…I checked with a few of them and they were quite happy with what they were finding just a few yards below us….

…after shooting some photos and loading up my tailgate with my finds, I decided to walk upstream and see what I could find that might be bigger. I met Dale Russell coming downstream with his arms full of a huge geode half that was full of gorgeous sunshine quartz and in big bubbles of it too…and his backpack was full of a few smaller ones equally beautiful too. Here is that half he was carrying downstream in his arms…

…and here are the two halves he had on his back in his pack while carrying that one downstream in his arms….talk about loaded down….


He told me where he left his bucket, up by Slade, and said there were more up there just laying all over the place, so Onyx and I headed upstream, running into Slade as well….I picked up a couple of halves I found laying around up there, after making sure they were not any that Slade or Dale had cracked open to take home…and returned to the truck tired…I photographed Dale with his beauties and Dale Walker as well who had found one downstream too…..

Both of these Dales are great to rockhound with and they both have great taste in gloves…I like the heavy leather ones at the quarries and quartz mines like Dale Russell is wearing and when I am digging in water or mud or both, I like the rough rubber face of the gloves like Dale Walker is wearing. Both of these types of gloves are long lasting, too, takes a lot to wear them out.

I spent the next hour repacking the truck bed to accomodate all of my geode finds, while Onyx did a little more swimming, then we said our see ya laters to everyone in sight and headed over to Mt Vernon to pick up I-75 to head north to Lexington and then west on I-64 to St Louis. We were on the eastern outskirts of Louisville when the eclipse began, spotted thousands gathered in a city park on that side of town to observe it, then noticed all the streetlights in Louisville that lined I-64 were activated for it…they wasted some electricity as it never even darkened down a tiny bit. We caught up to some eclipse traffic headed home when we hit northbound I-57, luckily that only lasted a few miles, all of it going northbound…I filled the gas tanks at the Phillips 66 there and we headed west on 64 again with normal traffic. I did drive thru a nasty little cloudburst complete with some straight line winds just east of Okawville…everyone slowed down to about 45 mph and turned our flashers on and headed on, lasted about ten minutes only. I ran into a little northbound eclipse traffic when I hit 270 but all traffic going westbound was just fine…we finally got home about 7 pm and I was in bed after unpacking the truck, by 10 pm. All in all, another great trip and one for the record books this time around. Hope everyone else had a great time and made it home safe and sound. If anyone needs any of my photos, just give me a shout at my email addy below. 

 James at  🙂