New Mexico Trip 2022 Part 2

On our arrival back to Deming Sunday evening, we drove directly to the Italian Restaurant, because we weren`t sure if they were going to close early or not. We were inside and seated by 6 pm and figured we would be okay, but then another smaller group or two came in behind us and the attitude with staff seemed to change a bit it seemed like…food was still good but our waitress seemed a bit edgy for a bit there. We discussed going to another historic mining area the next day, again west of Lordsburg and south of the interstate in the Gage area. The mine on the side of the ridge below is where we started our exploration on Monday morning….

 

We climbed up to this old mine, with the ore chute, and then climbed on up to the tailing piles on the hill above it…

From the height on the hill, we had quite an advantageous vantage point…to the north was the newer quarry, where it is quite obvious they have a lot of material on hand to blast and work for years to come…

…something that struck me when I saw the campers out there between us and the newer quarry…I had looked at Google Earth maps the night before, and Google has the camping area posted inside the quarry area, when in fact it is just south of the quarry fencing in a wash area…I wonder how many people think it is truly at the quarry, which is all fenced in and gated at the entrance…the next view is looking due west and the dirt roads you see going up the sides of those hills, all lead to other mines…

 

…mines we did not go to after this one…despite an extensive search by the guys along the top of the ridge while I was taking photos, nothing really spectacular was found…David Bruce found a few calcite crystals up there…this location was noted in one of the rockhounding books as a good location for quartz and calcite clusters, but we were unable to find any of them….

At this point, John decided we would be better off going over to Fluorite Ridge and checking out some of the old mines over there instead. Pete and Nic decided to go check out another mine to the north, they had made contact with a mine owner there and he was going to take them to his claim and let them do some rockhounding there. I will include that part right after our exploration at Fluorite Ridge. 

The rest of us drove back to Deming and then north to Fluorite Ridge, and stopped at this first mine…..

….and walked around looking for some pretty stuff. Take a look at the next photo, you will see what the thorn bushes and trees look like in the Fluorite Ridge area and why you have to keep a sharp eye out while walking around the desert floor landscape there at all times, these are all over the place there…

Despite an extensive walk around, checking a couple of adits that were closed off for safety, we continued driving north on the main road, and stopped on the other side of the historic ore chute. From our vantage point up high on one of the trails, we were able to see a quarter mile north, where there was an old ore chute, there was someone working at the top of the ore chute with a small excavator, so we drove down there to look around and check that out as well. We had been to this location in 2020 and searched the area extensively, not finding anything but massive fluorite there, but we did find hundreds of colorful red jaspers there as well as a lot of puddingstone. Virgil was along on that trip and he spent a few hours checking out a huge petrified tree trunk that was exposed in a wash nearby.

John walked up to check out what the contractor was doing with the excavator, and we all wound up walking up there eventually as well, turned out he had dug out the vertical shaft opening and was preparing to seal it on top with a concrete lid…always nice to see people doing things like that, with a concern for safety of others. From there we searched about an hour across the road for pretty stuff…a few of us located some loose fluorite cubes but we were not able to locate a source for them. John then wanted to drive over and check out an old manganese mine, however, after a lot of driving, we were unable to make it to the mine due to unstable road conditions.

We then tried to drive on up to the upper reaches of Fluorite Ridge, but again, experienced more road problems, AO 18 Road was shown on the map to go up there, but after driving out a few miles, we ran into a gate, cattle fencing, and a NO TRESPASSING Notice there, so we turned around and returned to Hwy 26. 

After all that, everyone was ready to stop for the day and grab some supper, so we headed for our other favorite Mexican Restaurant, Irma`s. It`s a bit smaller in size and sometimes a bit noisy in there, but they always have great food there. I took Onyx back to the hotel and then returned to the restaurant. By the time I got back, the guys were starting to get their food, and it took a fe minutes for our waitress to see I was at the table, but she made up for the delay and got my tacos to me pretty quickly, and they were delicious. After the dismal day of collecting, we decided we wanted to go to the other historic area of mines, near Hachita the next day.

In the meantime, Pete and Nic were having a great afternoon at the old mine in Sierra County. A former Zinc Mine that produced alot of secondaries and Nic told us the next morning, that they found some nice vanadinite there.  He did take some nice photos of the mine while they were there…

Nic said the white material on the mine all above and to the left in the photo above, is an ore body seam of willemite and wulfenite….he said the willemite is fluorescent blueish white under short wave. He said they also found  Hemimorphite there. 

…and here are some of their finds that afternoon….

 

Tuesday morning, John decided we didn`t have to be on the road early, so we enjoyed another leisurely breakfast at Denny`s again and then headed west to Hwy 146 and south to Hachita. John had told me before the trip, that on this trip, we should be traveling the speed limit in that area, because the Border Patrol officers were always thick in that area and they do run radar…a speeding vehicle means something entirely different to them than normal officers…so we were well within the speed limit going there and coming back. As we approached our turn off to the old mining district roadway, I noticed a few BP pickups with horse trailers parked on the side of the highway and officers getting ready to go horseback riding…something was up apparently, but they were on the other side of the highway and at least a few miles from where we would be. At the same time, I felt safe and protected, the whole time we were out there rockhunting, too. John opened the gate and then we headed down a very dusty, dirt road toward the ridge with several old mines dotting the landscape. Within a mile of the gate, we came upon some road construction equipment and two water tankers…another half mile down the dusty road, we came upon the road boss going toward his equipment base, we stopped to talk to him and he let John know that they were widening the dusty road with a grader and would likely be west of where we intended to be. I can safely say they did a great job widening it to the point we had to turn off. We drove up a slight hill and round to the left and parked just off the road amongst the sagebrush, grabbed our buckets and tools, headed up the hill to tailing piles we could see up on top of the hill….

The pile on the right in the photo above, turned out to be a turquoise mine, there were little pieces of it laying all over the ground and some of the guys dug into the white colored rock walls to get more…I have a lot of turquoise at home so I kept on searching…apparently Nick did as well cause he was out in front of me looking around too….

I know he wasn`t finding much cause I didn`t see him putting much in his backpack…one thing about our elevation up there, we had great views of the scenery in all directions around us…looking west in the first photo and northeast in the second photo, below…


and southeast of us here…

…we didn`t locate much of what we were looking for, pretty color and copper secondaries…so after talking to Nick and Pete about another mine right over the horizon to the east of us, we got into our trucks and headed in that direction, the others following me soon after. When Pete, Nick, and I pulled into the second old mine, we discovered several adobe looking building remains, and some rock walls and pillars that appeared to be an old mill site…as soon as we looked around the parking area, we spotted specular hematite…I first thought it was magnetite, but once John got there, he was able to determine specular hematite instead…it was all over the ground there….

There was mine machinery still fairly intact there at the old mill, like this piece…Dawson said it was a neat looking old Trommel….we spread out to search the grounds for anything pretty…I found some pretty crystals on some matrix rock near a couple of old shafts that were fenced off…showed them to John and he said, ” wow, where did you find these ?  ” and I pointed out the location, he said they were garnets…so several of us headed over there and I pointed out a few more and we found a few more beyond that…a pleasant surprise he said. 🙂 

We decided to head over to the old mine at Hachita that had been highly recommended to us by a few clubs that go there…we drove south on yet another dirt road…this one, unfortunately, had not been graded or smoothed out in places, but we eventually arrived at it and started fanning out to search again. This one was much more promising, there was good color on the ground all over the place as soon as we got close. This mine has a lot of colorful history, worked by the Apache Indian Tribe for many years, they mined turquoise there, back in the days when Geronimo was their Tribal Chief, back in those days the Apache lands stretched from southwest New Mexico west and deep into Arizona. I`m not sure if we found any turquoise there that afternoon, but we sure found a lot of chrysacolla and malachite there…there were several tailing piles there to look at and several washes that were nice, the walls were stuffed full of color in each one of them…the grounds of this mine produced quite a bit of color……we parked and walked in….

….checking out the first big tailing pile and then moving on to a second, they both were so tall they blocked out the view of the mine adits and shafts in the background behind them…..Nic and Dawson took more photos than I did at this location…

Once we reached the back of the second tall tailing pile, there was color laying all over the ground in front of us…everywhere…and just beyond that…there was also this huge and wide wash that encompassed several adits….

….during later exploration of the wash near the back of it, I discovered  some nice chunks of a pretty pink druse quartz, some of it with the chrysacolla, stuck in the banks of that wash on both sides…yes I brought some of those chunks home with me, these 2 for sure….

We all walked around picking up colorful stuff all over the grounds…and then started exploring a little more in depth…there were horizontal adits about fifteen feet down with some entrances easy to get in to them and some were not…so the guys explored the easy entrances and were able to get some beautiful chrysacolla from them….I`ll just let the photos Nic and Dawson took, do the talking….

 

Pretty nice photos, right ? I didn`t venture down there so much appreciated that Nic and Dawson could share them with me so I could share them with you here…this next photo shows David Bruce standing up above the horizontal adit they are in…I did walk over there and look down, in time to see David Hodge climbing up the ramp out of there with two full buckets.

About an hour later, we were packed up and headed back to Deming for supper at the Italian Restaurant again. This would be our last night of supper as a group, we had received word of a snow and ice storm bearing down on Missouri, Iowa, and  Arkansas, so we were all going to head back home the next day to get ahead of the storm.

We had another great breakfast the next morning at Denny`s once again before heading out in separate directions. David Bruce even  surprised us by having a milkshake as part of his breakfast…

…figured it must be a Chef thing. 🙂

I found out later that David Bruce and Dawson hit a checkpoint roadblock near White Sands National Park, due to a missile test and Dawson was able to capture some video footage of it. Told him they were lucky, as all I got to see on the way back was another big brush fire. 🙂

John stuck around a little while to visit with some friends and do some research as well at the Retro Ranch. I heard from him later when he finally made it to the storm, had to drive thru it, believe he dealt with alot of ice, but made it home safe and sound…his car told the story….

Onyx and I headed north toward Albuquerque…I had called Ray to see if he would be home late morning and he said he would, so I could drop off the release forms with him and thank him once again for allowing us to dig at his mine. After filling the tank once again, we headed east on I-40 and didn`t stop for the night til we reached Shamrock, Texas…stopping for the night at a hotel being remodeled, called the Irish Inn. Onyx and I were up early the next morning and headed home, arriving about mid afternoon and ahead of the storm. I heard from Pete and Nic, David Hodge, and Dawson, letting me know they had made it home safe and sound as well.

Another great trip for the record books…resulting as always from the combination of great locations, great weather, great minerals found, great food, great lodging, and of course, great friends to rockhound with. Really sorry that more couldn`t make this trip…believe me, you and your company were greatly missed by all of us.

Really appreciate your patience with me getting this entire story and photos sorted, edited, and arranged, sorry for the delay in putting it together…my right eye is finally beginning to heal properly as of today and I should be back to 100 percent by Friday. 

 

 

Missouri Rockhounding November 12th, 13th, 14th, 2021

As many of you know, normally my group and I go to southern Arkansas the second weekend of November each year to dig and collect Arkansas Quartz Crystals at privately owned mines owned by good friends. This year, we were expecting to hear from a couple of good friends north of Hot Springs, where we all normally stay at,  regarding our first visit to their new mine as a small group. I started checking with them before the Kentucky trip, because I always get asked there if I have any idea where we are going in Arkansas. I was told that they were still waiting on the FS to approve their contract for their new mine, and what was holding them up was remarks from the Osage Indian Tribe, which sounds like another ploy by the FS to delay someone from making a living and helping promote the tourism industry, which that area of Arkansas, depends heavily on in the first place. I checked with two other mine owners, and they were both having issues with their machines, so we basically did not have a mine we could go collect at, knowing we would likely find some good material. I let everyone know at the Kentucky trip and by October, with nothing changing for the good, I suggested a Missouri rockhounding trip to many of my favorite locations instead. Many liked that idea and so I began to plan for that instead.

Slade let me know that he would like to come up and go rockhunting with me a day earlier than the rest, so he drove up on Wednesday, Nov 10th, arriving in Sullivan about 4 pm and I took him to El Nopal for supper…Rafa and Sean, the two managers there, also like rocks and minerals, Sean more into crystals as Spirit Stones, and they were amazed that I have rockhound friends willing to drive from North Carolina to go rockhounding with me. 🙂 I told them they seriously had no idea. 🙂

The next morning I met Slade at Cracker Barrel about 7 am for breakfast, and then we headed out soon after, driving southeast to check out a roadcut that sits way back from the highway. I had been there before a time or two, and it produces Williamsville Calcites, that are only found in a very small area of Missouri`s Ozarks region. There is a quarry south of there that also produces those calcites but it is owned by a company that does not like rockhounds…and I am putting that mildly from what the stories I have heard about this company.

I have always tried to surround myself with good rockhounds, and I expect every rockhound in my group to be a good rockhound, treating others with the same respect and courtesy, as they would want to be treated, following good ethics when it comes to rockhounding in general as well as when they are around others. Luckily, everyone in my group is exactly like that, nice and respectful to others, and many in my group are both knowledgeable and experienced as well.

At the same time, many of us also know people who are not respectful of others, not nice to others, do not care about rules, laws, or ethics, and could care less about safety policies/procedures…unfortunately these days, there are people like that in every walk of life, rockhounding included, and those people are why many of us are not allowed to go rockhounding in certain places, that quarry being one of those places. When I hear about privately owned and operated places like that, that do not like rockhounds, that is exactly the scenario I think of and the reason we cannot go there. Believe me, I personally know people like that, have seen what they do with my own eyes, so they are definitely out there and they can definitely ruin it for all of the good rockhounds.

Slade and I arrived mid morning and parked well off the shoulder, grabbed our tools and buckets, donned our hard hats, and walked over to the wall, a good sixty feet from our trucks…I left Miss Onyx in the truck and we started walking the wall checking for pockets. We found several but many were tight and offered little room to work on them, Slade was able to work on a few near the base of the wall and we also found some crystals and plates that had fallen from way up high as well, some were intact, too. We had  been there a little while and worked our way down to the very end of the wall, finding some large calcite clusters in a couple of vugs in the lower end, and I was on my way back to my truck to get a hammer and chisel and another bucket. I looked up and spotted our buddy David Hodge, driving up and parking in front of my truck…David is the Field Trip Director for the Central Arkansas Gem, Mineral, and Geological Society of the Little Rock area and has been in my group a few years. He was doing some exploring on the way up and thought he might find us at that roadcut, since he knows it is one of my favorite ones. He stopped off at one on the way up Hwy 63 and found some nice crystals in that one, too, showing us what he had found there.

He walked back down to the end of the wall with us to look at the big cluster Slade and I were trying to remove, and helped us remove it…it refused to budge with just two of us hammering on the chisels under it, so David worked his way around behind it with a pry bar and started moving it and pretty soon it came right out…size of a beach ball and pretty solid calcite with Williamsville petals all over it. I let Slade take it home with him, as I have several basketball sized ones in my collection already.

As we were walking it back to Slade`s suv, I noticed some small plates of calcite petals with some pretty dolomite crystals sticking out here and there, so I grabbed my mini mattox and did some exploring, also filled half a bucket of small clusters that were on the ground there as well, and some plates of very brightly colored yellow dolomites. Pretty soon all three of us were over there filling our buckets with even more nice stuff. Here is what Williamsville Calcites look like….

Pretty soon, I checked the time, and told the guys we needed to get on the road, because we had a dinner date with Sam and Aaron, who were driving in from Virginia and wanted to eat supper at Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba, so we drove that way…I knew it would be closer to 6 pm before we got there and texted Sam and Aaron to let them know. I had forgotten to let the others know, but knew that several of them knew about El Nopal and Cracker Barrel close to the motel they were staying at, so I wasn`t worried too much about them. Some of them had something to eat on the way there as well.

We arrived very close to 6 pm and found Sam and Aaron waiting just inside the door for us, and I am sure they were as hungry as we were, I think all of us had the two meat platter with the side dishes and it definitely hit the spot, plus we were able to sit in my favorite area, in the back by the big stone fireplace and they had a good fire burning in it. The next morning I was leading them down to the West Druse Farm, located 3 miles northwest of Potosi on Hwy 185, and we were due to arrive there at 7:30 am, so breakfast was a grab and go option for everyone. Patty Hermann had let me know before I left the house, that they were running late, because when they got to Vickie`s house, she was still asleep, her alarm didnt go off when it was supposed to. Once they arrived, not long after we did,  I sent Gunner down to pick them up and bring them up there, and they had a great time and found lots of nice stuff.

I drove over to the America`s Best Value Inn to pick everyone one up, and found out then that Thomas and Michael had tire problems coming across central Illinois on their drive from eastern North Carolina. They had to leave their car about an hour east of St Louis and hitched a ride on over with Dawson, and they had just arrived and checked into their room. Dawson was going to take them back to their car, and they would get a new tire put on the car, then drive back to the motel and then join us at Potosi. I figured it would prob be noon before we saw them. The rest of us headed south on 185 and arrived about 7:30 at West Druse Farm. I got my group settled in on collecting there and then I headed over to the Washington County Fairgrounds to meet up with some rockhounds from all over Missouri, who I had invited to join us, thinking it might be the last available trip to the West Druse Farm for 2021.

Mr. West gets heavily involved in charity events during November and December, besides operating three working cattle farms on a daily basis plus he has a few businesses in town as well, and then helps his grandparents as much as he can, too. He is a busy guy and he tries to accommodate rockhounds who want to come to his farm there and collect druse quartz, barite, blue barite, and galena lead cubes. That morning, he was directing a construction crew  on the hill above the creek crossing, where he was having them build him a haybarn, as we drove in and down to the creek, where we found his son waiting on us in the AWD razor. The wind was really ramping up that morning and I was having trouble getting a good signal on my cellphone, couldn`t even check the weather very much, and I sure hoped Dawson and the guys would be able to find us okay.

About a dozen extra rockhounds were scheduled to join us at the druse farm and collect with us…I found a few of them waiting for me at the parking lot by the fairgrounds, and as I pulled in to park at the front of the line near the road, I noticed a Toyota Tacoma four door pick up already there, same color as mine and a black tonneau cover like mine over the bed. I visited with the couple in that truck for a few minutes, he didnt have as many miles on his truck as I had on mine, but it was in very good shape and looked great like mine.

As we visited there, several more showed up ready to go with us. We waited til about 9:35 am and then headed to the farm. Once everyone was across the creek and settled in collecting, I headed over to a spot that I knew some of my crew would be at and started rockhounding with them. Some of the Missouri rockhounds worked their way in that direction also, many often follow me around to various areas as they know I am familiar with many collecting areas there.

Everyone was finding some great stuff, David Hodge found some nice big plates of druse with the crystalline barite balls on it…I would still love to find the source of that stuff, but so far we have only found it in washed out areas. Several of us found some small clusters with blue crystalline barite covering them, some were mixed with druse, we found several small combos of turtleback barites on grey and blue druse quartz that were nice and shiny.

The couple with the Tacoma truck like mine, were mainly looking for yard rocks and landscape rocks, and they had found several near the new pond….

…and up hill above it where some of us were looking for the barites. Slade and I walked over and checked out some of the rocks that she had in the back of the pick up, a mix of yard rocks and landscape rocks…landscape rocks being much bigger than yard rocks….

She had one in the back of the truck that took up the entire right side of the bed, it was at least 3 feet long, and every bit of 24 inches high and thick on one end, tapering down to a narrower mass at the other end, covered with knobs of druse and barites…heavy enough that she said neither she or her husband could lift it into the truck, so she had requested the owner come pick it up with his machine, near the new pond and place it in the back of their truck. Gunner went to the barn by their house and got the Bobcat machine, drove it over to the new pond area and lifted it up and placed it into the back of their truck. He took a photo of it and sent it to his Dad so that he could price it for them. When Gunner told them what the price would be for it, they got upset…they considered it a yard rock, Gunner told them no, that was a landscape rock, not a yard rock and said there was a huge difference between the two. He also explained to them that when he has to go get the machine to lift one into a vehicle, there can also be a separate machine assist charge for that…they apparently thought that should be free because another location in the area does not charge for the use of their machine. Gunner offered to remove it from the bed of their truck and place it back on the ground and she said no, they definitely wanted to take that one home with them, which they did, but they made a stink about it on FB after they got back home with their treasures.

As far as I know, that was the only problem encountered that day. Everyone in my group had a great time and enjoyed the day plus the treasures we found.

Around noon, I started getting text messages from Dawson and Thomas, they were trying to find us, they knew the general area were in, but couldnt find us…the wind was playing havoc with the signal down there that day…normally I have a strong signal down there, but not that day. I was able to send them road name information by text and short phone calls, cut short by the signal failing many times, but they finally managed to find and join us, with a couple of hours to spare. By that time, we were exploring the wooded area on the north side of the big lake and we found some nice plates and clusters of druse over there. We headed back to Sullivan about 3:30 pm, mainly because we like to give the Mr. West and his son some daylight and time to take care of their farm chores, like feeding their cattle after they have accommodated us for six or seven hours. We would have split the day and gone to Haunted Ridge as well, but they were closed for deer season, which was set to start the next day.

Once we got everyone out of there, I led my group back to Sullivan and over to El Nopal for a hearty Mexican dinner. The next morning we were getting up even earlier and driving down to My Favorite Quarry.

It was still dark when we took off and the sun was up and warming when we arrived…I had not received any word that any new activity had taken place recently, so I wasn`t sure how we would do today, but like I always tell everyone, I have never had a bad day there. There was a little bit of a pile still there, so we checked it out first, not finding much of anything nice on it tho…I spotted one poker chip cluster sitting up near the wall on top of the loose rock…

After we finished that, everyone fanned out and started looking along the wall for pockets,  or in the boulder piles for vugs to work.

By early afternoon we were all nearly back together, working pockets along the wall on the east side tho, except for the Hewlett brothers, who were over on the west side of the quarry checking out some old pockets, one that was big enough to lay down completely inside it and I heard they were able to pull some crystals out of them and found some new pockets as well. I began working my way to the east along the wall, starting where Kim Hill discovered and worked deep pocket of razzle dazzle calcites all day when MAGS was there in late October….

….and next I came upon Aaron working some pockets….

…then I saw Dawson, with a  nice plate of poker chips in his hand and a huge smile on his face…

…I have come to find out that Dawson is a big fan of calcite like I am.

I continued down the wall a short distance and found David Hodge and Slade looking for pockets so I moved down the wall in between them and started looking as well. Pretty soon I had a hole opening up in the wall….

….and I began pulling a few small calcite blade and druse plates out…

I was showing the guys the plates as they came out and it was oooohhhh and wowwww city for awhile over there…I would clean out an area and then another hole would open up behind it….

…and each time I would find another opening, larger usually, the plates coming out were getting bigger, longer, wider…I had to move a little slower because those calcite blades are razor sharp, and I was getting sliced and diced a bit…I just kept going…just a little slower to be more careful pulling those bigger plates out…

and one came out as a hole in one end piece….

…and then they started coming out in multiple colors with alot of sparkles

….

The only major problem I was having, was that the plates were getting larger and the entrance to the pocket was not…so I slowed down and pulled out more smaller plates until I had two buckets filled with wrapped plates, and then I returned to the truck for a bottle of water as well as more tools. I no sooner returned and was able to open the entrance a lot wider, then I pulled this huge plate out of there…this one was multi-colored and double sided as well….

…followed by these two big plates….

…soon I had three buckets completely full of smaller stuff and several large plates wrapped up to take home…I stuck my phone inside the pocket and took this photo to show you how sparkley it was on the back wall…

..and then I decided to let everyone get some plates out while there were still some in there…Slade was the first one over and he pulled out a nice plate on the back wall that had a poker chip on the back side, that unfortunately broke off as it was coming out….

…after the dust settled, Sam and Dawson decided to open the entrance much more and see if they could remove more of the back wall and using prybars they made a huge difference !!  Now you can see how deep the pocket was and how much the back wall is completely covered in pretty calcite druse and blades, with pockets of black druse mixed in as well…

I called it my EPIC Pocket !!

We headed back to Sullivan, arriving about 7 pm and drove directly over to the Du Kum Inn Home Cooking and Steakhouse…there were a few customers still there when we walked in and I asked if it was okay to come in that late, they said come on in and we did…we did close the place down and the food was great.

We slept in a little the next morning and drove down to the Secret Spot Quarry..Patty and Gabriella met us along the way and followed us there.

 

Rockhounding Guide Services Available…

For the past year I have been taking several groups rockhounding to various locations in Washington County, Missouri, which is well known for collecting druse quartz and barite. A well known mineral dealer in the area, had been taking groups to a few locations so they could collect druse quartz and bladed barite, but he was growing weary of the activity and asked me to take over, and was instrumental in setting me up with some of the local agencies in the Potosi area that I would be interacting with for access to a couple of the locations.

He also set me up with a local landowner, Greg Coleman, who owns Haunted Ridge Druse Farm near Cadet…he had inspected Greg`s extensive farm property of 200 acres and found druse quartz in huge abundance there, in many forms, colors, shapes and sizes.

 

Greg was in need of some assistance  in getting it off the ground and into operation, so I met with him one day and we hashed out a basic plan to get him going. I began by advertising his farm location and posting photos of the druse quartz found there, and then I began leading several clubs and small groups to collect there, eventually bringing in larger groups as word began to spread among rockhounding facebook page groups.

In addition to beautiful druse quartz on his property, Greg also has hillsides covered with multiple colors and sizes of Missouri Lace Agate, suitable for lapidarists  and jewelry makers. He also has barite in at least three forms including some bladed barites, and iron in the form of limonite and hematite, can be found in various areas that include straws, raisins, blades, stars, and columns, sometimes attached to the druse quartz. The following photos show druse with hematite raisins and bars/straws attached….

 

Within six months, Greg had things down pat, was able to take early retirement from his workplace and begin to operate his farm on his own. He and his wife Judy, and their family crew, have made some great changes and additions to the basic  operation that I started him off with, and they have made a great name for themselves in Customer Service related to Rockhounding.

From the get go, Greg created a large parking area behind his house, and placed a porta potty out there as well, He also began transporting rockhounds, six at a time in his four wheel drive razer, to various locations on his farm to surface collect and dig, and then would check back on them throughout the day, hour by hour, and then transport them and their filled and heavy buckets back to their vehicles for them. He and his crew also lift and load heavy, large yard rocks into their razors and transport them back to the rockhound`s vehicle as well, and assist in transferring the buckets and yard rocks to the vehicle, too. During the hot summer months, Greg also put several foam coolers out in various wooded areas, stocked full with iced down water bottles, to help rockhounds in those areas stay hydrated while collecting. He also sets extra buckets out in those areas in case rockhounds need extra buckets for the crystals they are collecting. During the height of the summer season, Greg hosted a Machine Dig at his farm and with bigger crowds attending, he had an extra porta pottie placed out in the wooded area near where the machine was digging at. Word has since spread across the country about his farm and the collecting opportunities there, as well as the great customer service that Greg and his family crew offer to rockhounds.

Recently, Greg and Johnboy, one of his brother in laws, were up at Geode Fest 2021 in Keokuk, Iowa, where they sold Druse Quartz and t shirts that he had printed up, at a booth there…they did so well they sold out a day early !!

Once Greg started operating his farm solo, I shifted my attention to another landowner that was referred to me, and met with him at his property one day. He took me for a tour on his razer and showed me the 400 acres that he was in the process of clearing off brush and some timber, to create pasture for his cattle. He had been told that some lead and barite mining had taken place there many years ago, but other than that, he wasn`t aware of what might be there. We stopped and walked some areas that he was familiar with, one a large dirt area fringing a large lake, this dirt area was extensive and I was finding alot of druse plates, big and small while walking it…he told me that there had been a deep trench there when they began clearing and the trench was backfilled with stumps first and then piles of dirt laced with druse quartz on both side of the trench, so that area alone is at least 50 feet deep in druse quartz….

This landowner decided since he is continuing to clear his land off to eventually graze cattle on, he would offer collecting to groups on certain weekends when he was available and I would set up the group digs on those available weekends, and lead the rockhounds by group to his farm. During the initial few weeks of setting up a basic plan of operation for him, I was able to bring some rockhounds in my group down to do some basic exploring to see what all we could find there.

We began to find small barite plates with tiny blades on them, many were in a curved formation and some were attached to druse, found at two different spots on the property. I showed them to Greg Coleman at one point and he told me they were called Turtleback barites, that is what the older miners called them, and they were crushed up right along with the ugly massive barite. This is what they look like…two attached to druse and one by itself…

 

One thing was certain, a large mining operation had taken place there back in the 40`s and 50`s, as evidenced by several hand dug and  machine dug exploration holes dotted all over the wooded area hillsides surrounding the cleared off areas. I did some research online and discovered not just one mine in that area, but another mine had operated in that same area as well, and the larger of the two constructed a smelter and a milling operation there as well.

As I continued to go there and scout the land as it was cleared off, I made even more discoveries of beautiful crystals there…and informed the rockhounds coming to the farm so they were able to collect more than druse quartz….soon I was finding crystalline blue barite plates in various areas of the property, usually in piles of deer red rich clay.

Many of the turtleback barites have been found in big pockets on the hillside above the new pond, which the landowner had dug out by the dozer operator on the west side of the property…over there we have also extensively walked and explored the hillside all around the new pond and found white quartz, clear quartz, green quartz and smoky quartz, much of it with the turtleback barites attached…mainly down by the water`s edge as well, and the barite there is color influenced by the clay dirt, so it will either look red, yellow, or orange, however rockhounds can often clean it by soaking in Iron Out and that will bring the true color back to a white. Most do not clean it off completely as the various color shades reveal the tiny blades on the turtlebacks much better than white does.

Recently we have found some Missouri Lace Agates here and there across the property, some with black lace colors involved, which is a new one for most collectors, no one seems to remember finding that color anywhere else in Washington County at least.

I also discovered some purple druse quartz in huge piles of red rich clay piled up on either side of the lower dam of the big lake. The landowner created a breach in the north side of the lower dam to drain the lake down so he could make repairs to a leak in the middle of the dam…on both sides of the breach area are the huge piles of rich red clay dirt and the purple druse was found on the lake side of the breach…

On the other side of the breach, the water flows down and creates a large waterfall, and that water continues to flow down the hill to a large scenic creek that flows through the middle of the farm…

Druse plates can be found in the breach area as well as the waterfall….

..and in the huge piles between the dam and the waterfall, large plates of druse have been pulled out….

This year is without a doubt, one of the busiest I have been, taking many groups rockhunting to both of the druse farms in Washington County and some groups to other locations I have access to, including a couple of quarries…so if anyone is interested, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com

Bladed Barite from Washington County

Last weekend I drove down to Washington County to the Washington State Park to meet members of the St Louis Rock Club and hunt for barite and galena. We met at the Petroglyph site of the park and checked out the fossil footprints on the rocks, as Dr Bruce Stinchcomb told us about the history of the area rocks. We then drove a little ways over to some property that Dr Bruce owns, crossing a creek and then driving up a small mountain of a hill to several old tailing piles of ” tiff ” mines. Tiff is a term that the locals use to describe barite, which was heavily mined in that area back in the early to mid 1900`s, leaving many old tiff pits all over the countryside of Washington County. I have to stop and say one thing here…that is the first time I have ever seen anyone cross a creek in a very small Chevrolet car, and not just once, but two of them went across that ten foot wide creek with no problem at all, and I was totally amazed !! After stopping to talk to one of the neighbors up on top of that huge hill for a few minutes, we caravanned on down the road to a ” Y ” intersection where we parked and fanned out in search of goodies.  I began by helping a few of the other members find some nice ones, Chuck Reed and his daughter Mackenzie, and a couple of guys named George and Darrel, weren`t sure what we were there looking for. I also had taken a few flats of calcite crystals from the quarry at Eminence and let everyone know they were welcome to come over and take some home with them…even Dr Bruce liked what he saw in the flats too. After a few minutes, I took off up the road to the south and then down an embankment to a red clay looking tailing pile about 20 yards away, and after walking around a little bit, I climbed up on a small hillside and found some really nice looking bladed barite pieces just sitting there waiting on someone like me to take them home…..

15 Newer16 Newer17 Newer

…I looked around and found four or five right on top and gathered them up in my arms and headed back to the truck. This time I grabbed a bag and my mini mattox and let Onyx out on his leash to walk him around a bit. Two of the members had their dogs with them on leashes as well. We headed back to the spot where I dug around a little bit, while Darrel and George were in the area searching as well. Darrel and I found a barite shelf in the top of that pile but we didn`t find any more nice bladed pieces like I had found. I wandered on down the hill and around a corner where I spotted yet another small pile, and within a few minutes, I had found some nice druse chunks with bladed barite blended in with the druse….

18 Newer19 Newer20 Newer

…Chuck and Mackenzie joined me a few minutes later and we dug up a few more nice ones, before Dr Bruce decided to drive on down and around the area to find some more areas to dig in. While we joined them and dug around a bit more, we never did find another area that had as nice of stuff. Shortly after I ran out of time and had to head home to get a nap in before I returned to work that night once again. I had a great time while there and always enjoy looking for Missouri Bladed Barite. Thanks to Dr Bruce for a great field trip !!

More Bladed Barite

I no sooner returned from the second weekend in Kentucky with more fluorite after a successful sixth spring season, than Docia and I decided to return to the barite area and see if we could find some more pretty bladed barite. Since its a very open area and we could go through the week, we opted to meet down there again on Thursday…meaning this report is about two weeks old, thats how far behind I am. We both studied the maps a bit and decided to checkout that middle road and see if it would lead us to the red clearing that is on the map, that we had been looking at for weeks now. On our last trip down there, we had searched the roads on either side of the middle road, without finding this spot, so the middle road was our objective this trip. We had to do a little cleanup along the way down this road, since its so brushy down there, so it took a little longer to get down the road than we figured. Plus we had to cross that gully again in four wheel drive…

01 Gully to Cross First

 

…with that barite ledge on the other side….I had Docia wait til I crossed it so I could photograph her coming across it….and as I crossed it, she photographed me….

13 Me About to Cross Gully

14 Dropping Off Into Gully

15 Coming Up Out of Gully

 

 

…I was no sooner there than here came Docia across it….

03 Docia Drops Off Into Gully

 

04 Headed Down Hill

 

 

…and she came across just fine….

05 Out of Gully

 

….we parked here and walked down the middle road a little ways to see how brushy and rocky it might be. After a little bit of trimming, I went back and got my truck and started down the road…

06 Road to Trim

 

…it looks good here…but believe me, it was a bit brushier in the next photo which is around the turn….

07 Road to Tiff Mines

 

…and after another hour of walking and trimming, we finally came to the clearing we kept seeing on the map…an area of old tiff mines…

08 Old Tiff Mines

 

…we searched the entire old mining area and only found a few spots with some quartz and druse…this hillside being one of the main areas. We found that a little odd, since we were right up the hill above an area that we find it quite often and heavily….

09 Hillside We Dug Into

 

…so we searched and dug a little here and pulled a few nice quartz druse pieces out…here is the area I was digging into….

10 Quartz Chunk I`m Digging Out

 

After an hour here and not coming up with much, we decided to return to Docia`s blazer and then drive over to the bladed barite hill we found two weeks before and see if we could locate more barite around that side of the hill as well as surrounding areas. We had some friends coming up from Oklahoma that weekend that we were sure would love the bladed barite as much as we like it too. We found enough to fill two bags each and I found a couple of nice sized ones for my mom`s flower beds too. We also left quite a bit for our friends to find, too. Here are some of the pieces I found….

 

17 Barite Found

We crossed back over the gully and went north…..

12 Gully Exit Ramp

 

11 Leaving The Gully

 

 

We decided to check out a couple of other areas around there and see if we could locate more pretties, but after an hour of driving and looking, we came up empty handed, and decided to head over to the secret spot and see if we could find some nice druse there…thats the next story since its a different animal…

Mom`s New Rock Garden

Wednesday afternoon last week, I woke up early and went over to my parents house to help them clear off an old flower garden and convert it to a rock garden with rose bushes and iris flowers. I had been gathering several medium to large druse crystals for it lately and put it all together by Wednesday evening. While we were out there arranging things and digging up older flowers to take out, I kept hearing wild turkeys chattering around the area, and finally spotted six of them deep in their neighbors backyard across the street…they were running all over the place and didnt seem to mind us out in the yard working…

Wild Turkeys Across the Road

 

Wild Turkeys Across the Road 2

…there appeared to be a couple of gobblers and four females…they almost looked like large geese, since a couple of them were pure white…anyway we finished the garden about suppertime…

Just About Finished

…there is druse, Arkansas Quartz, Poker Chip Calcite Crystals, Bladed Barite, and Fluorite in the Garden now…with the knockout roses my Mom put in there too.

Finished

 

…and a few more I helped her create this past year as well….

 

Front Yard East Side

 

Main Front Garden 2

 

Main Front Garden

 

Closeup Main Front Garden

Bladed Barite and Druse

Saturday morning Missy and I headed out to meet up with Docia down in the National Forest west of Potosi and since I had filled the gas tank on Friday, I decided to go down the backroads to reach the meeting spot. I was able to drive down some roads I hadn`t been to in while, the last time when Potosi had a lumbermill fire and I drove a fire truck down to assist them with it and we sprayed water through a portable deck gun for about ten hours on a burning pile of lumber thirty feet high by 100 yards long. I drove right by that same lumberyard and found it now to be a three times bigger operation than it was back then. Sure hope they are more careful these days.

As I approached the meeting place I drove by a few old tiff mine workings that date back to the 40`s and 50`s…tiff is what the locals down here call barite, and most of the old pits are now filled with water and the tailings remain above the undergrowth and brush.  We met up with Docia who was walking up the road I drove down on, looking in the ditchline for druse and barite. Missy and I stretched our legs for a few minutes and then we loaded back up and drove back up the same road, to check out the tiff pits.…we checked out a few older mining sites and pits and found absolutely nothing, so we decided to drive down to an old smelter site that Docia found the week before. We turned down a road that soon turned into some deep ruts of wash outs that a standard car would not be able to navigate….

05 Four Wheel Drive Access

 

03 Came Down Rutted Road

 

…and all that remained of the old smelter were some foundation walls and steel rails…

04 Old Smelter Along Rutted Road

 

06 Road By Old Smelter

 

 

…it was obvious the roads weren`t going to improve so soon we were four wheeling down the trail in search of druse and barite….

07 Roads Dont Get Any Better

 

…I haven`t done any true four wheeling for quite a few years but it was alot of fun reliving the old days…about a quarter mile down we drove through a couple of large and wide mudholes and then came to a gully crossing…I got out and looked it over first as there was a drop off and then a short ditch crossing, then up the other side and over a small rocky ledge to the top…figured if I could clear the ledge than Docia could as well as her Blazer sits higher than my Colorado does...but as soon as you drop off into the gully, you cant see anything for a few seconds, til the nose of your vehicle catches up with the tires on the downhill slant….apparently that makes Docia a little nervous so when we reached the top on the other side…..

11 Smelter in Distance

 

….above you can see the starting point on the other side and the edge of the rocky ledge at the top on this side…we parked at the intersection of three trails and she decided we should walk a while….so we walked down the trail leading to the right….

08 Walked This Road

 

…bout a half mile down this trail til we started hearing gunfire down the hill below us and decided it wasn`t a good spot to be out walking in, so we returned to the trucks and walked a short ways down the middle trail, but decided it was a bit rough looking to drive down and then chose to try the left trail. I grabbed a bag in case we started finding some nice stuff.

Soon after heading down the left trail, we spotted a clay bank off to the left and down across a holler on the next hill over and decided to walk over and check it out for druse. While we didn`t find much druse on the near side where we first started, as we worked our way around the hill, we started finding more of it. Docia headed up the hill to check for some and I continued around the clay back to the northern face of the hill and soon started finding large specimens of druse and hematite and limonite in colors of orange, yellow, and purple……just past this chunk of hematite/limonite above, we started finding bladed barite and druse all over the face of the hillside…

13 Bladed Barite in Woods

 

…like this one nestled in the pine needles and leaves…..and then I found a chunk of it buried in a clay bank and broken up some, but some large pieces of it still intact and quite pretty….

14 Bladed Barite Pocket

 

…and after filling my bag about half full, we started back to the trucks…that barite is quite heavy, so after about a hundred yards, I decided to stop and high grade along a trail…we then walked on back to the truck. We had a spare hour, so decided to drive back over to the barite spot and collect some more before heading back to Viburnum….

15A Road To Barite Area

 

…when we arrived back at the spot, I found some large bubbles of druse buried in the clay dirt and tried to dig them out…a few came out and a few were too big to come out….so we left them there for Mother Nature to take care of….here are a few of the photos of Docia`s nice bladed barite specimens that she found there….

Another Docia Found in Big Ditch

 

Docia`s First Find

 

 

…and a plate of druse with barite attached that she found….

Docia`s Druse with Bladed Barite

 

…I will get some of mine cleaned up this week and posted for you to see as well…one last note…I did notice that even though Docia admitted to being a ” wus “, when it came to four wheeling, she sure had no problem charging into and through the mudholes down there…

09 Fear Factor

10 Docia Goes Muddin