Central Kentucky Labor Day Weekend 2021

It`s New Years Eve 2021 and we are expecting the first Winter Storm of 2022 tomorrow morning, so I figure I can get my Rocks Website caught up this weekend while riding out the storm. Right now I am transferring photos from my phone to my computer so I can fully illustrate my last couple of big stories…I really need to get back to using my Nikon camera more than my phone, the quality of the videos and photos are much higher with the camera, but it is much easier to use the phone camera when shooting spur of the moment videos that I can then easily transfer to my FB page, and I guess that is the main reason I have shot more with my phone camera in the past year.

We had a great time in Central Kentucky this year once again, and Nathan, my new local rockhound friend, was able to go with me this time and it was his first big field trip ever. Safe to say now, that he had a great time and enjoyed rockhounding with all of my friends as much as Onyx and I did. Pretty sure I can also say that our two days at Liter`s Quarry was again the highlight of the trip, this year we found alot of pockets with new mineral and crystal finds, unlike anything we have found there in the past couple of years, some of the finds were nothing short of Phenomenal !! Some of the guys were still talking about it when they were up here rockhounding with me in November.

I was once again, ready for a break from work this year, the last few days of August we had some high winds at the golf course and we spent alot of time cleaning up trees and limbs that had been blown down all over the hill on the front nine holes. One large tree had several limbs knocked down and required the use of our new Mahindra tractor to drag them down to the woodline for disposal. Luckily, the week ahead looked great for all of us, weather wise.

I let everyone know I was going to stop off at Gary`s house to pick up some new fluorite pieces, always a hit at the swap and sell tailgate event. I had called Gary to see what they had available, and he let me know they had several nice clusters, small to big, in the purple and yellow cubes from a pocket they had discovered back in the spring time and several new clusters in purple and grey cubes from a pocket they had recently found and began to work. Some of the purple and grey cubes also had galena cubes attached and was quite pretty he said. He also hinted at some bad news and said he would explain further on it when I arrived Friday morning.

I worked four hours Thursday morning, Sept 2nd, so I could finish out the day packing the truck with flats for the swap and sell tailgate event, and finish packing everything else for Onyx, Nathan, and I. We left about 5 am heading east and got thru the St Louis area lickety split going around 270 and 255 to I-64 east…hit it just right at 44 and 270 and encountered light traffic going south on 270, figured maybe the holiday traffic went through there the day before. We arrived at Gary`s house around 10 am and found Gary and Water waiting for us, with a lot of beautiful fluorites to look over as well.

( Would have gotten back to to this earlier today, but had to re-arrange several photos that I transferred from my phone to my computer, today…not sure why, but they did not sort automatically by date when they transferred in. Aint technology just great ??!! 🙂  )

Gary had some beauties, both the grey and purple fluorites with great zoning and some phantom cubes as well as some beautiful purple and yellow clusters, also with great zoning and phantoms. I purchased a pretty good selection cause I was sure once everyone laid eyes on these beauties, they would be interested in them as much as I was….

While I was standing there admiring all of them, I took these photos with my phone camera and sent a couple of the photos to my buddy Randy Gentry…I knew he wasn`t going to be able to make it up there on this trip, but knew he would love to see what Gary had available too…the photo above was one I sent him and he said get one of those for me, so I did. Randy is one of my best rockhunting friends, in my group as well, and one I don`t have to worry about when he asks me to pick something up for him like this. The next photo shows a plate that I really liked, good color and great quality, but the price tag on it was a bit steep for even me that day….

…and the next one, this one above, is a large cluster with some malachite attached to it….the one in the photo below did leave with me tho….

…along with several smaller plates and clusters, that were quickly purchased at the swap and sell event that evening. I think Nathan was quite impressed with the fluorites he saw that morning at Gary`s place and he enjoyed meeting and visiting with Gary and Walter as much as I do each time I travel down there.

We were back on the road about noon and headed to Danville, stopping only for gas and a light lunch…traveling across the state on four lane bluegrass parkways, four hour drive from there and an hour lost along the way. We arrived at 5 pm and got checked into the hotel at the Red Roof Inn Plus, freshened up a bit and made sure Miss Onyx was settled in,  then drove up to Harrodsburg, to the Bright Leaf Golf Resort Hotel and Restaurant, where most of the crew stays at during the weekend stay. It`s not a pet friendly hotel so I can`t stay there…in years past I stayed at the Baymont Hotel in Harrodsburg, but the quality seemed to be declining the last couple of years and I decided to stay at Danville this year…the Red Roof Inn had undergone a remodeling change two years ago and is quite nice.

We arrived at the Bright Leaf and walked into the buffet dining hall behind the hotel, to find many already sitting down to eat supper/dinner. I really like this place, it is very informal…they cater to alot of golfers there and local residents as well…and their service there is fast, we no sooner walked up and said hello to everyone, then the waitress was there to take our drink order  and mark us down for the buffet. Fast and friendly each and every time and good food as well. I let everyone know that while the fluorite mining was going well, they were also dealing with a lot of recent thievery down there…some mines were getting hit hard by thieves stealing diesel fuel which also is used for the pumps that keep the mines de-watered and safe for the miners, put the mine owners in a hard position. However, in this case, MSHA and other regulatory agencies, were very supportive of their position, and were making their Federal Marshals available to them should they need them to make arrests of theives and trespassers at the mines. Mainly because it seems in that area, local law enforcement has been compromised. Sad situation all the way around.

There were a few new faces this year on this trip…my friend Mark Northrup of Springfield, Missouri drove down to join us…Mark is the Field Trip Director for the Springfield Club and enjoys hard rock mining as well. Tammy and Todd Bromley, from Ohio, who I had the pleasure of rockhounding with several years ago when I was digging at the Eureka Fluorite Mine several years in a row, drove down to join up with us for the weekend. A young man who had not been rockhunting much, joined us on the drive to the second quarry location on Sunday morning, Brad McAtee, and later told me that he had a really good time and appreciated all the good advice from all the experienced rockhounds too.

We enjoyed a good dinner and fellowship for about an hour and then went out into the hotel parking lot for the swap and sell tailgate event. Weather was nice that day and evening, pleasant for visiting with everyone, got to visit Tammy and Todd Bromley and get caught up on old times with them.

My buddy Slade had asked me to pick up a nice cluster of fluorite for him so I handed that to him fairly quickly, because soon after, many of the rest of the fluorites were selected and purchased. We had a good time that evening, but by 9 pm most were headed back to their rooms to retire for the night, so Nathan and I packed it in and drove back down to Danville for the night. Our first day rockhunting was the next morning and we would be going to Caldwell Quarry, Slade graciously volunteered to lead the group down to Danville for me so that I would not have to drive up and back. As it was, Slade`s GPS took them a different route, through downtown Danville, a route I had always been advised by local friends not to take due to traffic issues, but they breezed right through the downtown business district with ease, so Nathan and I drove over to the quarry and found them already there and waiting for us.

I had been in contact with Clay, the Quarry Manager, the day before and he had liability waiver forms for us to sign and then gave a talk on the history of the quarry as well as a safety briefing. Last year, he made one of his employees available to us as a guide and this year I had put in a request to him mid summer, to see if it was possible that we could get Jeff again as our Guide this year too…Clay was able to make it happen again this year for us. Just like last year, 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.

Caldwell Quarry is always a roll of the dice for rockhunting, 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. You do not want to get near the walls of this quarry due to the height and safety risks associated with them.

Once we all had our hard hats and boots on, we assembled once again for a group photo by the huge boulder in front of the office….

Soon after we followed our Guide Jeff, down into the quarry, finding the layout vastly different from last year. Last year we couldn`t find the bottom floor of the quarry because there was this huge pile of rock sitting in it that was almost two levels high. This year, the bottom floor was completely open and available to explore….

Several brought their power saws, power drills, and small power hammers, mainly because when you find a boulder full of pretty crystalized vugs, it is much easier if you have a saw to cob down the boulder and then saw out the vug intact. Once I had folks lined out on where to look at this quarry, Miss Onyx and I did a walk around the ground level and found several clouds of dust where saws were in operation, meaning that several were finding some nice vugs of pretty crystals. Jeff brought a smaller saw with him and got it out to show us how it operated in comparison to the bigger saws the guys had…

…Slade decided to check it out….Jeff is in the white hard hat above standing next to Dean Russell, both watching Slade as he works with Jeff`s saw. Harry Polly is looking for pretty rocks in the berm pile back behind them. Nathan is checking for anything pretty in the more extensive berm pile further down the wall…this was his first major field trip and he was having a blast, pun intended. 🙂

I can`t recall who it was, but someone found a nice purple fluorite cube that morning at the quarry….

and someone else liberated this vug full of beautiful calcite crystals….

I believe we were out of there around noon that day and we headed to Junction City to look for geodes in a half mile stretch of White Oak Creek at the farm of a longtime good friend of the Hickory Club Members. The Hickory Club has been going to this creek location for several years and they enjoy visiting with the landowner as much as they enjoy walking his creek stretch to search for beautiful hollow sunshine quartz lined geodes…here is one that I found about an hour after we arrived…

…it`s a basketball sized one and for the first five smacks with the hammer, I was beginning to think it was another solid one, but it finally cracked open for me. Some rockhounds take them home and clean them out with a soak in Iron Out, which removes that beautiful sunshine color…I prefer the sunshine color and leave mine as they are. 🙂

Here is what the creek looks like close to where we park and enter it….

Onyx really likes this location on that first day of collecting, because quite naturally, she can go wading or swimming there and cool off…we normally have some warm weather down there on Labor Day Weekend and the quarry on Saturday morning doesn`t always have many water holes for her to get into, so this creek is always a lot of fun for her….

You`ll notice the water looks a little green behind Onyx above…that is due to the green colored shale creek bottom there, similar to the Green River in the Stanford area, it has a green shale bottom as well.

The first half geode I found today was this one, filled with a beautiful brown colored quartz, reminded me of the brown calcites found in geodes in northeast Missouri and Southern Iowa….

There are two major ways to search for and collect geodes in the creeks in that area…by wading or walking the gravel bars and visually searching for geodes…I first generally look for geode halves, consisting of geodes that have tumbled downstream during flooding and cracked open on their own, or someone finding one, cracking it open, and it doesn`t measure up to their satisfaction, and they then leave it there for others to find and take home. There are literally, hundreds of whole geodes, in all sizes from thimble to beach ball, laying all over those gravel bars, sometimes 2 or more feet deep, stacked on top of each other, from one end of the bar to the other and lining the creek bed bottoms, including the deeper water holes, waiting to be dug out or raked out with a potato rake or hoe, cracked open, and taken home by an appreciative rockhound.

The other way to collect geodes, is to dig them out of the creek or river banks…the photo below shows the shale layer at the bottom of the dirt bank as well as many geodes congregated right above the shale layer in the dirt with some a foot or two higher than the shale…

Some rockhounds use just a hammer to whack the whole geodes with, 4 or 5 times…more than that you are usually dealing with a solid geode…and some use a hammer on a chisel all the way around a geode to crack one open and hopefully wind up with two halves. The bad thing about just using a hammer is that you sometimes wind up with multiple pieces. I am as guilty as some others, who simply use a hammer and smack the whole geodes without the use of a chisel…I admit it…have done it several times, and sometimes other rockhounds see it and yell at me about it…most let me do whatever I want but some will say something to me about it. 🙂

I think it is fair to say that we all had a good time that day, most of us did well at the quarry that morning, some found some good stuff and I am pretty sure we all had a great time at the creek…lots of geodes to be checked out and the opportunity to get wet and cool off…just ask Onyx, she can tell you all about that. 🙂

About my third trip back to my truck with some pretty finds, my activity came to an abrupt stop, thanks to a couple of red wasps that for some reason were checking out the side of my neck, and when I went to brush them off, stung me. I waited and checked on the swelling and then took my eppy shot, plus an allegra tablet and then just chilled out for a while…red wasps and yellow jackets are the worst for me, in terms of pain involved from the time of the sting and for the next day or two you can still feel the pain quite well in the area of the sting and a bit beyond. Luckily I  had collected a couple of buckets worth and I was getting tired, so it was a good time for me to just chill out and relax down and visit with everyone. Once Nathan was good to go, we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit and clean up for dinner at the Bright Leaf and another tailgate swap and sell event afterwards.

The next morning, we drove up to the Bright Leaf to lead the group to the second quarry we go to, the drive to it takes us nearly 90 minutes but it has become the favorite location of the entire weekend, due to the material that we have been able to find and harvest there the last couple of years since we began going there.

I hesitate to identify this location anymore, because these days more rockhounds will not do the right thing and seek permission from the Quarry Manager to go there. Some do not have quarry safety training and some do not care about safety training, but they have no problem dropping my name if they are discovered inside the gates of certain places I rockhound at.That isn`t going to work for you if you decide to do that, because the property owner or Manager that I talk to and deal with, knows that I will contact them first, with information about someone that wants to go to their location. They also have my name and number in their cellphone rolodex, they can call me and ask me about someone, and if I don`t know you, I am going to let them know they are dealing with a trespasser.

I receive a lot of emails from folks every month, mainly folks I do not know, asking if I can get them into certain locations that I have collected at, asking if I can take them to those locations, usually it involves a quarry that I have been to. My first question to them is, are they are a member of a club, if so, does their club provides training on how quarries operate and safety policies at quarries, does their club requires safety equipment worn at quarries while collecting…if the answer is yes then I ask for a contact name and email addy or phone number so I can contact that person and verify what the person told me, and then I do just that…9 times out of 10, we don`t even get to that point in the conversation and I never hear from that person again. I have become increasingly more vigilant in who I take with me to quarries where we are allowed to collect at, because I don`t want to lose access to them myself and it can happen so easily from someone going to one and not treating the place with respect or following unsafe practices or ignoring safety procedures and policies.

On the other hand, if you have the knowledge, training, and act in a safe and prudent manner while rockhounding, and can prove it,  and if you are willing to go the extra lengths to secure permission before entering private property to collect, I am willing to help out where possible. Just want to put that out there, enough said.

My group always looks forward to the two days we are allowed to rockhound at this second location, and each year it seems to get better and better. This year was no exception, it was probably the best year we have had there so far. It was quite muddy this time, water and mudholes all over the parking lot and roads around the piles……

…you really had to watch where you were walking if your boots weren`t waterproof and we had to some cleaning up before we got back into our vehicles for the most part, at the end of the day as well. David Bruce and I elected to check out a few of the berm piles once we arrived…starting along the top of the piles at this point and going all the way over to the other side of the green pond on the far side…..

….finding some nice surprises here and there, David was finding some beautiful calcites at the base of the walls as well in a few spots. Dawson, Thomas, and Michael were checking out the walls on the far side out of sight in the photo above, and found some nice calcite pockets there.

Once I returned to the area where I parked, I checked out a short berm pile and found a flat stone, that had some purple and yellow coloring to it…

Once I washed it off in a nearby stream of clear water, it became evident to me and others, that the purple was fluorite…here is the other side of the flat stone….

…very pretty and yes it came home with me. 🙂 I decided from there to walk down the main large pile of boulders where several of the guys were checking for vugs, and I happened upon some nice vugs myself, worthy of photos….

…this one was quite nice…I don`t know who the lucky guy was that sawed it out, but it was GREAT to look at…dogtooth calcites up and down the length of it and snowball calcites mixed in as well…just gorgeous !!

I also spotted this nice vug with what appeared to be some smokey colored crystals inside it….

As I moved on down the muddy lane, I came upon Thomas trying to dig out what he thought was a fluorite find in the floor of the road….

It took him quite a while to remove it and once he did, it turned out to be something else. Thomas took it all in stride and moved over to another wall and began looking for pockets again…and soon found a nice pocket in a vertical crevice that was chock full of some weird calcite formations….

He called me over to check them out…

there are calcites and snowballs combined on many of them..and then he told me to pick out a couple of them and I did…pretty nice guy. 🙂

I left Thomas there to work the pocket some more and zagged over to the boulder pile where I saw Don Lapham, from New York state, working on some vugs in some boulders…

right away you notice Don has a power saw in front of him, but did you also notice that he has a lot of prybars and a sledge hammer within reach as well ?  Don is one of my hard rock miner rockhound friends…he isn`t afraid of hard work to acquire what he wants to take home to add to his collection…and keep in mind, a power saw still requires hard to work to operate it, they are no picnic, but they do make it much easier sometimes to remove those vugs full of crystals from a boulder, yet sometimes you have to fall back on the tried and true hand tools too….


I then zigged back to the other side of the muddy lane and moved on down the wall in search of more treasure…thinking I really liked those snowballs mixed with the calcites. Down the wall a ways I spotted Dawson on the other side of the lane checking for pockets in a short wall, he had a big smile on his face and a nice calcite crystal in his hand….

THAT is what a happy Dawson looks like, we get to see that occasionally on our trips. 🙂

I continued to move down the higher wall on the opposite side of the muddy lane. Soon I came upon an area that appeared to be vuggy and several pockets were visible, but higher up on the wall, well out of our reach with the safety of a nice ladder. I spotted some sparkles on a small flat boulder at the base of this section of the wall and looked down to spot this beauty….

…just sitting there waiting for me to come along and find it and take it home. After picking it up and giving it a closer examination, I gave out a bit whoop and yelled      ” EUREKA “…and a few minutes later Dawson showed up to see what I had found…think he was as excited about it as I was. We stayed in that section for a few more minutes trying to figure out where it  may have rolled down from…unable to spot anything viable, we kept on moving down the wall. Eventually we reached a vuggy area where he stopped to check on a certain area and about 15 feet further down, I spotted an opening with some of those snowballs in sight….

Naturally, the bright yellows caught my eyes immediately, the ones that were somewhat illuminated by the sunlight that was catching the ones on the front edge of a rather dark and deep looking pocket between two massively thick ledges of dolomite rock. I carefully removed the larger plates and set them on another ledge in the sunlight…

…and then this one, I set it all by itself on a ledge to my right….

…so you can see how nice and exciting it was to find a pocket like this and work it, even if only briefly. The pocket turned out not to be as deep as I initially thought it was, but I was very happy with what I did pull out of there, here is how it looked when I finished up….

Dawson did not spend a lot of time on his pocket either, but we figured we could return the next morning and check for extensions in each one,  and soon we were on the move yet again, looking for more treasure. Shortly after, I did come across this nice vug, but cannot recall where I spotted it at….

…I know what yall are thinking tho…you are thinking I should remember where this spectacular poker chip calcite cluster, surrounded by snowballs, was located since it is definitely one of my favorite specimens to collect all the time !! If my recall re-appears and lets me know where it was located, I will do an edit and correct this part of the story.

I found a few more nice vugs, photographed them as well…

and this next one was already on someone`s tailgate when I finally caught up to it…

Pretty soon we discovered Slade and Dean appeared to be missing, so I asked a couple of guys if they had seen them, and it seemed they drove over to check out the smaller pit near the entrance. Nathan and I loaded up and drove over to check on them and the rest of the crowd eventually followed us over there as well…we found Slade and Dean working on wall pockets over there…

…so low and behold, there were calcite pockets to be found over there as well. There were a couple of water holes in between them and where we initially parked…more on that in a few minutes…so Nathan and I check out this huge, widespread debris field and found a few goodies within it….

…we both found a couple of big ones, yard rocks, and I really didn`t feel like carrying them back across or around that water hole, seen below…

…so I opted to drive my pickup over to where I was standing instead, to get much closer. I was parked over beside Don`s jeep, and after checking to see how deep that water hole was, it varied in several spots, I opted to cross the narrow section which would be at an angle from the passenger side front corner of his jeep to the left in that photo above. Let me just say that I misjudged the depth at that point and luckily it was rock solid bottom, but for a brief second or two, I thought Don might have to hook up and pull me out of there, but then my trusty four wheel drive kicked in and pulled us right on through, across, and out of there. Needless to say, I found a much better place to cross going back, clearing out alot of those big rocks in the water hole in front of, and to the right of, Don`s jeep…the water level there was much more shallow. 🙂

I did snap a photo of some vugs sawed out of some boulders, that I spotted in someone`s truck, either Slades truck or David Bruce`s truck, and I cannot recall whose truck it was, but they are very pretty vug finds…


Once Nathan and I had our finds loaded up, we decided to head back to the hotel and clean up for supper. A couple of the guys followed me back, while the rest decided to stay and work pockets a little longer. Mark Northrup decided to head home from there, he was a little tired and had such a good time tho. I was a little worried about him making that long drive back after a workout like that…it`s mostly interstate from there, but not a lot of scenery to look at going across southern Indiana and Illinois…speaking from experience, those boring drives can make one pretty drowsy. I was greatly relieved when he texted me later to let me know he made it home safe and sound.

The next morning, there was a smaller group of us returning to the quarry again, the rest of the group heading home from Harrodsburg, so the rest of us made the drive back over, Dawson, Thomas, and Michael, drove down from Louisville and met us there. Nathan wanted to check out the dump pile at the top of the hill between the original pit and the newer larger pit, and some of the crew split up, some going back to the newer larger pit to see if we could open up some more of the pockets we worked the day before, and some went back to the original pit to check out more pockets there.

Dean and Slade first returned to the boulder pile in the middle of the newer pit, to recover some more vugs from select boulders…Dean is in the green reflective outfit and Slade in the Safety Orange colors…

Nathan had spotted some crystals in a vug on that level as well and was trying to remove them with the chisel and hammer before he walked up to the top of the hill…

I think Slade and Dean returned to the larger pit partially because of a bad experience Dean had in the original pit the day before…Slade told me that once Dean got his pocket opened up a bit, he reached in there and a big rat came scurrying out of it and both were pretty shocked when they saw it…I would be too, cause that is the last thing I would expect to find in a wall pocket like that !!

Nathan, Miss Onyx, and I headed for home about mid morning, and when we left, most of the others were all in the original pit checking out more pockets. I had heard from a few of them,  that clusters of dogtooth calcites were coming out of those pockets…hopefully some of them will send me some photos of them that I can include in the story here.

We took a new route home, pretty scenic drive, mix of two lane and four lane roads, that took us over to Gary`s house the back way…I decided to stop and get some more fluorites from him after selling everything I bought from him on the way down there…really like the purple and grey clusters alot, that combination of color is really nice and the zoning in those cubes is pretty neat as well. We had yet another good visit with him and Walter, before heading for home. All in all, another good trip for sure.

As always, if anyone would like more information, give me a shout at jwjphoto7@gmail.com

MFQ in August 2019

It was the first weekend in August before I had a chance to go to MFQ again…when Patty, Colby, and Gabriella came to visit the weekend of July 4th, they didn`t get to go there, so we kept in contact and she decided to drive up and meet me there on the morning of the 3rd. Gabriella was visiting Colby`s parents up north in Illinois and would not be back in time to come down with her on this trip. She had a three hour drive and arrived before I did with a two hour drive, however it was quite foggy when we arrived there at daylight…

We headed down to the pile and started up from the west side again, this time working several visible pockets along the wall..many filled with some nice calcite druse and some of those druse plates had some gorgeous and sparkley blades of clear calcite on them, sticking out at angles from the druse and later, when the sunlight captured them, they just sat there and glittered like sugar frosting….

Here are some of the first ones I pulled out of the pockets I began working along the wall and as you can see, there were some poker chips inside as well…

Here is Patty getting prepared to work the pockets along the wall….

She started out about 30 feet to my left, on the west side of me, and we were working our way along the wall to the east side. We had worked several small pockets and she passed me up and went around a corner sticking out from the wall, and called me over to look…I had been there about 20 min before that and discovered five to six nice looking pockets, at least one of them I figured was going to be a dogtooth pocket..I didn`t say anything to her as it was her first time there and I wanted her to find it on her own…she did, took to it like a duck to water, and here is what she started pulling out…..

…..of what turned out to be a HUGE pocket of blade plates and dogtooth plates !!!

Here are a few photos of the pockets before we began working them…

I worked the pockets in the 2nd and 3rd photos above while Patty concentrated on the huge dogtooth pocket, stopping only to walk a few flats down to her car and get more empties to fill. On one of these trips to her car, she told me to help myself to the pocket, so I did…I handed a few off to her when she returned and worked it for about 45 minutes and then turned it back over to her, and she worked it the rest of the time we were there. It went further back a few chambers, then up, over to one side or the other and down…I told her that many rockhounds work the pocket they find and then stop…to be completely thorough, a rockhound should explore for more pockets as there usually are more chambers that will open up as you remove crystals. She did a good job, but by the time early afternoon arrived, the sunlight, heat, and humidity were fast catching up with us and we came to a stop. Here is what the wall of pockets looked like when we finished…

the one on the left, with the much larger opening, is the one she was working much of the day…

She let me know that she got home okay, and then started updating me on cleaning up her plates of dogtooths….Patty used a few window screens to clean hers…I let her know she would likely only need to wash them off, as they normally come out pristine or a little dusty from those pockets, but normally nothing more. Here are some of her finds, enlarge these and you will spot the dogtooths where there are several clusters in one photo….

this next cluster of dogtooths and blades, has a bit of a purplish tint to some of the blades and crystals…I had a couple of plates with a similar color variation to them…a variation that I like….

My finds include a pocket of green poker chips I found as I was climbing down from the pile that day…they cleaned up rather nicely…one of those pockets that blasted out of the wall and fell to the pile, landing fairly intact, which is unusual for green poker chips as they fracture more readily than the other colors seem to do…

My purplish colored plates above….

and just to give you an idea, this is how they normally look dirty, coming out of the pocket….a little dusty is all….no need for a power wash either….

…and here is tired Patty climbing down from the pile, bucket and flat of crystals in her hands…

It was fun and we had a blast, pun intended, and brought home some beautiful crystals including some beautiful dogtooths !!



MFQ in June With Ian

Two weekends in a row, I was down at MFQ…once on my own in my new truck and the second time with my buddy Ian and my new buddy Onyx. The first trip down there, I had received a call from my buddy Jim that some blasting had taken place a day or two before, turned out to be the coved wall again but taking out more of the center wall too….

01 New Blast Pile Middle of Quarry

02 Mid Cove

03 West Cove

….so I was able to find some nice pockets along the wall, including some filled with green poker chips, and some filled with nestle chocolate brown dogtooths and black dogtooths, so I re-positioned my truck closer to those pockets in case I started filling bag after bag with spretty crystals….

06 Truck in Front of Blast Area

08 Truck in Front of Blast Area

05 Worked These Pockets Initially

….in fact, I was up along the wall and working on cleaning out the third pocket when my buddy Ian called me from Denver, to see what I was up to…and I told him what I was up to…he reminded me that he was going to be stopping off a week later to rockhunt with me on his way back home from New York state…I promised him that I would leave him some material there. A few minutes later tho, I had located a pocket up higher on the wall than I could reach…..center of the photo below….it was about ten feet up from the pile….

16 High Pockets

…..so I returned to my truck and got my extendable handle rake, then returned to the wall, climbed up on four rocks I stacked up…had forgotten to bring my ladder that day with me…and then reached up to the pocket with my rake and gently moved it around, pulling down a few small black colored poker chip crystals, as well as raining down a few small pebbles on me too…

20 High Up Blk Poker Chip Pkt

….luckily my hard hat deflected many of those from me..and soon I was bumping up against something more substantial in the pocket with the rake…I pulled it to the edge ot the pocket so I could look at it, and liking what I saw, very carefully snagged it in the jaws of the rake turned upside down, and lowered to my waiting gloved hands…

21 Blk Dogtooth Cluster Spray


….the photos of the pocket above were taken after the fact…i was unable to see what was above me nor in the pocket itself, had to feel around with the rake and hope for the best…luckily I was able to pull out the best without any harm coming to it or me…

22 Blk Dogtooth Cluster Spray

23 Blk Dogtooth Cluster Spray


…I also found what looked like a few bat caves along the wall near the base of the pile…but Ian later determined they were prob bird nests inside them cause he was pulling out straw and bits of debris and twigs from them….

10 Bat Caves


…later in the afternoon, storm clouds started rolling in, so I decided to pack my bags and vamoose back toward home….

24 Storm Clouds Roll In Late AM

..no doubt that it had been a pretty nice day for collecting there and I was happy with what I found….

26 Upper Bench

…the following week, Ian met me down at MFQ and we decided to tackle that one pocket again…my buddy Jim brought us a nice ladder and we were able to climb right up to the pocket…since I had pulled the nice cluster out the week before, I let Ian cleanout the pocket and take home whatever he wanted to….

03 Dogtooth Laying Across Entrance

…while he was chipping out some black dogtooth crystals from the pocket, I looked down below and saw my new buddy dog Onyx, strolling around the base of the pile…he never did stray too far, which was fine with me…since this was his first official rockhunting trip….

06 Onyx Hanging Loose

…and while Ian was chipping out a few for himself, I discovered some nice ones in the pile itself…like this big one that I dug out right below Ian a few feet….

07 Big Crystals Buried in Pile

08 Big Crystals Buried in Pile

09 Free From the Muck

..and while it didn`t go home with me, there were a lot of little ones underneath and around it in the loose dirt that did go home with me. After working on the black dogtooth pocket, Ian made his way down to the bat caves next and worked on them for awhile…

11 Ian Digging Out a Pocket

13 Searching for Goodies

…I headed home about noon, stopping off to see my miner friend Dave and Ian headed home to Denver from there at the same time…getting into Denver around midnight. 



Pleasant Surprise Found at MFQ Saturday…

Missy and I arrived at MFQ mid morning Saturday, driving down to check out the clearing activity that was going on per my buddy Jim, who I called Thursday evening on my way to work. The forecast was for a very nice warm and sunny day, temps in the 70`s, but by the time we arrived at 9:30, it was still cool enough to require my blue sweatjacket. As we pulled into the upper parking area from the highway, I spotted the clearing activity on top of the hill….

01 Clearing Off for Expansion

…I then looked toward the back center wall, however I was unable to see the back wall due to a very high pile of rock crushed into chunks suitable for support and driveways….as we drove around this huge pile of crushed rock, I came upon a nicely sloped pile of untouched goodies blasted down from the upper bench…needless to say I was estatic because my buddy Jim was unaware of any recent activity, most likely due to his view from the roadway being blocked as mine was, by that huge pile of crushed rock. The pile was wide enough that it required four photos to show it….

02 New Blast Pile

03 Middle of New Blast Pile

04 East End of Blast Pile

05 Front Side of Blast Pile

 …after quickly letting Missy out, I changed into my boots, grabbed my mini mattox, and made a fast walk around the front edge…it was obvious the only thing workers had done since bringing the wall down, was to clean up the front edges with the dozer. I didn`t find anything pretty out on the front edges, so I grabbed a bag and headed for the back wall, as I was able to spot some pockets from the truck. Within moments, I had spotted several nice druse pockets like this one….

08 First Pocket Found

…and from this one pocket came some very nice druse pieces like these two guys….

06 Nice Druse Pieces Found at Start of Search

…after filling one bag full of wrapped druse plates, I moved on down the wall to the next several pockets, many of them similar but a few had some nice poker chips attached as well…as you can see from the next images, this wall was full of pockets…..look below the green line….

13 Wall Pockets

15 Wall Pockets

…and at one spot along the wall, I looked up, as I normally do, and spotted some beautiful black druse pockets way up there…about fifteen feet higher than I could possibly begin to reach….

10 Blk Druse Pocket Up High

11 Blk Druse Pocket Up High

…the next pockets I had to climb up to the top of the stepladder to access….right under that green/blue line….

14 Wall Pockets

…the material in front facing me, was loose, so after pulling it back with my mini mattox, it looked like this…

18 Druse and Poker Chip Pocket

…I was cleaning away the loose stuff, looking for an opening to a pocket and oila !! one appeared….

20 Druse and Poker Chip Pocket

…pulling a few nice plates of druse and poker chips out of this opening, resulted in finding yet another pocket right behind it….

21 Third Pocket

…and pretty soon, I had yet another bag full of very pretty druse and poker chip plates. I went back to the truck to get yet another bag and to check on Missy. I no sooner returned and was down in the dip along the back wall….

17 Wall Pockets

….searching for yet another pocket that could possibly turn into four pockets like this one did, when my buddy Jim showed up to visit….I walked down the pile toward my truck to meet him about halfway….

12 From Top of Blast Pile

…and where we both came to a stop to talk, I looked down and spotted some beautiful pieces of black druse and some black dogtooth crystals just laying all over…

24 Blk & Brown Druse & Chips Piece

22 Hit The Jackpot

23 Hit The Jackpot

25 Brown Druse Piece

…what a great meeting spot Jim selected to talk to me at…I owe him big time I would say. After we talked abit, he left to go work on cutting some more wood, and I looked around a bit more, picked up several more black and brown dogtooth crystals, and druse pieces, filling at least two bags full. I then looked to my left and spotted these two huge boulders with vugs of poker chip crystals inside each one….

27 Poker Chip Vug

28 Poker Chip Vugs

 …I decided to take a water break, and then returned with more wraps and another bag, as well as my hammer and chisel, and proceeded to get a good workout in, removing some nice clusters of big gray colored poker chip crystals from these vugs….

29 Poker Chip Vugs

31 Poker Chip Vugs

…and then I returned to the wall, where I found a few more pockets that contained those nice gemmy plates of druse and poker chips. I filled two more bags, my last ones even, of these plates. I then walked around the back side of the pile where I located some nice gemmy green poker chips, some with dogtooths, and some were small and some large yard rocks style….and set them up on a nice flat boulder….I ran out of steam about this time, and loaded them up last before heading for home….sure was a nice day. 

Feb 23rd…..Due to two winter storms the last two weeks, I was unable to get out and hunt, so as promised, here are some of the dogtooths and druse pieces all cleaned up…..

32 Dogtooths Found


34 Blk & Bro Druse Pieces









Pretty Sunrise on the way to MFQ

I wasn`t on call Saturday the 29th of November, so Missy and I loaded up early in the morning and headed to MFQ, stopping off in Rolla to fuel up. As soon as I got out of the truck, I noticed the beautiful sunrise in the eastern skies and while the pump was operating, I grabbed a couple of quick images, in case it fizzled out on down the road….

Sunrise 1 at Rolla

…however, not only did it not fizzle out, it was even prettier as I traveled on….

Sunrise 2 S of Rolla

Sunrise 3 S of Rolla

Sunrise 5 S of Rolla

Sunrise 6 S of Rolla

Missy and I arrived at the quarry about 7:30 am, temps were about 50 degrees, cloudy skies with a promise for clearing off and warming up a bit. I changed into my boots and grabbed my mini mattox and walked the wall to survey it… and I noticed soon after that there were several pockets with great potential up on the wall just out of my reach, so I called my buddy who lives down there and asked him if he had a ladder I could borrow…about twenty minutes later, he pulled up and delivered a nice sturdy step ladder to me…

01 Laddered the Wall

...and I laddered the wall right below the pockets and began working them from left to right. Many of the pockets had some beautiful chocolate brown druse inside them…the first three pockets I pulled plate after plate of druse out. If only I had a hydraulic lift bucket truck, I could have accessed the potential looking pockets way up high on the wall, several appeared to be very nice looking, in the top third of the photo below….

00 Pockets Way Up There Too

I was able to brace the ladder well in the rocks below and then climb up to the top…and that pocket at the top in the next photo, looked very promising….

02 Laddered the Wall

…and boy let me tell you, it was full of some nice dark colored poker chips, some dogtooth crystals, and some nice plates of chocolate colored druse too….

03 Pockets Up High

05 Blk Poker Chips Inside

…and as I worked it even more, it kept expanding….

06 After Working on Dark Poker Chip Pocket

…and I pulled some gorgeous dogtooth crystals out of that ever expanding pocket…

07 Inside the Pocket

…I filled four bags full of wrapped plates and clusters, loaded up the ladder and returned it, then headed home, exhausted but very happy. 


Armadillo Day at MFQ

As usual, I am behind again on my posts and so am taking the time to catch up today. I worked on editing images all afternoon and then had to rest my eyes for a bit before taking up the task of putting the story together with the photos. In the past six weeks, I have been busy with some family matters , work issues, and yardwork while we had rain. I have also traveled a bit to do some rock collecting, and except for one day a few weeks ago, I didn`t find much of anything worth writing home about, until yesterday…when I had a great day of rock hunting and collecting. Today was rest up, recover, and catch up day, and so I did.

Friday afternoon, Missy and I drove down to Arcadia, Missouri, to check out an older collection of Doe Run minerals, that a resident there wanted to sell. I had been in contact with the guy for a few weeks, trying to work in a time when I could get down there and he would be available to show me his collection. He told me that he had about eighty pieces in his collection, and I had seen a few photos of the collection and liked what I had seen, so I was a bit excited as I arrived there. Once inside however, it was a different story…for one thing, I only saw maybe thirty pieces in the display case and they were covered in dust and very dirty, even cobwebs were strung out all over the minerals on the shelves, making it very hard to see exactly what was even in his collection. He had a few pieces with chalcopyrite, but they had oxidized so badly, I couldn`t see any color at all, even what little pyrite I saw was dull colored. He had inherited his collection from his grandfather who worked in a couple of the Doe Run mines, and I quickly found out the value he placed on it was sentimental value alone, which no one can afford. As it was, after making the drive down there, I did purchase a few of his pieces, but that was all…..I was quite disappointed and almost felt as if I had wasted my time.

Missy and I got up early Saturday morning and drove down to MFQ, after I received a call Tuesday night at work from my buddy Jim, who told me that there was some new activity there earlier that day, near the coved wall. I was looking forward to seeing what could be found, as that wall has produced alot of pretty crystals in the past couple of years. Usually it starts getting light about 5:30 am, but each time I glanced to the east, all I saw were a low line of dark blue clouds as we traveled down the road. Only as I got close, did the sun finally make a beautiful appearance, in the form of a large fireball from the clouds…if you look close, you`ll notice the crescent moon just above the sun as well…..

00B Sunrise 3

00A Sunrise 2

…then a few minutes later, there were sunbeams as well….

00D Sunrise 5


We arrived shortly after, and after gearing up, I started walking around the base of the new pile, which was smaller than I had anticipated, but I had to stop and remember that this happened Tuesday morning and staff had been working the pile since then…

02 New Blast Tuesday Left Side Cove


I had actually let a few of my rockhunting buddies know about it as well,  and a couple of them had considered making the drive up there as well. After walking around the new pile for about the first hour, I texted them and told them not to waste their time because in that hour, I only located one single crystal and no wall pockets either. I`m not saying there were no crystals there…it`s likely there were, but they were prob buried underneath all the rubble, too. It was starting to look like a bust for me, which would be the first time since I have never had a bad day of collecting down there yet. I took a water bottle break and then drove over to the prior pile…which they had used to create a ramp up……

01 New Lower Bench


….to the benched top of it….04 Lower Bench Wall

I had been up on that bench a few weeks back and found just a few pockets with some nice calcite druse and poker chips mixed in, some of them had some nice dogtooth crystals as well…. on a Saturday,  and then the next day I drove down to a location that a good friend of mine had told me about last year…I refer to it as the new secret spot….a location that has proven to be a very good place to find some great clusters of crystals, especially dogtooth crystals…on that particular day a few weeks ago, I def found something worth writing home about, but have chosen not to until recently when I told a few close friends about it. Suffice to say, I had a field day that day and brought home several canvas bags full of wrapped goodies, clusters, singles, twins, triples, all bright orange dogtooth crystals, from micro size to beachball sized, many of each. It`s been a few weeks and I am still cleaning many of them. I`ll post some photos of them when I get them cleaned up…I had a few of them cleaned up and on display when some new rock collecting friends showed up last week for a visit, and they were pretty impressed with them as well.

I decided not to climb up the bench ramp again this time, and walked around the base to see if I could spot any crystals that had rolled down the walls, that might indicate a pocket nearby. Within a few minutes, I spotted a couple of boulders embedded in the sloped wall, and it appeared that someone had found some druse in a pocket under the left boulder. I did some exploring and suddenly discovered some poker chips under the boulder on the right side….

03 Armadillo Pocket


…I dug down and around the bottom of that boulder and tried to dig out the right side, but the upper slope material kept sliding down and getting in the way, so I moved to the left of it and pulled bigger rocks and loose stuff away to find a large opening between the two boulders, which opened up into a large void between the two large boulders…

04 Armadillo Pocket

…it appeared to me that someone may have dug under the boulder on the right, but didn`t follow up…. in my estimation, since I soon began pulling out some beautiful plates…here is the opening between the boulders…

12 Armadillo Pocket

….I went back to the truck and brought back my flashlight and when I shined the light down into that pocket, I saw very shiny calcite druse all over the ceiling and walls and lots of pieces and plates with the same druse all over them, including some with poker chips attached to them….here are a few that I was able to reach as soon as I spotted them with the light….

06 Goodies Found So Far07 Calcite Druse with Chips

08 Calcite Druse with Chips

11 Calcite Druse with Chips


…I then stuck my camera down into the cavern and snapped a couple of photos to show you what the interior of it looked like…the photos you are about to see do not do it justice….

13 Armadillo Pocket Inside

…that big one at the bottom that you see in the photo, I had to pull it out thru that opening so that I could pull out some more plates that were located behind it…by this time I had removed more of the loose dirt and rock underneath me so that I could more easily, reach into that cavern and grab more plates…soon my arms were all scratched up and I felt more like an armadillo, digging my way in between those boulders…which by the way, were firmly entrenched and embedded into that sloped wall, deeply entrenched and attached to the wall behind it…the void appeared to be about six feet long and four feet wide and every bit of thirty inches high. The big piece you see above, was very pretty on the side facing away from me, covered in calcite druse with a big poker chip attached to one corner of it. Here are some more of the goodies I pulled out once it was clear of the void…

09 Calcite Druse with Chips

10 Calcite Druse with Chips

…one of the prettiest plates I pulled out was sitting right in front of the big one that was blocking me, plate sized and a few inches thick with calcite druse in three colors and poker chips embedded in it….

16 Spectacular Plate

…a few of these plates even had dogtooth crystals on them…the following image shows about half of my haul from this pocket alone…

15 Tailgate Covered

…after two hours on this pocket, I was ready for another bottle of cold water and I decided to wrap everything up and load it in the truck bed, and then evaluate to see how tired I was….the temps were climbing by now and the little shade I had by the boulders was just about gone and I had cleaned out the pocket quite well. After wrapping them all up, I had three bags completely full and then wrapped up ten large ones as well, basketball sized.  I decided that I had a little more energy left and moved further east along the wall, looking for more potential for pockets…and soon found an area that I had once found several pockets, some filled with druse, but beautiful druse and sometimes when I find those druse pockets, I find poker chips attached to the druse as well….yesterday, I found two more pockets of the druse with poker chips attached…I had to do a bit more burrowing in like an armadillo again, but managed to do so safely again and filled two more bags with goodies, before finally wearing out…the temps had to be near 95 now and the humidity was getting bad as well. Jim and his wife stopped by to chat for a minute, they too were tired of the heat and headed to the river to sit and soak in it. Missy had been inside my truck in the ac for the past hour and I soon joined her.

 I drove to the top of the parking lot and called a friend of mine, who is a mineral dealer nearby, he specializes in Viburnum Trend minerals, and I asked him if he had any new material. He said he did and I decided to drive up to his place and take a look. Boy, am I glad that I did drive up there because he had some gorgeous green and yellow calcite crystals attached to the blackest rock I have ever seen, many of the crystals were double terminated and some even skeletal looking, some with phantoms inside them, spectacular and breathtaking at the same time…they had come from the Fletcher Mine and since I didn`t have anything in my collection from the Fletcher Mine, I purchased a few from him….

Green & Yellow Calcite on Blk Rock 4

Green & Yellow Calcite on Blk Rock 2

Large Chunk of Blk With Calcites 2

Large Chunk of Blk With Calcites 4

Large Chunk of Blk With Calcites 5

…and this next one features a single calcite crystal attached to a chunk of dolomite covered by a quartz druse and some galena cubes spread out in the quartz….

Single Crystal on Quartz Druse 2

Single Crystal on Quartz Druse

…and this gorgeous piece of chalcopyrite that has multiple colors and is covered by a fine dusting of quartz as well…

Chalcopyrite Dusted With Quartz

Chalcopyrite Dusted With Quartz Back Side

…he had several of each one…most of my chalcopyrite has large chunks of it on the matrix, but this stuff was more like a dusting of smaller particles of color and covered with a dusting of quartz as well, just spectacular pieces, bit and small. I brought home a few boxes of material from him and so yesterday was a great day of hunting and collecting for me. I can`t wait to add these to my new display cases, but for now that gorgeous chalcopyrite piece is sitting here next to my computer for me to visually enjoy for a few days. 🙂

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