My Group Travels to Missouri Nov 2022

After updating my group about the dismal outlook on quartz collecting in Arkansas in November again this year, many decided they would like to travel to Missouri instead on the same dates and rockhound with me again instead, for the second year in a row. Some have traveled here on their own at various times of the year and like the places I like to go rockhounding at. I decided I would take them to the new druse location at Mineral Point on Friday the 11th, since Haunted Ridge would be shut down for deer season by then, and then we would go to MFQ on Saturday the 12th and the SSQ on Sunday the 13th.

Sam Linton and Aaron Baker came in a day earlier this year, arriving on Wednesday, the 9th, so I took them to a new location in southeast Missouri, that my buddy Bob Steele and I had been talking about scouting for druse. I had received good info from a firefighter friend that druse was practically all over the place at this location, so we drove down there on Thursday morning and Bob joined us as well…he had the easier drive, as he is only like 20 minutes from it.

There were a few spots at this location that we wanted to check out, but were unable to get to one of them that day, likely due to deer season opening on Saturday, so we went to the first location and pulled off the road, then wandered over to the other side of the roadway, where I immediately started seeing sparkles on the hillside….

…then I spotted this one higher up on the slope above the ditchline…

…and after searching that side of the road for about fifteen minutes, I had added two more to it….

…while Bob, Aaron, and I were searching that side, Sam crossed the road and down the hill on the other side to a wash below, where he began finding some larger plates with beautiful colors. We continued down the hill on the same side, while Sam stayed on the other side.

After trying to get to the one spot we wanted to check out, after looking at the satellite maps, discovering our access was blocked, we decided to drive over to a friend of Bob`s, south of there, and see if we could find any druse there.

Aaron was the only one of us that found a decent druse there…..

…..so we drove back toward Potosi, thinking we might go scout one more location before returning to Sullivan.We also stopped off briefly at Bob`s house, where he showed me a druse plate he found with a ball of barite perched on the druse….

We stopped off at one more spot, that was on the way, another of Bob`s friends, after Bob made a call and obtained permission for us to stop there. It is a little ways off the road, Bob and I discovered it a couple of weeks prior, and pleasantly discovered calcite crystals there in vugs of limestone boulders that had been dug out of a field, in preparation for a basement to be poured there….

…Bob found a huge dogtooth calcite crystal there, which I am sure, made his day….

 

By now, I was getting a lot of text messages from the rest of the crew who were arriving in town and wondering when and where supper was going to be at, so we packed it in and headed to Sullivan. I think we ate at El Nopal that evening.

The next morning I drove over to America`s Best Value Inn and led my group down to the Mineral Point location, let everyone know the boundaries and we all dispersed into the forest to look for druse and barite. Both can be found there separately and together, and are quite beautiful. This is a beautiful rose colored druse bubble plate I found sitting in the leaves…

…and here is a beautiful bladed barite that Aaron found there….

…this location also seems to have a lot of blue colored druse quartz, which all by itself can be quite pretty, but when you combine the druse found there with the bladed barites found there, those combination pieces really come alive…..

this is one of Sam`s bladed barite finds, prior to him cleaning it up….

…we stayed there for the morning and then drove over to a newer private location, paid our fee, signed the waiver, and dropped it in the dropbox, then walked down to the wooded area at the far side and began finding and collecting beautiful druse quartz. We collected for a few hours and then returned to Sullivan. Dinner that evening was at Missouri Hick BBQ for the all you can eat catfish….

David Hodge and I had the catfish…it was excellent…Aaron decided to try the stuffed baked potato dish… called Ory`s Spud….they are huge…

….but not everyone made it up there that evening due to a traffic snafu and that was partially my fault for not letting everyone know where we were going and providing directions.

That night, snow fell in the southern part of Missouri, and it sounded like the roads may have been ice and snow covered in the area of MFQ, so I decided to take the group to the SSQ instead. I had heard the main roads down there were just wet…we found out when we got close that the ground and trees were covered with some snow, maybe an inch or two at most, but the roads were in good shape….

..I should say, when we first started seeing the snow, it was a dusting, and then the further south we progessed, the deeper it got…but we never saw more than a couple of inches on the ground and only the dirt roads were covered….

…snow really sets the pine trees off well, very pretty…we arrived to find the quarry floor with a dusting of snow here and there. Everyone did a little walking around, looking for various goodies, as there is a wide variety found there…holie rock druse quartz, plates of soda straw druse quartz, poker chip calcites, dogtooth calcites, the latter two usually found in wall pockets, so some were looking for new wall pockets, some checking out older wall pockets, and then began looking for floor pockets, and that is when the work began….

…it was a little cold that day, but as long as we were staying busy, we really didnt notice the cold that much….and boy, did we stay busy….

…then they started pulling the loose crystals and clusters out of the bottom of the pockets…yes they are wearing gloves because the water was very cold….

While the guys were working the pockets with their saws, Sam found a huge pocket of his own and began working it…it had actually been there for awhile, and everyone thought it was played out, but he opened it up, crawled into it, and began pulling poker chips and clusters out soon after…

…and while that was going on, I was looking for other floor pockets myself…only found a few but filled a bucket or two like everyone else. πŸ™‚

…and soon Sam came over and showed some the dogtooth calcites he began finding deep inside his pocket….

….and here is the loot that the other guys found….

The next morning, I led everyone down to MFQ and the roads were good and clear, there were a few areas at the quarry with a dusting of snow, like the point where David Hodge and Don Lapham started working….

…we found several pockets of calcite blades down there…a few of them even produced some nice calcite poker chips and dogtooths…

As you can see, we had our hard hats on, and we wear safety glasses when we use our saws, hammers, and chisels, and we wear boots as well, usually steel toed boots which are required by many places. We like to work safely and go back home in one piece. We also follow safety rules at the places we rockhound at, we don`t want to cause any landowners any problems, that is a good way to be uninvited back.

Some headed for home from there and the rest of us returned to Sullivan for dinner.

All in all, it was a great weekend, everyone went home happy with their finds. Slade, Sam, and Aaron had the longest trips home, so they started home about 4 am Monday morning and everyone had safe trips home. I took Monday off and rested up before returning to work on Tuesday. πŸ™‚

 

 

Nashville Club Comes to Missouri Nov 2022

Shortly after letting my group know that the state of the Union in Arkansas was again in bad shape, as far as the quartz collecting goes, deciding instead to have my group come to Missouri to rockhound the second weekend of November, Randy Gentry called me to inquire if the Nashville Club could come to Missouri and rockhound with me on the first weekend in November. I told him they were definitely welcome to do so and as luck would have it, he had already checked with Greg Coleman at Haunted Ridge to see if they would be open on Saturday the 5th. Greg had decided to remain open until Nov 7th,Β  so Randy and the Nashville Club were in luck. Randy also wanted to take his club to the new location I am taking groups to, the Mineral Point location, so we decided to go to Haunted Ridge on Saturday morning and Mineral Point in the afternoon, and then a quarry on Sunday.

Randy and Gerald came up a day early and I took them to one of my favorite roadcuts, where a different type of calcites could be found.Β  Randy and Gerald decided to check the wall, and wound up climbing up on a ladder to check some pockets about ten feet up…they were having good success while I did some surface collecting and found some pretties hanging around in the ditchline…

…this roadcut produces some nice dolomite plates with Williamsville Calcites and this is the pocket I pulled them out of….

The next morning I drove over to America`s Best Value Inn in my town, where Randy`s club members had decided to stay at, and led them down to Haunted Ridge Druse Farm.Β  I had taken my rockhound Don Lapham there earlier in August and discovered that Greg had created a new driveway into the huge parking area on the south side of the big lake behind his house…..

He had also lined the new entrance with huge boulders covered in different colors of druse….

…and built a pay station as well, it also serves as a souvenir and t-shirt stand for them….

usually manned by Judy Coleman and/or Ronnie`s wife, who is a family member as well. During the machine digs, they usually have an ATM stationed along one of the walls of it for the convenience of customers.

We arrived around 8 am and after visiting with Greg, Duck, Johnboy, we were soon transported by Greg and the guys in various side by sides to the popular rootbeer plate dig spot that Greg had discovered and dug out to make it easier for everyone to dig out nice plates and knobs of pretty quartz. I am pretty sure everyone found some beautiful plates of quartz there, rootbeer color as well as other colors…

And about 1 pm, we left Haunted Ridge and I led them to the Mineral Point location and the Nashville Club members dug in and started finding some bladed barite from the get go, from small to huge plates….like this big one…

…if I remember right, this one was covered with beautiful blades of barite on both sides, it had about eight inches of matrix in between as well and was quite heavy for its size. While they were having a heyday in the trenches, I scouted around in the wooded area and located a couple of druse bubble beauties…

The next morning I led them down to My Favorite Quarry and we had a great time there…the day warmed to the point that short sleeves felt alot better. By mid day most had left for home already, and Randy and Gerald were the last ones to leave for Nashville. They found a nice large calcite in the middle of the quarry before heading for home…

Cleaning and Cutting in August

I took some time off in August to get caught up on some cleaning ahead of the Labor Day trip, so I could take some beautiful calcite clusters out there with me. I also rented a tabletop wet tile saw from a friend of mine, who has an equipment rental business, rented it for the entire weekend for less than a hundred bucks. Came in the form of a mitre saw…think it works better on lumber…despite my best attempts to lock it down into place, it kept raising up on me…

Something else these saws need, is a guide and vise, one that securely holds what you are cutting and doesnt vary from the course, which is, or should be, straight ahead….something to work on in the future.

I thought I did pretty good for a first timer with a wet tile saw…

after cutting this one open, I thought I had a colorful egg half, but the yellow came off with paint thinner, turns out it was off the side of the diamond blade. πŸ™‚

have great color and pattern on these two halves, but couldnt finish the cut all the way thru, prob gonna be a bear to fix these, too.

Many, many moons ago, as a youngster, I had a six inch Lortone Rock Saw, my parents bought it for me for Christmas one year, had it for a few years…enjoyed it, but I dont think anyone realized how noisy those things could get…it was in our utility room off the garage, right next to my Dad`s home office. πŸ™‚Β  I was limited after that as to when I could use it and for how long. πŸ™‚

The last weekend of August I was able to clean up some beautiful poker chips encased in the gorgeous red calcite druse from a few pockets I found back in mid January at MFQ, and put them in flats to take to Kentucky with me….

…that was almost as much fun as it was finding them. πŸ™‚

 

How I Spent My Birthday Weekend July 2022

For my birthday this summer, I took the day off and had lunch at Missouri Hick BBQ and then prepared for a visit from my friend Don Lapham. Don spent a few days before down in Springfield, Missouri and emailed me a few months before, asking if I could take him rockhounding to Haunted Ridge and another location while he was down here. I said sure, no problem buddy…I did let Don know, that normally we are baking by that time of the year tho, so be prepared for some Missouri wet heat. πŸ™‚

Don came prepared for the wet heat, had a beach umbrella or two with him and brought his Sheik wear too. πŸ™‚Β  Due to the heat, I had asked Greg Coleman if it would be okay if we arrived around 6 am and he told me that would be fine. It had been some time before I had been to Haunted Ridge, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Greg had made good on his thoughts to build a new entrance off Roderick Road……

…and he had lined it with a lot of big boy plates and landscape boulders of druse, some rootbeers included, and these are available for purchase…and I would bet Greg and the guys will assist in loading them for you….

you pass by these beauties and then stay to the right of the lake on down to the new parking lot….

…big open parking lot, with a lot of parking space, and the pay shack in the middle on the far side…

There is still no entrance fee, you get your liability waiver forms here, sign them, hand them back to Judy or one of the other employees, and then one of the guys loads you, your buckets and tools, into the four wheeler, and takes you off to your choice of locations. When you return, you can either pay your driver or pay here at the shack for your buckets you filled with beautiful druse.

It was much cooler in the day then, and after a brief visit with Greg and the crew, he loaded us up into his new side by side and took us over to the new Rootbeer Pits, so we could dig up a few buckets of rootbeer plates.

Greg showed us a couple of spots in the pits where he had seen some rootbeer plates pulled out and we began digging soon after…

It didnt take long for the heat to catch up to us, despite being in the shaded areas of the forest, so we drank our water bottles and kept on digging, and soon had our buckets filled with rootbeer.

this is how they look when you pull them out of the clay dirt…they do take a good powerwashing and then most will treat them with Dawn Powerwash soap and water…most are afraid to use Iron Out on the rootbeer colored plates, for fear it will remove the rootbeer color.

As soon as we had our buckets filled, and were ready to go and escape the heat, I texted Greg to let him know and we were picked up soon after and taken to our vehicles…

Don was staying in the Potosi area, so I told him where to meet me Sunday morning and I would take him to the SS Quarry from there.

Don was waiting for me bright and early the next morning and I led him to the SSQ…luckily we had a couple of hours before the sun heated things up to the unbearable stage…Don broke out his umbrellas for this one since there was very little shade except next to the walls and where we were digging at, there was no shade at all…

 

Don was telling me about collecting blue halites in New Mexico….he tells a good story, let me tell ya. πŸ™‚


I was able to find him a good deep pocket to work after a little while there, and he was able to liberate some WHOPPER size Poker Chips for his trip home…

New Quarry to Check Out

Walmart had me off for a few days in late January 2020, so David Hodge, Chuck Reed, and I drove down to southeast Missouri to check out a new quarry for pretty rock. I had been in touch with the owner by email a few weeks prior, and he let me know that his quarry was receptive to rockhounds in the past on Saturday mornings when they were not working. I asked if we could come check it out on the 25th and he said yes. I met both of them at the quarry office and we met the owner there…he turned out to be a very nice guy, but I already knew that since I had read about him on his FB page and the way he handled his work near his hometown, spoke volumes about him, all good stuff. He told us he had been farming and managing quarries all over the USA for many years before he moved back to his hometown and opened this quarry about 12 years ago, where they mined some different types of rock and produced some unique products that helped farmers and other industries as well, giving them a corner on the market that other quarries cannot compete with. He did warn us tho, that he had hosted other rockhounds there before, as well as mineral clubs, and no one had ever found anything pretty there. He showed us where inside his quarry we could check for pretty rocks, and turned us loose for a few hours. We drove down to the first of four pits and after about ten minutes of diligent searching, we started finding calcite crystals in small poker chip formations, perched on top of dolomite crystals in saddle formations and in orange, yellow, red, and pink colors !! Chuck discovered them first and began working on some small boulders..when David and I heard and saw him working on the boulders, we immediately walked over to that area to investigate and found him hard at work harvesting some nice plates and pieces….

…he said they rolled down from above, so we looked up above on the wall and discovered a whole section covered with all four flavors of the dolomite crystals…

..on this wall….

…and then we checked the boulders below…we liked what we found so much of, that we never left that pit to go check the others, we were there finding and wrapping for three hours….

…vugs full of dolomite crystals, pretty as you please. We drove back up to the office and let the owner know that we found some pretty crystals in his quarry and would love to come back some time and he said we would be welcome to return. πŸ™‚Β 

Update to this story…since we were there, the owner decided not to allow rockhounds to go and collect there anymore…he did not elaborate on the reason, so I would have to assume that someone went there and didn`t follow safety rules or he may have encountered trespassers, or both. Those are usually the reasons quarries become unavailable and one person or one group, can ruin it for everyone after.Β 

 

MFQ on New Years Day

What better way to spend New Years Day than go rockhunting ??? Β I couldn`t think of a better way to spend the day, specially since I was off the night before, and could get some good rest before making the drive down to hunt. Missy and I woke up and headed down early, photographing the dawn`s early light on the way down there….

01 Sunrise Enroute

…Missy and I arrived about an hour later, the air a bit crisp at that time of the morning, and from where I parked near what was left of the blast pile, I could again see pockets up high, so I grabbed my stepladder and began exploring…..

05 Whats Left of the Pile

12 Ladder to Pockets

…this first pocket above and below, working out to be a very good one. I filled two bags with beautiful wrapped plates of calcite druse with poker chip blades that sparkle and shine in the sunlight….

13 Pockets Above Ladder

…more of these puppies….

03 Druse From First Pocket on Wall

…and of course while I was cleaning those pockets out…there were a couple of smaller ones on either side of that large pocket…Missy was content to roam around the quarry and check things out….

08 East Side Quarry

11 Far East Side

…we headed home about 4 pm, with four bags full of goodies. all in all a great New Years Day and great start to rockhounding in 2015.Β 

 

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.Β 

 

Great Pocket On My Way Home From Black Rock

I decided to stop by MFQ on my way home from Black Rock, Arkansas on May 31st. I had driven down to Black Rock early that morning for a MAGS sponsored trip to the Vulcan Quarry to look for pink dolomite and calcite crystals and maybe some chalcopyrite., however, if I want good chalcopyrite, I def know where I can go to find some big crystals of it. I took the scenic route getting there from Black Rock.

I spotted some pretty Jersey cows in a field off to the right of the highway and stopped to photograph them on this beautiful cloudy blue sky day….

01 On The Way Field of Jersey Cows

 

03 On The Way Field of Jersey Cows

…then I spotted this lone pine tree against the big fluffy white clouds and blue skies….

04 Lone Pine Tree

I stopped off ten miles south of Winona at Falling Spring Mill, to photograph it…neat little water grist mill with a waterfall right next to it and a big millpond in front of it, accessed by a wooden footbridge….

07 Falling Spring Mill

…it has been several years since I last photographed it, good to see that it is still being well taken care of by the Forest Service.

I then continued on, eventually arriving to find that another short wall had been blasted down, with rocks strewn everywhere from it…

08 Short Wall Blast Spread Out

 

…and I mean everywhere, in all directions, all over the floor of the quarry….

09 Spread Out All Over Lot

11 No Clean Up Yet

I drove around to the east side and parked…..

12 Started Out Cloudy

….then walked around the edge of the pile, looking for any signs of crystals or druse, finding some nice larger pieces of druse on the west side and set them out on the floor to pick up later before I left. I then decided to climb up along the wall to the top of the pile to check for wall pockets…

10 Started Up East Side

 

…finding one very nice pocket that expanded to the size of a beach ball at the entrance and was chock full of little caverns off on each side and up above it, stuffed full of plates of dolomite and calcite druse, with poker chips attached to them. It was soon very apparent to me that one bag was not going to be enough, because every plate I was pulling out was so delicate and gorgeous, that I needed to wrap each one to protect them. I returned to the truck and grabbed a couple more bags, full of wrapping cloths and grabbed a bottle of water as well…it had been cool and breezy down at Black Rock, but now, after only an hour here, it was getting very hot and the clouds had rolled away to leave blue skies and full sun. In the hour I had been there, my arms had already darkened from the intense sunlight and I could feel the beginnings of a mild sunburn starting on the back of my neck. Β An hour later, and I had filled both of these bags and I carried them back to the truck…there was only one easy way down to the truck and back up to the pocket…hugging the wall to the east and then sliding down the slope like a slalom course…but I made it without any spills each time. I grabbed two more bags filled with wrapping cloths and another bottle of water and an hour later, I had the pocket cleaned out completely. I`ll get some photos taken of those gems soon…took a few down to Tina at the Clement Mineral Museum this past weekend and everyone down there just oohhed and ahhhed over them, just as I did when I was pulling them out of the pocket. The wall I was working actually had several small vugs in addition to the pocket I found….

14 Pockets Along Wall

I made one more sashay around the other side, carefully checking for more pockets, then drove around and loaded up the larger druse pieces I had found earlier, and then I headed home, tired but happy as well. All in all, though, a very good trip and day.Β 

James πŸ™‚

jwjphoto@fidnet.com