My Favorite Quarry…MFQ… with David Hodge After Arkansas

A couple of weeks after my fall vacation in Arkansas, I got a call from my buddy David Hodge, Field Trip Director for the Central Arkansas Gem & Mineral Geological Society, called CAGMAGS, they are a close cousin to MAGS and often both clubs invite each other to join them on field trips, too. David wanted to come up and check out MFQ  and other spots I go to collect at, so we set it up for the 17th and I met him at the quarry that morning. As I started down the road, we had a beautiful sunrise…usually a good sign for a good day of collecting….

Since it was quite apparent that nothing had been blasted recently, we decided to see what the old wall would provide us…

..and within minutes, we were looking at several pockets opening up along the face of that wall….so we began working them….

…this is one of the first ones I found, nice plate of poker chip crystals…

and some of the pockets we worked….

have to say, for an old wall, left alone for several years now, it sure gave up some beautiful crystals today….the videos below will give you a better idea how our day went. 🙂

Eminence Q 2019-1117 Video 10 Arrival

Eminence Q 2019-1117 Video 27 Pocket City

Eminence Q 2019-1117 Video 40 My Pockets & David Moving More Rock Below

 

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 Producing Once Again

Around the second weekend of June, I got the word that a blast had occurred on the east wall so on Sunday, the 9th, Onyx and I got up early and drove down there to see what we could find.

It had been some time since the last time I was there and almost felt like the first time there once again…the last good time I had been there was end of July in 2018 when Chuck Reed, Nathaniel Reid, and Abigail from Nashville came to visit. We had a good time that weekend rockhunting there, let me tell ya. It can get really hot and muggy down there that time of the year, stretching into September, plus the horseflies and wasps can be really bad during that time of the year as well, and are getting to be this time of 2019 as I have already found out and experienced.

I got stung at work about ten days ago, my eppi pen shot failed to work so my boss whisked me over to the Kirkwood Mercy Urgent Care, another part of that day I would rather forget as well, and eventually Kirkwood Fire Department picked me up there and transported me to St John`s Mercy Hospital, where I had to be monitored for a couple of hours after receiving my adrenaline shot.

Onyx and I arrived about 6:15 am and for once, it wasn`t foggy there that time of the morning…

…and we found a pretty good sized pile of rocks waiting for us to explore. After gearing up and heading up from the west end of the pile, I didn`t find many pockets to explore along the wall, so then I branched out to check the pile itself and began good signs of poker chips all over the place. One of the first indications that this was gonna be a GREAT day of rock collecting, was when I ran across four ( 4 ) nice beach ball sized clusters of green and black poker chips, they were all found nestled in between some bigger boulders…not hard to spot at all….here they are in order of found…

Number four is not shown as it was very similar in looks to number three…I decided to hand carry each of these down to my truck, while I had the strength to do so…and as I got down to the bottom floor at the edge of the pile, I started noticing some round, geode like shaped rocks like we have found at work, called chert nodules, some were even small boulder sized. We have never found anything like this at this quarry before, to my knowledge…

…this was one of several firsts this summer for this quarry. Got those four beautiful beach ball sized clusters wrapped up and stored in the bed of my truck and headed back up the pile to locate some more beauties and needless to say, it did not take long for that to happen, as I just about stepped on these next three in the path on my way back up to my bucket…

…and I no sooner had those wrapped up and placed in my bucket when I came across these beauties as well…

…spotted in a vug of a huge boulder and easily chipped out for once. 🙂  Normally, they do not come out willingly, nor do they seem to cooperate when you find them at the end of the day there and you are nearly exhausted. Within the next hour, I located several nice calcite druse pieces as well, and a nice poker chip cluster, shown here on the tailgate of my truck….

…and a nice plate of root beer colored calcites as well as dogtooths nestled in…

 

All in all, I think I filled four buckets and the bed of my truck was covered in clusters of poker chips and calcite druse pieces…not a bad haul for the day. A few weeks later, my buddy Pete Stoeckel, from the Philly area, drove down to visit and rock hunt with me, and Patty, Colby, and Gabriella came to visit from Southern Illinois as well. We had a great time that weekend too !!

 

MAGS Annual Trip to Missouri May 2019

When I received the call from my Manager Shawn at Greenbriar Hills to come back to work this year, I let him know that I had a couple of rockhound clubs that wanted to come up and rockhunt with me…MAGS Club was one of those two clubs…one of three clubs I am a member of…he asked me for the dates of the weekends I needed off to take both clubs rock collecting and allowed me to take both of those weekends off. I was sooooo glad to hear that. 🙂  I do love working there and I will say…they did work me pretty hard the day before both of those weekends. 🙂

I had been in contact with Kim Hill, the Field Trip Director for MAGS, for at least a few weeks on FB, regarding the timing of each day, locations we were going to, and final details on the trip, helping them with lodging information after discovering that their normal stay location was booked solid. I made some inquiries and found out there was a major Ozarks Mountain Festival in Eminence that weekend, so they would have to book pretty fast there if they wanted to stay there…Kim got the word out to her members and they booked their reservations pretty fast. I then had a text from W.C McDaniels, the President of MAGS, and he was concerned because he wasn`t able to contact a good mutual friend of ours, Betty Marler, of Park Hills…they always invited Betty up to go rockhunting with them and now he was not able to get in touch with her. I began making some inquiries with friends in the Park Hills Gem Club to see if they knew another way to reach Betty over the next week…they let me know that they really missed seeing Betty and hoped she would soon return  and tried reaching out to some of her relatives as well, by email.

However, I struck out…or thought I did, until W.C. texted on Friday and said he had finally heard back from Betty, that she was having phone issues and everything was okay. I was glad to hear she was okay tho…she and her late husband Lloyd have been good friends for years, they were very instrumental in not only starting the Park Hills Gem and Mineral Club, but the Park Hills Mineral show that is held annually at the Federal Hill Mine Complex and has grown to be one of the largest shows in the Midwest over the years, as well as one of the most enjoyed shows in the Midwest…many rockhounds not only talk about this show every year, but literally thousands look forward to it each year as well. It`s definitely one of my favorite shows to attend.

I was also contacted by Rockhound Bill from Chicago…I had rockhunted with him and his girlfriend Debbie, a few years before at Geodefest and a prior MAGS trip to Missouri, but then both of them went silent for the past few years since…so I was a bit surprised to hear from them all of a sudden. He let me know they were going to be in the KC area the week before the MAGS trip to visit family, then drive down for the rockhunting weekend a day ahead of time. He asked if I knew of any locations where they could rockhunt before the group arrived…I let him know that I did not know of any locations in that area that allowed rockhunting through the week, including the two locations we were going to that weekend.

This is advice I normally give to rockhounds all the time when asked…advice I hope that they take me seriously on and heed the suggested warning. We all know what can happen if someone decides to go into a location like that ahead of time, on a weekday no less…if caught by property owners…it can be bad not only for the person or persons who went there when they were advised not to, but can have dire consequences for clubs or groups of rockhounds afterward as well, such as the cancellation of a scheduled dig or collecting date and generally no invite back as well. Many clubs, including MAGS, also have rules for their members to abide by, regarding scheduled field trips…members attending field trips to quarries or other off road locations are not allowed to drive or walk into the location before the scheduled meeting time, within a time period of a few minutes to several days before the scheduled meeting time at the meeting place. It`s not fair to others waiting in the parking lot of the quarry or meeting place for a dig location, abiding by the rules waiting for everyone to show up and enter together, then all of a sudden they see a member of the club drive out of the quarry…their first thought is what was that member doing inside the quarry ahead of everyone else, and how long was that member inside the quarry…have they already done some digging and found some goodies that the rest of us would have had an opportunity to dig for as well…and even if nothing happened, it leaves those rule abiding members with a sense of violation, disrespect and a lack of trust for the member who violated the rules…no matter what explanation the violating member provided…so another piece of advice for anyone reading this….if you join a club to go to field trips, like many of us like to do…PLEASE FOLLOW THE RULES…they are in place for a reason…if you don`t understand the rules, ask for an explanation….and if you ask me for advice, PLEASE FOLLOW MY ADVICE OR GUIDELINES…believe me, mine are simple and I offer them for a reason…if you need to know the reason, you need only ask and I will provide it for you. 

Kim and I had decided I would meet with the MAGS members at the area High School on Saturday morning, May 4th at 9 am…allowing Onyx and I to sleep in a bit longer than what we normally do when going rockhunting. We arrived at the parking lot just ahead of the main group, about ten minutes to 9 am…I figured most were prob at the nearby gas station using the bathroom. It was a little cool that morning, around 48 degrees and we had driven through some valleys with fog on the way up there, some misting as well…I sure hoped the forecast for clearing was correct.

The rest of the group arrived and soon we were on our way to the first location to do some druse quartz hunting…it`s alot easier to do with sunlight, because you can see the sparkles all over the hillside, but we made do once we arrived…..

…..this was the location I took them to last year and they loved it so much, they requested a revisit of it this year, you can find small pieces of druse and all the way up to small boulders of druse here…

 

….we spent about two hours there and then once everyone was ready, we drove down to the second location, where the smoky druse quartz could be found….it was a bit muddy down there…afterall, we had been receiving rain on a daily basis for the past couple of weeks…why I do not know….

 

I stepped over into the mud at the side of the road and picked up a nice plate of bubbley smokey druse quartz to show them what it looked like as well as a few small plates in various colors….

….once they observed how easy it was to find  and how pretty it was, some in bubble form and some in soda straw form, some big, some small, plus all the other colors of druse available there…well, let`s just say they were nothing short of ecstatic !! They spread out on the tailing pile and began searching for pretty druse…easy to find as it was EVERYWHERE !! 

 

…suddenly it seemed like the sky had lightened up quite a bit…I looked up to see the clouds rolling apart and could see some blue sky here and there finally…it even seemed to be warming up a bit….NOW, I was ecstatic !! 

…and yes, I did manage to fill a couple of buckets of druse as well…here are a few of my finds…

It should also be noted that there are some lapidarists in this group and in MAGS as a whole too…lapidarists are those that like to use rock saws to cut slices of rocks like agates…and create cabochons to make jewelry…in the past few months of collecting here, we have found some pretty translucent pieces of what appears to be some form of agate or jasper or chert…whatever it is, it sure is pretty stuff !!  Anne Pender Pinkerton was asking me about it and so I gathered up a few chunks of this agate for her….

My good long time MAGS friends Matthew and Carolyn Lybanon were able to make this trip, they both enjoy surface collecting and druse at this location was a good one for them as well, fairly easy walking…here you see Matthew walking down the slope of the tailing pile toward me in the green rainsuit….

…and Rockhound Bill sitting in the middle of the tailing pile collecting druse….

…and a few of the gals hunting as well….Kim Hill at the top of the photo in the tye dye shirt and Anne in the bright green/yellow shirt kneeling in the roadway……

…and then Carolyn came walking down the slope as well….

 

Soon after that, we drove on over to the SSQ and everyone spread out looking for pockets and crystals…I was able to find a couple of pockets in the hour we were there. The problem there was the amount of water in pools everywhere…making it difficult to get around to various places to look for pockets…it sure didn`t bother Onyx any, he looks at those pools as potential swimming pools. 🙂 Afterward, we drove down to see Miner Dave and see if he had any new Viburnum Trend crystals and minerals for sale…I was finally able to get in touch with him by phone just minutes from his house, he was cooking some chili and said sure, come on down !!

He def had some new ones, four tables covered by some of the most gorgeous crystals I had ever seen from a recent blast out of a couple of mines, however he already had that collection sold and was waiting for the buyer to come pick them up…we were able to look and drool, but that was it…out of respect for the buyer and Miner Dave, that is all we did, look and admire. He had some nice phantom calcites and some other nice ones too, and the MAGS members purchased some from him while there. They then headed south to Eminence to take in the festival there, while Onyx and I headed home.

Onyx and I were up by 5 am the next morning and on the road by 6:30 am, driving down to meet up with MAGS members at MFQ…the weather noticeably warmer that morning with a forecast high of 75 and sunny skies. We arrived about 8:30 with a meeting time set at 9 am once again, this time at the quarry parking lot. I had received word the week before that recent blast activity had occurred then, however I was unable to get down there to check it out.

As soon as everyone else arrived, we had a short safety meeting…I let those that didn`t bring their hard hats, know that they should stay away from the walls as there are some rocks way up high that do roll off the wall and fall….we then traveled down to the pile and spread out around it to look for goodies. The sun was out now in full force and the temps were beginning to rapidly warm up…within about five minutes, I spotted a couple of nestles chocolate brown poker chips and then a medium sized green poker chip cluster immediately after…I let out a loud ” Holie Cow ” and everyone came running to see what I was finding. I had brought samples of what could be found there, just in case they didn`t have good luck finding anything, but if what I was seeing in a short time was any indication of what we were gonna find, it was obvious those samples they selected earlier in the parking lot, were just gonna be some nice extras for their collections. Be advised, from this point on, things happened very fast and I had no time to take any photos, I left that up to the rest of the members there, as I was busy finding nice crystals, making more loud ” Holie Cow ” calls and then tossing them down to various members to take home with them….one was a nice small plate of chocolate dogtooth crystals with a golden colored stream through them…I handed that plate to Anne and told her she could only take it home if she wrapped it up before putting it in her bucket. The last I checked, she heeded my advice and put them in her vehicle. 🙂

Mike, one of the members, and I climbed up on the pile and soon started spotting some more nice crystals, and clusters, alot of calcite druse plates and even a few vugs in boulders full of crystals and druse. Pretty soon I had to go back down and retrieve my bucket as well as a couple of bottles of water, as the sun was really starting to warm things up. The others spread out around the pile and began looking for, and finding goodies, others looked along the walls for pockets and fall down material. Everyone was having good success finding nice ones to take home. Pretty soon Onyx and I were the only ones up on top of the pile and I was finding stuff laying everywhere, much of it in great shape, all things  considered. Everyone else was looking for shade…I just removed my sweatshirt and then long sleeved shirt and kept drinking my water, and finding more nice stuff. I left some nice stuff in the pile in case some friends of mine from North Carolina, who were traveling to Missouri in the next week, might want to visit the quarry and find some nice ones to take home. Since the MAGS members had about a five hour drive home, they left about 1 pm…Onyx and I headed for home about 2:30 pm with a couple of buckets of nice goodies and a couple of yard rocks. I`ll post some photos of my crystals as soon as I get them all cleaned up. All in all, another enjoyable MAGS visit for sure. 🙂

New Rockhound Friends in July

Wow July was a busy month for me and really this whole year has been at times…I no sooner started my new job at the golf course and almost immediately found out I had three bosses that liked rocks…Nate who is one of my supervisors and has never been on a field trip yet, really likes them so I helped him get his collection built up a bit more since I started…Shawn, my Manager, really liked the looks of the orange dogtooths that I gave to Nate and then told me that his seven year old daughter, Miss Abby, really likes rocks and possibly fossils too…and then Dave, my Superintendent, came to me one day and started talking about geodes after I gave Nate a geode or two, and told me that he had driven past the old rock and mineral museum up by Keokuk several years ago on Hwy 61…I had to think about that one for a day, then figured out he was talking about the octagonal shaped building that Tim Scheffler`s parents had built as a rock and mineral shop, that Modot seized through eminent domain through the courts and pissed every rockhound in the country off by their shameful way of handling the situation just so they could expand Hwy 61 from a two lane to a four lane highway…I say shameful because of the way they treated Tim`s family over that situation…they could have easily gone around that beautiful rock shop and left it standing for the many generations of rockhounds that followed, to enjoy for years to come. When I asked Dave the next morning, he said yes, that was what he was thinking of, and then I gave him a geode from the Keokuk area that I had found at last year`s Geodefest, with some extra minerals inside it.

I think it was June when I found out that the seven year old son named Logan, whose Mom is one of my favorite Cracker Barrel employees, was interested in rocks, so I took his Mom Heather, a flat of druse quartz, poker chips, and some other pretties so she could give it to Logan…I did that for Miss Abby and Nate as well.

Last month in July, I found out from a local firefighter friend, that another seven year old daughter, whose Dad is a local Firefighter Captain friend of mine, was now collecting rocks and minerals, so I took him a flat of crystals to give to her and told him anytime they wanted to go rockhunting with me locally, to give me a shout. A few days later, another firefighter friend contacted me on FB and asked where he could take his new girlfriend rockhunting because she was big time into it, so I gave him some info as well.

On the 2nd of July, I received an email from a guy named Al, who lives just north of the golf course I work at, and asked if he could go rockhunting with me, after reading my blogsite about my trips and travels…I let Al know that my friend Chuck and I were going to MFQ on Sunday, July 8th and asked if he would like to go with me and Onyx, warned him that we would be leaving quite early and he accepted the offer. That brings me to this next trip to MFQ…Al arrived at my house by 3:45 am and we transferred his digging stuff to the bed of my truck and took off by 4 am….we saw a bit of wildlife on the way down, which I always take as a good sign of things to find. We arrived around 6:30 am….

…..and Chuck arrived an hour after us, I had Al working on a pocket with some poker chip calcites inside by that time…

…working the wall now exposed at the ground level after much of the last blast pile had been cleaned up and away…..

…when I walked over there, I discovered a beautiful mosaic pattern in the dried clay mud in front of Al`s position along the wall, so I took a few photos of it, never having noticed anything like that there before….

…he was hard at it, trying to get those poker chips out of the pocket too…

….while I was checking on Al, Chuck climbed on up to the second level to look for pockets up there, as soon as I let Al know to come on up and join us up above when he was finished to his satisfaction with the pocket he was working on, I went up and found Chuck working a pocket up there already….

…we both worked on several pockets and searched through a pile of crystals left below that ledge where someone had left a bunch of them behind…soon Al came up and joined us as well…when Chuck climbed up on this ledge above to work a bigger pocket, I walked behind and past him to the left and opened up another pocket in the vuggy rock wall…at first I was pulling out some beautiful druse plates, then they had poker chips attached to them, and then they immediately graduated to dogtooths attached and some were curvy plates and some were clusters…Al came over, sat down and started helping me with the pocket..I would hand one to him and he would wrap it and put it in his bucket, then the next one he would hand to Chuck, and anything I wanted I would put in my bucket next to me…we worked that pocket alone for at least an hour that way…it was chock full of beautiful crystals and druse….Chuck took these next few photos of me and Al working the pocket I found, when he returned for some water, gatorade for me, and some buckets and wraps….

…you can see the dark colored poker chips inside the pocket that I am trying to free up and pull out…the opening in the center of the pocket goes around a huge brown poker chip crystal that was probably two or three crystals blended together into one huge crystal of calcite, and that opening quickly turned to the right and went up, behind that huge crystal, so I was trying to enlarge that opening to get my hand in there easier…there was also an opening to the right of the hammer that went up as well…here is the center opening closer up….

I`m going to try and post a video here of our trip, to view it, simply click on the DSC_0357 and then click on the link that starts out with http://www.jwjrocks.com/ and ends with /DSC_0357.wmv, then the video will pop up, or should, in a windows media player box and begin playing automatically for you. 

 

DSC_0357

 

I wore out shortly after that and Chuck came down and chipped that big crystal out for us, here is the video on that, we had to take it out in pieces due to it`s size and placement in that pocket…

DSC_0358

 

we headed back home shortly after removing that big crystal, with about three bags full each from that one pocket. all three of us very happy with our finds for the day….I think this trip made Al`s day quite well, too, for his first field trip outing as a rockhound. 🙂

 

Paul and PJ Come Visit Missouri

Back around the first of April, I had an email from Paul and PJ, they live a few states northeast of me, and they were interested in coming down to visit and go rockhounding with me here in Missouri. Paul was asking about the Park Hills Show as well, but the timing of things on their end and mine, didn`t permit them to make it down that weekend, so they came down the weekend after the Show and I took them to MFQ on Saturday and the Secret Spot Quarry on Sunday. We had great weather for both days..they decided to go to MFQ first and then the drive home from the Secret Spot would be shorter for them on Sunday. We arrived at MFQ to find heavy fog in the valley about 7:30 am…

….I usually arrive there much earlier in the morning, but after their long drive down on Friday, they didn`t want to get up any earlier…but we had a cool morning with fog for a short time and got about five hours of digging in. PJ was ready to go as soon as she put her hard hat on, she was off and exploring…Paul and I took a bit longer to get ready, plus I took a few photos as well…

…the fog began lifting soon after we arrived, the sun burning it off from above and then we began to bake…as Paul began to take off, we spotted PJ up on the second level looking for pockets in the wall and we headed that way to join her, finding several nice dogtooth pockets shortly after….

…and this is the main area we were working, can see the newest area of activity from the left side to the right…..

…we did quite well on the left side, finding more crystal filled pockets over there as opposed to the right side where they were far and few between, the left side wall being more vuggy and where you find pockets more often. We each filled a few buckets with crystals before heading home about 2 pm…..

…..to rest up for the next day. We met at the Missouri Hick for a nice bbq supper that evening and I let them know what we could expect to find at the Secret Spot Quarry. Sunday morning we slept in a bit and arrived about 8 am, another beautiful morning and this time no fog to deal with…we had to park a ways out from the walls….

…and make our way back to the walls over some big boulders, so we took our time and watched our footing, making every step count…this is why it is so important to wear good boots, at least with ankle support and steel toed boots really help in case a boulder rolls down the slope and on to your foot…it won`t hurt as much as if you do not have steel toed boots, believe me. I showed PJ and Paul some pockets that I had worked the week before and that still had crystals inside them and they set to work on them at first….

..I also showed Paul this soda straw druse plate on this boulder down below that pocket and he got his hammer and chisel out to work the plate off the boulder….

After they worked that pocket a while and Paul took what he could of the plate off the boulder, I directed them to another dogtooth pocket that appeared to have more crystals in the back of it, so they pulled a few nice dogtooths from it after a while, here it is close up….

…and then we decided to check out a few more pockets along the wall as we were headed out later in the morning…here is Paul checking on a pocket….

…they headed for home soon after, with a seven hour drive ahead of them, stopping only for gas refills…Onyx and I stuck around about an hour longer, mainly finding only druse pockets like this one….

…pretty stuff, but hard to get out of a small pocket like that, and higher up on the wall as well…we stopped off on the way home to get some more yard rocks of druse and then headed for home…all in all, another great weekend on the books. 🙂

CAGMAGS Returns to Missouri

I received a call from Arkansas David, who had attended the field trip to Missouri with the MAGS Club end of March…David called me a couple of weeks later and asked if his club, CAGMAGS, which stands for Central Arkansas Gem and Mineral…could come up and go rockhunting with me to the Druse Location and MFQ again…I let him know what weekends I was off from my new job and he decided on April 21st and 22nd…and since MAGS…the Memphis Club that I am a member of…had invited his club to go with them, he decided to invite them to go with his club…and they did, as I received notice from MAGS of same by email a few days later.  The members of CAGMAGS decided to stay at the same area motel that MAGS had before, as well, so Onyx and  I met them there Saturday morning about 8 am and led them to the Druse location. David and John headed off to the right of where we parked, looking for druse and more pyrite and marcasite….we again had cloudy skies to start and the members this time, wanted to leave and drive on to the quarry a little sooner than when MAGS was here….

…while others spread out on the other side of the road and farther back on the same side as where we parked…again we had peeks of sunshine that helped spot the druse a little faster and this time, a few more of us wandered down to the bottom of the hill to look for yard rocks of druse and poker chip combos….

…and after about an hour of looking for druse, we loaded up and drove on to the Secret Spot Quarry….

…where it appeared on the hillside behind the walls, that Spring was making its presence known…like the MAGS trip, this morning was a bit cooler and most of us were bundled up…once the sun finally came out, it warmed up quickly for us. I pointed out the potential areas for goodies and everyone spread out to look for them…

 

…and once I saw that everyone seemed to be finding stuff, I started looking for some pockets on my own…soon joined by John and a few others eventually…I usually have pretty good luck finding some and within 20 minutes I was working on one that kept going and going…deeper and deeper…producing some roof plates initially and then some nice single calcite crystals too….

…and some nice druse/poker chip combos as well, like this one…

…once John saw what my pocket was producing, he was hooked and sat down a few feet from me and started digging into an older pocket that soon produced crystals for him as well, once he tied into a couple of pockets that opened up for him…

After a couple of hours working pockets at the quarry, and several finding some nice druse plates as well, we traveled down to see my friend who sells Viburnum Trend minerals…we visited with him for a good hour and then the crew asked me if I knew of a good BBQ joint around…I told them about Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba and said they have a satellite restaurant in Steelville as well…so we saddled up and drove to Steelville for some good bbq.  Only after walking inside, did we discover that it was no longer Missouri Hick BBQ…instead was a burger joint…the crew decided they really didn`t want to drive any further for food, so we stayed and tried it out…wasn`t bad for a burger joint. After a good hour of talk and food, Onyx and I headed for home and the crew returned to their hotel, and we decided to meet at MFQ the next morning. 

On the way down there the next morning, Onyx and I stopped off for a few minutes to photograph Alley Spring Mill, as we pass right by it on the way there…

…and then we drove on to MFQ and were soon joined by the rest of the crew there. A few days before, I had received word from a good friend nearby that some recent activity occurred and so we were some of the first rockhounds to visit since then…it turned out to be great hunting for all of us….

..we donned our hard hats, steel toed boots, gloves, safety glasses, and headed up the new pile to check things out…David and I started seeing some nice crystals right away, from the very base of the pile all the way to the top and some big boulders with nice vugs as well…soon John was in the mix with us and after pointing out some nice stuff to him, he began finding it on his own too, we were finding crystals that were nestles chcolate brown colored, black colored, and some nice green/brown mixes, some even had some irridescence to them…we climbed higher to the wall and started spotting pockets all over the place…pretty soon we were cleaning out several nice pockets…we found out later that John located some nice dogtooth pockets on his own, producing some nice crystals, singles, doubles, twins, and clusters…

 

…I have to say, John was quite happy with his finds…as he should have been…as you can see below…he had some real beauties come out of a couple of nice pockets and he shared them with everyone there…

I`m pretty sure everyone there had a great time over both days and MFQ was a super hit with the recent activity prior to their arrival, making Sunday morning specially nice with more pockets of green and brown dogtooth calcite crystals to be found and collected. They left for home about noon, a five hour drive ahead of them, while Onyx and I decided to stick around another hour or so and check out the western side. I had no sooner climbed up on the ramp to the walls above when I came upon a huge chunk, consisting of a large single chocolate brown calcite crystal, encased in calcite druse and dolomite matrix, with several smaller poker chips surrounding the entire base of the large piece…measuring a good 24 inches high and about 15 inches wide. In order to get it down to the parking lot, I wrapped it up in my rain jacket and scooted it carefully over to the edge of the pile, then after placing it in front of me and wrapping my arms around it, I slid down the pile like a slide and then brought the truck over to it and loaded it up.  I loaded up some smaller ones and then we headed for home, having our sandwiches on the way. 🙂

 

 

MAGS & CAGMAGS Visit Missouri end of March for Druse 2018

During the MAGS Christmas Party in Memphis, my first one to attend in December 2017, W.C. asked me if I could take the members of MAGS rockhunting at the druse location again, and to MFQ as well…they were kicking around a few dates and he said he would let me know what dates they decided on. I heard from him again the end of February and they had decided on the last weekend in March, I let him know I hoped to have another job lined up by then but would see what I could do about that weekend. As it turned out, I did have a new job by then, but was off weekends til sometime in April, prob due to the weird weather this spring…weirdest weather I can remember in sometime, including cold and damp weather, as well as late snowfalls…def not your typical springtime. I think the flowers and trees had a harder time adjusting than we humans did.

It was decided that Onyx and I would meet the members at an area High School on Saturday morning, March 24th about 8 am and then lead them to the Druse location. Onxy and I got up about 6 am and were on the road by 6:45…and pulled into the High School Parking lot a few minutes early..finding several members there already and more enroute.  Soon after arriving at the parking lot, I had a pleasant surprise to find my good rockhunting friend David Bruce, from northern Georgia, in attendance…long drive for him but he often goes with me to other locations I hunt at as well, like southern Arkansas and central Kentucky…he is a hard rock miner and dedicated to his hobby. 

After everyone assembled in the parking lot, we soon headed to the newer druse location…not far away but we had to travel a few miles by road to get there…and I had to go the long way with the group because some were driving low clearance cars and suv`s…we arrived about ten minutes later and parked on the side of the road…

….and I explained to them where they could find some pretty druse in all sizes from miniature pieces suitable for making wire wrap jewelry to yard rock size pieces. Everyone spread out and began to look…we had cloudy skies which make finding druse at any  location tough at best, but within the hour the sun was trying to peek thru and helped us out a bit better. I walked down to the bottom of the hill and found some larger and nice yard rocks, and pointed that out to some of the folks there, and soon more folks were also wandering down the hill to check it out. 

 

…while on the other side of the entrance road, I had let David Bruce and Arkansas David know about some marcasite and chalcopyrite dumped in special places, so they wandered over to that side first to look around…..

…we stayed up there the better part of a couple of hours, folks were finding some nice drusies and a few poker chip clusters as well…afterward we drove to the quarry, known as the Secret Spot Quarry, and found a few pockets there that were full of nice calcite crystals. By mid afternoon, everyone was ready for a change, so we headed south to visit a friend of mine, at the request of MAGS members. We have visited with him a few times before, he is a mineral dealer of Viburnum Trend specimens and not only has great crystals and minerals for sale, but great prices and shares his knowledge on the minerals too…we arrived there about an hour later and everyone had a great time visiting with him once again. We had some new members along that not only made a new friend with connections, but purchased some nice crystals and minerals for their collections. 

The next morning, Onyx and I met them at MFQ about 8 am again,  some were running a little late, so the ones that were there, followed me down into the quarry floor,  and I showed everyone where the most recent activity had been taking place and the more highly mineralized areas were located. 

…and everyone spread out to look for goodies….some heading to the coved area right away…one of my favorite areas to look for pockets of dogtooth calcite crystals….

…and one member finding a pocket that I had described as chock full of goodies the week before when I was there..looks like he had the same fun I did in pulling them out of the pocket….real back twister there….

…and while everyone was down at ground level, the two David`s and I headed up the western ramp to the newer activity work area…where I had found some pockets full of green poker chip calcite crystals, singles and clusters…you have to be very careful with the green colored calcites, as they damage more easily than other colors, tend to shatter even when trying to remove them from vugs and pockets. I was able to borrow a ladder which gave us a little better access to some pockets on the wall not very high up….after working this pocket, I let David Bruce work it for a while….

…and he did well too….we were a bit bundled up as it was about 40 degrees that morning when we arrived and maybe warmed up to 45 when we started working the wall pockets…this one in particular, went back to the left and then straight up and then to the right…making it difficult to get your arm into, specially if you had a couple of sweatshirts on like David did…Arkansas David got up there next and worked it and found out just how difficult it was to get the crystals out…there were several still in there if you could just get your arm in there enough to enable you to reach them…and then pull them back out…..

…we managed to pull some nice ones out, single crystals and small clusters both…and while we were up there, Jim Butchko wandered up to see what we were finding and looked down the wall from us to see if he could locate some pockets too….

…about an hour later, the Memphis and Arkansas crew decided to head for home…they had a five hour drive in front of them…and even tho David Bruce had a nine hour drive home, he decided to drive over to check out the old wall where we first started digging and hunting about ten years ago….

….he and I found some nice beauties in the old wall where the material was loose enough to dig into…I was glad to see him pull some nice clusters out for all the effort we put into that side. Here is one of the beauties I found in the old wall too….

…and a cluster I found shortly after….

David pulled about six clusters out of the muck there, similar to this one in size…and then left for home shortly after…sure was a good productive weekend for us all. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Park Hills Gem and Mineral Show June 2017

Everyone has been asking me if I went to the Park Hills Show….

….I did go on Sunday the 11th, and met Chuck Reed and his daughter Mackenzie and her friend Faith, as well as my Chef buddy Nathaniel Reid, there at 8 am,  and walked the booths with them…my plans were to visit with my dealer friend Johnny B from Mt Ida, Ken Vaisvil from Arnold, and Virgil Richards from Tulsa. We also spotted a couple of vendors with some very beautiful gray druse coated with gorgeous chalcopyrites, sphalerite crystals, and snow white barite crystals attached to some of them…very pretty stuff…like this one now adorning my coffee table…

Onyx and I arrived about 7:30 am and after letting him out of the truck for a few minutes in the parking lot to stretch his legs, I photographed the old hoist house of the Federal Hill Mine at the old St Joe Mine in Park Hills….

….it always looks good from the vendor area too, little windy this morning tho….

…..then put him back in the truck in the air conditioning, locked him up and headed off to see my Arkansas dealer friend Johnny B…

….who is up there each year with some beautiful quartz crystals and other odds and ends…he had some neat stuff this year as well, some green quartz crystals from China that had been ” enhanced ” as he put it, sprayed with a green frosting that really made them stand out. While they caught my eye, I really liked the Desert Rosettes that he had on the table…six clusters of them…he made me a sweet deal and I bought all of them….

Shortly after that, my phone began blowing up…Chuck calling to confirm the exit off Hwy 67 to reach the park and show…and soon arrived while I was looking at the large goodies covering three tables at a local vendor`s booth…from a local quarry where miners had blasted and found two huge pockets full of gray druse quartz, coated…and I mean heavily coated…with blankets of chalcopyrite, dotted with large balls of sphalerite, and some had snow white bladed barite attached to them as well….

…Nathaniel showed up soon after and after he had a chance to check out the local goodies above, we headed over to see my buddy, Ken Vaisvil, who collects and sells Keokuk area geodes. The past few years I have been going to the Park Hills Show, I was always impressed with the amount and quality of geodes that Ken always has on display for sale at his booth….

….so I have always purchased a couple of them from him at this show each year. I saw him at Geodefest last year in Keokuk, and purchased a few more from him there…then earlier this year, I purchased a few flats of smaller ones from him for my shower remodel, that I hope to get moving on if my carpenter ever finds some free time to work me in to his busy schedule. Ken was sitting back enjoying the morning sun when we walked up on him and soon he had Chucks daughter and friend picking out some geodes to crack open….

…I posted a video of him operating the cracker and opening them up for the girls, on my Facebook page if anyone is interested in seeing it. Ken is a great guy to talk to and deal with, he truly loves collecting them as much as he loves to crack them open and sell them. He has always liked the dogtooth crystals that I have collected in the past so I took a couple of them to him that morning as well.

Ken started getting some customers, so we headed over to visit with Virgil, who was located behind Kens booth, along the back fence of the dealer area. Virgil had some nice stuff for sale at his booth, including azurite, malachite, snakeskin agates, chrisacolla, petrified wood, and he had a helper at the show, named Aaron, who was selling some huge sheets of selenite there too. While talking to Virgil, he pointed out a booth across the way and said we needed to go over and see what the guy had for sale, turns out he was a local miner that works at the quarry where the gorgeous druses coated with chalcopyrite, sphalerites, and bladed barites attached to them. So we walked over to see what he had…one was so big he had it on display in the back of his pickup, prob a five hundred pound piece, it was very pretty tho. He was offering build your own flats, so I took advantage of that and built one for myself and paid for it. Soon after that, Chuck and Nathaniel said they had to return to St Louis County, so we packed up and headed to our trucks in the parking lot…they took off headed north while Onyx and I headed south to MFQ to do some rock collecting. 

Arriving about 1:30 pm, we got out of the truck to find it a very warm day…somehow I figured that Onyx wouldnt last long in the heat, but he surprised me that afternoon, staying outside the cab in the shade, prob due to a very nice breeze that blew all afternoon across the quarry. There was a nice ramp leading to the walls above….

….so I hiked up there soon after and began finding pockets of black and dark green dogtooths almost immediately, and set to opening them up and pulling out the goodies…filling one bag very fast and returning for two more as well as a bottle of water. There was a dozer working on the coved area walls til about 3 pm…otherwise we never saw anyone else that day there. I worked about ten to fifteen pockets along the wall before wearing out and heading home about 4 pm. Made for a long but pretty and enjoyable day. 

 

 

 

 

Dynamite Dogtooth Pockets

It`s been a great winter so far, only about six weeks of normal cold weather and two weeks of very cold weather, and then in February, we started warming up like it does in May…we still have March to go thru, it may come in like a lamb as it did this morning and go out like a lion, but who knows…I just know that everyone really likes the weather we have now, we hit 76 degrees yesterday alone !!  Last weekend, Nathaniel Reid and Chuck Reed joined me on a trip to MFQ to check out the quarry on another warm day, we had not been there since November last year, mainly because there had not been any activity down there. I received word from my good friend Jim a few days before the weekend that they had blasted the northwest corner of the quarry. In the past year since they began removing rock from the west side of the quarry, we never found anything more than the poker chip wanna bees on that side, but we had not been there in a while so we decided to go down and look things over…glad now that we did.

Onxy was in rare form that morning, rarin` to go do some rockhounding with me, cause he had not been with me on the St Louis County trip to look for Union Road Agates a few weeks before. Chuck and Nathaniel joined me on that trip as well, where we walked in a couple of creeks in the South County area and found quite a few of the geodes for the few hours we were there. There was a third location that we wanted to check out, but didn`t have time and instead went to a buddy`s home, where he sells geodes from the Keokuk area. I had purchased a few flats of geodes from Ken a few weeks earlier, to include in my bathroom remodeling project…have my tile guy place them into my shower walls with the barnwood tile. When I went there to pick them up, Chuck met me there and Ken showed us his private collection, this time we had Nathaniel along and he got to see it as well. We got up early on Sunday morning, Feb 19th to discover heavy fog outside…visibility was maybe quarter of a mile…thick enough Nathaniel got turned around on his way to my house to catch a ride with me to the quarry.

We got on the road about 7:30 and an hour later, the fog was starting to lift with sunlight burning it off. Thirty minutes later, the skies finally cleared off and remained that way til we were within two miles of the quarry, then the fog enveloped us once again all the way to the quarry. We arrived around 9:45 to find Chuck sitting on a rock up on top of the blast pile, cobbing down a boulder and wrapping up specimens to put into his bucket….

and some fog still hanging in the wind….

Nathaniel grabbed his tools and bucket and headed to the west side of the pile while Onyx and I started up the east side along the wall, toward Chuck….

About midway up to him, I spotted some green calcite at the base of the wall and stopped to check it out…there was some brown mixed in with it and pretty soon, I pulled a few dogtooth crystals out of the pocket, showing them to Chuck, and decided to park myself right there and explore some more….

…here is the pocket when I got about halfway down into it, after removing at least one bag of wrapped crystals and clusters….

…and some of my finds…I also passed a few of them off to Chuck as well….he came down and started looking closer at the wall below me at the same level my pocket was at….

In the meantime, Nathaniel started shouting to us that he had found some huge yard rocks and some nice smaller clusters over on the west side of the pile, some of them covered in what looked like aragonnite….here they are on my tailgate….

Soon after, Nathaniel and Chuck took a break and drove over to the other side of the quarry to check out the walls there, while I continued to dig out my pocket…an hour later and I had it cleaned out, all the way around the sides and down to the very bottom, which took awhile cause I just kept pulling clusters and doubles and triples out of the bottom of the pocket…for awhile I thought it was gonna be a bottomless pocket. Many of the crystals are dogtooths, a black or brown center inside a green or brown poker chip, and then I was able to remove a few of the top and side wall plates of clusters, as well.

By this time, I had three bags completely full of wrapped crystals as well as three large clusters that I had no room for in the bags, so had to make two trips down to the truck, where I took a short water break, got Onyx some more water in his bowl, and then took another bag with me, back up to look along the wall for more pockets. When I got to the top of the pile, I located more pockets and soon after, Chuck and Nathaniel returned from their exploration break. Nathaniel joined me up on the top wall where I had located four pockets close together. I worked one pocket and let him have the others, as I was beginning to tire already….before heading out, Chuck grabbed my camera in the truck and snapped a couple of Nathaniel and I working the wall too….

I filled one bag halfway up with wrapped crystals and then walked down the west side of the pile to take a look at the two huge yard rocks he found over there…he said they were too heavy for him and Chuck to lift and then carry to my truck. As soon as I got to the floor of the quarry, I spotted them sitting there…

I got my four pound hammer and chisel and cobbed down the plate on top of the first boulder, getting one large plate and a smaller plate intact. I remember someone telling me that calcite was only a hardness of four…sure didn`t feel like a four to me, more like a seven…seemed like it took a lot longer to hammer those two plates off than it should have…I was wore out by the time I carried them to the truck. The second boulder had a lot of damage to the crystal tops, many sheared off, so I didn`t even try to cobb it down. Nathaniel decided not to try either. Chuck left a few minutes prior headed home, so Nathaniel and I wrapped up our crystals, loaded up my truck, and headed to my dealer buddy`s house to see what he had in Viburnum Trend minerals. We hadn`t been to his place in a few months and he had let me know that he had some new stuff, buying a few collections in the past few weeks. We arrived there about an hour later and found that he did indeed, have some beautiful new stuff, and after about 30 minutes, we both had a flat full of some nice new crystals…the first two of mine were smokey calcite clusters from an old collection, the clusters from the forbidden crystal cavern at Brushy Creek Mine, likely removed from there over twenty years ago…..

here is the second smokey calcite cluster….

…plus when he purchased this collection, it came with a nice barite piece from an Iowa quarry that was super sweet looking, so I got all three for one price….

..and some chalco pieces on druse, one with a green crystal on the end of the plate….

…sure ended a very nice day of collecting, that`s for sure !!