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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

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

…followed by these two big plates….

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

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

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

I called it my EPIC Pocket !!

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

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

 

Rockhounding Guide Services Available…

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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