A few months back, some of my rockhound friends from all over the country, suggested to me that we should make a run to south central Kentucky for some geodes, so I began looking at my calendar and seeing when I could fit a trip in for a week, and came up with a plan to start out with a public dig at the Eureka Mine in western Kentucky at Marion, then drive over to the Danville area and hunt for agate and geodes in the same area. I decided on September since I seem to be the only one that takes vacations in the fall where I work at and made the suggestion to the others.
They were all bent on going to the Keokuk Geodefest until I did some research and found a couple of farms in the Eubank area that had lots of geodes in all sizes to pick from. I was also able to arrange an agate hunt with a state renowned agate master in the area with several years of experience of successful hunts for nice looking Kentucky agate. After announcing those plans, they all decided to drop their plans to attend the Geodefest and concentrate instead on agate and geodes in Kentucky.
I posted our intentions on the McRocks board and had a few extra people express an interest in joining us. Brian Danzer is a research biologist in the Chicago area and he decided to drive down and join me at the Eureka Mine in Marion on Saturday morning, September 24th. He started his drive at midnight, while Missy and I got up at 3 am and headed toward Marion…we were met with a nice sunrise just west of Eddyville….
…we made a quick pit stop at Ms Neda`s Donut Shop there and then headed on to the museum to get registered and meet up with the other diggers. As it was, I arrived at the museum just ahead of Brian and we were able to chat a few minutes before several others started arriving. A few minutes later, two guys from Pennsylvania showed up, Nick and Pete, having made a sixteen hour drive down to dig for beautiful purple fluorite cubes…cant say as I blame them. Soon after, Bill Frazer showed up and opened the doors and we all went inside to register and tour the museum. I never get tired of looking at the fantastic collection of crystals and cubes in the museum, a lifetime of collection by Mr. Clement and passed on to his son Ed, who allows all of us to enjoy and admire the beautiful specimens as well. It also inspires and motivates one to go out and look for something similar in the mine as well.
Soon enough we were driving out to the Eureka Mine after Bill gave a talk on safety and what to look for, as well as the hazards of mud and falls…and we began to dig in the thick oozy mud, resulting from three prior days of rainfall there. I decided to dig down next to a deep hole, now filled with that oozy mud, and see if I could locate the vein and hunt from there…Brian decided to dig a couple feet from me, and Nick and Pete were a few feet away as well, Pete around the corner from us and after letting Nick know he was standing on top of a saddle lined with pockets, he wasted no time in digging down to it and hunting for cubes. I didnt take my camera down there with me, due to the very muddy and slick conditions, but I do have photos of what I found and will post them later in here. We started out digging in a light rain which after a few hours, gave way to sunny skies that warmed up quickly. Within minutes of digging down in the sloppy mud, I was able to find the vein about ten inches down and carved out a nice sized hole to start in soon after. Brian started finding little clusters and cubes in his hole right away, and eventually as he dug deeper, he started finding medium and then larger clusters and cubes as well. I was pulling out a lot of clear chunks, and a few small clusters, and it continued that way all morning til I struck the bottom plate of the vein…Nick was finding pockets of cubes similar to those that Bruce S had encountered when he dug into the saddle earlier this year. I`m pretty sure Nick went home a very happy guy. I never did see what Pete found around the other side but he seemed pretty happy when we parted ways later that afternoon.
I wound up trying to pry my bottomplate out but it wouldnt budge, attached way too firmly to the base of the pocket and solid rock, so I wound up chipping out two football sized chunks instead. I could see the outline of cubes on both pieces and was confident I had some nice stuff.
After five hours, Brian and I decided to call it a day as we still had to drive three hours east to Danville. We cleaned up and bid goodbyes to everyone and headed south to Princeton to gas up, and then east on the Parkway to Danville. I was a bit amazed at the price of gasoline down there…when I filled up at St Louis County that morning, it was 2.93 a gallon and when I stopped in Princeton, it was still 3.49 a gallon. Yikes !!
I did have a pretty good load of rocks with me when I left Missouri though, bringing some nice poker chip and druse combos to Debra and Denise from Indy, and gave some to Brian as well…I also donated some nice Arkansas quartz plates and druse quartz to the museum, to help them further their cause and continue to provide rockhounds a great place to dig and hunt at. I`m sure that is what was eating up my gas mileage this trip, as I normally get about 25 mpg with my Tonka truck. 🙂
As Brian and I approached the turnoff south to Harrodsburg from the Parkway, I looked back in my rearview mirror and saw a nice sunset…since I couldn`t find a nice place to shoot in front of it, I decided to try for a mirror shot instead…
….but then as it was, soon after turning south on Hwy 127, it turned out the sunset just hung up in the sky and I was able to shoot a horse farm in front of the setting sun….
…we arrived a few minutes later in Danville and Brian decided he was too tired after drinking six redbulls, to go eat and just wanted to find his hotel and get some good rest…so I drove over to Cracker Barrel and met a couple of friends there and had a good dinner. I was tired, but I was hungry too…gotta take care of your priorities. 🙂
After dinner Missy and I followed my good friend John to his home in Stanford, where I crashed shortly after for the night. I slept soundly and got up about 7 am, and drove over to McDonalds Restaurant to meet up with Brian…we then drove to Irvine, passing through Lancaster, where I shot this pretty sunrise….
We arrived at the Hardees Restaurant in West Irvine about 8:15 am, scheduled to meet everyone there at 9 am and then carpool to the Agate Hunt locations. Debra and Denise were already there when we arrived and we soon joined them inside as they were getting something to eat. We talked about our adventures at the Eureka Mine the day before as we waited for the others to join us…Josh from Richmond, Kentucky, Peggy from South Carolina, and met up with our guide for the agate hunt, Lamon Flynn, from Irvine, Kentucky, the heart of Estill County and Agate Country.
Mr Flynn came in after the others arrived and introduced us to a couple from Michigan who drove down to join us, and his wife, Rebecca, as well. I had talked with her several times by phone in setting the agate hunt up and it was nice to finally meet her as well. We had some breakfast and then drove over to the Fairgrounds parking lot and narrowed down to three vehicles from several. Mr. Flynn stated the road we were going to was narrow and parking would be at a premium…I opted to take my truck since I had Missy with me, and Brian rode with me, Josh took his truck, and several piled in with Peggy in her Suburban.
We drove south on Hwy 89 to a valley and turned off the highway and drove down a country road, down through the valley, crossing the creek several times….
….now this was my idea of fun driving on country roads….and finally arrived at our destination…a logging operation with a lot of dirt clearing around it, next to the creek….we parked, removed our buckets, bags and tools…then Mr. Flynn showed us what to look for….and how to chip the corner of them to reveal the inside colors….
…..we fanned out to search all around, some going up the road, some going to the creek, some of us to the dirt around the logs, looking for the elusive Kentucky agate….
….Debra, Denise, Brian, and I wandered around the logs and up into a clearing above the logs….
….I found the first one, a half geode of green and blue banded agate, and naturally had to let everyone know with a loud ” EUREKA ” …. and as it turned out, the area we were hunting in was right where Mr. Flynn started finding the black and red banded agates the previous year….and some of the pretty orange and black banded agates too.
…we looked all morning there, finding a few small odds and ends, but nothing big and obvious…so packed up and relocated downstream to another location after a few more creek crossings that looked like this much of the time….
Brian spotted a red geode as we were driving out, so I pulled over and he got down in the creek to pick it up….
…we parked in a field at the top of the hill, above the creek, and then walked down through a field to get to the creek…private land that Mr. Flynn has access to…he explained to us that we were really there at a bad time of year, due to the leaves being down and making it hard to see good agate rocks. He stated it was better to come hunt in March or April…easier to find things then…specially in the creeks…the drive in and out was fun, specially that one spot where we drove a quarter mile down the creekbed alone. 🙂
Here Denise looks happy in the creek with one of her finds….
..as Mr. Flynn and Josh walk along behind her coming back the other way….we walked as far as we could…
coming upon a beaver dam that was as wide as the creek and prevented us from going any further….
so at that point, we decided to drive over to Mr. Flynn`s home and take a look at his vast collection of Kentucky Agate and his jewelry with agate as well….little did we know we were in for a REAL TREAT !!!
here he is showing us some of his beautiful agates….
….and some of his beautiful horses as well….
..and here Denise shows one of the agates she likes….
….and Josh shows off a red and black banded agate…..
….and here Debra shows off one in the sunlight….
…and here she is going through the discard pile…Mr. Flynn allowed us to go through this pile and take anything we liked the looks of….I found a couple of nice agates in there…
Mr. Flynn then showed us some of his prized agates, the black and red banded agates and the orange and black banded agates….
….and here are some photos of his jewelry as well….again with Kentucky agates….
….an agate pendant, and here is the other side of it….
….and an agate ring…..
….and a Case Knife Handle…..one side shown….
….and here is the other side shown….
….and belt buckles golore…..
….the one above the dragons head buckle…..
Needless to say, we enjoyed our day with Mr. Flynn hunting for agate and enjoying his collection of agate and jewelry as well….
We drove back to the Fairgrounds Parking Lot to retrieve our vehicles, some had to head home and some were returning to the creek to look for more agates. I had brought some Missouri druse and poker chips with me, as well as some Eureka Fluorite, so gave that to anyone who wanted some, and gave Debra and Denise some nice clusters from one of the Amazing Pockets Docia and I had discovered earlier this year. Mr. Flynn collected a few pieces for his nephew who also collects rocks and minerals, and gave me a few more agates that he had found recently on some hunting trips. Debra and Denise headed home to Indy while Brian and I headed back to Danville for a nice dinner and rest. We made plans to meet Peggy at Stanford the next morning at 9 am to go geode hunting in Eubank.
Peggy was running a little late the next morning, we had decided to sleep in a bit…I was sleeping so well that I dozed right through a tornado siren located just a block from John`s house about 6 am…Brian heard the tornado sirens in Danville though…and Peggy spotted a wall cloud as she drove to Stanford from Berea….it was raining steady when she arrived at McDonalds there and we headed south on Hwy 27 to Eubank shortly afterward. I called Sharon at the farm to see how the weather was there and let her know we were on the way, and her husband, Richard, said it was sprinkling but hoped it would clear soon. We arrived about twenty minutes later and saw geodes in the driveway as we drove up the hill into the farm, parking by the corrals on the right side of the drive. He met us as we got out of our vehicles and pointed out a pile of dirt and manure in front of us and told us there were several geodes in it if we wanted to check them out first. So we pulled a few out and took them up to one of the covered corrals and cracked them open…a couple were beach ball sized and were full of narrow pockets of pinkish/orange colored quartz crystals…the weight of them was a fooler though…we thought they were solids and turned out they were not, quite a surprise. After cracking a few of them open, we decided to get our rain gear on and head up to the fields, after he and Sharon moved the mares to another field for us….
….it was still raining, from light showers to heavy downpours at times…and muddy as could be in some places…but there were definitely geodes all over the place and full of pretty crystals too. A little rain never hurt no one, certainly not a rockhound.
In the photo above, there are three fields between the road and the barn up on the hill…the field where that barn is located is a much larger field, a few hundred acres, and we didnt get that far that morning. We did search the three smaller fields and found and cracked open and took home, many geodes from those three fields…many with smokey quartz crystals inside them…some with lavendar or amethyst colored crystals, some with large cacite crystals inside them…..here is a photo of Brian with one he cracked open….
….and the two halves up closer…..
…the rain, rain, go away chant didnt work at all that day….but soon after we returned to Stanford, the skies did clear off and the sun came out to stay….Brian headed south from there and drove to Asheville, North Carolina, to meet up the next day with a South Carolina friend of his and they went to the Diamond Hill Quartz Mine near Anderson, South Carolina…Peggy returned to Berea to do some shopping, and then home the next day….I returned to Stanford to photograph some horses for a friend….and a good steak dinner at Applebees that evening with local friends.
The next day, John and I drove south to Lake Cumberland…he had a nice painting of an old grist mill hanging in his house, turned out to be a restored mill down on the south shores of Lake Cumberland…I have always been fascinated by old water mills and so we drove down there so I could photograph it…Mill Springs Mill, which dates back to 1834 and is a two story grist mill that was completely restored and still grinds flour and corn today on the weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day…
…..it sits down in a beautiful hollow surrounded by lush vegetation and flowers on one side, and spring fed waterfalls on the up hill side….
…located near the back of the mill, which is even more interesting looking than the front side to me…nice stone steps and stone columns supporting the heavy timber construction, are more visible…….
…along with the heavy steel forty foot high water wheel that powers the grinding stones inside the structure of the mill….
We headed back toward Stanford and John took me through Halls Gap, which has changed alot since I was down there the last time…the road is better for one thing, but its still a narrow gap, made even narrower by the rock walls and amount of vegetation that seems to close in on you from both sides…he also took me up to the old road, old Hwy 27, that travels up Halls Gap in a windy manner to a neat overlook near the top, where one can see for fifteen miles……
…to the north and northeast….high points in Danville can be seen from here and the red water towers in the upper right hand corner of the photos are in the town of Lancaster, which is 12 miles northeast of Stanford and 15 miles northeast of this overlook….
From here, we drove east into the countryside and John took me by a few tobacco farms, which was being harvested this time of year by the farmers…..
..and took me over to a neat Amish farm where the folks there grow all sorts of veggies and pumpkins and flowers in a couple of big greenhouses…however they have no electricity in their modern looking homes, nor do they have a phone in the home…its in a phone shed halfway down the driveway….I suppose their home is much quieter because of it, but in case of an emergency, that is a long ways to run to get to a phone….
…and they have corn shocks standing alongside the road as well….
…we drove on over to the house where the greenhouses were located, no electric there either, and saw a mass of pumpkins and gourds sitting outside that were recently harvested….
The next day, we drove back down to Lake Cumberland to meet up with a buddy of mine, who also enjoys old mills and we visited Mill Springs Mill again…on the way down, as we approached Halls Gap on New Hwy 27, we were passed by several police cars and a rescue truck, there was a bad motor vehicle accident on the hill up Halls Gap, so we again took Old Hwy 27 and went around it to continue south….
Later that evening, I captured some nice sunbeams in Stanford before heading to dinner with friends again….
…we enjoyed a nice Angus steakburger at Eddie Montgomery`s log built restaurant in Harrodsburg….
I should say a massive log structure, two stories high, with a beautiful interior containing a restaurant on the right side where all the glass windows can be seen, a stage in the middle, and a bar on the far side, with a large foyer entrance under those huge columns you see on the left…apparently he is a country western singer from the local area and he built a restaurant there last year…great place to eat with delicious food and we happened to be there on Kareoke night, so had some entertainment as well.
The next morning, Missy and I bid farewell to John and headed home…passing by some pretty horse farms north of Danville….
We had to detour through Jeffersontown on the way home to cross the Ohio River, as the bridges over I-64 are shut down for safety reasons, a major crack discovered in a load bearing beam last month, so traffic is now re-routed across I-65 and then you take I-265 back over to I-64 north of New Albany to continue westbound. I decided to stop and check out a beautiful old railroad bridge along the way, it has a great stonework support structure under it and waterfalls in the Ohio River underneath it….
Its called the Falls of the Ohio Bridge, this view taken looking south to the Kentucky side from the Indiana side…
and this one from the west side looking across to the city of Louisville….there are also fossil beds located down by the river and the falls….
…with some good advice posted near the bridge for those that want to walk down and admire the fossils…heed the advice and dont become a fossil yourself….
this is the support structure on the north side of the bridge, looks like a little castle type building…
with some neat doorways and windows in it….
and as I was leaving, to head west and home, I was lucky enough to spot a CSX train motoring south across the bridge….
I drove on down the river to find Spring Street to make my way back to I-65 and came upon these murals painted on the floodwall….
and took one last look at Louisville`s skyline before heading home…
..the next bridge I photographed was four hours later as I crossed the Mississippi River into St Louis….the historic Eads Bridge….
The following photos are some of the geodes I collected at the Kaleidoscope Farm in Eubank….Sharon welcomes anyone to come down and take home as many as you want…they get a new bumper crop each year…just give them a call and make the arrangements with them, and they welcome groups as well.
and that wraps up my Kentucky trip this fall…hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. 🙂