Buzzards at the Secret Spot

Saturday I loaded up the truck and headed down to the secret spot Saturday last week, to meet up with Docia and a friend of hers. I wanted to get some more druse plates from the clay embankment and Docia`s friend was looking for anything pretty, so like Docia said, this would be a perfect spot for finding pretty stuff. Her friend was running late so I arrived about twenty minutes ahead of them. I no sooner pulled up and walked over to the edge to see if anything had changed when something big took off flying from the ledge about fifty feet from me…

01 Buzzard Flies Off


02 Buzzard In Flight



…turned out to be a large buzzard…I was a little disappointed, as Docia has been seeing eagles and I was hoping it would be an eagle….but as it turned out, after shooting about twenty photos of it, they turned out well as you can see….

03 In Flight Over Secret Spot


04 In Flight



…and was quite pretty with his plumage in flight as he glided back and forth checking me out….

05 Up Close In Flight


06 Turning in Flight



…and flew around quite gracefully….

07 Glided By Me in Flight


08 Sunlit Flight



…after he finally gained some elevation right over the druse area, he was shortly joined by four other buzzards and they flew up the hill to look for something to do I guess….I parked above the druse area and walked down into the pit to see what I could find…

10 Druse Area Above Secret Spot



…and started seeing druse plates all over the place…within feet of the truck…

12 Druse Plates All Over


…and some very pretty plates at that….

13 Pretty Druse Plates

14 Druse Plates



…I looked around and finally found the source of some beautiful smokey colored quartz plates of druse with soda straw fingers in a clay embankment and started digging down….

15 Smokey Druse Pocket Here


…and pretty soon, plate after plate came out of the pocket….


17 Druse Plate


…but most of the plates were dirt covered and yet one could still make out smokey colored straws and fingers on the plates…

18 Druse Plates


..and bubbles like these….

19 Druse Plates From Pocket


..including large bubbles….

20 Large Chunk of Bubbles


…about this time, I heard Docia coming down the road and she and her friend soon joined me looking for druse plates. I started walking around the area I was digging in and found yet another spot where plates were just laying all around….…so as Docia and her friend were walking all over picking up plates, I filled two more bags full of plates and druse bubbles, including this nice large plates of bubbles covered in limonite that I found on top….

22 Bubbles of Druse


..and then I drove down to the lower area to see if I could find another pocket…I had it in mind to go over closer to the backside of the pile and look, but didn`t get far from where I parked when I looked down and saw poker chip crystals laying all over the place in the gravels…which is normally a good sign that there is a pocket nearby, so I sat down and started raking through the gravel with my mini mattox…

23 Dug Left Then Moved Right


…and after about twenty minutes, I had found a small shallow trench, and after a few more minutes of scratching around, a hole opened up at one end of the trench….

24 Hole Opens Up


..I raked back the other way just to clear the area back and make sure this wasnt the only entrance to a potential pocket…sometimes a hole on one end is accompanied by another entrance…and soon enough I had my answer…...I started finding signs about a foot away from the hole and soon enough I had exposed a small rock wall and under the wall, more crystals appeared….

28 Pocket Opens Left



…and after a little more careful digging, a pocket opened up at the bottom of this rock wall to the left….…I reached into the pocket and after pulling some ugly pieces of dolomite out, the next two were plates of pretty druse with tiny needles of druse on them and a few poker chips attached as well…

29 Plates With Chips


…about this time, Docia and her friend rejoined me down at the lower level and they walked over to the Tulsa pocket to see if they could pull anymore crystals out of it. I continued to work this pocket and it expanded in a circle counterclockwise to the side of the pocket I was sitting on…

30 Getting Bigger


….and pretty soon it became deeper as well with some pockets located inside behind a cluster of large poker chips attached to the top plate….

31 Looking Into Pocket Left


…I cleaned it out as well as I could and attempted to remove the top plate with the cluster of crystals on top, but the layer of rock on top was way too thick and heavy, and by this time in the day, I was too pooped to pop. Docia and her friend had left by this time with a load of druse and her friend was very happy.  I left soon after with a load of druse and two bags of poker chips and a few plates as well.

32 Crystal Lined Walls


33 Poker Chips on Top Plate


34 Poker Chips on Top Plate






Secret Spot April 16th

After a few friends visited over the weekend with Docia, I returned to the secret spot to see how they did with the pocket I left them. Docia had told me that a few of them were as calcite crazy as I was and worked it pretty good, for about five hours in fact, and pulled some nice crystals out of the pockets there and filled several bags with poker chips.  Missy and I walked over to check out what was left of it….Docia figured there might still be a few inside it as well as some plates of poker chips attached to druse plates under heavy rock that they were unable to hammer out….

03 Start Cleaning It Out


…and after cleaning it out, I discovered they had left behind a few nice crystals, including a nice twin or two….

04 Found A Few Fast


…I cleaned out the pocket on the west end and pulled a few nice crystals out that had been overlooked and tried to hammer a few plates out, but let me tell you, that rock above was thick and heavy, and hard as a rock, so to speak. 🙂

05 Checking Out Pocket West End


You can see in the next photo, inside the pocket and how thick that layer of rock is on top of the crystals…

06 Inside West End Pocket


Despite not being able to pound any plates down due to the extremely heavy rock layer above the crystals, I did manage to liberate this nice poker chip on top of soda straw druse….

07 Pretty Poker Chip on Soda Straw Druse


…this and a small pile of crystals was all I could find in the west end pocket, so I decided to move over to an area that I had dug into the time before, when I was finding shallow pockets all over the place, but no entry into any of them short of hammering and chiseling one out…

09 New Pocket Not Far Away


..within a few moments of digging in one of these spots again, a hole opened up at what appeared to be a dead end….

10 Hole Opens Up


…and I pulled a few small plates of druse out….

11 Initial Finds


..and the hole opened up even more….

12 Pocket Starts Toward Pile of Rock


…and I was hoping the pocket wouldnt require me moving this pile of rock above it….soon a crystal could be seen down in the pocket….

13 Crystal Inside Pocket


I decided to see if I could expand the opening more and see just how big a pocket I was looking at here….

14 Expanding the Opening


…and soon I could see even more crystals inside the pocket….

15 More Crystals Inside


…and soon I was pulling this nice druse plate out as well as some loose crystals…

16 Druse Plate


…and pretty soon the pocket was expanding even more at the base of the lip of rock surrounding it inside this trench….

17 Pocket Expands


…and off to the right and above my mini mattox you can see a shallow hole opening up where yet another pocket was found….

18A Another Pocket Opens Nearby

…I dug around the base of the rock walls inside the trench and then dug down and found that other pocket off to the right, and found a large ledge of bubbly druse with poker chips attached at the base of it, a curved wall at the base I should say, instead of a vertical wall…

18B And Connects


…located on the right side of the new pocket wall…and from this curved druse wall, I was able to dig out a beautiful small druse plate with two poker chips attached to it, one on each side of the druse plate….

18 Druse Plate with 2 Chips Attached


…after that, I was able to connect the two pockets by digging out the middle section……and then I took a closer look at the nice plate of druse with the two poker chips attached to it….

19 Druse Plate with 2 Chips Attached


…very pretty….I took a short break and then grabbed my hammer and chisel, and chiseled out an interior cluster from the pocket….

20 Base Cluster Removed


Mercifully for me, the pocket ended at this point and I didnt have to start chucking big rocks out of the way to go any further with the expansion…I was glad as I was just approaching worn out stage…

21 Mercifully It Ends Here


….here are some of the crystals and plates I found, all cleaned up….

22 Beautiful Chip on Druse


23 Chip and Druse Plate


24 Gemmy Druse Plate


25 Gemmy Druse and Chip


26 The Druse with 2 Chips Attached







27 Another Druse with Chip





Secret Spot in April

Docia and I drove over to the secret spot after spending the morning and early afternoon looking for more bladed barite in Washington County near Potosi. We hadn`t been there for about four weeks and wanted to see if anything had changed and see if we could find some more druse plates as well as check for more pockets.  As soon as we arrived, Docia decided to walk up on top since it hadnt rained in a while to see if she could find any druse plates…..

03 Docia Climbs Up on Top


….while I decided to see if I could find a new pocket….

05 Shallow Pocket Found


…and within moments I had a shallow trench in front of me and a few druse plates popping up, which is always a good sign of a pocket nearby….…but the trench played out, so I worked around the immediate area and did some more raking and pretty soon, I had openings all over the place….

08 Several Pockets


…and the one in the upper end, above, soon played out as seen in the photo below….

09 This One Deadended Soon


So I kept raking around, found a few more promising spots, and one pocket of bubbly druse, but no chips at all….

12 Lots of Bubble Druse


…and Docia walked back down with two bags full of plates of druse from above, and grabbed a couple more bags, said there were plates all over up there. I moved over to a spot about ten feet away and started raking again and soon found a shallow spot that opened up into a ledge with an opening, looking very promising….

13 This One Looks Promising Too


…I reached down and pulled out a plate and a nice twin….very promising signs of a pocket found….

14 Even More Promising Signs


15 Nice Twin



…within moments everything had turned around and things were looking up quite nicely for me…the pocket opened up and soon I was pulling out crystal after crystal, and a few plates too…

16 Pocket Opens Up


17 Pocket Begins To Grow



…and soon the pile began to grow even more….

18 Crystal Pile Begins to Grow


…including some nice combo plates….

19 Plate with Poker Chip


…and since the pocket was opening up nicely, I took a photo of it upside down….

20 Inside the Pocket


…showing some nice crystals inside. I cleaned it out as well as I could and then decided to work the outside wall to the right, and that`s when the pocket took a turn….

21 Pocket Takes a Turn



…yes, I had to move the pile back about a foot, after doing so and digging some more,  another ledge revealed itself and opened up underneath….

22 Another Bluff Opens Up


…and with a little bit of pressure on the top of that ledge plate, it rolled over and this was what was hanging there waiting for me to find….…with just a little bit of damage, but soooo pretty to me…..

24 Combo Plate Up Close


…..and the pocket kept going back, so again, I moved the pile of crystals back some more….

25 Pile Moved Back 3rd Time


…allowing me more room to expand the pocket some more….

26 Pocket Expands Again


…I removed a few more plates and crystals and this pocket just kept on moving back some more…...which didn`t bother me in the least when I reached in and pulled out another big crystal….

29 Another Good Sign


…shortly after this, knowing I had three bags to fill up with crystals and several plates, I decided to leave the remainder of the pocket….

30 Leaving It For Tulsa Club to Work


…for some friends who would be there in a few days, to clean out. Docia had left about an hour earlier with four bags full of druse plates and still more left up there…but by this time, light was beginning to fade so there was no way I could go up and even look for any. Figured I would get some another day, possibly after another good rain when more would be exposed.  I headed home with the truck bed full of bladed barite and poker chips.















More Bladed Barite

I no sooner returned from the second weekend in Kentucky with more fluorite after a successful sixth spring season, than Docia and I decided to return to the barite area and see if we could find some more pretty bladed barite. Since its a very open area and we could go through the week, we opted to meet down there again on Thursday…meaning this report is about two weeks old, thats how far behind I am. We both studied the maps a bit and decided to checkout that middle road and see if it would lead us to the red clearing that is on the map, that we had been looking at for weeks now. On our last trip down there, we had searched the roads on either side of the middle road, without finding this spot, so the middle road was our objective this trip. We had to do a little cleanup along the way down this road, since its so brushy down there, so it took a little longer to get down the road than we figured. Plus we had to cross that gully again in four wheel drive…

01 Gully to Cross First


…with that barite ledge on the other side….I had Docia wait til I crossed it so I could photograph her coming across it….and as I crossed it, she photographed me….

13 Me About to Cross Gully

14 Dropping Off Into Gully

15 Coming Up Out of Gully



…I was no sooner there than here came Docia across it….

03 Docia Drops Off Into Gully


04 Headed Down Hill



…and she came across just fine….

05 Out of Gully


….we parked here and walked down the middle road a little ways to see how brushy and rocky it might be. After a little bit of trimming, I went back and got my truck and started down the road…

06 Road to Trim


…it looks good here…but believe me, it was a bit brushier in the next photo which is around the turn….

07 Road to Tiff Mines


…and after another hour of walking and trimming, we finally came to the clearing we kept seeing on the map…an area of old tiff mines…

08 Old Tiff Mines


…we searched the entire old mining area and only found a few spots with some quartz and druse…this hillside being one of the main areas. We found that a little odd, since we were right up the hill above an area that we find it quite often and heavily….

09 Hillside We Dug Into


…so we searched and dug a little here and pulled a few nice quartz druse pieces out…here is the area I was digging into….

10 Quartz Chunk I`m Digging Out


After an hour here and not coming up with much, we decided to return to Docia`s blazer and then drive over to the bladed barite hill we found two weeks before and see if we could locate more barite around that side of the hill as well as surrounding areas. We had some friends coming up from Oklahoma that weekend that we were sure would love the bladed barite as much as we like it too. We found enough to fill two bags each and I found a couple of nice sized ones for my mom`s flower beds too. We also left quite a bit for our friends to find, too. Here are some of the pieces I found….


17 Barite Found

We crossed back over the gully and went north…..

12 Gully Exit Ramp


11 Leaving The Gully



We decided to check out a couple of other areas around there and see if we could locate more pretties, but after an hour of driving and looking, we came up empty handed, and decided to head over to the secret spot and see if we could find some nice druse there…thats the next story since its a different animal…

Mom`s New Rock Garden

Wednesday afternoon last week, I woke up early and went over to my parents house to help them clear off an old flower garden and convert it to a rock garden with rose bushes and iris flowers. I had been gathering several medium to large druse crystals for it lately and put it all together by Wednesday evening. While we were out there arranging things and digging up older flowers to take out, I kept hearing wild turkeys chattering around the area, and finally spotted six of them deep in their neighbors backyard across the street…they were running all over the place and didnt seem to mind us out in the yard working…

Wild Turkeys Across the Road


Wild Turkeys Across the Road 2

…there appeared to be a couple of gobblers and four females…they almost looked like large geese, since a couple of them were pure white…anyway we finished the garden about suppertime…

Just About Finished

…there is druse, Arkansas Quartz, Poker Chip Calcite Crystals, Bladed Barite, and Fluorite in the Garden now…with the knockout roses my Mom put in there too.



…and a few more I helped her create this past year as well….


Front Yard East Side


Main Front Garden 2


Main Front Garden


Closeup Main Front Garden

Eureka Mine Fluorite, Easter 2012

After preparing the Eureka Mine as best we could last weekend, we prepared for our group dig there over the Easter Holiday. The weather was going to be nice and much cooler, so I decided to take Missy with me on this trip. I had to work the night before, and after a three hour nap, we got up and took off. I had to stop off in south central Illinois on the way down Friday, to photograph some antique fire trucks owned by some good friends of mine, and after that I headed on down to Kuttawa to get checked in to the hotel.

I was meeting up with Pete Stoeckel and Nick Richard there, we had talked ahead of the dig about lodging and meals, they decided to stay at the same hotel I was staying at, the Days Inn, which is next door to the best steakhouse in the entire area, the Oasis Southwest Grill, which is where we all wanted to eat at as well. I texted Pete to let him know that we were leaving my shoot and on the way, and should arrive about 6:30 pm. He and Nick were driving in from the east, they had left eastern Pennsylvania about midnight Thursday night and drove down to Kentucky through Maryland and West Virginia. They took advantage of one of my tips on a good geode location in south central Kentucky, and stopped there after twelve hours on the road. Pete told me they had found several nice geodes there and then got back on the road and would be waiting for me at the hotel.

True to my word, we arrived at the Days Inn about 6:30 and got checked in fast…I was as hungry as they were I`m sure…fire truck shoots just wear me out mentally and physically.  We walked over to the Oasys and ordered steak dinners…well I should say Nick and I ordered steaks and Pete ordered barbecue brisket…a few years ago the staff of the Oasys added on a barbecue menu and boy was it good…but I always order the grilled pork chops with a barbecue glaze…two large center cut chops that completely take up the space on the entire plate, big baked potato, and a big bowl of steamed broccoli….yummmmmyyyyyy. Pete and Nick are both connoseiurs of draft beer as well…and the Oasys didnt let them down…they always maintain a good selection of beers for guys like these two. We talked and caught up on rockhunting adventures since we last saw each other at the Eureka, and then headed off to our rooms for a good night of restful sleep.

Mike and Chrissy decided to come back down for the weekend dig as well, and for some reason I didnt notice, but they were parked right next to my truck when they arrived. I guess I was so tired, I didnt even see it. Nick and Pete and I had decided to get breakfast at the Marion Cafe the next morning before meeting everyone at the museum and registering for the dig. Nick told me that the cooks at the Cafe believe in feeding people very well for little cost. I stopped off at Miss Neda`s Donut Shop in Eddyville and got some donuts for later on….very good donuts at this little donut shop…and then  Missy and I headed for the Marion Cafe. Its catecorner  across from the new Marion Fire Station…beautiful brick building with three glass bay doors  and a big time clock on the street side, has that old tyme firehouse look to it, charming but elegant…

62 Marion Fire Department

Nick was right…I ordered two eggs,bacon and toast with grape jelly….I have never seen toasted bread that thick…Nick told me it was homemade bread. Pete had ordered French Toast and I couldnt believe how much was on his plate, there must have been half a loaf of toast on there…the equivalent of eight pancakes….and our cost was like $ 4.00 a plate…unreal…definitely alot of food for a little cost.

The lady that owns the Cafe showed us a nice chunk of fluorite that was on display there, it was quite exceptional in beauty and form. While they were talking to her about it, I slipped out the door and drove on over to the museum to verify that someone was there and found VJ there helping several earlybirds check in and register for the dig. I visited with him a few minutes, he is always very pleasant to talk to and work with on such events.  Within the next hour, several more showed up to register and we were able to meet and talk a little bit until it was time to assemble outside to get ready to go. I introduced myself and we walked outside for a safety talk before driving on out to the mine. There were a few folks there, some with young children, who were somewhat new to rockhunting and definitely new to the Eureka Mine, so we talked a bit about safety and what to look for and where to look as well. We then drove on out to the mine and got ready to do some serious digging and prospecting.

We arrived to find Mike and Chrissy working on pumping out the water in the pit….

01 Arrival Mike and Chrissy Pumping Down Pit

…and once everyone gathered up next to the pit, I pointed out the area of the vertical shaft that we wanted to avoid. For those new to collecting at the Eureka, I pointed out the two tailing pile areas that are known to be rich in tailing specimens, both areas that were producing nice small clusters of crystals last week, eroding from the dirt banks from past rains over the winter.

While most waited for the pit water level to be pumped down, the young family with the two little boys got busy and quickly started finding some nice crystals…soon we heard this little guy while digging with his mom, say ” look what I found Mom “……

06 Mom and Son Digging For Fluorite

…and his brother, digging nearby with Dad, found a large boulder in the dirt with crystals on it…they decided to try and dig it out together…..

02 Surface Collecting With Dad

…and pretty soon, rockhounds were digging all over the place while the pump was still lowering the water level in the pit….

04 Rockhounds Hunting For Fluorite

…Nic had settled into the dirt bank on the north side of the pit to do some surface collecting while waiting and looks to have found a few nice enough pieces to get his wrapping paper out to wrap them up….

05 Nic Already Finding Stuff

…and other rockhounds were in the same area, and digging in the dirt on the north side and began finding small clusters of crystals as well…

07 Small Cluster Found

…some nice cubes with some pretty balls of calcite nestled in between the cubes….

08 Small Cluster Found Close Up

…and while Mike and Bill tried to work the pump to fully pump out the water in the pit…..

03 Bill and Mike Figuring Out Pump

…..Chrissy decided to dig out the side ledge area…

09 Chrissy Works The Side Spot

MAGS members Dave and Lenora decided to try and see what they could find down on the saddle bench while the pit was being pumped out as Li Liu, also with MAGS,  is seen surface collecting in the background….

11 Li Liu Surface Collects in Background

…much material was left laying around from the weekend before for others to find and take home if they wanted to.

Pete helped run the pump while Mike worked the strainer to get the pit down to the right level to work it…

12 Pete Works The Pump

…and once the pit was pumped down, several diggers got into the water and the mud and waged battle with the rock and pockets to produce some nice fluorite cubes and plates. Mike and Pete worked the saddle pockets and liberated several nice plates of cubes, even some with some beautiful areas of greenockite and sphalerite. Chrissy was joined by Dave Murray over on the side ledge area of the pit, an area that once produced some beautiful large specimens of fluorite with greenockite a few years ago.  Once I had everyone finding some nice specimens, I joined Nick on the north side of the pit and helped him dig the mud layer back to expose the ledge on that side so he could work a few areas that I had worked the weekend before. He soon was finding some nice small clusters along with everyone else. However by 2 pm, several rockhounds had left the mine and the ones remaining were those digging in the pit area.

We were often visited by Bill Frazer and Ed Clements and his daughter Andrea, joined us later in the afternoon. We found out during Ed`s visit, just how tough and serious a rockhound Pete can be…at some point while pounding away on a chunk of rock with his four pound hammer and chisel, he missed the chisel and struck his right hand….breaking at least one bone in his hand….none of us became aware of it until dinner time much later….I still cringe when I think of it and can only imagine the pain he endured the next three hours as he  continued pounding on the baserock,  revealing pocket after pocket of beautiful cubes, and probably some exhilaration as well…I saw some of his finds and there were some absolutely beautiful plates that Pete found in that saddle.

We all ran out of steam around 6 pm and decided to go back and clean up and meet at the Oasys for dinner.  Sunday morning dawned bright and early, with a few less people at the dig from the day before, but with a few new additions as well…Ian Merkel, a geologist friend from Colorado and Marty Meskill, a good rockhound friend from upper state New York,  arrived at the hotel at 3 am, flying in to St Louis and then drove down to join us. They both planned to go over to south central Kentucky on Monday and continue their three day trip, but for Kentucky Agate this time….I was able to help arrange that part of their trip for them and put them in touch with Lamon Flynn, a well respected authority on Kentucky agate, in the Irvine area. I had the pleasure of meeting and hunting with Mr. Flynn back in September last year, joined by a small circle of rockhound friends from all over the country, and we enjoyed it immensely.

Soon after checking my email Sunday morning at the hotel lobby, Ian came around the corner of the building looking for my room and ran into Pete and Nick who were up and talking with me out in front. They all headed to breakfast and we met up later at the museum to sign in for the day. After everyone showed up and registered for the dig at the museum with Bill Frazer signing us in, we drove out to the mine…apparently losing one car and two rockhounds along the drive out…prompting a call to Bill who escorted them out to the mine a few minutes later. On our arrival, we found Chrissy and Mike busy pumping the pit down and giving everyone a chance to look around and see what needed to be done today….

13 Sunday Morning Smaller Crew


Nick was walking around down at the edge of the north side of the pit looking right and left to figure out where he was going to start digging today….when I snapped this photo I was reminded of that old saying…decisions, decisions….lol….

14 Nic Trying to Decide

…pretty soon everyone had chosen their spot and dug in…..

15 Sunday Crew Hard At Work

..Pete and Mike continued to work the saddle on the south side while Dave and Chrissy, who cannot be seen, continued their work on the left side of the north wall…Chrissy was burrowed into that wall….Marty dug into the center of the north bench, Nick sits on a bucket, and then Ian in the green shirt is seen working my pocket, and Mary continues to dig the east bank. Lenora is seen sitting on the high bank watching Dave dig.

In the next photo Ian can be seen playing in the mud above the vein and pulling small clusters of deep purple cubes out….

16 Ian Digging Thru Mud

…and here is Chrissy, slowly working her way into the west wall and pulling small clusters out along the way….

18 Chrissy Digs Into Bank

…while Nick and Ian work the pockets that Nick and I followed the day before….

19 Nic and Ian Working in Mud

…and Dave continued to work that bench on the left as Marty started working a pocket dead center of the bench….


20 Dave and Marty Work Bench

I wonder if anyone knows what a tough guy looks like…I can safely tell you that I saw a tough guy in action Sunday for the better part of the day…only captured him on film a few times but here he is in action…Pete Stoeckel…swinging away with a sledge hammer to bust out a boulder and uncover some pockets of deep purple fluorite cubes…all the while doing so with a broken right hand….

21 One Tough Guy Here

Nick and Ian continued to pull out some nice clusters of cubes in the pockets……I had filled a bag there on Saturday myself, so I knew there had to be more stuff there…and there was….

22 Nic Inspects and Ian Bails

…and Mary continued to dig from the east bank of dirt, pulling out some nice clusters as well…its obvious that Bill was right, there was some virgin material underneath the mud there…

23 Mary Digs Into Bank

…here are a couple of boulders of fluorite that came from the dig last weekend….

24 Fluorite Boulders

About mid afternoon, Marty found a beautiful small cluster of stair step down cubes…one right after another in a domino fashion that was just spectacular to look at….definitely a rewarding pocket find…

25 Marty Found a Beauty

…and here up close….

26 Marty`s Beauty

…by mid afternoon, Mike and Chrissy loaded up for their seven hour drive home and I left about an hour later….there were four left in the pit by this time and the pump was kicked on for a little more lowering of the water level to explore for more pockets…within a few minutes the big pit was drained dry and the smaller pit lowered to explore a pocket or two…I reached down into one of the smaller pit pockets and a large frog came jumping across my arm and hand and out of the pit….and naturally as startled as I was, I let out with a loud word or two and everyone looked up to see the frog flying through the air.

Here are some of the finds left behind for others to find, Tina and Bill had informed us that a college group would be there Wednesday and so we left behind some goodies for them to find, like these….

27 Some More Beauties

..and I`ll post some of my finds when I get a chance to clean them up…havent had a chance to do so yet and now we have five days of rain starting today, so no sunshine to photograph them in either.

I`ll leave you with one last photo of Colorado boy Ian, playing in the mud….

28 Ian in The Mud

32 Small Cluster

33 Small Cluster


34 Small Cluster with Calcite


35 Small Cluster


45 Cubes


50 Showpiece




Annual Fluorite Dig 2012

After months of planning and coordinating with Tina and Bill Frazer with the BE Clement Mineral Museum, I drove down to Marion, Kentucky on Friday morning, March 30th, to meet up with Mike Streeter and Bruce Skubon, to prepare for another dig at the Eureka Fluorite Mine.  I decided to leave Missy with my parents for this trip, due to the forecast for possible rain and hot temps on Sunday, April 1st. I also decided to take a chance and drive down through Illinois hoping that ILDOT had all the road construction finished from the past two years, but as I discovered, they move slower than MODOT apparently when it comes to road reconstruction…what a mess, especially the five mile stretch right around Mount Vernon…and its bad enough you cant drive faster than a posted speed limit of 65 mph, but then when you hit those construction zones, they slow you down even more to 45 mph, for several miles a stretch with absolutely no activity on those long stretches, no less….aggravating to say the least.

Luckily I made good time though and had great weather, I didnt even have to turn the ac on til I reached I-24. I was taking a load of rocks down to the museum, a couple of buckets of grab bag material for them, and some druse quartz, bladed barite, and poker chip combos as well as some Arkansas quartz. I also had some extras for Tina, for her rock gardens at home. I had researched for the lower gas prices on and found Paducah to have the least expensive gas in the immediate area, so I stopped on the north side of town and filled up at the Pilot Truck Center before driving on down to Marion. All the way down through Illinois it was right at four dollars a gallon, but twenty cents a gallon cheaper in Kentucky and thirty cents a gallon cheaper where I live, so luckily I didnt have to stop in Illinois to gas up, and as it turned out, I was getting about 23 miles to the gallon as well, so I was quite happy with that.

As I drove north of Eddyville, I came upon the red barn on the left side, and noticed a beautiful white horse feeding between the pond and barn, and stopped to photograph the scene….

01 Red Barn and Horse


..its always a pretty scene on the west side of the road on Hwy 641 just north of Hwy 62, and this year with the dogwoods in full bloom, it was even prettier and I couldnt resist….

03 Beautiful Horse and Barn

I arrived at the museum about thirty minutes ahead of Mike, who stopped at the hotel to check on his room. I visited with Tina and unloaded the buckets and goodies I had brought to her, she was quite delighted with everything and I let her decide what to take home and what to keep for herself. Mike arrived soon after and visited with Tina and brought her some goodies too. He received a call from Bruce Skubon shortly after, who indicated he was close by and would soon arrive and register for the weekend dig, then drive out to the mine and join us for the rest of the afternoon.

Mike and I drove on out to the mine with a key to the gate left at the museum with Tina, as we wanted to see what it looked like after the mild winter had taken its toll, and arrived to find it actually looking pretty good….

04 Eureka Mine Friday Afternoon

Bill had placed the pump and gas tank on the bank above the pit prior to our arrival. The trackhoe was on the north side of the main tailing pile, that we had created last year at our spring dig, and it looked like only minimal drainage had occurred from that pile down toward the pit. In October of 2011, Bill had Wayne come in with the trackhoe and dig out mud and rock on the north side of the pit, pulling it out about fifteen feet from where we had dug it out, anticipating a visit from some European rockhounds at the November dig, and then wound up with only a few diggers who didnt even touch that area.

While waiting for Bruce to arrive, Mike and I started the pump after checking the oil and gas levels, and began the task of draining the pond of accumulated water in the pit. There seemed to be a lot more algae in the water this year than we had noticed in years past….…while waiting for the water level to lower, I walked around the pit and checked for fluorite that naturally erodes out of the banks and tailing piles throughout the winter, and found some nice small clusters…..

06 Found A Few Small Clusters

…and plates…..

07 Small Cluster Found on Top



…and another small cluster sitting on top of the dirt….

09 Small Cluster Eroding From Dirt

…pretty soon the pit was pumped down about halfway and we were able to see some exposed areas to dig out the next day…we also discovered a huge chunk of rock that had apparently been dug out last fall for the November dig, and left up on top at the base of the tailing pile. We looked it over and found some areas of galena lead cubes on the backside of it, so Mike decided to see if he could cob it down and reveal some pockets on it….

12 Mike Cobbs Down Huge Boulder

After the pit drained down, we decided on our course of action for the next morning and headed out. On the way back to the motel, I stopped at a few places to photograph the sunbeams and setting sun. This was the first location, a church near Eddyville that had a pretty field full of yellow flowers….

13 Sunbeams Friday Evening

…but it just seemed to lack something…so I drove back north on Hwy 641 a short distance to where I had noticed an abandoned farm just off the road…there was a neat old two story house built with yellow native stone and just past the house was a big beautiful barn and silo….

15 Old Barn & Silo on Beck Rd

…I decided to stick around and shoot the sunbeams for a bit, since the sun was still up high in the sky…I pulled out a sunset filter to see what effect it would have on the clouds….

16 Beck Road Sunbeams

…it turned everything, including the road, to an orange color…which I didnt like too much… the next few minutes, the color of the clouds turned to a blue color and I liked that color alot better….

18 Sunbeams Above Beck Rd Farm

…the blue color enhanced the sunbeams and showed them better….

19 Sunbeams Above Beck Rd Farm

…but as the sun moved across those blue clouds, a little yellow color would creep in around the edges….

20A Sunbeams Above Farm Enhanced

…and then the silver roof on the barn went blue…..

21 Enhanced Sunbeams Above Barn

…and the last one I took before my stomach started talking to me…

22 Sunbeam Sunset Friday

We arrived the next morning and found the pit full of water once again, so just ahead of Wayne arriving to fire up his trackhoe, we started pumping water while he dug out a ramp to enable him to track down to the edge of the pit and remove volumes of mud……while waiting for the water level to recede, I did some more surface searching and found yet another nice small plate….

25 Another Small Cluster Found on Dirt

Bruce decided to lend a hand to Wayne and removed some of that icky soupy thick mud by hand shoveling some out in places Wayne would be able to reach with the bucket….

27 Bruce Digs Some Mud

…and soon enough, Wayne was in position and started removing a big soupy mix of mud from the center of the pit so we could use it as a base sump for the pump…...he was placing the mud up on top of the pile and it was running down like Mount St Helens and looked like a lava flow….…Mike was washing off the bench with a garden hose while Wayne dug out the mud…

31 Washing Off Mud From Bench

…and boy was he removing some mud….…he was also removing lots of water with each scoop and eventually the water level started dropping too…exposing some nice fluorite pockets to us….

32 Pockets Exposed

and he also removed a few original mine timbers, which indicated we were near an old horizontal shaft, they were encased and perfectly preserved in the mud layers….Mike and Bruce took a few up to the road for anyone that wanted some later…

35 Mine Timbers

…Wayne was soon surrounded by the soupy mud, mainly due to the places he was placing it and it running back down toward the pit like lava….…a fact which would later lead to trouble for him, but for now he was doing a good job of removing the mud and revealing what turned out to be an old horizontal shaft from operations back in the 1920`s when the mine first operated….…eventually he started pulling out some huge boulders laced with fluorite cubes as well….

46 Boulder of Fluorite Exposed

…which Mike cobbed down into smaller, more manageable chunks that could be carried out by one or two guys….

52 Huge Boulder with Alot of Fluorite

…soon thereafter tho, Wayne became stuck in the mud and we started draining the pit with the pump while he tried in vain to dig himself out……we were soon all at work in the pit finding what could be found….

65 Bruce in Deep Water

…and we repeated the process on Sunday as well….

68 Mine Sunday Afternoon

…and here is one of the finds from Saturday, that made the weekend worthwhile….

My 1st Selection


My 1st Selection 2

One of the nice things about working down at the Eureka Mine, is that Bill Frazer comes to check on you on a regular basis and takes really good care of you….here he is on one of his regular checkup trips to the mine….

Bill Frazer & His New Truck

Thanks Bill for being such a great Host !!!