Brown Dogtooth Pocket Found

I decided to return to the secret spot yesterday and see if I could find another pocket, whether in the blast pile or on the floor again. I didnt get to bed as early as I wanted to Friday, and then got up early to beat the projected heat in Saturday`s forecast. Missy and I arrived about 7:30 am and started looking around. I made a short sashay up on the pile but didnt locate anymore pockets in the slopes, so I climbed over to the pocket that the loose rock had been cleared away from and found a nice plate of crystals that needed to be busted free with a hammer. I walked back down to my truck and retrieved my hammer and chisel and after about thirty minutes, was able to liberate it.

I then walked it back to the truck after wrapping it up and as I was climbing back down, I came across a short stack pile that seemed to have some potential for a pocket. With my mini mattox in hand, I walked around and did some exploring, found a few small loose crystals, embedded in the dirt but no pockets at all. I walked over to the waterhole that Missy was wading in and started seeing some calcite signs at the edge. After making a few scratches and working my way back toward the water, I finally located some low spots and dug in to see if I could find anything…

01 Found Pocket By Waterline

…in the photo above you can see where I set my blue bag down, thats the area I saw some signs of chips up on the top of the small ridge there…the next photo shows where I found the potential pocket on the floor by the waterhole…

02 Pocket Here

…I started scratching around with the mini mattox on the left, finding only solid rock, and then after moving back toward the water, found the low spot and started digging in….

03 Started Scratching Above

…those low spots can be a good sign all on their own, specially if there are small tree or plant roots doing down in them…or a sign of a depression indicates with water rings indicates the water had to go somewhere…course occasionally it will just be a drill hole that opens up underneath, too.

This time though, I dug down and hit shale and then started pulling up small poker chip crystal pieces….

04 Then Dug Down and Hit Calcite

…which is always a good sign of things to come…if you can find the pocket…the next thing I turned up with the mattox were a few druse plates….

05 Found These Druse Plates Next

….yet another good sign, and when they are upside down as these were, you know you are on top of a pocket….how good the pocket is remains to be seen from there though…..

I decided to take a few minutes and clear back some big rocks and loose dirt and gravel and give myself some room to work on this one.

I wasn` far from the water`s edge and the ground there was pretty saturated, but it was beginning to warm up so I didn`t mind getting muddy and wet at the same time. I started digging down and the first thing I came up on was this nice druse plate hanging upside down….

07 Pulled this Puppy Out Next


08 Nice Druse Plate

…and figured if I found nothing else, at least the druse was pretty enough to take home…I have been skunked a few times before with mainly druse pockets, but I like druse too. I continued to dig down and pulled out plate after plate of druse, but was seeing some smaller poker chips too so figured it would work out just fine…..

09 Continuing to Dig


10 More Druse Plates

…so I`ve laid the mattox down now and I`m pulling one druse plate after another out of the hole and the next thing you know, I pull this out….

11 Next Thing Out A BIG Dogtooth

…and I`m like HOLIE COW !!!!!!  has to be the largest single dogtooth crystal I have ever found, let alone seen….Docia and I have hit pockets of little ones, but never seen one THIS size…

12 BIG Dogtooth Crystal

…its every bit of at least five or six inches long…and pretty as can be…

13 BIG Dogtooth

…and then for the next hour…I`m pulling smaller ones out of the pocket right and left, so I pulled a white cloth out of the bag and placed them on it, just so I wouldnt lose any in the gravel there.

Well the pocket started expanding back toward the rock pile in the form of a trench, so I figured there wouldnt be a deep pocket, and would have to see how far back it went before ending to see what all I would be able to harvest from it…

14 Pocket Starts to Trench

..some of those trench pockets wear out fast….this one did not…it kept going and going and going….for awhile there I thought I would be moving some big rocks but fortunately that didnt happen…here is a photo of the dogtooth crystals I found initially, sitting on the white cloth…..

15 Lots of Dogtooth Crystals

The next thing you know, I`m pulling several single poker chip crystals out of the  hole, and I start to notice that they are dark colored…pretty soon I pull a large one out that isnt covered with mud all over, and it appears to be a blue color….

16 Dark Brown or Blue Crystals

…I was pulling several of them out, a few at the start of the pocket but now several are coming out in the middle of the pocket and kept on as the pocket trenched backwards toward the blast pile….

17 Trenching Away from Waterhole

…and the pile of crystals and plates just kept on expanding right along with the pocket size….

18 Pile of Plates and Crystals

…and by noon, I was done…the heat was coming on fast and I was ready to wrap and get out of there…it def was a nice morning for collecting though….

19 Sure Was a Nice Day

…as soon as I finished wrapping and switching out from my boots to my street shoes…I decided to go take a look at the rock wall that was formed up the clay dirt road that leads to the druse plate location up the hill….the rock they had removed from the pile was used to form an erosion blocker and they led it right up that old road to the top of the hill…

20 Pile of Rock Up Hillside

…luckily I was able to find some nice chunks of bubbly druse in the rocks, even a few that had poker chips attached….all in all, another great day of rock collecting at the secret spot…bout stepped on this guy in the rocks…

21 Bout Stepped on This Guy


…and here are some of my finds all cleaned up….

22 Group of Dogtooths Found


23 Single Dogtooth Found


24 Two Dogtooths Found


25 Dogtooth Attached To Druse




Secret Spot Pocket in May

Missy and I returned to the secret spot last weekend, a week after returning from Arkansas. I had taken off Sunday in anticipation of a photo shoot for a friend but when he didnt show up, I switched to plan B and we headed down there instead. It was mid day when we arrived and I discovered that more rock had been removed from the blast pile so I put on my boots and grabbed a bag and tools and headed over to climb around and see what could be found.

01 Nice Day to Rockhound

02 Signs of New Activity

I climbed up through this gap and walked around the top of it for a few minutes….

03 Walked Over to Look Around

…as I was climbing up through there, though, I noticed the sun really sparkling on this guy….

04 Found a Nice Gray Druse

…so I picked him up and carried him over to my truck. I came back and started to climb up again, when I noticed this pretty one….

05 And a Nice Orange Druse too

…but decided to leave it there…and continued to climb to the top…I looked around up there for a few minutes, then looked down to spot these two just sitting there patiently waiting for someone to come along and take them home….

06 Found a Couple of Nice Ones


07 At the Bottom Waiting For Me

..I walked down to take a closer look at them and then I saw more crystals above them….all over the place….yellow ones even….

08 And Other Signs Too

…crystals all over up and down about a fifteen to twenty foot stretch above the two large clusters…figured there must be a pocket in there…

09 Crystals Everywhere

…so I decided to go get another bag and some wrapping cloths and as I turned to go back to the truck, I saw the corner of this one sticking up out of the dirt and rocks….

10 This One Turned Upside Down

…and right above it, appeared to be more calcite poker chips sticking out of the dirt, so I figured there might be another pocket in there as well, this about 40 feet to the right and on another slope facing a different direction. I was happy now with two pockets to check out and three nice specimens without having even started to dig yet….

11 Another Potential Pocket

…so I decided to grab two more bags and lots of cloths for wrapping and returned to the first potential pocket. I sat the bags down and looked up to find this one looking right at me….

12 Patiently Waiting For Me

and right above it in this order…..

13 Peeking Out


14 More Crystal Signs

…so I began to pull what loose ones out that I could find, wrapped them up and bagged them, and then started sliding the loose rocks down on the left side of the pocket path. I wanted to clear out an area on the left, then concentrate my efforts on the pocket path to the right. There was an overhanging set of large rocks above the pocket path and I figured I would work the left side if that all came crashing down and covered up the pocket path.

15 So I Started Digging

…as I started working the pocket path, more crystals started popping up out of the dirt and rock, right and left….

16 More Crystals Start Popping Up

…and pretty soon, it was apparent that I was on top of the main pocket, where all the loose crystals had originated from….

17 Even More Crystals Abound

…this went on for a couple of hours…I would slide rocks down and pull out crystals and clusters and twins and triples, found very few single crystals at all….it was beginning to heat up and Missy had decided to camp out under my truck bed….

18 Missy Camps Out Under Tailgate


19 Missy Under Tailgate

 I took a break and got some water, then came back to start working this main pocket some more….

20 Main Pocket

 …here is what the main worry looked like above me….

21 My Only Worry

…now I know what you are thinking…you are thinking those big rocks you see are to the left of the main pocket…but no, the main pocket is actually below them…that cleared off area to the right up above is another area I dug out after finding a nice plate.

Well I dug into the main pocket and found some nice crystals lurking under the dirt and gravel….

22 Main Pocket Found

…and once I cleared everything out that I could find, I went ahead and triggered the rocks above to slide down….

24 Moved Left and Kept Digging

…then moved over to the left side and kept on digging….

…and found yet another pocket on the left side…this one had a lot of crushed up chips and pieces of chips though….

25 Another Pocket Left of Slide


…so after about four hours of digging out crystals, I decided to stretch my legs and walk around more of the pile to see if there were anymore pockets. I walked around the rest of the slopes and didnt find too much, then climbed up on top and found some nice plates of druse all over the place, including this huge plate of druse…

26 Found This Beauty At Top of Pile

…it measures about 25 inches long and about 15 inches wide and has a lot of base rock on it, prob weighs about 125 lbs…it took me three trips but I finally made it back to the truck with it….had to slide and carry it down three slopes and decided to just set it in my lap and slide down each one til I got to the bottom, then carried it to the truck. I was tired from all the digging and so it was a little heavy. and you should see the one I left up there, with calcite crystals and bubbles of druse…I`m guessing it prob weighed about another 75 lbs…yeah, its still there. I gave this one to my mom for Mothers Day.

I finally got some of my finds cleaned up…here they are below….

27 Nice Plate and Poker Chips


28 A Nice Plate Cleaned Up


30 Another Nice Combo Found


31 Twins and Clusters


32 Twins and Triples


Small Combos and Clusters

so all in all, Sunday the 13th worked out well in my favor. 🙂

Arkansas Quartz in May 2012

Missy and I traveled down to Lake Ouachita last Tuesday for a six day stay on the lake. I had been hired to do some photo work for a private client for a real estate website last fall, and the work includes a few extra visits down there at various times through out the year, so this was the spring trip. We stayed at a beautiful private condo at the Mountain Harbor Resort east of Mount Ida while there and had great weather the first couple of days, then it heated up and became muggy over the weekend. Since I wouldnt be shooting the bulk of the photo work until the weekend, I had the first few days free to dig and collect quartz crystals.

Missy and I woke up  on Wednesday morning and when I didnt hear from a friend who was thinking of coming to visit us, we headed south of Mt Ida to Bear Mountain Mine, one of my favorite places to look for quartz crystals. After registering at Fiddlers Ridge Rock Shop and talking to Bobby by cellphone, discovering he wasnt going to make it up to the mine that day, we headed south to the mine. I noticed the road up the mountain was a little rougher this time….

03 Road Up from Gate


…in fact it was so rough right above the gate, that Bobby had posted a speed limit of five miles per hour…heck I couldnt even go that fast up that hill…I was doing maybe 3 miles per hour…it finally smoothed out near the top though when I crossed the bluff area….

02 Road to Bear Mtn Mine


…and when I finally got to the top of the mountain and drove up to the tailing area….

04 Entrance Top of Mtn


I saw that Bobby had really expanded the size of the tailing pile area….

05 Entrance to Bear Mtn Mine


…where you see that blue dump truck in the photo above, there used to be a road there that took you to the other side of the pit to more tailing piles…obviously one cant drive over there any longer…and this new tailing pile is high and huge….

06 Used to be a Road Here


…so I parked, got out and got my boots on, and walked over to the edge of the pit to get a look at what he had done with the trackhoe since I had been there last….

07 Looking Across Pit to Far Side


…..there was quartz crystals laying all over the place, big and small plates and singles, and chunks with quartz crystals all over the faces….and I saw a guy walking around the top of the huge new pile.

I say new pile, cause the last time I was there, that huge pile wasn`t there….the photo below shows the pit and Bobby working on the overhang above the pit the last time I was there….

Now Looking South Into Pit


…so you can see the entire shape of the pit and overhang above has changed, the overhang is basically cut down to size and removed. The pit was looking quite a bit deeper this time as well….

10 Pit Looks Deeper


…so as you can see, Bobby had knocked off quite a bit above the pit and he had told me this pit was pretty deep as well underwater….

11 Pit Is Deeper and Wider


…after setting my camera back in the truck, I gathered up my rake and mini mattox and a couple of bags, and headed over to the small spread out tailing piles near the entrance to surface collect and then worked my way up the bigger new tailing pile and ran into the guy walking around….Ed, who said he was a retired firefighter from Tulsa Fire Department. We talked Fire Dept shop talk for a few minutes, then I found out he was also into photography a bit and we talked about cameras a bit more and then we started looking for crystals. He had already been down the short ridgeline right above the pit wall and had found quite a few nice crystals in the clay pockets in that wall. We were finding some purple colored looking clay while looking around the area. I walked up and over to one of the new huge rock piles and started finding crystals in cluster form right away…some small ones and some medium sized ones…it was warming up fast but luckily there was also a good stiff breeze blowing up there as well…so you would heat up and then the wind would cool you back down. Despite this, I still took a few breaks and drank my water, just to stay hydrated in that heat, cause I only had a few hours to hunt and wanted to make the most of it.

Eventually, we both found some nice ones and on one of my breaks, I carried a few of the larger chunks I found with quartz all over the faces of them, to the truck….like this one….

12 Large Chunk of Quartz



…Ed wandered over to the far side while I was carrying the big ones back to the truck…he joined up with another guy who I could only see in the distance over there, later finding out his name was Casey. I was finding so much right there within 100 feet of my truck that I didn`t want to venture any further out to look for more…the idea of finding something nice way over on the other side, and then carrying it across there, didn`t really appeal to me at that time.

Another couple showed up and started walking around the same area I had covered when I first arrived, and then made their way up on the top of that huge pile and wandered toward the far side…they didn`t stop to chat at all…I walked down to a newer area and within moments, I started finding nice plates all over this new pile and some medium sized chunks with crystals all over the top of them, like these….

13 Medium Sized Chunk of Crystals


14 Nice Sized Plate of Crystals


15 Another Chunk of Crystals

…and it was during this time that Casey made his way over to the parking area with a nice big plate up on his shoulder, and then he returned for yet another smaller plate that he had chipped off the top of a boulder that he found on the very far side of the pit. He had to make a few trips across there to bring back all of his finds and then return for his bucket of tools…in the time that he was back at his truck, I discovered that he was from the northeast area of Montana and had been down in Texas where he found some nice petrified wood and was spending a few days in Arkansas for quartz before returning home. I gave him and Ed some samples of Missouri druse quartz and calcite crystals and bladed barite as well. I took a photo of Casey with his plates….

17 Casey With His Plates


by this time it was close to 4 pm and we wound our day down with some more small talk and packing away our nice crystals….

16 A Few Nice Sized Ones


Ed was heading to Texas the next day so we bid him a farewell and good safe travel. 

Casey was looking for a place to camp out for the night and I told him Miller Mtn had a small camping area, so he decided to drive on over and camp there for the night, then wait for my arrival and hunt quartz there with me on Thursday.

Thursday morning, Missy and I got up early and headed over to Miller Mountain Mine on the northeast corner of Lake Ouachita. It was a bit foggy and we hit some stretches of slightly drizzly rain conditions, sure wasn`t anything close to the forecast from the night before.

We took the backcountry route crossing below the Blakely Dam and cutting past Lake Ouachita State Park, coming out two miles south of Hwy 298 on Hwy 7 at Hot Springs Village. This cuts about twenty minutes off my drive time had I gone through Hot Springs itself. As it was, I got stuck behind a slow driver on Hwy 270 who didnt want to get up over 35 mph in a 55 mph zone. 

Despite leaving early, it was 8 am before I arrived and Casey was waiting on me. I was pleasantly surprised to find the road going to the mine was nicely graded, widened, and very smooth this time.  We registered with Bill and Faith, the caretakers for Miller Mtn Mine at the mine rock shop and we quickly got started looking for quartz. Without sunshine to help us find glimmers of crystals, we were going to have the subdued light for a few hours to contend with…. the fog had lifted as we climbed up the mountain to the mine, and the drizzle had ended, but it was def going to be cloudy light, for a while at least.

Bill had brought up two new loads of clay mud and quartz that morning prior to our arrival and turned over four existing loads from the day before. I walked over to one of the fresh piles and quickly pulled two crystal clumps of clay out, one fairly small one and one fairly big one….

22 Large Crystal Cluster Found


They were mostly clumps of clay but I could see one crystal sticking out of each one. I took them to the truck and came back to start digging into one of the dirt piles. Casey sat down on the other side of one of the fresh clay piles and starting digging in, to see what he could find.  Another couple joined us shortly after, and then yet another couple showed up soon after and started digging alongside us as well….

18 Miller Mtn Thursday 0503


On one of my many breaks that morning, my knees were still sore from the day before at Bear Mountain, I looked over the edge of the parking lot hill and down into the mine area, and saw a trackhoe…which I had never observed there before, and it looked to be in working condition too….

19 Miller Mtn Now Digging Again


…Bill told me later that day, that they were now digging out their own crystals once again, no longer trucking in tailings from other mines. He also told me that Ron Coleman hadn`t been digging from his mine for the past two years, nothing since he struck the spring and then found the huge pocket of large crystals that he dug out and took to Arizona to sell at the Tucson show. He also told me that two guys had purchased the land where one of the original mines in Jessieville was located, a mile west of Hwy 7 on Hwy 298, and had invested several thousands of dollars to find the crystal vein, and after hundreds of hours of hard work, only coming up with the discovery of several cave like pockets of white aragonite. He showed me some flats of the aragonite that he had on hand.


A few minutes later, after returning to the dig piles, I found a nice single finger crystal packed into a clump of clay dirt….

21 Single Crystal Found


…having started early, I began wearing out by 1 pm, which is about when the sun finally burned off the fog and cloudy conditions from the top of the mountain. I caught up with Casey on the other side of the tailings area, and let him know I was leaving early. He continued to dig and indicated he might return to Bear Mountain Mine on Friday, since we had seen so much quartz laying all over the place over there the previous day.

24 Casey and Others Digging


It was doubtful I would be able to join him since I was sure I would be busy with photo work for the client.  I headed down to Hot Springs intending to stop and have lunch with a friend there, but couldn`t locate him and wound up grabbing a Little Caesers Pizza instead and driving back to the condo for a nap.

The next morning, I contacted Stu Schmidt, a former mine owner and now crystal buyer, who lives near Mountain Harbor and had some beautiful green and blue wavellite that I wanted to take a look at. I had contacted Mr. Schmidt by email the year before but didn`t get a chance to meet up with him at that time, and since wavellite is so hard to come by, I def wanted to do so this time. With a free hour this morning, I called him up and drove over to meet him and check out his wavellite collection.  He lives up on a beautiful hillside above the highway with tall pine trees surrounding his home, the wind whistles through the trees and creates a pleasant windsong that just soothes and puts one right at ease. It reminded me of my grandfathers farm north of there in the Waldron area, which brings back so many great memories from my years of growing up and visiting at various times of the year.

Mr. Schmidt was cleaning up some crystals that he had found the day before at one of the older mines in the Mount Ida area, and after some small talk, we moved inside his garage to look at the many flats of wavellite that he had on hand from his former mine in the Avante area. He recently sold his Avante diggings claim and also his mine, Clear Creek Quartz Mine, which was located west of Mount Ida. He was now in the position of buying minerals and crystals instead of digging for them and it was much easier to do, no more hassles with the government agencies that regulate everything to death in the area. As a mine owner, you first have to deal with the US Forest Service if you lease the land where you intend to mine for quartz, then you have to deal with IMSHA and OSHA and the EPA as well, and each agency can be a real headache to work with. If you purchase the land, then you can drop the Forest Service from the list. Most of the mine owners lease the land these days. 

As I looked for a few nice pieces of wavellite to take home with me, he brought me up to speed on the mines in the Mount Ida area as well.  It seems the old Arrowhead Mine and former Fiddlers Ridge Mine, were purchased by a young couple from out of state recently. Mr. Schmidt and Bobby Fecho were hired by the couple to do some work at both mines to bring them back into compliance with the safety and environmental laws of each agency so that the couple can eventually re-open the mines to the public for fee digging. This explained why Bobby had moved his trackhoe off Bear Mountain because he was now digging at the older two mines to get them cleaned up and ready for digging at within the next few months. They hope to have both mines open within the next year at some point. From then on, those two mines and Bear Mountain Mine will be the only three doing their own digging and Miller Mountain Mine in Jessieville, that are open to the public for fee digging.

Here are photos of the first two crystal clusters I pulled out of the fresh piles at Miller Mountain Thursday morning, May 3rd….


Cluster Found 0503


Crystal Cluster Found 0503


…and the smaller crystal I pulled out of the pile right after I pulled the big cluster out….


Crystal Found 0503


Crystal Found in Dirt Pile 0503


Crystal Found in Dirt Pile 2


…and a few more that I found, like this large single point with a small cluster of crystals attached at the base….

Large Point with Smaller Cluster Attached


…and these two small plates of golden healers….


Plate of Golden Healer Crystals Found

Small Plate Golden Healers