Thanksgiving Day 2012

Docia emailed me earlier in the week and asked if I was doing anything the morning of Thanksgiving. I told her no, my family wasnt celebrating til supper and I was free til then, so we decided to meet at the secret spot about 10 am and see if we could harvest some more dogtooth crystals from the Holie Cow pocket and see what else we could find there. We arrived to find a huge trackhoe sitting there, signs that more material had likely been removed since Missy and I had been there a few days before. No matter though, that just means more material could be readily found.

01 Trackhoe and Missy

Docia was up on top when Missy and I arrived,  looking for rainbow druse plates she had found up there before…she came walking down the hill with a long face on and I knew that could only mean bad news for the rainbow plates..she confirmed it saying apparently the last blast had penetrated that pocket and there were no more to be found. After I handed her some clusters of Arkansas Quartz Crystals, she grabbed another bag and some tools and we headed up to the Holie Cow Pocket…

02 Pocket Still There

…and found that it had weathered the storm just fine, was still there…

03 Pocket Still Intact

…. Docia decided she really didnt want to climb up to where the dogtooth crystals were located in the pocket to dig them out, so she walked on up above me and sat down on a big rock and started looking for another pocket…finding one within about thirty minutes…

04 Docia Works a Pocket

…being a vuggy looking wall, it was soon apparent to us that there were small pockets of druse and calcite all over it…even seams of calcite in some areas…soon she was pulling some nice stuff from this pocket…

05 Docia`s New Pocket

…and there was even evidence of a pocket or two above this one in the wall….

06 Docia is Working a Few Pockets

..…I returned to the Holie Cow pocket and began liberating a few clusters on the sides of the pocket and even found a few up above it in another pocket….here are some of the goodies I found in the first hour there….


07 My Finds So Far

….deciding to leave the back wall as intact as I could for Ian`s visit this week, some of them were just too complicated looking to try and remove….

08 Still There


…I moved over to the right and found a few small pockets of gray druse and poker chips….and some sparkly gold colored stuff, too….

09 Dug Out a Few Pockets To Right

…..they would have looked alot better had the sun been shining so they could sparkle though….

10 They Look Better Sparkling

…and here is a nice poker chip combo from one of those pockets….

11 Couple of Smaller Goodies

I had to pry this big piece out of the way to access this next pocket

12 Small Pocket Found

and as I did…. …this beautiful small poker chip was just perched there, waiting for me to come along and find it….

13A Poker Chip Perched

..I had just removed this plate, covering up yet another small pocket…covered in druse on the interior side in two colors….

14 Diff Colors Druse Bubbles

…when Docia yelled at me to come see what she had just found on the opposite side…we had been working on the north wall and she had walked over to the south wall to look I grabbed my camera and walked over to see what she had found….

15 Docias Bag of Crystals

…spotting her canvas bag full of poker chip crystals first…some of them very big ones…and then this pocket of soda straw druse plates hanging from the ceiling….she was going to try and remove them without breaking them next….

17 New Pocket Soda Straws Ceiling


18 New Pocket Soda Straws Ceiling

…even prettier up close….

19 New Pocket Soda Straws Ceiling


20 New Pocket Soda Straws Ceiling

…and one of the plates she had already removed….

21 Soda Straw Plate and Crystals

…and sitting there holding one as well….

22 Docia With Straw Plate

…and several she had already pulled out of the pocket….

23 Crystals Found North Wall


24 Tall Crystals Found

 …including these large single crystals, that we rarely see in one pocket…come across them occasionally, but not much. I began looking around the pocket she had pulled them out of, and saw several vuggy pockets nearby, including this one full of yellow colored druse….

25 Vuggy Wall Pockets


…I decided to walk back over and clean out what I could from the pockets I was working on and then come back up here, climb up and see what I could find in this pocket as well. As I was walking back across to the north wall, I looked up and saw Docia even higher up, pecking away at another possible pocket….


26 Docia Way Up There


I walked back up to the spot where Docia had last worked on a pocket, that started extending upward inside the wall….

28 North Wall Pocket

…and set my camera inside the pocket looking upward toward that extension so you could see what all was inside that she was unable to reach…..

29 Inside Docia`s North Wall Pkt

…pay close attention to the knobby looking rock on your left in that photo above…its going to look a whole lot better in a couple of seconds…I decided to try and remove it to get better access to this pocket, so I was hammering on the back of it, the side facing me, with my four pound hammer, when I heard something detach inside the pocket…I reached inside and pulled this beautiful cluster out of the pocket that had been attached to this knobby chunk as the facepiece….

30 Plate Popped Off North Wall Pkt

…I carefully wrapped it up and the others as well, and took them to my truck…it required a couple of trips, I had so many of them…and then grabbed two more bags with wrapping cloths inside and headed over to the south wall….this was the view from up there…

31 View From Top of Pile

…I then climbed up to the druse pocket I had seen up above Docia`s last pocket and pulled out the druse pieces I could see from below…

32A Druse and Chip Pocket South Wall

…when I finished cleaning out what I could, Docia called to me from above and told me to come up and look at yet another pocket she found, this one filled with druse and large fat poker chip crystals….so I climbed up another twenty feet and found the pocket she had been working on while I was climbing around on the wall….

33 Druse and Chip Pocket Top of Pile

….and I bent down to see these crystals and druse plates in the entrance to that pocket opening on the right side above….

34 Druse and Chip Pocket Top of Pile

…..she was walking away and down the top of the pile to see if she could find some plates of druse and tells me, you can have anything there that you want….so I set down and started pulling more crystals and druse plates out of this pocket, and soon had both of my bags completely full….she came back with a very long plate of druse soda straws in her hand, turned upside down and two smaller plates sitting on top of the back of that very big plate in her hands…said it was one of those plates she has been looking for all her life…and where was Floyd or Ed when she needed them to carry those down to the truck for her….told her to take her time and lots of rest stops in order to get it down there safely…which she did…and then I started carrying my two bags down as well, and I had to make a few rest stops along the way as well…coming upon a couple of nice druse plates along the way down and setting my bag next to them, then carrying the one bag and tools on over to the truck, and returning four times for the druse plates I found and the other bag….no one said rockhounding is easy all the time….and some of my rockhound friends have told me if you dont sweat or bleed, its not worth it….I was doing both at the moment, so guess it was totally worth it.

35 Docia and Her 30 Inch Plate

Here is a photo showing Docia with her thirty inch long plate of druse soda straws that she found up on top.

One of those HOLIE COW Pockets

Saturday I didnt have anything better to do and after sleeping in til 8 am and having getting some fruit loops and frosted flakes down, Missy and I packed up and headed to the SSQ to do some digging and collecting. I had originally thought about going to MFQ again, but for some reason decided we were on the road too late for that trip, so we headed to the new druse spot and then the secret spot. I was sooooo glad later on, lol.

We turned the corner on one of the county roads and all of a sudden fifteen wild turkeys were crossing the road in front of me…before I could grab my camera, they were using the road like an airport runway and taking flight over the marsh ponds…

01 Saw 15 Gobblers Near Druse Location

It had rained a few days before, so I wanted to see if any new bubble pieces had washed out.

04 Druse Place

I parked and left Missy in the truck, rolling the windows down so she had good natural air conditioning…she had dived into the mud the last time we were there and it took me thirty minutes just to wipe as much mud off her as I could before letting her back into my truck…another reason I take alot of towels with me, but it wasnt gonna happen this time if I could prevent it. I switched to my boots, grabbed a bag, gloves, and my mattox and set out to checking the usual areas…within minutes I was spotting small bubbles all over the place. Within about ten minutes, the first bag was full and I was starting to see football and softball sized pieces of bubbles all over the place on up ahead. I returned to the truck and grabbed two more bags, with some wrapping cloths. It was another good move on my part. I didnt get any farther than a hundred feet from the truck and within the hour, I had four bags full of bubbles of druse and had even walked a few beach ball sized chunks with bubbles all over three sides, back to the truck. It was at this time, that I decided to stop and head over to the secret spot.

We arrived there an hour later, and found things quite laid out quite differently than the last time I had been there two weeks earlier, actually alot smoother entrance to it and easier to walk around now…the path up to the blast pile was even ramped up and made for much easier walking around. I could see right away that I would be able to access at least two of the walls better, so I grabbed tools and a bag and headed to the cornered wall on the left side….

10 More Rock Removed

…it was obvious that they had removed alot of rock in the past two weeks, to where I don`t know yet…and deposited alot of Streeter boulders over on the right side where I normally park….

12 More Rocks on Right

As I walked up to this new wall, I started seeing signs of calcite and pockets all over the place, so I returned to the truck and grabbed two more bags and my hammer and chisel, for just in case….

14 New Wall Pockets All Over

…within minutes, I had found some pretty druse pieces and a few with calcite attached to them on that lower bench area above where you see one of my gloves to the left of the blue bag…

16 Dogtooth on Top

…and yes, thats an orange dogtooth crystal laying on top of one of the pieces above….I then took a look up above that bench and saw alot of druse pockets and….

19 Poker Chip and Druse Pocket

….this nice little poker chip attached to one of the druse pockets right in the center….

20 Chip Perched on Druse

…and looking up about another six feet, I saw this spectacular sight…..I was like whoa….

21 Mass of Poker Chips Above

hold on to your hats tho….things were about to get even better.I climbed up on a narrow ledge and saw this just above the lower bench area and below the mass of crystals, in a very accessible location for me….

17 Poker Chip Pocket

…and this cluster perched right in front….

18 Cluster in Front of Pocket

…I climbed up and found another ledge so I could have both feet up there and not be hanging on with just one foot firmly attached somewhere, and started pulling some loose crystals out and brushing away some loose dirt on the right side, and discovered another pocket on the side….

22 Poker Chip Pocket

…and zooming in with the lens, I saw this at the opening of that side pocket….

23 Pocket on Right

…and started to get excited….I took a closer look at everything in front of me and started seeing crystals all over the place….

24 Pocket Spread Out

…and the next 2 photos show the top of the pocket, left side….

25 Pocket of Druse and Chips


26 Chips on Druse

…so I sat my camera down and began pulling whatever was loose, out of the pockets, starting at the bottom and working my way to the sides and above slowly and carefully….within ten minutes, I had this pile accumulating already….

27 Pile of Druse & Chips Grow

…and I began working in a circle around that big chunk you see up above in the middle of the pocket. Luckily I had a few flat ledges that I could lay crystals down on til I had amassed several and then would climb down and transfer them to the lower ledge. I continued to clean out around that big chunk to make room to bring it down as well….

28 Decisions, decisions

Many crystals and combos were coming out of the loose dirt around the big chunk quite easily and I even removed some nice twins and big single crystals as well, some were four to six inches long and three to four inches wide even. I really liked this big cluster in the front though….

29 Large Cluster in Front

…and really wanted to get it out of there before I removed that big one hanging over it, to prevent any damage to it, plus there were still so many crystals just hanging around underneath that huge chunk, so I kept on removing crystals under and around it first….

30 Pocket Pieces

…you wouldn`t believe what all was under that chunk alone…you can see several in the middle and the two medium sized chunks on the left and right were both nice bubbles of druse on the faces, the faces turned in toward the pocket itself and not visible to you or I, and poker chips attached to the faces and bubbles….I was amazed each time I climbed back up there to remove more….

31 Pocket Pieces

…after climbing down and moving more crystals and combos and plates to the bench once again, I climbed back up and decided to see what all was in that pocket to the right and after clearing quite a few loose crystals embedded in the red dirt in front of it…this is what I saw up close….

32 More Than Meets The Eye


…again, totally blown away and even more exited….then I pulled those two facing pieces out from under the big hanging chunk…another HOLIE COW moment…..

33 Nice Combos Pulled From Pocket

…and I climbed down and added them to the bench with the other accumulated goodies….like that cluster of crystals on the right side of the pile….

34 Combos and Clusters

…seen here up closer…..

35 Pile Keeps Growing

…I took a short break and returned to the truck for some gatorade, then came back and bit the bullet and removed that hanging chunk…it was loose and didnt require any effort to pry it away, just effort to keep it from falling down on that cluster below and damaging or even decimating it….once it was out of the way, you can imagine my surprise at what lay behind it….

36 Large Chunks Removed

….an even LARGER pocket opening….and just wait til you see what was inside there…. I then pulled some more loose material out of the way, and OILA !!  there was a very large crystal cluster sitting loose inside all the other loose stuff….take a look at the next photo, you can see it just in front of the bubbly facing pieces…..and even bigger than the one still in front that I would have to chip out….

38 Pile Keeps Growing

…and even bigger closer up….

39 Another Huge Cluster

…I continued to pull more loose stuff out of that front area, that the hanging chunk had been protecting well, alot of combos with bubbles of gray druse and poker chips attached as well as single crystals, in very pristine condition…was laying them on the small ledges as I pulled even more out….

40 Druse Plates and Chips


41 Combos of Druse and Chips

I now had a view of more bubbles of druse plates attached to that big piece on the right side, and poker chips attached to it…

42 Pocket Keeps Expanding

…and after removing more loose stuff just above the end of my mattox handle above, for reference, you`ll begin to see what I saw in the larger pocket opening above after I removed that large hanging chunk of rock that protected most of this pocket….

43 Pocket Opens Up

…and a closer up view reveals even more….

44 Crystals All Over Inside Pocket

…and the next combo I removed from inside this pocket was absolutely stunning…no damage to it, pristine condition…I was just totally blown away….but as I said before, it gets better…..

45 Bubbles of Druse with Chips

…I removed some more of those hanging chunks above and some of the looser chunks on the left side of the pocket, which by the way were harboring some more loose crystals and combo plates, and this is the view I had inside the pocket showing the back wall of it….

46 Back Wall of Pocket

and trying to get a closer view for ya….

47 Back Wall of Bubbles and Chips


49 Back Wall Closeup

…when sunlight hit the back wall, it lit up like a christmas tree…the druse is actually a silvery gray druse with alot of sparkles in each bubble and valley..and there are dogtooth crystals embedded in there as well…I immediately thought of Docia when I saw them, lol…more ornaments for her gem trees. 🙂
I`ll stop here and updated it tomorrow with the rest of the story. You might be like me, need a little extra time to digest it all before you see more.  🙂





Arkansas Quartz Again

Back in August, Ray Roth, one of my rockhunting friends from New Orleans, contacted me and asked me when I was going down to Arkansas for some quartz crystals. I told him I would be heading down there the second week of November and would have at least a couple of days free to dig quartz crystals. I usually have some photo work down there as well, but wanted to set two days aside for crystal collecting and set my vacation time up this year for just that. Ray said he would meet me down there and we stayed in touch through September and October by email.

He contacted me a couple of weeks ago, end of October and asked me about lodging options in the Mount Ida area, he was thinking about staying at the Crystal Inn once again, having stayed there before. I told him I would be staying at Mountain Harbor Resort, on Lake Ouachita, which was about five miles east of Crystal Inn and right on the lake. I mainly stay there because its one of the most dog friendly places to stay at, very scenic and pretty, and one of the few places I have found that has very friendly staff that are responsive to your needs. I have stayed at this place in the spring and fall both, one of the nicest and pretty places to stay at, with a staff that truly cares about your stay there. Ray asked for their website and I emailed it to him…he checked into it and decided to stay there as well, told me they gave him a great rate on a room that he couldn`t pass up. Their fall rates are much better because its their off season…and he was going to stay with them for about a week so they gave him a good deal. Their guestrooms are very nice…one or two king size beds and a sofa sleeper, fridge and freezer, coffee maker, patio with chairs and lake view, nice big backyard, and very pretty walk in shower with marble tile walls and glass doors. is their website if anyone would want to check them out, very dog friendly place. They also have a great dining room in the main lodge and there is a massage and spa business located on the east side of the resort called Turtle Cove Spa, and besides walking trails there are also horseback rides and boating opportunities available too. 

I like to stay in a log cabin when there, and made reservations for one back in August when I talked to Ray….thinking a few friends would visit with me while there and I would need the extra room…then found out the first two nights I wouldnt need the extra room. I mentioned that to the gals at the Lodge and they made me such a sweet deal, I just stayed in the cabin the whole time there. We were so busy during the day anyway, I didnt even notice no one else was there with me besides Missy, my border collie.

Ray arrived there on Tuesday, November 6th, the day before I did and the gals at the Lodge made him feel right at home. I took off Tuesday from my work, to get my packing finished for my trip the next morning, and to pack some goodies for Ray from Missouri and Kentucky both. I took him some fresh found druse and some purple fluorite from Marion, Kentucky, as well. Missy and I rose early the next morning, and after picking up my Mom, we headed west toward Joplin, where we would pick up Hwy 71 and head south to Fort Smith, Arkansas, our first stop. We made good time driving down there, nice sunny day and as we crossed the Boston Mountains on Hwy 71, we noticed quite a bit of color remaining in the trees in the mountain valleys…usually a good sign it will be colorful further south.

We soon arrived in Fort Smith, where I stopped off at my Uncle Harley and Aunt Dorcas` house, to drop my mom off…this is one of her younger brothers and he had already left for the family farm at Waldron to go deer hunting with more of our family members…Mom stays in Fort Smith and goes shopping with the gals til Sunday when we all meet at the farm for a reunion and dinner before heading home. I stayed and had a small lunch with Aunt Dorcas and Mom, and then filled the gas tank and headed south on 71 once again, passing through Waldron myself on the way to Lake Ouachita.

Waldron is where my Mom and Dad were both born and raised, and where they used to take my sister and I at Christmas when we were young and growing up…to visit my grandparents on my Mom`s side, at their dairy farm. I really cherish those memories…helping milk cows, feeding the calves….playing in the hayloft of Grandpa`s old barn…and I really miss my grandparents…my Grandpa lived to 90 years of age…milked cows til he was 65 yoa. Grandpa wasn`t one to sit around and do nothing in retirement though…so he went to work for the US Forest Service there as a carpenter, helping them build fishing docks and pavilions and picnic tables, and also helped them fight forest fires in that area…..and then retired himself 25 years later, and died soon after from a rare blood cancer, caused by moldy hay of all things. I remember his supervisor at his funeral service, came up to me and told me that my Grandpa was something else when it came to hard work…she was amazed at his strength and endurance one day when she left him with the truck and radio on a forest fire, and she took a crew of younger men up the mountainside to rake a fireline…she said about halfway up that mountain, they all came to a staggering halt…out of breath and about to collapse, grabbing on to small trees to hold themselves up…..trying to recover and gather some strength to continue up that steep mountainside…..when all of a sudden here came your Grandpa raking a line with a mattox, right on past them and up that steep mountainside,  moving at a steady pace….she said he wasnt even breathing hard nor had he broken a sweat !!  Needless to say, I dont think she ever doubted him again after that. 

I drove on toward Mount Ida from Waldron, stopping off briefly near Y City to photograph the fall color on the Fourche La Fave River….

01 Fourche La Fave River Y City

This is one of my favorite stops because the color along the river is simply beautiful…on both sides of the highway bridge…

02B Fourche La Fave River Y City

I stopped just south of the river to check on a small waterfall in the area of the old store there…but apparently the river was down far enough that the waterfalls were not even running this year…so we turned east on Hwy 270 and continued toward Mount Ida. As I dropped off the mountain east of Pencil Bluff, I crossed the Ouachita River a few miles west of Mount Ida and had to stop and walk back to the bridge with my camera…

04 Ouachita River Mt Ida

…it was absolutely gorgeous color on the east bank…and then I took a good look at the reflections in the water and in the distance the color on the trees on the hillside was fantastic too !!

05 Ouachita River Reflections


06 Ouachita River Reflections


09 Ouachita River Reflections

I had planned to stop at Bob`s Food City there and pick up some milk for my cereal and some Blue Bell Ice Cream, but decided I would get it on Thursday instead. We continued on to Mountain Harbor and arrived around 4 pm. After checking in with Pati and Luann at the Lodge, I stopped off at Ray`s room and gave him his care package…six flats of goodies…we sat on my truck tailgate and he looked over the fluorite and was happy with what I brought him to add to his collection. He showed me a large package of frozen gumbo that he had cooked and brought to me…while I have never tasted it to my knowledge, my Dad LOVES it as does my Supervisor at work. I had him hold on to it while I was there. Missy and I headed over to the cabin to get settled in….

11 Cabin Mtn Harbor

…and then headed back to the Lodge restaurant for supper with Ray. That`s another great feature of the resort…they have an excellent restaurant with great food and service, plus a nice view of the lake, as the restaurant sits up on a hill overlooking a large expanse of water there. I had been looking forward to their hand breaded chicken fingers and steamed veggies, with some of their homemade potato salad…and boy do they know how to brew some good sweet tea, too.

After a good supper, I checked my email and found a reply from an area mine owner regarding a visit at their mine on Thursday morning. I had contacted a buddy of mine, a quartz dealer who resides nearby, a few days earlier and asked for area mine information. Mike had told me that the only mine that was actually digging and open to the public in the area at this time, was Sweet Surrender Mine, north of Mt Ida near Story, on the north side of Lake Ouachita. I had heard of it but had never been there before. He knew the owner and suggested we go there and dig, maybe even talk to Randy the owner and see if we could work a deal with him on getting into a pocket. He told me that a fellow that he sent there two weeks prior, was able to get into a pocket that Randy found with the track hoe, and removed several buckets of crystals nice enough to wrap up. I told Ray and we decided to go there the next morning and see what we could find. I wish now we hadn`t gone there. 

Missy and I woke up at sunrise and got a good hike in, walking the north lakeshore as the sun was coming up, this view of the main marina right off our cabin`s back deck…

12 Mtn Harbor Sunrise

..we then walked around the lakeshore toward the north marina…..

12B Sunrise Near North Marina

…..I was looking for quartz veins in the shale, to see if there were any crystals or just massive quartz….

14 Massive Quartz Pieces Lakeshore

..most of the lakeshore was made up of a shale shelf that stairstepped down to the water`s edge…this one shows two nice maple shrubs cloaked in fall colors….

15 Fall Shrubs In Shale

…and occasionally we would come across chunks of massive quartz laying on the beach, in a manner of speaking, and sometimes in the edge of the water….

16 Massive Quartz on Lakeshore

…and then we walked on around to the north marina via the lakeshore, here you see a couple more of the cabins on the lake…

17 Cabin 18 Lakeshore


18 Cabin 18 Lakeshore

…we then watched a couple of guys heading out of the harbor toward open water to get some fishing in….

19 Fishermen Headed Out Early

…in the upper left hand corner of the photo above you`ll notice a house near the top of the mountain…its referred to as a glass house…I met the residents on my May trip there and photographed it the previous fall season there.

When the fishermen hit the open water, they really opened up the boat and took off…

19B Fishermen Headed Out Early

…as we got over to the north marina, we hit a stretch of shale that looked pretty and shapely…looked like it would make nice stepping stones….

21 Shapely Shale Lakeshore

At this point, we reached the end of the road that our cabin was located on so we started back to it…passing Cabin 18 up as we walked back…I stayed in it a few years back for a couple of nights, its the most popular cabin they had back then, its the closest one to the water….

22 Cabin 18 North Shore

After a quick breakfast of Arizona Green Tea and a few cookies, we met up with Ray at the Lodge and then headed to Mount Ida…I needed to stop at the bank`s atm and then we drove north on Hwy 27 toward Story. We arrived about 9 am and parked in the parking lot at the top of the hill and met up there with Aaron, the owner`s son.

25 Sweet Surrender Park Lot

Aaron told us his dad, Randy, would arrive within the hour and after a bit of small talk, Aaron gave us the nickel tour of the mine property….

23 Sweet Surrender Mine Pit

We explained to him that we were interested in getting into a pocket of crystals and he told us that two pockets had been discovered the day before. He took us down to the track hoe and showed us a few boulders that he had dug out the day before that were covered with some nice two and three inch long crystals..they were still covered in clay mud but you could tell they were nice sized. He also pointed out the location of the pockets in the pit below the track hoe, one up above a shelf and the other believed to be below the shelf and under a boulder that weighed a thousand pounds or more.  I walked back up the hill to grab my camera and as I did, I looked around on the ground to see if I could spot any crystals laying around…seeing nothing more than alot of generic rock, dirt, and a few damaged crystals here and there occasionally. I have never been to a mine where nothing collectible was laying on the ground…til today.

Ray and I dug for a couple of hours and found absolutely nothing…let me rephrase that….we found absolutely NOTHING worth taking home with us……there, thats better. Randy arrived about noon and asked Aaron what we were finding…Aaron told him we were finding absolutely NOTHING and suggested that he fire up the track hoe and dig out the area a bit to see if any pockets were truly located there. After several attempts, and a battery jump with assistance from Aaron, Randy was finally able to start the track hoe and proceeded to dig out the area we had previously been digging in. Once finished, he pointed to an area farther up hill that he felt contained a pocket and then suggested that we start digging out the area we had already dug into. After a few minutes of digging and again, not finding or even seeing evidence of any crystals, he suggested that we settle up.

I wasn`t sure how Ray felt about it, but personally, I was not impressed with anything I had seen so far. I explained to Randy that while we had dug for a couple of hours, we had not located anything at all nor seen any evidence of crystals in that area. I asked him if it was possible for Ray and I to split the cost of a true pocket and Randy was not agreeable to that, wanting even more money than the other fellow paid, that Mike had referred to him. I advised Randy that I would have no problem paying that as long as he could actually point out the pocket and show us evidence of crystals inside that pocket, in other words, a sure thing, but I wasnt going to pay for a mere possibility of finding something or nothing at all. We couldnt come to an agreement other than to pay the normal dig fee, so we returned to the normal dig area. If anyone wants more information on this conversation, just email me and I will be glad to tell you about it, but let me say this, I would NOT recommend this place to anyone. 

After about an hour of digging around and surface collecting in other areas of the mine property, which contained alot of shale and more damaged crystals, I told Ray I was ready to leave. I have never seen a mine with so much CRAPPY rock laying all over the place, total waste of time and money.

We headed back to Mt Ida, stopping off at Bob`s Food City and picking up some milk and ice cream…I had to get me some Blue Bell ice cream…. and then returned to the Lodge for supper.  I told Ray we would go to Miller Mountain Mine the next morning…a mine that he would see and find lots of good crystals at…I have been there several times and NEVER had a bad day there…plus they only charge ten dollars a person, less if in a group of seven or more, they have reasonably priced baskets of crystals some of which come from a variety of mines in the area…. but I have always had good luck pulling some really good material from the baskets I have purchased there.

After yet another good supper at the Lodge, we retired for the night and prepared for a better day of quartz crystal collecting. For whatever reason, which I havent figured out yet, I again rose early the next morning…and Missy and I took off for another hike…thinking I`m supposed to be on vacation so shouldnt I be sleeping in later ??  This time Missy and I hiked over to the west side of the lake where we normally shoot sunsets from, the north point…this time though the sunrise this morning was putting on a good display and making me think it was sunset instead….

28 Sunrise From Harbor North


29 Sunrise Harbor North


31 Sunrise Harbor North

Looking the other way, to the east though, the sky was rather cloudy a few minutes later as we walked around to the campground side of things…

30 Color on North Shore

…there is a campground on the very north point of Harbor North side of Mountain Harbor, operated by the Corps of Engineers and closed this time of year…another shale lakeshore with some good color there…

32 Color North Shore CG


33 Color on North Lakeshore

…we then hiked down to the water`s edge facing south and photographed the reflections of the north side marina and boats….

34 North Shore Marina


35 North Shore Marina


36 Sailboat North Marina

…I looked at the clock on my phone and it seemed we needed to head back and get some breakfast down before we met up with Ray again, so I turned and shot the campground across the bay….

37 Campground Color


38 Fall Color North Shore

After cleaning up and getting some breakfast down, we met Ray at the Lodge and after checking email, we headed to Miller Mountain Mine via the backroads…Ray told me when we finally arrived there, that he was all turned around and didnt know how to get back to the resort from there now…I told him by avoiding the drive through Hot Springs we had probably saved about 30 minutes driving time going the backway. We stopped at the entrance rock shop and I introduced him to Faith…

39 Miller Mtn Mine Entrance

……one of the caretakers, who with her husband Bill, helps run the mine for Jimmy Coleman, the owner. Faith was telling us that many of the fee based mines had shut down in the past year, due to the stringent and restrictive policies of the Obama Administration...she said the agencies that control the use of the land, environment, and safety of mines, were now regulating the quartz mines under the same set of rules and regulations that coal strip mines are governed by, and many of the mines had simply folded under the onslaught of paperwork, red tape, and hoops the owners were expected to jump through these days….. not to mention some of the outlandish things they were penalized and written up for. One of the mine owners had told us they were written up for not having a bathroom on the premises and the fine was five thousand dollars. After consulting with someone in the know about IMSHA rules and regulations, who wasnt able to locate any laws requiring one, and suggested purchasing a five gallon bucket with a toilet lid and disposable plastic bag inside the bucket…. the inspector on the next trip observed the bucket and voided out the citation to the mine owner. I have been to several mines, not just in Arkansas, but other states and there are many mines that do not have bathrooms on site and they widely publicize that fact. I think our government is becoming a sad state of affairs when they start harassing folks over idiotic stuff like this, and yes, the current administration should be held responsible for the conduct of the regulating agencies when it gets this bad. After all, wasn`t the phrase  ” less government  ” one of the campaign promises made to the people, just four years ago ???!!!!  Yeah…thought so…someone up in DC needs to get a clue…all these people are trying to do is eke out a basic living…and if anyone up there thinks its an easy life, they oughta come on down here in their expensive three piece suits,  and  find out for themselves just how ” easy ”  it is ! 

Most of these mine owners spend each moment of available daylight each day, digging in their mines or working to provide good tailings for the public to dig through to find crystals, not to mention working on the equipment when it fails, the cost of replacing parts to keep the equipment working, the cost of paying employees, maintaining a safe working area and environment at all times, preaching safety to the public visitors, and securing their sites. If you come across a mine owner who is working less hours…and there are a few of them these days…its because of the regulating agencies driving them nuts. I know I`m preaching to the choir for the most part…but why do we have even more government instead of less, like we were promised.

After talking to Faith, Ray and I took a look at the baskets they had left and then walked around looking at the clusters they had on display outside the shop, so Ray would get an idea of what could be found there. Faith told us that some folks there the day before, had found several smokies, so we headed on up to the parking lot, where I released Missy from the truck and we prepared to do some digging. I told Ray to get ready to find lots of crystals….

40 Miller Mtn Tailing Pile

Faith told us there were five fresh piles up at the tailing pile area and the dirt above the piles had been turned over as well….

41 Miller Mtn Tailing Piles

We both got changed into our boots and grabbed our buckets, bags, and tools and started looking around. Within the first eight minutes of searching, both of us had filled at least a bag or bucket and were going back for more. I no sooner stepped up into the dirt when I started spotting crystal points and tips sticking out of the dirt, and a few of them turned out to be smokies. Ray and I were about ten feet apart and within moments he spotted this nice golden healer cluster very close to his left foot and under a large dirt clod….

49 Golden Healer Found by Ray

….one of my spectacular finds was a large crystal point that I found in one of the piles a few inches down…I spotted just a sliver of the crystal face sticking out and it just kept growing as I dug it out…in the photo below its in the center at the top….

42 Crystals Found Miller Mtn

…and here are a few more that I found within the first hour of looking around…

43 Crystals Found Miller Mtn

…so by this time I am definitely up on the dirt above the piles and working my way to the west, away from the entrance…and by this time we have been joined by another couple, Larry Badger of Kansas City, and his sister, who left there at 5 am and drove straight down to Miller Mtn Mine. Larry told us that he had talked to a country gal named Docia from the Salem, Missouri area and she told him he should drive down in the fall to get some Arkansas quartz…so he took her advice and brought not only his sister with him, but a couple of the Independence Rock and Mineral Club members as well. I told him Docia is one of my best rockhunting friends and we often rockhunt together, but this week is deer season and she cant be pried away from the woods in central Missouri this time of year.

I was inching my way west along the dirt wall above the piles and came upon this little number, palm sized and spotted the yellow color and the irredescence as well…

44 Small Golden Healer Found

..I looked up to find Ray taking a break from digging….

46 Ray Roth

…after he rested up, he turned around from where he was sitting down and dug down a little bit and within seconds, pulled this nice golden healer on the left side of the photo below,  from the dirt wall….

48 Two Golden Healers Found

…and a few seconds later, he spotted more yellow in the dirt and mere inches away from the first one…he pulled out these two one after the other….

47 Two of Ray`s Finds

…the cluster on the right up above, has a very large single crystal laying down above a multitude of smaller crystals…he was pulling out all of them amidst several oohs and ahhs from the rest of us…in all a total of five basketball sized clusters of golden healers and some smaller ones as well. We continued to dig and pick up crystals and clusters for the next hour, both of us finding several larger plates covered in a thick clay mud and some softball sized chunks as well. We  took off about 4 pm after picking up a couple of baskets and bidding Bill and Faith good byes and see you laters.

We stopped off at Colton`s Steakhouse on the way back for a good steak and fixins…I contacted one of my models, Scott, who was just leaving his workplace and he met us at the steakhouse. Scott visited with us over dinner and then took off for home as we headed west to the resort. After checking my emails once again, Missy and I headed back to the cabin for the night. We had decided to try Judy`s Crystals the next day and dig at Fisher Mountain Mine, which is located south of the Mt Ida Airport. Ray didnt sleep well that night and called early to ask for a few extra hours of rest. I had no problem with that at all, getting another hour of rest myself, and then getting our walk in around the resort.

We walked down to the wood bridge on the Harbor North Road and shot the sailboats over at one of the Marina`s, looking toward the area of the Lodge….

50 Sailboats & Fall Colors

…then heard a speedboat coming down the lake behind us, so turned around and snapped these guys speeding along against a wall of colorful fall foliage on the far shore….

51 Speedboat

…breezed by one of the newer family cabins on our way to the Lodge area….

52 New Cabin Harbor North

…and then drove up to the Lodge area to see the big fireboat the resort has tied up at the main marina behind the seasonal Subway Restaurant….

53 Joplin FD Fireboat

…a retired Coast Guard Cutter that was actually purchased for the resort by a private donor in the area. I actually had the pleasure of touring it back in May when it was very warm both inside the cabin and holds as well as outside…the front machine gun had been replaced by a water deck gun, pretty neat investment for the entire lake area. I turned around and looked back to the east toward the boat launch site and saw some beautiful fall color as well as a couple of sailboats drydocked and sitting up high….

54 Mtn Harbor Boat Launch

Missy and I headed back to the cabin to get in some breakfast and tv time while waiting for Ray`s phone call that he was ready to go to Fisher Mtn Mine. By noon, Missy and I were driving to Judy`s Crystals to meet Ray there…. arriving a bit early, I met and visited with Judy and her friends,  and walked around the displays to see what Judy had for sale outside the rock shop…finding some pretty quartz clusters and alot of colorful slag glass, for the most part. Ray pulled up soon after and we made our arrangements with Judy to drive on up to Fisher Mtn Mine and see what we could dig up.

The Fisher Mtn Mine has alot of history associated with it…`s Ocus Stanley`s original mine….he is the guy that got the quartz crystal hunting craze started in the area….the mine sits on top of Fisher Mtn about two miles south of the Mt Ida airport, easily spotted on Google Earth Maps off Logan Gap Road before it intersects with Owley Road. For those of you that know Judy, she suffered a stroke about five weeks ago and is now hobbling around on crutches and recovering from it. She seems to be doing pretty well now, her only complaint that she hadnt been to the mine in six weeks. Ron Coleman also has an old mine up there,  accessed by the same road, closed to the public by a very heavy steel gate.

This is the road that ascends much of the mountain to the mine, after passing through a very heavy steel gate off Logan Gap Road…a very pretty and scenic drive up I might add, this time of the year….

55 Road to Fisher Mtn Mine

We ascended three times and leveled off three times in the mile and a half drive from the gate to the mine clearing…with a few scenic views of the mountains and valleys as we went…I had been told this might be a rough road, but as I pleasantly discovered, the lane was a thick carpet of oak leaves and pine needles under making for a soft ride instead with just an occasional rough spot along the way.

This was the view from the top of the mountain, when we arrived a few minutes later….

56 View From Fisher Mtn

The view from up there was extraordinary…you could see to the south for miles and the color up there was pretty nice as well for a region without much rainfall since September, spotty but nice…

57 Fisher Mtn Mine

….with a large swath of pine trees right below the border of the mine itself…Ron Coleman`s mine on Fisher Mountain was through this gate and on down the road, closed to the public….

58 Gate to Ron Coleman`s Fisher Mtn Mine

We parked near the pines at the top of the hill by the road and walked around to surface collect and get our bearings first…Ray had been to this mine last year and it took him a few minutes to figure out where his party had been digging at then…things were a bit different layout wise this time...

59 Ray Preparing to Dig

We walked down to the east end and only found more rock down there, no easy digging, so we returned to the main area and began looking for some potential areas to dig into……we met up with Larry Badger and the rest of his club party there…they had done quite a bit of digging since arriving there at 9 am, but hadnt found much and were preparing to head to a known locality for wavellite.

62 Main Area of Fisher Mtn Mine

…we found a few small crystals after digging in some obvious areas already explored in….

64 Crystal Found Digging


65 Crystal Found Digging

Ray and I decided to explore under the roots of a few pine trees in the area and finally started finding a few crystals and clusters…nothing to write home about but more than we had found out in the open main area.

66 Digging in Base of Pines

…after digging a few hours here… we started wrapping things up and on the way back to the trucks, Ray discovered a place where someone had recently excavated an entire sandstone shelf, apparently finding quite a few crystals of all sizes, yet breaking several in the process of removing them from the host rock. We were able to find a few in their highgrade pile as well as a few singles just sticking out from the host wall, to take home with us.

And now for the rest of the story on the history of this mine, told to me by several sources down there….several years ago, Ocus sold his remaining lease on the mine to Jimmy Coleman, who took his digging equipment up there and dug down into the sandstone and dirt…. discovering a huge crystal cavern, with large crystals in single points, doubles, and clusters with VERY BIG crystals attached to the walls and the ceiling…they removed as many as they could and took them to the Tucson show, where he made a huge profit selling them. The story I was told…by two different people who dont know each other but know that area well…was that while removing those crystal clusters, a hole opened up in the back wall behind that cluster… they took a flashlight and looked inside…. saw a cavern even bigger and deeper than the one they were standing in, also loaded with crystals and clusters, some of them looking like they would fit on a pallet just fine. They covered the opening to the original cavern with plywood and dirt…. and made plans to return to excavate the second cavern, but alas, the Forest Service refused to allow Jimmy back in nor honor the remaining time left on his lease. After hearing what he had paid the Forest Service for that lease, I can well understand why many people have no respect for our Forest Service any longer. Things like this can leave a bad taste in your mouth.

We returned to the resort after descending down the mountain and relocking the heavy steel gate and returning the key to Judy`s Crystals Shop, just in time for a pretty sunset over the lake…

67 Sunset Saturday Evening67A Sunset Saturday Evening


68 Sunset Saturday Evening


68B Sunset Saturday Evening


68D Sunset Saturday Evening

…then I tried a few with a new sunset filter, designed for those evenings when you have just plain clouds and this soups it up a bit…

71 Deep Sunset

..had to play with it a bit to get the water to turn darker too, otherwise you can tell a filter has been used….

72 Deep Sunset


72A Deep Sunset


74 Deep Sunset

…had a good supper of hand breaded chicken fingers once again, with the homemade potato salad…they really believe in feeding you there at the Lodge restaurant…then went back to the cabin to finish as much of the blue bell moo-lenia ice cream as I could. Missy and I got up about 7 Sunday morning, got a short hike and run in before packing the truck for the drive home, and before it started raining…the skies were dark when we finally stepped outside the cabin to take hike around the shore again…there was an extensive cold front coming in from the west, part of the Brutus Storm that had pounded the northwest with heavy snows earlier in the week, but the forecasters had said the storms and rain showers would hold off til noon at least…guess they were wrong again. We headed up to the Lodge to check out and check my email once again…and while there I updated the McRocks board too. Ray came down to send us off and gave me a big frozen chunk of gumbo to take back with me, and said, ” lets do this again sometime ” 🙂  He wasnt leaving til Monday or Tuesday and said he would let me know that he made it home safe and sound, his drive is about as long as mine, eight hours.

Here are some of my clusters and crystals all cleaned up.

96 Quartz Burr


this one above is one of the many that I found in the baskets I purchased at Miller Mtn Mine, some very pretty crystals can be found in them.

97 Crystal Cluster


98 Crystal Cluster


99 Crystals and Plates


100 Quartz Burr


101 Quartz Burr Plate

and this next one shows a cluster plate that I found at Miller Mtn Mine, covered in mud and had no clue what was under it but its about 14 inches long and eight inches wide, three inches high and chock full of yellow golden healer crystals, a few damaged but many are just fine and exceptional…..hard to tell from this photo, so I`ll try to reshoot and repost a better photo of it later this week. I was very happy though, when I cleaned the mud off and saw what I had. 🙂

102 Golden Healer Plate


103 Golden Healer Plate


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Great Day of Collecting At MFQ

Got word earlier this week that a buddy of mine from Colorado, would be coming to visit later this month, so Missy and I loaded up and headed to MFQ to check and see what was new there. I had told Ian about this spot before and since it had been several weeks that I had been there last, I wanted to see if there had been any new activity there. I had checked in with Docia on Friday and found she and Floyd would be deer hunting with their bows this weekend and unable to join us. I got a late start Saturday morning, the forecaster the night before was calling for a cool morning and possible rain, so I didnt get started down there til 9:30 am, putting me there almost noon. Lucikly for me, the forecast was for the St Louis area only..turning out to be a very nice warm and sunny day.

We arrived and I parked down at the bottom of the entrance hill, and after changing into my boots and grabbing a couple of bags and tools, I walked over toward the point that we had often worked before.

06 Worked Right Side

You will notice my blue bag on the right side above…I actually started on the left side of this point, on the other side to the left up there…thinking I had found a pocket, but went back to the truck to get my hammer and chisel…on the walk back, I skirted around a small pile of fall down rocks and actually found a few pretty crystals in that pile…took them back to the truck and set them on my tailgate…came back and walked farther down that pile and over to this clay red muddy area and started seeing even more crystals that had fallen down from above, so I walked up to find out where they had originated from. Low and behold, I discovered a pocket of poker chips and dolomite druse within just a few minutes of checking this wall on the right side of the point. I cant tell you how many times we have looked along this wall and found nothing at all, pocket wise.  While walking up to that wall, I spotted this beauty sticking up out of the mud partially…the only thing I could see were the crystals sticking out of the mud…..

03 Found in Mud

….and after cleaning it off this morning with the water hose, I was pleased that I had brought it home with me…though there is some damage to some crystals, there are several crystals and dolomite druse that are very pretty…

21 Found in Mud Cleaned Up

Here are the ones I found and set on the tailgate before I started digging into the pocket in the wall….some that someone else apparently didnt want to take home or just rolled down from a pocket up above….

01 Soon After Arrival


02 Crystals Found So Far

…the big one on the left side of my tailgate, had crystals on both ends and just a few small pockets of dolomite druse in the middle….

04 Cobbed Down

….so I decided to pull a Mike Streeter and do some cobbing down to save this end with the neat dark colored poker chip crystal embedded….

05 Cobbed This Corner

…so I walked back over to the right side of the point wall and began examining the pocket up close and deciding what course of action to take…using my mini mattox for about thirty minutes and pulling out some nice crystals and clusters….

07 Found Pocket Here

…some like this beautiful poker chip nestled in some dolomite druse….

08 Pretty Poker Chip

and pried this chunk of crystals out of a pocket inside the main pocket….

10 Poker Chip Chunk Found pile of crystals so far was a bit small, but the day was young yet and I was just getting started….

11 Finds So Far

I had finally reached the point where I needed to do some hammering with the chisel, so I walked over to the truck, took a short water break, and returned to start getting some extra matrix and rock out of my way so I could get into a few pockets that were visible but slightly blocked out. Once I was able to free up the pockets, believe me, I started pulling crystals and clusters out right and left. Since I had arrived mid day, I didnt take time to photograph and document my progress much. Within another hour, I had reached the point where I could go no further….

12 Pocket Cleaned Out Almost

…even with one pocket staring me right in the face…

13 Pocket Crystals


13A Pocket Crystals

…dont get me wrong, I cleaned out this pocket as much as I could and then stopped to wrap up what I had pulled out, which was quite a bit….

14 Pocket Finished


15 Finds Pile

…to go further with what was still there, plenty of potential sign for more pockets by the way, would require moving a lot of rock above and I didnt want to find out exactly how much rock that would wind up being…

16 A Few Pockets Left

I spent about thirty minutes wrapping and high grading, leaving some pretty stuff for someone else to find, taking more spectacular stuff home with me. Trust me, I took alot of pretty stuff home, I have a lot of friends who cant travel around like me and find stuff, so I always like to share with them, like to see their faces light up when you hand them stuff like this….just makes my day and usually theirs too.

I decided to walk up to the upper bench and see if I could find any fall down crystals up there, so  I grabbed two more bags out of the truck after securing Missy inside the truck with the ac on for her, and hiked up above. I also checked the wall for more pockets, but alas, they were high up on the wall, where we had originally found them when I was there shortly after the blasting. There were no pockets to be found down at the new walking level. I did find a few single crystals here and there, but that was about it. I walked back down to the truck and drove across the lower level to a newer area to check it out.

17 Walked Upper Bench

…where after a few minutes of walking around,I found this beauty just sitting in a small pile waiting to be found…

25 Found This in New Area Pile


I quickly returned it to the truck and walked farther up in this new area, and walked upon a beautiful poker chip triple in a dark chocolate brown color and a few in a deep green color. I also found a few chunks of a pale pink color calcite, but nothing in poker chip form. Most of these had some matrix attached, but was very pretty and all of it went home with me. I was walking around up near the top, and walked right up on this huge cluster of crystals, partially buried, waiting for me….

22 Huge Cluster Chocolate Color Poker Chips

…shown above in my backyard after cleaning. I was completely amazed….I turned around in shock,  and found this one right behind me….

23 Huge 2nd Cluster Chocolate Color Poker Chips

…now I was really in shock, two large beauties like this within ten feet of each other, possibly from the same pocket and blasted down from above. If you want to know exactly how big they are, think of a beach ball under your arm and you`ll have a good idea how big they were to me,  when I stashed each one under my arms and carried them to the truck.

 I was very happy when I found both of them, specially after I was able to dig them both out with ease….both of them big, both beautiful, both with some damage…but thats to be expected when looking in a blast pile…put yourself in their place…how much damage would you have it you were suddenly dynamited out of your safe secure position in a limestone wall and landed in a blast pile among many other rocks, some bigger than you.

Despite the damage to each one, there were several smaller pristine crystals attached to each of the bigger crystals. The second cluster had obviously been sheared off, but there was a perfect set of twin crystals attached to the other side…I`ll try to photograph the other sides of each one tomorrow and add them so you can see what I`m talking about here.

I no sooner walked back up to take another look, when I spotted a pocket along the wall and stopped to investigate it more…with my mattox I was able to pull a few plates of several shades of colored dolomite druse crystals, even a few with dogtooth crystals attached to them and what looks like a smattering of marcasite on a few of them. I had two bags with me filled with some wrapping cloths and put them to good use…emptying the pocket required about thirty minutes, cutting into my leave before it gets dark time…and then I decided to make one more walk around…and found a huge chunk of green poker chips embedded in the ground….it makes a good yard rock but thats about it.

After loading the two bags of dolomite druse from the pocket and the three huge chunks of poker chips into my truck, after wrapping them all up,  Missy and I headed for home. I was quite tired and looking forward to an extra hour of rest…even though I didnt get it due to a bad trailer fire call around midnight. Nothing beats a good nap the next day though. 🙂