Dogtooth Crystal Christmas Day

Since my family celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, due to my work schedule and my sister`s family schedule, I didnt have anything planned and neither did Docia, so she met Missy and I at the secret spot about 10 am. It was alot colder than it has been, about 27 degrees when we arrived, but hey, a little cold weather doesnt stop the hardiest of rockhounds. I figured we would be sheltered from the wind as well, as we have in the past, but not this time…it was whipping around in there the whole time we were there. Missy and I arrived first and after getting my boots on and laced up, I headed over to a section of older wall where I could see what appeared to be a pocket that I hadnt noticed before. I was up there chipping around with my mini mattox when Docia arrived. I took a break and walked down to get a few dogtooths out of my truck for her from my last trip there, that I had found. She handed me a box that contained a gem tree for my supervisor, Patty….

Blue Topaz Tree for Patty

  …..a christmas gem tree for me…..

Christmas Tree for Me by Docia

….and a pyrite sun on a stand.

After getting on her coveralls, she grabbed a bag and tools and headed over to the older wall near me. We moved up that wall, looking for pockets and then to the east wall where we finally found some pockets and sat down to work them. I decided to take another look at the druse/dogtooth wall I had found last week. After clearing away some more of the rubble, I located what appeared to be another pocket way back in the back section of it, which required me to really reach back to pull stuff out and then later, on the left side as well. Since it was so cold and windy, I left the camera in the truck and didnt take any photos til I got home and cleaned the specimens up.

One of the first few I pulled out of the very back pocket, was a nice double terminated dogtooth crystal stretched across a piece of druse matrix…here it is all cleaned up…

Dbl Terminated Dogtooth on Druse

I was also pulling out a lot of pretty druse chunks, bubbly and lots of different colors on a primarily gray druse base….

Chunk of Druse

…and every once in a while I would pull out some smaller dogtooth crystals as well, some wrapped inside a poker chip and exposed either at the tip or down along the body of the dogtooth formation somewhere….many of them in excellent condition…

Many Singles


…some of them were a honey brown color, some an orange color, and a few of them were a darker brown color. I kept on pulling several top and sidewall plates of the bubbly druse out, some of them with poker chips and some of them with dogtooth crystals attached to them, until I reached the back of the pocket. I put my mini mattox in there to make sure it was the back of the pocket, cause I was at the end of my stretch and reach and could no longer reach anything with even the tips of my fingers.

I then turned my attention to the left side wall and the first thing I pulled out after clearing some of the sideall plates there, was this nice single crystal attached to a small piece of gray bubbly druse, that had a very different look to it on both sides….

Dogtooth Attached to Druse

…above photo shows the pretty side of the crystal on the ugly bottom side of the druse matrix, where the next photo shows the other side of the crystal on that ugly bottom side of the druse, with some of the gray bubbles exposed on the other side….

Dogtooth Attached to Druse 2

….and the other side shows the pretty druse bubbles with the dogtooth showing as frosted over and only the tip of it exposed…

Dogtooth Attached to Druse 3

…I was also pulling out a few chunks of druse bubbles with some frosted dogtooth crystals attached to them….

Frosted Twin Dogtooth on Druse

…and closer up the dogtooths look like this….

Dogtooth Frosted on Druse

…I filled three bags after wrapping up these and some of the single crystals, and took them to the truck…as I walked back toward the wall, I looked down where I was watching my steps over some loose boulders and saw some poker chip crystals laying at the bottom of the pile slope…so I looked up and spotted what appeared to be a large chunk of poker chips and druse exposed on one end near the top of the pile…so naturally, I climbed up there and started digging in to expose the entire thing, and before you knew it, several dogtooth orange crystals were found in what appeared to be a large pocket blasted down from the wall. I pulled a couple of large plates out and took them back to the truck, and brought back an extra bag with cloth wraps. Its a good thing I did, because an hour later, I had filled both bags and was returning to my truck for yet another one, when Docia came to tell me that she had froze out and had enough of the never ending wind.

Missy and I stuck around another 45 minutes, filled one more bag, and then took off for home too. It was supposed to possibly start snowing around 5 pm, and I decided to get out earlier than that, just in case. By this time I was cold as well and only the hot tub could thaw me out. 🙂


Frosted Orange Dogtooth Crystal Pocket

A few days after Ian was here, I took the day off from work and returned to the secret spot to see if anything was left. Docia was out of state visiting and when I arrived, I could see a drilling rig set up on the bluff above, so it was obvious that more material was about to be blasted down soon. I figured I had better check the east wall for more pockets on this trip cause it was likely that wall would be gone by the time I returned. Since there was only a little bit of rock material left in the pile, it seemed logical to me that they may be blasting within the next week.

04 From The Ground Up

I didnt waste any time after arriving…switched to my boots and grabbed a couple of bags and tools, and walked over to the east wall and started looking around. In no time at all, I discovered what appeared to be a pocket full of gray druse chunks…but have discovered that poker chips like to lurk inside druse pockets alot…

05 Dogtooth Pocket

….and vice versa as well…often we find druse in poker chip pockets too….I began clearing away the clutter and loose stuff and quickly found out this was not going to be an ordinary gray druse….it was gray bubbly druse with alot of different colors added to it….

06 Dogtooth Pocket

…and there was so much dust covering many of the druse chunks, that I really had no idea until after I got home and began cleaning them off a few days later, what I really had found inside that pocket. Lets just say I`m examining things I pull out of pockets, a little closer these days…

07 Clutter Cleaned Away

…and after clearing away alot of the loose stuff up front, and looking closer into the pocket that was stuffed with chunks of druse, in between I could see what appeared to be some frosted poker chips...

08 Plates of Druse

…and before too long, I was also seeing some orange dogtooth crystals, small ones…like the ones Docia uses to create gemstone Christmas trees with…she uses them as ornaments on the trees….and this is usually a good sign that you have found a dogtooth crystal pocket and sometimes the small ones lead to bigger ones….

10 Dogtooths on Druse Pieces

….if you scroll back up and look at that big chunk in the front of the pocket at the base of it, this is it up above, turned over and covered with bigger dogtooth crystal points….and here are some of the smaller ones I found before I found this one….

09 Some Dogtooths Found

…and here is a close up of the larger one that was anchoring the front base of the pocket once again….

11 Large Druse with Dogtooth Crystals

I pulled alot of little dogtooths out as well as a lot of druse plates and chunks…never seen so much druse that was twisty and turned and bubbled up like this stuff was…and lots of different colors all over…one side would be completely gray and bubbley and the other side might be yellow or orange or red or a combination of all three colors on gray….def pretty and different.

As I got closer to the back of the pocket, I found more plates waiting on me…

12 Almost Cleaned Out

…and some more crystals lurking inside and between the plates and chunks as well….

13 A Few Plates and Crystals Left

…here is a photo of some of the crystals I pulled out of there…I was laying them down on these white cloths as I removed them from the pocket…

14 More Dogtooth Crystals

…and here is another plate that I pulled out of the back of the pocket that had frosted poker chips attached to it as well….

15 Plate With Dogtooth Crystals

…and a couple of the pretty druse pieces that I pulled from this pocket full of druse and poker chips…

16 Druse Pieces

…and soon the pocket was all cleaned out….it took much of my afternoon hours to clean out though.

17 All Cleaned Out


Rockhounding With Ian Merkel

One of my good rockhounding friends from Colorado, Ian Merkel, flew into St Louis last week to do some rockhounding in Missouri this weekend. Docia and I set up a couple of locations to take him to on Saturday and Sunday, and he had set up his schedule all day Friday to do some collecting half a mile deep in one of the Doe Run Mines near Viburnum.

I was at work when he flew into St Louis and soon after he let me know that he had reached Sullivan and would spending the night there in one of our motels, before heading to the Casteel Mine the next morning to meet up with some of his mining friends there. I arranged to have Docia meet him in Eminence on Saturday morning and take him to the quarry there, where we would spend much of the day looking for pockets of poker chip crystals and dolomite druse. 

Missy and I got up early Saturday morning and cruised down through Viburnum and Reynolds County countryside to Eminence listening to one of my favorite Colorado musicians, John Denver…..I had told Ian I would be coming in the back way and Docia could more easily meet him and guide him to the quarry since she travels down Hwy 19, which was the route he would be driving down as well. As I pulled into the quarry entrance on the east side of Eminence about 10 am, I spotted Docia`s blazer and Ian`s rental suv down below by the gravel piles….I pulled up next to them with the lyrics of Rocky Mountain High coming from my stereo speakers.

Ian was showing Docia what he had been able to collect in some pockets of goodie minerals deep down in the Casteel Mine the day before…..he had some pretty chacopyrite and lead cubes, but was ready now to take on some serious digging at one of the best locations in Missouri for poker chip crystals and dolomite druse. We all changed into our boots and grabbed our tools and bags, and headed over to one of the original bluff areas that is usually choked full of pockets…where Ian and I started in on the point of the bluff….

01 Ian Works Entrance Bluff


…and immediately we began seeing evidence of crystals and dolomite and calcite druse all over the bluff, next to a spot that I had been working on when I was there just a few weeks prior. It was obvious to both of us that we would need to knock some overhanging rocks down first, in order to make things safer, so we began clearing off the top layers and then the bottom layers, which were peeling off like the pages of a book. Soon we had a big pile of rocks below us and we began searching for pockets a bit more, and finding many soon enough….

03 Looks For Pockets


…within seconds, Ian was reaching into a pocket to explore a bit more carefully….

04 Reaching Inside Pocket


…and found a few loose ones right off the bat….

05 Found A Pocket

06 Pocket of Poker Chips

07 Examing A Crystal

…he started pulling some large clusters out soon after, but he wasnt able to take them home, they would take up too much room in the two medium sized suitcases he had for the flight home, so he gave me the bigger ones…I backed my truck up so I didnt have to carry them as far…

08 Backed Up to Load Big Ones

 …when I returned to the bluff, I found that he had pulled away some of the covering matrix and discovered yet another pocket off to the left of the original pocket found…

09 Ian Points Out Another Pocket

…and pretty soon, yet another pocket was located…

10 And yet Another Pocket

…and soon it was one pocket after another in this area of the bluff. We soon found ourselves having to carefully remove some of the covering plates of matrix to access more pockets…..

12 Carefully Removing Coverplate

…he was careful to use his screwdriver and small prybar to pull this one back to reveal….

13 Carefully Pulling It Away

….a nice cluster….now I had a very happy Ian on my hands….

14 Ian is a Happy Camper

…by this time we discovered that Docia was no longer right around the corner of the bluff from us…she had wandered over to the new blast area, so we picked up our goodies and tools and headed over to join her….finding her talking to a couple from West Plains that were looking for crystals as well…David and his mom,

15 New Blast Area

…if you look real close at the photo above, you can see a green dot at the top of that pile just left of center…thats Ian at the top of the pile looking for pockets…I had already filled two bags and came down for more bags and wrapping cloths when I took this photo and the two below….

16 Ian At Top of New Blast Area

17 Ian At Top of New Blast Area

…and this next photo will give you a better perspective as well…

18 Better Perspective

…I didnt take my camera up there with me as the footing walking up can be a little dicey sometimes, but I can safely tell you that we found four pockets that were absolutely filled with poker chips and dolomite druse….in fact, there are ten times more dolomite druse pockets than poker chip pockets up there, but both are pretty and Ian liked both of them as much as I do. I was working a pocket about five feet left of Ian, and it was much easier to reach inside and then around to the back of the pocket to pull crystals and clusters out of it, as the face was almost solid in matrix rock. Meanwhile, Ian was still finding larger clusters than he could manage, so he was handing a few off to me or placing them in my bags.

I walked my last two bags back down the pile to the bottom once again, going back to the truck for yet another bag, and Ian came down the pile along the wall, stopping at the bottom corner where there were several small openings of pockets that David described as woodpecker holes. Ian started exploring one of the small openings and all of a sudden, started ooohhing and aahhing so much, that I moved a little faster to get back up there…no easy feat cause you have to climb up an unstable gravel slide area ten feet high and then pull yourself on up the last three feet, with little to latch on to for solid support…cause nothing is solid there and rooted down.  When I did finally get back up there, Ian was holding a couple of small plates of dolomite and calcite druse covered with orange dogtooth crystals….hence the reason for the oohhs and ahhs…

So we worked on those pockets for about thirty minutes more and then decided to go up above and see what we could find on the upper benches. I had never been up to the bench right above the new blast area yet, but wanted to, so we left David with the woodpecker holes and went up to there to see what could be found. This time I forgot my camera in the truck but Ian had his with him and snapped a couple photos of me working my pocket to the left of his…

Me Holding Up a Just Found Crystal

….his being a pocket of beautiful green poker chip crystals and clusters…one of them so big that Ian  couldnt pack it in either suitcase, so he left it with me…here it is in the bed of my truck….

22 Big Green Poker Chip Ian Found Above

…well we worked that pocket for at least forty minutes and cleaned it out as best we could…the crystals in it were covered in a heavy oooey gooey red clay and limonite matrix, so it was a bit more difficult to work in getting the crystals out, not many of them coming out cleanly…I found a pocket off to the side that appeared to tie in with his pocket, but eventually ran out of steam and crystals.  We packed up and headed back down to the new blast area, to see if Docia was ready to head out…we were going to visit a mutual friend who has some beautiful Doe Run Mine specimens that he sells on the side…we have purchased beautiful specimens from him before and thought we would see what he had left.

Docia decided to get some information from David and his mom before we headed out, so Ian and I took another look at the area where Docia was collecting as we pulled back up. Ian immediately found yet another pocket, within a few feet of where Docia had been working and finding some dogtooth crystals, and I went up a crevice to the left and spotted a pocket about three feet higher up…

18A Crevice of Pockets

…where I spotted a beautiful  large poker chip in a very dark gray or black color, attached to the pocket wall…one side appeared to be loose, so with the help of Ian`s smaller prybar, I was able to wiggle it loose from its attachment…it split into two pieces, but I was able to recover all the key players and was quite happy with the way it looks….

20 Two Blk Poker Chips I Found

…the one on the right much darker of the two….

21 Darker Of The Two

…and probably the darkest colored crystals I have ever found here…found the chocolate colored crystals a few months back there, but never a dark enough gray to be considered black, that I can recall. In the meantime, Ian was trying to cobb down a cluster he found in one of the pockets so he could get it into his suitcase….

19 Ian Cobbs Down One

…and he wound up getting a few nice smaller pieces from it….

24 Ian Very Happy

…and here he is looking at yet another cluster….

25 Ian Examines a Cluster

…we left shortly after and drove north through the beautiful Reynolds County countryside and visited with David, our Doe Run mineral dealer friend, for about an hour, before heading home for the night, darkness overtaking us soon after we left. After a good dinner at Cracker Barrel and a little bit of tv, we retired for the night, in anticipation of another long day on Sunday.

We intended to get up about 5:30 am Sunday, but my internal clock went off earlier, so then we had to wait an hour for Cracker Barrel to open, cause that`s where Ian wanted to go for breakfast. I emailed Docia that we would arrive at the Secret Spot between 7:30 and 8 am, and we drove over to Cracker Barrel after Ian loaded up his tools and backpack in my truck.

After a great breakfast, we took off and as we were driving along, we spotted this large sun off to the east…found out he and I both like sunrises like this, with the sun looking larger than life, and so I pulled over and we both photographed it…

01 Sunrise Sunday Morning

03 Sunrise Big Sun

…and then drove on south….arriving about 7:35 am…no Docia in sight…and found half the blast pile removed on the left side…providing us more wall to inspect for pockets…..

06 New Look

…Ian was so excited, he was ready to go before I was…I had to change from my street shoes to my boots, then grab a bag and some tools, my trusty mattox for one thing…..I`m lacing up my boots and he is hollering at me…where`s that pocket at….so I told him and he heads that way and pretty soon I am too…..he was like a kid with a chocolate addiction in a candy store, lol…….and pretty soon he was digging away at a potential pocket on the wall….

07 Ian Working a Pocket

….he didnt like the looks of the pocket I had left him, like me, he thought the crystals on the back wall were too difficult to remove, and the pocket Docia had worked last week, looked cleaned out, so he started tackling this potential pocket above. I moved on down the wall to his right, about fifteen feet, and dug into a potentially looking pocket….

08 Ian Working a Pocket

09 Ian Works a Pocket

…pretty soon it was apparent that he had found some crystals and might just have a working pocket….

11 Ian Found One to Right

…while mine was def looking like it had some nice specimens inside…I would have to dig them out, but was already spotting orange dogtooth crystal points inside….

12 Pocket I Found to Right of Ian

13 My Pocket Up Closer

Ian took a break from his pocket and decided to look and see if he could find another pocket near mine…

14 Ian Searching Area to My Right


…so he decided to check behind this chunk of rock ledge and then decided it would be much safer to knock it down…

15 Ian Makes Things Safer

…so while I was continuing to work on my pocket, he knocked the ledge and overhang down…

16 Ian Makes Things Safer

…and while he didnt find anything here…..he did locate a pocket on the east wall  that turned out to be quite nice and productive for him. In the meantime, I was still pulling druse plates and crytals out of my pocket and making my way further back inside it…

18 Progress of My Pocket

…and here is the pocket that Ian located on the east wall…he let out a big whoop and I looked over to see him pulling a very big single poker chip crystal out of the pocket, here you see it against the wall at the end of his prybar…

19 New Crystal Ian Found

…and the pocket behind it…

20 New Pocket Ian Found

Ian was actually taking these two photos and then turned around and photographed me working on my pocket…

21 Me Working a Pocket

…something you dont see very often…lol…

22 Me Working a Pocket

23 Me Working a Pocket

…and looking inside…here is what he saw when he shot this one….

24 Working My Way Back into Pocket

…and here is a combo I pulled out of there while he was photographing me…

25 Combo Found in Pocket

…and here is Docia who was checking out some pockets near me as well…

26 Docia Checks Out Crystals

…by this time I had filled three bags full of crystals and I was ready to look elsewhere and take a break, so Ian asked if he could check out my pocket and I told him to knock himself out. He had to stack up some rocks to get up to it and the next time I looked over there, here is all I could see of him….

27 Ian Crawls Into Pocket

…and actually had some good luck inside after crawling nearly halfway inside it. He pulled a plate down from the top and all of a sudden…crystals started raining down on him from another pocket above…he said it was like activating a slot machine full of chips or coins. After working it and filling up a bag, he decided to walk over to the south wall and see what Docia was finding over there…I was still resting up and I looked up the slope to see them both working a pocket near the top….

28 Docia and Ian Work South Wall

…I walked over to the west wall to see if I could find some druse plates, cause Ian had mentioned he would like to take some druse home with him as well and we werent going to have time to run over to the new druse spot. I walked over and began looking down at the base of the wall, as they normally fall from the clay dirt above the rock wall and land at the base…when the sun came out from behind the clouds, and made them glitter, I was able to spot and pick them up….here are a few I found over there….

29 Druse Plates I Found

30 Druse Plate

31 Druse Plate

and here are a couple of cluster combos we found while there as well….

32 Poker Chip Clusters

Ian and I took off about 1 pm so Ian could get cleaned up and get the specimens wrapped up and packed away in his suitcases before heading for the airport…

33 Ian Wraps Up his Crystals

34 Ian Happily Wraps Up Crystals

…the photo above shows a happy but tired Ian, packing his goodies away in his suitcases before heading home...he had to leave a few of them with me cause they were too big or heavy….he took one with his camera of us and here it is…

35 Rockhunting Buddies

…had a great time taking him hunting here in Missouri and glad that he made it home safe and sound !!