A Dynamite Dogtooth Weekend

Last weekend I hosted rockhunts at two different locations for members of the MAGS Club, Memphis Archaelogical and Geological Society, based in Memphis, Tennessee…a club that I joined a few years back on the recommendation of  rockhound friend Docia. They like to come up here in February to look for druse quartz and this year we added poker chips and dolomite/calcite druse with a trip on Sunday to MFQ, a location they had heard of before, but never been to. 

I got up quite early on Saturday morning and dropped Missy off at my parents house, since the location I was taking the members to to look for druse quartz, was new and gets quite muddy, plus there is a water pond there that Missy likes to bound through and comes out soaking wet and covered in red clay mud from head to tail…something I have never figured out since she absolutely seems to hate baths. My mom likes to take a few walks each day and Missy likes to go with her, so I knew it would be a win win for both her and me. 

As early as I got up, I was going to have an extra ninety minutes before the club group was scheduled to arrive at the high school, so I drove down to a private quarry farther south that I wanted to check out since I had been told there was a recent wall blasted there for new material. I arrived and made a quick walk around the blast pile, and found what appeared to be an obvious pocket along the wall within a few short minutes. Since I knew I would be pressed for time if I found something good, I didn`t take my camera with me. I started pulling extra rock away from the opening of the pocket and soon started seeing bright orange dogtooth crystals in the muck. I made my way back to the truck and grabbed two more bags and wrapping material, and then returned to the pocket and began removing one dogtooth cluster after another, stopping only briefly to wrap them and place them in a bag. Let me tell you, forty five minutes went by very quickly and soon I had three bags full of crystals…I`ll let you be the judge of what I found with the following photos….taken after I cleaned them up Saturday night….

04 Dogtooth Piece Found

05 Three Dogtooths Blended Together

06 3 Dogtooths Blended Together

07 Another Dogtooth Cluster

08 Yellow Bubble Druse & Single Dogtooth

09 Yellow Bubble Druse With Dogtooth

11 Dogtooth Cluster Side View

12 Another Dogtooth Cluster

Some very pretty stuff for sure….but wait til you see what I found the next day…. 

Sunday morning I got up early and headed south once again, this time to meet the MAGS group, and lead them to MFQ. This time Missy went with me, the quarry has a large open floor and she likes to explore and get some good exercise doing so, plus I never have to worry about her getting muddy at this location. It`s all rock here and even the few waterholes here consist of water and rock only. 

About 2 pm, everyone headed home from MFQ, happy with their goodies located there, and Missy and I headed home. Despite getting a good workout in, I decided to take a detour and return to the SSQ before going home. By the time I got to the secret spot, I felt somewhat revived by a good can of Arizona Green Tea and some rest in my comfy truck seat, and since I had at least three hours of daylight left, I opted to drive over and check it out once again…

01 New Blast Pile

…the photo above showing the left side of the blast pile…….and the photo below showing the right side of the pile….

02 New Blast Pile


01C Spotted New Pocket

…I started walking around the left side and once I came out on the right side of the pile, I glanced across to the south wall and just about fell over in shock….if you click on the photo above and enlarge it, and with your eyes, follow the shadow below the square hole at the edge of the L shaped shadow, you might be able to pick up on the opening of the pocket as quickly as I did….if not you can try to find it in complete shadow in this next photo, about twenty feet above my mini mattox….

02A Pocket Just Waiting

and a bit closer….

03A Pocket Up Closer

04A Dogtooth Wall Outside Pocket

…with a nice short wall of orange dogtooth crystals on the right side of it as well….more to choose from I guess…. as if the choices presented already, were not enough. ..and even closer as I walked over and climbed up on the slippery slope of loose gravel and saw loose single orange dogtooth crystals laying all over in the mix…

05A Crappy Rock Piled on Top

…what caught my eye looking across the way, at first, was that wall of bright orange dogtooth crystals…they just jumped out at me….

06A Plates on Top of Poker Chips

….they were even more impressive up close and since some of them were a bit loose, I was able to remove a few of them from a small pocket at the base of that short wall as well…..

07 They Look Loose

After that, I began working my way toward the pocket, starting at the base, mainly because of the extremely unstable material at the base, hundreds of loose single dogtooth crystals floating in and amongst the muck at the base, and it was all sliding downhill and literally into my hands the whole time….

09 Dogtooths Up Close

and some to the right at the base of the short wall too….

10A Pocket LL Corner

I cleared off some level areas about six feet to the left to set my first three bags and some wrapping cloths…I didn`t want anything to slide on down that slope and roll down to the base of the wall and get damaged along the way. It was extremely slippery up there the whole three hours, I was constantly trying to clear off areas I could safely stand on without slipping but it was a constant battle to do so, plus I was fighting the loss of time and daylight as it got closer to sunset. 

After about thirty minutes of constantly raking down base material and picking up multiple loose crystals, I finally made it to the base of the pocket and began to focus on removing the loose material in the mouth of the pocket itself….

05A Crappy Rock Piled on Top

you can see how much matrix rock was sitting on top of the crystals in the mouth of the pocket above…thin sheets of rock and then those heavy chunks in the right hand corner heavily weighing down on the clusters below that cannot be readily seen here…not to mention that big plate of gray bubble druse in the middle, laying face down on top of some huge poker chip crystals…it was like eeney, meeney, miney moe in figuring out what to move first, and unfortunately I didn`t make the best decision the first two times, cause much of it came crashing down into my lap right off the bat…soon I had it stabilized though and was able to gently rake some of the thin loose sheets of rock off the pile a little at a time after that. Here is a closer view of the pocket opening….

06A Plates on Top of Poker Chips

The first batch of crystal clusters that I pulled out and sat on the side to be wrapped up are pictured below….

08 1st Batch of Clusters

…you can see in the next photo just how loose some of the base material was, after I worked over the pocket at the base of the short wall…

10A Pocket LL Corner

Since I was fighting time and daylight from here on, I didn`t take any extra time to document this clean out process with my camera, even though I had it up there with me. I had to make a few fast trips back to my truck to get more bags and wrapping material as well, and believe me, I didn`t walk back and forth…I ran….and wound up filling ten bags with wrapped goodies, as well as removing six large clusters of bubble druse & dogtooth crystals and two clusters of druse & poker chips…I hand carried the two larger clusters of druse & dogtooth crystals under one arm with a bag of wrapped crystals in the other hand, and it felt like I was carrying a porcupine under my arm each time I made a trip over uneven ground to the truck. I did take photos of these nice clusters after I got them inside my sunroom yesterday and here they are….

21 Poker Chip & Gray Druse Combo

23A Dogtooth & Gray Druse Combo

this is goodie number two above and below is the other side of it…

24A Back Side Dogtooth & Gray Druse

and some closeups of this one in greater detail…. 

25 Close up Dogtooths

26 Close up Partial Covered Dogtooths

The next three photos are of one beautiful cluster of large poker chip crystals that were in the mouth of the pocket with a cluster of dogtooths at the base….

27 Large Poker Chip & Dogtooth Piece

28 Close up Partial Dogtooths at Base

29 Back Side Large Poker Chip Piece

These next two photos show a top view and side view of  a yellow bubble druse cluster of poker chips with some dogtooth crystals embedded….

30A Top Chip & Dogtooth & Yellow Druse

31 Chip & Dogtooth & Yellow Druse

And the next one was pulled from the pocket by its base…when I pulled it out, I was disappointed to see that it had suffered damage on the top side of the huge poker chip crystal, but elated to see the cluster of poker chips at the base that did not appear to be damaged at all….

33 Large Poker Chip & Smaller Chips at Base

…and showing it from the back side….

34 Back of Poker Chip & Smaller Chips at Base

The next two photos show an unusual piece I pulled from the backside of the pocket, just tucked away into a back corner, it had some damage but some different features as well, like the poker chips in an obvious pocket underneath the piece as well as one right smack dab on the bottomside of the piece….

35 Side Pocket Piece

37 Side Pocket Underneath

The next few photos show a neat shiney, sparkley gray bubble druse chunk with some poker chips and dogtooth crystals attached, and a buddy said this first photo makes it look like an elephant sitting down….

38 Gray Bubble Druse & Dogtooths

…I was like…an elephant with how many legs ???  wondered what he had been drinking before he said that….lol…but it def is unusual looking for sure….

40 Side 2 Gray Bubble Druse & Dogtooths

39 Back Side Gray Bubble Druse & Dogtooths

So I got all of those out of the pocket and the bags all packed with the smaller wrapped goodies and down to the floor of the quarry and then started making several trips over to the truck and loading it up, as the sun was setting and light was leaving me fast…I said a quick prayer for extended daylight and strength to get all the goodies to the truck and still have enough to drive home on…cause I was getting exhausted really quickly now…and on my last trip to the pocket, I took a few photos of the pocket cleaned out as much as possible…I was too exhausted to try to do anymore and ran completely out of bags and wrapping material too….

11 Dogtooth Cavern

this pocket measured about 36 inches across from side to side…and top to bottom was about 30 inches….it was one of the deepest pockets I have ever seen, a person could have literally crawled down into it and had lots of room to spare…. 

12A Dogtooth Cavern

14A Dogtooth Cavern

…and I no sooner got in the truck and headed home than I saw this stunning sight when I reached the top of the long hill climbing out of there….

18 Great Ending to a Great Day

…all in all, a beautiful ending to a great and amazing day….





Rockhunting Last Weekend With MAGS

A few years ago I joined the rock and gem club called MAGS, the Memphis Archaelogical and Geological Society, based in Memphis, Tennessee, and each year they like to travel up here to look for druse quartz. Last weekend several members drove up and spent the weekend with me, and I took them to the new druse spot on Saturday, and then to MFQ on Sunday morning. Since this spot is normally very muddy and wet, I left Missy with my parents Saturday morning on my way down.. there is a pond there that she likes to jump into and bound through and usually comes out very covered from her head to her tail in thick mud, something I didnt want to deal with today. I havent figured out yet, why she enjoys that so much but has a problem when it comes to taking a bath and cleaning up. 

As I drove south I noticed the temperature was about 15 degrees, so it was def going to be a cold day out there, but at least the weather was going to be clear and sunny too. I had made arrangements to meet the group around 9 am, and I arrived at the meeting spot,  just as they were approaching from the east.  Betty Marler from the Park Hills Club came with them, and after a few minutes of small talk, we loaded up and drove down to the new druse spot…the skies were blue and sunny, but the wind was just a bit sharp, requiring head cover for sure…I was glad I had my heavy coat on with the fleece lined hood. I pulled into the small parking area and found it had been changed just a bit since I had been there two weeks prior, but we were able to get all the vehicles up into the upper end just fine, and after a few minutes of acquainting everyone with the layout of the area and boundaries, and showing them what they could expect to find, they were soon scattered out all over the area….

02 Looking Everywhere

I had brought several samples from both locations with me, just in case someone didn`t find some great stuff, but as it was, especially at this location, there was no way anyone could strike out here…like one of the gals said, it was like walking into a jewel box, there was druse glittering all over the place. After everyone started finding some good material, I grabbed a bag and my mini mattox and headed out to look and see what I could find and help them find, as well. I started up the hill in the direction that Paul and WC had taken off to, where the heavily eroded clay dirt areas are….

04 WC Looking for Druse

….and within minutes I started seeing some smokey colored druse pieces in the bottom of the erosion ditches, just laying on top of the clay dirt waiting to be found. Since the temps had dipped so low the night before, the normally soft clay dirt was frozen in most areas and walking was now easy. I looked to the north and spotted a few hunters over on the heavily eroded west slope above the pond….

01 Hunters Fan Out

I soon had my bag filled with some pretty smokey colored druse bubbles and a nice medium sized plate that I found sitting upside down, and I returned to my truck, others having returned to their vehicles for a break. Mike and Ann, from the North Little Rock area, joined me at the truck bed and were soon looking at the samples I had brought along……I had told everyone there to just help themselves to anything they wanted in the bed of the truck…in addition to the samples, I had loaded up four big boxes of grab bag material for their April Show as well. Those boxes included some beautiful crystals from my Arkansas quartz trips and Kentucky fluorite trips the past couple of years and several of the members were enjoying sifting through them as well. After a few minutes of break and a can of Arizona Green Tea, Mike and I headed up the west slope above the pond to see what else we could find. A few who had already been up there said they were finding some great druse in different colors and Mike had been up the north side and saw some spots where smokey colors seemed to be heavily concentrated. I grabbed two bags and started around the front of my truck and immediately spotted some large deer tracks in the clay dirt….

06 Big Deer Tracks

…and soon caught up with Mike, and fairly quickly we were finding smokey colored druse plates all over the place….he wasn`t sure if he ever did locate that one area that he spotted earlier, but by the time we finished looking all the way up the hill, it didn`t matter as we both had filled several bags full of bubbles and plates. We even found a few pretty big ones that he and Ann could take home for yard rocks… others were roaming the west slope as well looking for various colors and sizes….

05 Hunters Above Water Pond

During one of the breaks, I had found out that Mike worked for Union Pacific Railroad, and at one time was working out of the same building I had worked in, downtown in St Louis, several years ago before they moved many of the St Louis operations to the new building in Omaha. I had worked for five years as an emergency response management telecommunicator with UP, and loved my job there…as I told Mike, had they stayed in St Louis, it`s likely I would have still been working for UP. 

After a few more hours, we decided to drive over to another area where we have searched in years past and found several larger pieces. After guiding them to that spot, I walked down to the creek at the bottom of the hill and didnt see much of anything worthwhile to pick up and carry back. Even the creek area didnt have much sparkle, and the leaves were very heavy in the woods there, making it difficult to see or find anything in the area.

 I took off a few minutes later to head home, checking with WC on what time and where to meet them Sunday morning to take them to MFQ the next morning. Betty wasn`t going to make this trip with them, as they would all be driving home to Memphis from MFQ, so wanted to make sure they knew how to get there from Park Hills where they were staying. 

Sunday morning bright and early, Missy and I got up and on the road headed to MFQ, this time taking Missy with me since she likes to run around the floor of the quarry and never gets muddy there. As we left Sullivan, I looked southwest and saw this beautiful sunrise….

07 Sunrise Sunday Enr Eminence


08 Sunrise Sunday Enroute Eminence

It was a good thing I stopped to shoot it along the interstate when I did, because within five minutes, it had completely faded away and then twenty minutes later, the skies looked completely different….

09 Cloudy Sunrise Steelville




Missy and I led them to the floor of the quarry and stopped at the first bluff right below the entrance….

05 Entrance Piles and Bluff

…where I met some of the members that weren`t able to come up on Saturday, opting instead to drive up for the quarry trip…Caroline and Matthew Lybanon, and Neville Mayfield, who I have talked to several times by email but never met in person….I explained to everyone where they could dig into the bluff and what they could expect to find…again showing them samples I had brought along from this quarry, so they would know what to look for. I also pointed out the other areas of the quarry floor and showed them the areas of the walls to stay away from, clearly marked with blue spray paint…these are areas of the wall where rocks and gravel frequently fall down from above and so are unstable for a close approach. I pointed out the new collecting area…

20 Blast Pile Dwindles

22 Blast Pile Dwindles

21 Blast Pile Dwindles

…which looked about the same as the last time I was there a few weeks ago in January….

WC and I drove over to the newer area to look around and see what we could find while most everyone else set about surface collecting or digging into the bluff wall to see what pockets of druse and poker chips they could locate. We were soon joined by Ann and Cornelia and soon began finding several small green and chocolate colored poker chip crystals, some wrapped in matrix with dolomite druse…it was obvious someone had worked some pockets there recently and apparently left quite a bit of good material behind after high grading…which was fine with everyone there cause they all liked what we were finding. After a couple of hours, more hunters started drifting over to the newer location after working the small bluff as much as they could. Soon after, I climbed up into the crevice area to see if I could locate anymore pockets….

06 Started on Left Side


While I didnt locate any pockets along the left side of the wall by the crevice, I spotted a nice pocket up above the center of the nose, and was scraping loose gravel away from what looked like a stepping area to climb up to it, when a hole opened up on the area I was scraping…within moments, I pulled out a plate of crystals and announced a pocket found…soon I had a crowd of hunters looking for crystals gathering fast….Mike came over and helped me with his prybar and soon we were pulling a few plates of crystals out of the shallow pocket. There were also some bigger crystals sitting on top of the rock, so we were able to chisel those out as well. I pointed out the pocket of dark gray poker chips above, that I was climbing up to and once up there, determined I was going to need a chisel and hammer, so Mike stuck around and assisted me with the tools and then climbed up and held on to the chunks of crystals while I hammered them out of their rocky location. They came out in three pieces, in good shape, and he was able to hand the bigger two pieces down to Neville who then handed them off to others. All in all we were able to find and extract some very pretty crystals from a few pockets and everyone was happy with their goodies. We spent the last hour dividing up my grab bag material into a few vehicles that were headed home to Memphis and resting up. I provided everyone with road information and they all took off about 2 pm headed south. Missy and I drove over to check out an older pocket that I had worked on many times before, but since I was a bit tired at this point, I decided to head north and check out the secret spot before heading home. See the next story on that amazing dogtooth stop. 🙂