Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum`s 2015 Annual Show & Dig

I am back to work after taking a week off to rest up from the last few weeks, taking care of Missy and saying goodbye was pretty rough to go through and just exhausted me more than you can imagine…we spent sixteen years together and looking back now, I can safely say it was immense joy and she was a great companion to have in my life, and I really miss her. She was with me on almost all of my trips in and out of state rockhunting, sightseeing, and pretty much everywhere in town and the local area, even to fire calls when I was photographing for the local paper. She even made it to a barn fire with me in a fire truck one day, a few years back, when I wasn`t able to leave her in my truck at one of the stations out in the country, on a very hot day…I just lifted her up into the cab of the pumper and off we went to the fire and she rode just fine…think she enjoyed that as much as I did….lots of good times to remember for sure. I didn`t go anywhere much or do anything much, while I was taking care of her the last couple of weeks she was with me, stayed home and just took care of her and spent every minute with her, picking her up and dusting her off each time she fell over or just didn`t have the strength to get her legs up under her to walk, day and night….one of the last trips she made with me was down to the Fenton area to pick up a huge crystal cluster that I purchased from a friend who was moving from a house to an apartment and had no more room for…..

Huge Crystal Centerpiece 3

…my nephew Zach met me at Eureka and rode with me and Missy down to Fenton and he helped me in loading it into my truck…it weighs alot…covered with lead cubes and chalcopyrite on the back side and base…..

Chalcopyrite & Galena On Backside

….and it was all both of us could do to load it into the bed of my Colorado pickup, mainly due to its size and weight both, hard to move clusters with sharp edged crystals around.  After wrapping it up good, I returned him to his car with much appreciation, and then Missy and I returned home, where my neighbor Glenn O`Leary helped me unload it and place it into one of my flower beds…..

Huge Crystal Centerpiece

I am doing better now and definitely appreciate everyone`s prayers, thoughts, hugs, and good vibes the past couple of weeks, as I move on to the next chapter of my life.

Last week I drove up to the Kansas City area to look at and test drive some newer trucks, I had been looking at Toyota Tacoma pickups for some time, always liked the looks of them and they have always been great workhorse trucks with good mileage too. While I have enjoyed my Colorado pickup the last six years, and put many miles on it, I couldn`t afford a newer one, they cost almost as much as my house did when I purchased it several years ago and they sure aren`t going to last as long as it, and a used one wouldn`t gain me much either, so I turned to the Tacoma`s instead. I test drove one at Jefferson City on the way up, and I have to say the salesman, Terry Volkart at Riley Toyota up there, was a very nice guy to deal with and talk to…while I did not purchase the silver Tacoma from him there, I definitely would have had no problem doing so due to his honesty and great personality to deal with there. I was very impressed with the staff there and while they made me a sweet deal on their Tacoma, the one I found waiting for me at Lees Summit the next day, was just a bit better.

After spending the night in Columbia, looking at a couple of trucks there, and having a late dinner with a good friend, I drove on up to Blue Springs the next morning and visited with Carrie Siems, a good rockhunting friend and dropped off a good will package of nice crystals from some area Doe Run Mines for her son Bentley, who was sleeping in that morning, and then drove on over to Lees Summit to meet up with Ken Auch, the salesman with Dave Cross Motors, who I had been talking to by email the past few weeks regarding a red colored Tacoma pickup. While I was unable to get up there to check it out myself, I had a friend in the KC area that was able to drive over and take a look at it for me. Jim Shelton and his wife Leah Raye Green Shelton, have been great friends for many years…Leah Raye`s parents Bill and Vi Green were our next door neighbors on Vine Street in my early years of growing up in Sullivan, Bill got my Dad started on the Sullivan Volunteer Fire Department over 55 years ago and found him a job with Complete Auto back then as well, transporting Chevrolet and GMC cars and trucks to auto dealerships in the Midwest. Jim is retired from his job of inspecting and troubleshooting the huge turbines that GE built and operated all over the world…he is one of those meticulous guys that inspects and checks out every detail on a fine machine, and boy did he do just that when he drove over to check out this truck for me. Ken and the other salesmen were very impressed with Jim and his inspection methods, leaving no stone untouched or turned over. He reported back to me and I decided I was definitely going to take a hard look at it if it was still there when I arrived…it was and I was equally impressed with it after a short test drive on I-470 and thru some of the local roads of Kansas City as well…I liked the color of it too, it seemed to be a darker candy apple red in the cloudy light that day up there, but in direct sunlight, it would turn to an almost fire engine red instead. After some back and forth on their truck and mine, they finally made me a good deal that I couldn`t pass up, and I drove home in it that afternoon, arriving home in time to get the truck packed and ready to roll down to western Kentucky the next morning, to assist Tina and her staff with the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum`s Annual Gem Show and Fluorite Digs in Marion.

For the past few years, I have driven down there to free them up  to take care of other responsibilities and hosted the Eureka Mine both days for them. The first year of that required me to get up early each morning and drive to the mine to start the pump, pumping water from the pit so that rockhounds showing up after the 9 am start each day, would have easier access to dig in the pit of the mine. I would also open the gate on my way in and then open the gate to the parking area in the cow pasture across the road. While the pump was pumping water from the pit, I always made a walk around the tailing piles and edge of the pit to see if I could spot anything promising so that when the diggers arrived, I could point out the promising areas to them and then would help them throughout the day to find some beautiful crystals there.

This year, I didn`t have to rise so early as the old water filled pit was no longer being used, a group of us had been there a few weeks ago and helped them dig out a new pit area and it was not water filled for the most part. After stopping off at the museum on my way to the mine Saturday morning, and visiting with Fred, one of the board members, and Tina`s husband Brad, wishing him a Happy Birthday, and Bill Frazer, who gave me a key to the gate,  I drove on down to the Eureka Mine….Bill owns the property and is the President of the Museum Board, and is a tremendous supporter of rockhounds down there. I then opened the gate to the parking area and made my walk around the tailings piles and new pit to find the promising areas to point out to the diggers once they started arriving. I parked my newer truck under a big shade tree next to the mine pit and this is how it looks in shaded light and direct sunlight both….

01 New Truck at Eureka Mine


…and this is what the mine area looks like these days…the old pit on the left side where the trackhoe operator is cleaning out a bit on the south side when we were there in May…and the new tailing piles to the right and behind Alan and I…I was pointing out the bench of fluorite to Alan, that bench runs right up through the new pit area and is chock full of pockets of beautiful cubes of fluorite…..

30 I Point Out Poss Pocket to Alan


and here is it as it looked last Friday from the logging road that runs alongside the mine pit….

02 Pit in Its Current State


…as I walked around the tailing piles, I noticed alot of tracks left from deer visiting the area….

04 Deer Tracks in Puddle

…we rarely see the deer but always see the evidence of their presence in the area.  Here is the new pit as it looked that morning from the tailing piles side looking back to the road where my truck is parked….

05 New Pit

…and the old pit to my right as well, still filled with water although not as deep as in years past. If you look farther back, you can see where the diggers drive in and enter the cow pasture at the very back of the photo to park at….

06 Old Pit

…and here are areas in the bench of the new pit where fluorite can be seen…one of the many promising areas to start searching at for cubes….

07 Fluorite Vein With Greenockite

…this turned out to be a very promising area where a lot of pretty cubes came from this past weekend by many diggers….

08 Vein In Bench

09 Vein In Bench

…and this is an old shallow shaft that we uncovered during our machine dig, now filled with mud and was a few feet deep, providing some a nice cool respite from the heat that weekend….

10 Old Shaft


…and before you knew it, the first wave of diggers started coming down the road and arriving to start digging for fluorite…pretty soon, there were several of them digging into the tailing piles, what we consider soft rock mining and digging, and some were tackling the bench and vein in the new pit, which we refer to as hard rock mining….I would give them their choice on their arrival and point out the areas for each one and let them decide where to go start digging at…..

11 Saturday Morn Diggers


12 Saturday Morn Diggers


13 Working the Tailing Pile

…there were also some areas further up the road on the right side where we had Danny, the trackhoe operator, stir up some old tailings in the woods and some folks found some nice cubes laying on top up there during the day too. By midday on Saturday, there was a family with four little gals that showed up briming full of enthusiasm and ready to tackle anything…their parents sat down up above the new pit and watched their girls go at it, working on the tailing pile removed from the shaft area….

14 Four Little Girls Working Hard

15 Four Little Girls Supervised by Parents

…while these two guys decided to dig in and handle some hard rock mining on the bench nearby….

16 Hard Rock Miners In Pit

…the guy on the right stayed hydrated throughout the day and by the end of the day had found some very nice cubes of fluorite, he was one of the many happy diggers that went home that day with some nice material for his collection….Mary one of my fluorite friends traveled up for the annual show again and is seen below on the far side of the old pit checking out one of her favorite digging areas there, while a young family dug into the slope below her….

17 Mary and a Family on North Side of Old Pitt

…and some were simply content to dig into the softer dirt of the tailing piles above us where one can find some nice plates and chunks of cubes dug up by the excavator, you just have to be wiling to stay and dig til you find them in there….and willing to withstand the temps as they rise throughout the day, once you find a good spot to dig in though, some bring umbrellas and park themselves there for the day…

18 Surface Digger on South Side Old Pit

19 Working Top of Tailing Pile


…one of the little blonde gals decided she needed more tools, so she returned to Mom and Dad to get them, and then had to cross the muddy trough between them, despite my warnings to them and everyone else that the mud there could be quite soft and deep, she decided to cross there anyway…much to everyone`s amusement….

20 Sinking In Mud

…and after getting stuck and extricating herself from the soupy mud there, not an easy feat especially after you have been digging there awhile…she decided to do the long jump across it…

21 She is About to Jump

…and flew over it like a graceful deer too….

22 Mid Air Jump

…their Dad told us all on their arrival that this was his work crew, he was going to let them do the manual labor, but later as they became tired, the tables changed and Dad had to get down into the mud to show them what hard rock mining was all about to extricate the pretty stuff. Here they are at noon, giving Dad the bad news….

25 Noontime Diggers Saturday


There was another young Dad there, this one from the Mayfield Kentucky area and had the beginnings of a baseball team with him…four nice young lads who proceeded to walk around and check out the entire place….

23 Mayfield Guy With Four Boys


24 Big Digger


…and this Dad had no problem getting down and tackling the hard rock mining in the pit either….

26 Looking for Fluorite

…while his youngest boy discovered there was not only water in the creek next to the mine, but tadpoles as well and for a few minutes, the focus of his boys shifted from pretty crystals to tadpoles….

27 He Came Prepared

…and after a short water break at noon, everyone got back to the job at hand….

28 Taking a Break From Heat

…and by 2 pm, even more diggers had shown up to embrace the unusually high temps for so early in the season,  and dig in….some left and went to check out the other three mines offered for the weekend, and some even returned in the afternoon to the Eureka Mine, which holds the most promise for finding nice cubes…I always take a few flats of older material from my collection over the years of digging there, to give to the rockhounds who either strike out and don`t find anything at all or find just a little stuff…always like to see folks leave there happy….specially the little ones….

29 More Diggers by 1 pm Sat


…and about 2 pm, a young couple walked up to me as I was standing on the road over the pit, watching the diggers below and handing out advice when requested…and introduced themselves as Cody and Misty…I had talked to them the week before on the McRocks board website…they are a husband-wife team of geologists who moved to the Jonesboro, Arkansas area to teach geology at the local state college there, and came over to have some fun and find some cubes of fluorite as well. After pointing out the lay of the land there, they chose to get down into the pit and dig in themselves and see what they could find…

30 Cody and Wife Start Digging Saturday

…and a few min later, I got down into the pit to show a young Dad from Wisconsin, where to look for nice cubes along the bench…it was an area where most people had been walking on all day, between a promising looking pocket and the bench…once I uncovered that area, the young Dad revved back up and began looking more closely and trying to find some nice plates for his young son Zach, who was starting out at the age of eight…which is about the same age that I started rockhunting too….once we uncovered the bed of cubes, Cody and Misty came over and helped out too…

32 Vug Found Mid Sat Afternoon

…and shortly after, the young Dad pulled out a nice plates of beautiful cubes and their family packed up to return home with some nice cubes for Zach`s budding collection. Cody and Misty and Mary decided to tackle the vug that was now uncovered and full of cubes, some of them measuring about three inches square…..

35 Cubes in Bottom of Vug

…Cody became stuck in the mud and at one point lost one of his sandals even….

33 Cody Loses His Sandal in Mud

..but was able to retrieve it shortly after….lucky guy….sometimes you never find them til years later….

34 Cody Recovers His Sandal

…and then was able to more fully concentrate on the vug of cubes instead….

38 Cubes in Bottom of Vug

..and while down there in the mud and water, he decided to take my advice and feel around below the bench for more vugs and pockets…..

39 Cody Looks For Pockets

…finding none, he decided to see if he could pop out some cubes with Mary`s pry bar instead….

40 Cody Tries To Pop Out Cubes   41 And Partially Succeeds

…and was able to do so with some limited success….popping out a couple of smaller plates on the side closest to him….after that, everyone decided to pack it in and call it a day….

43 Wrapping Up Saturday

…and get cleaned up to head to the hotel and supper at the Oasis Southwest Grill and Steakhouse….here is Cody and Misty showing off one of their finds at the base of the pit wall earlier in the afternoon, shortly after they arrived and dug in….

44 Cody and Wife With Treasure

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