Summer Break 2015

Sorry folks for not updating my blog site sooner, but I have been taking a break from the heat that came on strong in July, staying inside and working on my collection, adding to it here and there, and cleaning up the quartz I collected in Arkansas the weekend of July 4th and the fluorite that we found at the Eureka Mine during our second machine dig end of June. I still have some cleaning to do on the fluorite, having completed step one with the Super Iron Out and now moving some pieces to the diluted down Muriatic Acid solution soon. I`m not even sure that Step 2 will remove the coating that is covering some of the cubes, because quite frankly, I am not even sure what the coating is made up of, but Muriatic Acid is as far into the cleaning process as I will go, so if that doesn`t clean it off, then it will just remain on the cubes. Here are some of the cubes cleaned up well by the Super Iron Out process…keep in mind, these are mostly small sized clusters, many of them smaller than palm sized and some are only the size of a golf ball….I used one of my high power halogen flashlights behind them to backlight them with…..

01 All Cleaned Up

02 All Cleaned Up

05 All Cleaned Up

06 All Cleaned Up

08 All Cleaned Up

09 All Cleaned Up

10 All Cleaned Up

11 All Cleaned Up













…and here are some of the quartz crystals I brought back from Arkansas the weekend of July 4th…some of these are available if anyone is interested and I have some small yard rocks available too. I have some local friends that like quartz for their rock gardens like I do, which is why I brought a few more back this trip…..I can send them to you by flat rate box if you are interested in some….the first four photos show the yard rocks….

01 Large Smokey Quartz Cluster

02 Clusters

03 Clusters


04 Cluster

…and these are medium sized clusters of quartz from Collier Creek Mine…I purchased them from my friends Bill and Faith who now operate a rock shop about ten miles east of Mt Ida on Hwy 280, called Blue Moon Crystals…they have the best crystal baskets around too…

05 Small Cluster

06 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

07 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

08 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

09 Small Cluster Collier Creek Mine

10 Plate

11 Plate

..and an assortment of crystals including some smokey quartz crystals from DeGray Lake area….

12 Variety of Crystals

13 Smokey Crystals

14 Smokey Crystals

15 Smokey Crystals DeGray Lake Islands


…and this palm sized cluster of smokey herkimers from Lake Greeson….

16 Smokey Cluster DeGray Lake


…and this plate and small cluster of quartz with green chloride crystals too….


17 Plate With Green Chloride Crystals


18 Close Up

Machine Dig at Eureka Mine 2015 – 02

Five days after visiting with Ian at MFQ on his way home from New York state, I was picking him up at Lambert International Airport in St Louis. I worked the night before and caught a few hours sleep Friday morning, then drove down to pick him up…his plane got in earlier than it was scheduled to, so he had to wait on me an extra 20 minutes…then we headed east and south to Marion, Kentucky, for my second machine dig this year. My buddy Pete Stoeckel, from near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, drove down to join and dig with us in search of a fluorite vein at the Eureka Mine. Our intent, as always, was to help the Clement Mineral Museum staff and board of directors, locate additional digging locations that provide opportunities for rockhounds who come to dig there each month. We had performed some preliminary digging there in May and wanted to expand upon that and see what more we could locate along a vein we uncovered back then…that had been machine dig part one and this was machine dig, part two. In May, five of us split up the cost of the trackhoe, and this time there would be four of us, one absent member who was injured a few days before but donated to our cause to make it easier on us. We stopped in Paducah for fuel at the Pilot Truck Stop and I noticed to the south of the city, in the direction we were proceeding, it looked like rain…so far we had not encountered any on our trip……

01 Fuel Stop Paducah

I called Tina as soon as we got back on I-24 and headed that way, and it`s a good thing I did, cause she told us we would need to find an alternate route in there due to a broken natural gas line in the area of Crane that had Hwy 641 completely shut down. I told her that I recalled a highway at the turn off to Patti`s Inn and Suites, where Phil and Shirley always stay at, and that highway would take us north to Hwy 60 at Salem, and we could then turn east to Marion. She confirmed that, and I told her we would see her soon. Ian wanted to study the Eureka Mine maps a bit before the dig the next morning, which is why we were headed to the museum, thinking the maps would be there. Pete called to say that he was at the hotel and was going to take a little nap, asked that we call when we arrived at the hotel and he would be ready soon after for supper at the Oasis Steakhouse next door.

Bill Frazer called us next and told us to just come to his house instead, because he had the maps at his home office. About thirty minutes later, we arrived at his beautiful house and walked out to his office. We sat down and Bill pulled out some various maps for Ian to look over and then made some copies for him to take with us and study later at the hotel. Bill then gave us a tour of his house, the living room is at the back of the house and is a huge great room, like in log homes, with a stone staircase to the kitchen on one side and a beautiful wooden staircase to bedrooms on the other side, plus there is a huge stone fireplace on one wall as well and he has large windows on the back wall of the great room too….the outside siding appeared to be cedar…very beautiful craftsmanship throughout the residence. Tina and her daughter came over and joined us shortly after and we stayed just a bit longer to visit, then headed for the hotel to join Pete for supper. Sherry called her daughter, Sarah, who is a paramedic and dispatcher as well, and she was able to give me directions around the gas line snafu that led us around it and back to Hwy 641…she also said that by morning, the highway would be re-opened to normal traffic. We only had one problem navigating the backroads she provided directions for…there were no roadsigns where there needed to be, so I called Bill, told him where we were, and he told us how to get out of there, and about twenty minutes later we arrived at the Days Inn at Kuttawa. I stay at this hotel all the time, it`s next door to a couple of gas stations and a truck stop, but also next door is the Oasis Southwest Grill and Steakhouse, home of great food and atmosphere. It`s also in a wet county, where most counties north, east, and south of there are dry counties, and they have a variety of beers and wines inside if you are into that type of thing. Pete and Ian are beer connisseurs and so it was a perfect fit for them. We have all ate there before and really enjoy it.

I tried to call Pete as soon as we got there, but he didn`t answer and I found out why a few minutes later as I walked up to my room….he was outside his room without his phone. He and I caught up on things while waiting for Ian to freshen up and then we all headed to the Oasis for some good food and fellowship…they had a live band singing outside, but it was a bit warm for us, so we sat inside to cool off a bit. An hour later, after some good pork chops for me, seafood for Ian,  and bbq brisket for Pete, and catching up on everything plus plans for the next day, we retired to our rooms for a good nights rest. Pete had the longest drive down, about fifteen hours, so I`m sure he was very tired and wanted to hit the hay fast…we planned to get up and go to breakfast in Fredonia the next morning at 6 am. After checking my email, I too hit the hay soon after the news and slept solid as a rock. We stopped off at Brenda`s for breakfast, a place Jeff Deere had recommended to us for great biscuits and gravy…and he was true to his word…it was a great place to eat…however, that was their last day open there, it was for sale and the owners were retiring for health reasons.

We headed on over to the mine, catching up to the trackhoe on its way over there as well, in Marion on bypass route…the truck escorting it and the truck carrying it pulled off into a big open field at the top of the hill and we continued on down to the mine, parking, getting our boots on, tools ready and I took some photos as well….here is Ian and Pete down in the new pit area looking things over…

02 Ian & Pete Check Out New Pit

04 Checking Out Old Shaft

05 Checking Out Bench

06 Pit Floor

…and while down there looking around, we heard the trackhoe fire up and start down the hill, so I told them I would go open the gate for him, as he had to cross the creek below the bridge we drive across, due to the weight of the machine. It took him awhile to get down there to the bottom of the hill cause he had to stop and open three wire gaps and close them behind him…finally I saw him coming thru the trees….

12 Trackhoe Crosses Creek

13 Trackhoe Crosses Pasture

14 Trackhoe Approaches Gate

…and then he pulled up behind our vehicles and stopped to talk and visit with us…I told Danny this time he would be directed by Ian as well as myself when Ian was busy, and soon enough Ian had him digging in the new pit, expanding it a little wider for us to get a better idea of the depth of fluorite….

16 Danny Begins Digging Out New Pit


…and within moments he was hitting bedrock and pulling some pretty good sized boulders out of the muck, as Ian keeps an eye out for signs of fluorite…..

17 Ian Monitors Trackhoe Progress

18 Hits Rock Right Away

19 Removing Big Boulders

20 Removing Big Boulders


…and soon Ian sees something and stops the work so he can jump in and check things out as Pete stands by….

21 Ian Checks For Fluorite


22 Ian Finds Pockets

…Ian saw some signs of fluorite there and had the operator continue to dig out the muck….and pretty soon he was down to bedrock and even more big boulders…

24 Digging Deeper


25 Hitting Base Rock Again

…and after raking the top layer a bit with the teeth, we found some nice plates of fluorite underneath and in the mix….

27 Some Nice Plates Here

…and after pulling out some nice cubes from this mix, Ian checked the hole to the side and found a few nice vugs of even more cubes, so we spent a few more minutes cleaning them out while the operator moved some tailings around to fill in the old pit and create some room to maneuver the big machine….

28 Pockets and Vugs


…and here are a few of those plates of cubes covered in mud that we recovered from the pockets and vugs in the photos above…we put them on the tailgate of my truck and put the better stuff we found later on, on some sheets of plywood that were there laying around….I apologize for not using flash in the deep shade for better photos….

30 Nothing To Write Home About Yet

29 Initial Finds So Far

31 So Far

It took all three of us digging thru the muck about thirty minutes to pull out some more plates and cubes before we could get the operator to start digging once again…this time it appeared that he had tied into some better looking material, maybe more of the vein as well from what we were seeing this time….it def looked more promising….

32 Pulled a Few Plates From Here

33 Vein Located Again

34 Vug Located

…the next thing you know, he dug up a pretty good sized boulder and set it up on top near the road…indicating that we should take a look at it, so look we did, and we liked what we saw….a nice vug of big deep purple cubes….Ian and I soon left it with Pete to cob down….something Pete is good at doing….

35 Boulder With Vugs of Big Cubes

36 Boulder With Vug Big Cubes

37 Pete Goes to Work On Big Boulder


Ian had the trackhoe operator continue to dig out the new pit on the old pit side, just to see how far that bench went back toward the old saddle and see if there were anymore veins of fluorite running through it as well….

38 Continuing to Dig Out New Pit

…..that saddle running across the old pit from where the pump sat above it  to the road side, had produced soooooo many pockets and vugs that again produced soooo many plates of beautiful plates of deep purple cubes and several folks had worked it and know exactly what I am talking about here…Pete himself had worked that saddle and brought out many plates, some after injuring his hand to the point of fracturing a bone in his hand and continuing to pound those plates out the next day…its no wonder we refer to him as Superman these days.

On another note, the cubes that we pulled from the last pockets, were now placed on the sheets of plywood, they appeared to have some nice cubes in them, and we later found out, some of them were sleepers too…we separated the really super nice pieces we occasionally pulled from the muck and placed them on another sheet of plywood all to themselves….

39 Goodies Continue to Collect

40 Sleepers in Mud


41 Nicer Ones Pulled Out

42 Nicer One Pulled Out

43 Nicer One Pulled Out


A few minutes later, while Pete was still working on the boulder up above us, the trackhoe operator pulled out a huge and long boulder from the depths of the new digging area…Ian clambered over it and asked him to turn it over cause it appeared to have some cubes on the back side…and sure enough it did…not only cubes but very large cubes and a few long vugs and pockets of more cubes too….we called out to Pete and he came down to take a look too….

44 Pockets Lace Underside of New Boulder

45 Pockets Lace Underside of New Boulder

..and then a few minutes later, Ian dug down at the base of the huge boulder and pulled out a few small plates of big cubes….they were partially covered in some mucky looking stuff, but you could still see some nice cubes there too….we were excited cause the cubes we were seeing were definitely getting bigger…..

46 Nice Plates Under New Boulder

….so he continued to dig down near the base of the boulder and pull out even more, plus the cubes in the vugs were looking pretty nice too….

47 More Plates Found

48 Large Cubes Line Vug


49 Large Cubes Line Vug

…and with all the finds from this one huge boulder, Ian took a few last looks around the base of the boulder just for peace of mind…..

50 Ian Searches for More Plates

51 Another Vug

52 Another Vug


Due to the number of vugs on and around the huge boulder, Pete and Ian both worked on liberating more cubes from them together….while the trackhoe operator moved the tailings around to create more room to maneuver once again….

53 Continuing to Work New Boulder

54 Working Out the Vugs

…they said, James you gotta come see this, it`s loaded with fluorite….I walk over and sure enough it is, but now I have two guys facing the rock and covering it up partially…still working it over….I`m thinking how do I try to shoot this thing with them blocking me out…oh well I`ll just shoot it and if anyone says anything, well I will just cross that bridge when I get to it….lol….

55 Backside Loaded With Fluorite

..then they said to me, holie cow, you have to come over here and take alook inside this one vug, the cubes in there are humongous…..

56 Teamwork

…and believe me, even though I didn`t get a photo of them, there were indeed some very large cubes up inside that vug…guessing four to five inches square, maybe six….two or three of them anyway….deep enough purple that one would think they were black even….Ian and Pete continued to work the bench and vein while the trackhoe operator continued to move things around up above….

57 Working The Bench

58 Working The Bench

…and it was about then, that I noticed Bill Frazer coming up the road, he was brush hogging on his tractor and doing a mighty good job of it I might add….I asked Bill if it was okay to have the trackhoe operator push the tailing piles into the old pit to fill it back up and he was very fine with that…

59 Bill Brush Hogs Roadways


….so while Ian and Pete were working on the bench some more, I had him do just that up by the road, he also took out the small tree that was half dead and laid it down into the old pit then covered it up with the tailing piles ….

60 Trackhoe Takes Out Smaller Tree to Pit

63 Moving Old Piles into Old Pit

64 Filling In Old Pit

65 Filling In Old Pit

…then I walked him up the road a bit to do some more digging on the other side of the road in an attempt to try and locate the fault line…however after three deep digs down, we were unable to find anything other than spotty sandstone and gave up. After a short break, Ian decided to have him dig the pit a little longer instead….

66 Digging Out New Pit More

68 Digging Out New Pit More

…and during the course of this particular section of the dig, he located several glass bottles which appeared to be quite old…

71 Old Bottles Found

…the last thing we had the trackhoe operator do while there, was fill in the old pit with the tailing piles left over….he did a pretty good job of it….keep in mind, you can still dig over there, it will be tailings you will be digging down into and they may have some good material in them still…..

73 Filling In Old Pit

and during the time he was filling in the last water holes in the pit, this big shiny green frog took off for wetter pastures as did this huge turtle…they both successfully moved over to the creek very fast….

76 Green Frog Escapes

79 Turtle Escapes Old Pit

..and soon he had the old pit looking pretty level….

81 New Pit Eureka Mine

…before he left tho, the roadside end of the new pit suffered a partial collapse, so we had him fill that end in to strengthen and stablize the walls. while digging it out earlier, he had severely undercut the base of the roadside wall, which led to the weakening of that wall about 30 minutes later, when it fell inward. Be very careful if you are digging down on that end of the new pit. 

Here are a few vugs that we found along the way in some of the boulders there….

82 Nicer Chunk

83 Corner Vug Boulder Going Home With Pete

…and there is a lot of material to be found in the HUGE tailing pile on the south side of the new pit now…I say HUGE because it is quite tall and long both…email me at and I can tell you where to look in that pile for some nice material. We left quite a bit in the piles for everyone to find. If you are a hard rock miner, concentrate on the bench at the bottom of the new pit, and that is where you will find the nicer plates and pockets. Happy Hunting !!

MFQ in June 2015 With Ian

Two weekends in a row, I was down at MFQ…once on my own in my new truck and the second time with my buddy Ian and my new buddy Onyx. The first trip down there, I had received a call from my buddy Jim that some blasting had taken place a day or two before, turned out to be the coved wall again but taking out more of the center wall too….

01 New Blast Pile Middle of Quarry

02 Mid Cove

03 West Cove

….so I was able to find some nice pockets along the wall, including some filled with green poker chips, and some filled with nestle chocolate brown dogtooths and black dogtooths, so I re-positioned my truck closer to those pockets in case I started filling bag after bag with some pretty crystals….

06 Truck in Front of Blast Area

08 Truck in Front of Blast Area

05 Worked These Pockets Initially

….in fact, I was up along the wall and working on cleaning out the third pocket when my buddy Ian called me from Denver, to see what I was up to…and I told him what I was up to…he reminded me that he was going to be stopping off a week later to rockhunt with me on his way back home from New York state…I promised him that I would leave him some material there. A few minutes later tho, I had located a pocket up higher on the wall than I could reach… of the photo below….it was about ten feet up from the pile….

16 High Pockets

… I returned to my truck and got my extendable handle rake, then returned to the wall, climbed up on four rocks I stacked up…had forgotten to bring my ladder that day with me…and then reached up to the pocket with my rake and gently moved it around, pulling down a few small black colored poker chip crystals, as well as raining down a few small pebbles on me too…

20 High Up Blk Poker Chip Pkt

….luckily my hard hat deflected many of those from me..and soon I was bumping up against something more substantial in the pocket with the rake…I pulled it to the edge ot the pocket so I could look at it, and liking what I saw, very carefully snagged it in the jaws of the rake turned upside down, and lowered to my waiting gloved hands…

21 Blk Dogtooth Cluster Spray


….the photos of the pocket above were taken after the fact…i was unable to see what was above me nor in the pocket itself, had to feel around with the rake and hope for the best…luckily I was able to pull out the best without any harm coming to it or me…

22 Blk Dogtooth Cluster Spray

23 Blk Dogtooth Cluster Spray


…I also found what looked like a few bat caves along the wall near the base of the pile…but Ian later determined they were prob bird nests inside them cause he was pulling out straw and bits of debris and twigs from them….

10 Bat Caves


…later in the afternoon, storm clouds started rolling in, so I decided to pack my bags and vamoose back toward home….

24 Storm Clouds Roll In Late AM doubt that it had been a pretty nice day for collecting there and I was happy with what I found….

26 Upper Bench

…the following week, Ian met me at MFQ and we decided to tackle that one pocket again…my buddy Jim brought us a nice ladder and we were able to climb right up to the pocket…since I had pulled the nice cluster out the week before, I let Ian cleanout the pocket and take home whatever he wanted to….

03 Dogtooth Laying Across Entrance

…while he was chipping out some black dogtooth crystals from the pocket, I looked down below and saw my new buddy dog Onyx, strolling around the base of the pile…he never did stray too far, which was fine with me…since this was his first official rockhunting trip….

06 Onyx Hanging Loose

…and while Ian was chipping out a few for himself, I discovered some nice ones in the pile itself…like this big one that I dug out right below Ian a few feet….

07 Big Crystals Buried in Pile

08 Big Crystals Buried in Pile

09 Free From the Muck

..and while it didn`t go home with me, there were a lot of little ones underneath and around it in the loose dirt that did go home with me. After working on the black dogtooth pocket, Ian made his way down to the bat caves next and worked on them for awhile…

11 Ian Digging Out a Pocket

13 Searching for Goodies

…I headed home about noon, stopping off to see my miner friend Dave and Ian headed home to Denver from there at the same time…getting into Denver around midnight. 



New Addition to my Rock Garden

One of the last trips Missy made with me was down to St Louis County to pick up a huge Dogtooth Calcite Crystal Cluster with Chalcopyrite and Galena Lead attached to it, that a guy was selling…he was downsizing from a house to an apartment and could not take it with him…he had purchased it from a friend of mine at the Park Hills Show a few years ago and had it in his front flower garden. He had told me it was quite heavy and recommended that I bring someone with me to help lift it into my truck, so I contacted my nephew Zack and he said he would be glad to help me with it. I picked up Zack at Eureka and drove on over to Dennis` residence in Fenton to pick it up. I backed up my truck into his driveway as close as I could get, which left about twenty feet for Zack and I to carry it…luckily that was as far as we had to go with it, cause Dennis was right, it was pretty darn heavy with all that galena lead attached to it, and we had to handle it carefully due to all the crystals on the front face of it…it measures about 18 to 20 inches high and about 15 inches wide, at least ten inches thick, if not more. Luckily Zack had his wheaties that morning and was able to help me lift it just fine. My neighbor Glenn helped me unload it when I returned home with it, and I was able to get the truck quite close to the spot I intended to set it down at…here it is in that spot on display….

Huge Crystal Centerpiece

Huge Crystal Centerpiece 2

Huge Crystal Centerpiece 4

Chalcopyrite & Galena On Backside

Fletcher Mine Additions to My Collection

I picked up some beautiful calcites and chalcopyrite to add to my collection back in May from my friend Dave….

01 Yellow Calcites With Chalcopyrite

02 Yellow Calcites With Chalcopyrite

08 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite



12 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite

14 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite

15 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite

17 Dbl Terminated XLS


20 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite

22 Calcite XLS in Dolomite & Chalcopyrite


…then a few weeks later, he let me know that he had some stuff in that was even prettier, double terminated calcite crystals many of them three to four inches in length, and surrounded by, even embedded in clusters of gorgeous pyrite !!  I had to go take a look and to say I was astounded would be an understatement….

38 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite

05 Dbl Terminated Calcite & Marcasite

06 Dbl Terminated Calcite & Marcasite

40 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite

41 Dogtooth Calcites In Marcasite & Chalcopyrite

…so here is what my collection from the Doe Run Mines looks like now…well should say this is one countertop out of five now….

01 Calcites With Marcasite

…then there is this shelf as well…..

06 From Pocket 31

…as this one….

12 Pyrite & Chalco Calcite Pieces

..and then I changed the first one around a little….

14 Pyrite & Chalco Calcite Pieces

…hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I do…I picked up another batch of them from him on Friday, do not have them photographed just yet, not even unwrapped yet…but I will get there eventually. 🙂