Batesville Quarry

I decided to drive down and check out the quarry at Batesville with the Memphis Club MAGS on March 16th…my good friends Matthew & Carolyn Lybanon in the club, had told me about this quarry last year when they first went there and sent me photos of it as well, said there were pockets of fluorite cubes sometimes found there as well as some huge calcite dogtooth crystals…more calcites than fluorites naturally, but still nice stuff. My buddy David Hodge, the Field Trip Director for CAGMAGS, which is a sister club to MAGS and based in central Arkansas near Little Rock, had some nice samples of Phantom Calcites and Dogtooth Calcites found at this quarry, when he came to dig with my group at Tony and Shane`s new Jessieville Mine in November. David set up a dig there for my his club on March 30th, two weeks later, and invited my group to join up with his club there that day. I looked up the location on the map and decided I would simply get up early in the morning and hit the road by 4:30 and arrive four hours later. Onyx and I were on the road by 4:15 am Saturday morning, March 16th, and drove down Hwy 63 out of Rolla, then took Hwy 289, from Mammoth Springs that saved us about 20 minutes as it dropped straight south from there and skirted around a short mountain range that took us down the valleys instead. We passed by a little fishing resort called Southfork Resort on the South Fork of the Spring River that looked really nice and pretty, then came out on Hwy 412 just west of Ash Flat, where we continued south on Hwy 167 to Batesville, arriving about 8:15 am. We were the first to arrive so I parked up by the office, entered and talked to a nice employee there about what they find there…he showed me six beach ball sized massive calcites they had pulled out of the pocket they were going to take us to dig at. I met the owner of the quarry a few minutes later, and gave him a poker chip calcite crystal to show him the difference in calcite forms, four hours distance apart. He and his employee were impressed with the poker chips…so I told them I would bring them some more when I returned in two weeks for the other group dig there. Kim Hill, the Field Trip Director for MAGS, and the rest of the MAGS crew showed up in the next 30 minutes….

….and then Bill Pryor, the Arkansas State Geologist, who was to be our Guide for the Dig, showed up as well.  Bill and the owner gave us a short history talk on the quarry and then we drove up to the leading edge of the quarry pit, which presents one with a commanding view of the pit and walls….

…that area in the very bottom center, where the two pieces of yellow colored machinery were sitting, is where we would be for the next three or four hours….the next photo shows the left side of the quarry where the road begins the descent into the quarry pit, several stories below…

…and this next photo shows another view of the pit below….from a different angle…

We gathered up on the other side of the parking area of the scenic view, for a safety talk…

…and I snapped a photo of Kim resting on the hood of her truck….

…she is a good gal, heavily involved in pet rescue in the Memphis area big time, too. 🙂  Bill and the Owner told us that if we struck out digging calcites, down below, his employees had brought up a truckload of calcites from that pocket and spread them out at our feet and we were welcome to return there afterward and take what we liked, home with us. Plus he had them put some up near the crusher on top of some huge boulders as well. Nice guy. 🙂

We got back into our vehicles and descended into the quarry pit, following the Owner with Bill bringing up the rear in case anyone got lost on the way down….

…if you look closely above the second vehicle you can see a waterfall that started flowing out of the rock above and was flowing pretty heavily while we were there….once we reached the bottom and parked, Bill pointed out the tan colored dirt where the calcite pocket was embedded, so we all walked over there and began picking up crystals almost immediately, that were laying all over the place…before finding a place to dig into the hillside to locate pockets of them….

…that`s Mike Baldwin, the Website Editor for MAGS, pulling his wagon over to the pocket to pull his finds back to his vehicle later….

…look at the top of the photo above and you will see Kim Hill in the brown shirt and hot pink helmet leaning over to the right, working the pocket that I found and allowed her to take over a couple of hours after we arrived and started digging up there. Anne Pinkerton is next to her, then my buddy David Hodge and then Charles Hill, Past President of MAGS, is on the other side of David…

….we did very well up there at the top as there was an extensive sized pocket up there just full of them, waiting to be pulled from their spots in the ooey gooey clay mud. 🙂  We dug up there for at least 3 hours, maybe 3 and a half hours, then Bill decided we should go back up near the top levels and see if we could find any fluorites or trilobite fossils…believe me when I say, many of us did not want to be uprooted from that prime collecting area, but I am equally sure that there were some that did want to go up there and see what could be found up there, too. Here below you see Kim making her way carefully down the boulder field below the pocket, and I mean, you definitely had to be careful with each step of your feet, everything up there was covered in that clay mud so things were a little slick…the quarry personnel had graciously drained the water pond that we had to cross to get to the pocket, but everyone had to exercise caution on every step across there…Mike was nice enough to have his wagon handy and available for anyone to use as well…Charles Hill had some nice big crystal finds and gladly took advantage of Mike`s offer of assistance….

…while David went back to assist Kim with getting her bucket of crystals down that hill safely. Bill was stationed over on the road, trying to get us to move a little quicker out of there with our finds, like a traffic cop….

David was in front of me as we drove up the hill past that waterfall again, so I snapped another photo of it with sunlight on it this time….

Only a few people found any fluorite cubes up above, one in a huge boulder that he tried to cob down to a reasonable size, never did find out if he was able to do that tho…and a young lady walking along the level road up there, found a nice chunk of matrix with a beautiful spray of small purple cubes all over one end of it…right next to Bill Pryor`s suv, too !!  🙂

I`m still cleaning my finds from this trip and the one two weeks later at the end of March, but here are the photos of the calcites David brought to Arkansas to show us what could be found there, and as soon as I get more of mine cleaned up, I will post them here and the next story too…..

Semi Retirement Mid Nov 2018 to April 2019

Well if what I have heard about retirement from all my friends and family older than me is true, and I suspect it is, then I am sure I am going to enjoy it…I found out I do like semi retirement quite a bit, especially the part about sleeping in as late as I want to, and going to bed as late as I want to. 🙂

I heard from one of my bosses soon after returning from my fall trip to Arkansas in November of 2018, that while down in southern Arkansas collecting quartz crystals, they had received two small snowstorms and that ended my seasonal employment, which launched me into my semi retirement a little earlier than expected, mainly because our winter season was about to become a bit rougher than the previous five winters had been. I was ready to start my semi retirement phase…even though we usually get up early to go rockhunting, I was really getting tired of rising way before the crack of dawn for my daily workout. Yes we rockhounds get up early, but rarely do we get up as early as I had been getting up to go to work.

I kept myself fairly busy, got the two and a half acres of leaves raked at Mom`s well after we returned from Arkansas, last few days of November, mainly due to the wet and cold fall season we had, think it was two weeks after raking and leaf blowing before we could burn them, had to wait for it to dry out and then wait for a low wind day to do so….


Normally we rent a blower from a buddy of mine here in town, a Stihl blower, but found out he stopped renting them out when Stihl failed to keep their word and allow him to remain the sole rental on them in my area…I don`t blame them, they gave him their word, they should have kept their word. Matter of Principle…I believe strongly in that…Stihl blowers are the best product out there…but if you cannot keep your word, you have nothing…your word is your bond, matter of trust. I went shopping at Lowes and found they had a Poulan leaf blower on sale, at an unheard of price, so we bought one of those…runs great, starts great, only drawback I found, is that when you shut it off to refill it with fuel, you then have to allow it to cool down, at least 20 minutes before you can start it again…guess they want you to rest up as well.

During December I cleaned house and basement, put some shelves up in the basement to get things up off the floor, never know when you live in a low area, with two sump pumps running, when something might stop working or something back up and then you have things damaged. That happened about five to seven yrs ago, stormwater sewer backed up into my basement, got about ten inches deep down there, burned the sump pump up completely, was able to borrow a trash pump from my roofer and then replace the sump once the water was removed. I capped off that drain to the stormwater sewer and got one of those trash pumps for that corner, one that kicks on when the water gets up so high on it, hose attached to it takes that water over to the sump pump well in the basement and the sump pump ejects it from the basement. I wanted to avoid that again and organize the basement better, took me the better part of two weeks to do that….

…..I also joined the Rehab Gym here in town and kept walking a few miles a day, which helps my KETO do it`s job a bit better, kept my weight down to 160…over Christmas tho, I put a few pounds back on with all the goodies out there, but by February, I had that back under control again too. 🙂 

My friend Tim Weiskopf, who has his own Body Shop, was busy thru December, so I waited til the middle of January to take my truck over to him, to have the damage to the passenger side of the cab repaired…

…he and his sons and crew did a great job with it, looked brand new when he finished with it…and during the process of it, I found out that his son Dillon, also likes to collect rocks and minerals, so I took him a nice flat of various crystals and minerals from my collection, and since then have taken him rockhunting as well. I also had the chance to drive a nice Ford four door pickup during the week that Tim had my Tacoma in his shop…

…it had a lot of bells and whistles on it, picked it up the morning I dropped off my Tacoma to Tim at his shop, and could not find a manual on it, and the Enterprise guy didn`t have time to explain anything, so I drove it to a good friend who drives Ford pickups…Jack Cuneio, and asked if he could show me the basics on it…he came out and walked me right through it all…thanks again, Jack !!  About the only thing it didn`t have was four wheel drive, and luckily for me, Tim finished my Tacoma just in time for the first snowfall of 2019….

…and as you can see, it looks like it just rolled off the lot of a dealership…thanks again Tim, you guys did a great job with it !!   I finished out January by adding an area in one corner of my basement where I can clean rocks during cold weather or bad weather….

…yes as you can see, I have collected and cleaned up a lot of druse quartz…if you know someone that wants some, let me know…I took several buckets of grab bag material to MAGS, the Memphis Club, back in March, for their show later this month, and still have a few buckets of that if someone is in need of grab bag material. Also had a few dealers visit me over the winter to get some nice druse plates to sell in their locations as well. During February, I was kept busy shooting emergency calls for the local paper…we wound up with a lot of snow this winter and some ice as well, one ice storm causing all night calls for our local responders and snarling I-44 in several spots with overturned semi`s, five of them on the east side of our East Overpass…

…very few injuries, but could have been a real humdinger for sure…maybe the next time the authorities ask people to stay off the roads, there will be a few more truckdrivers comply with that request. We had a commonsense rule when I was driving fire trucks…you won`t do anyone any good, if you cannot get the truck to the scene safely…meaning slow down or stay off the road completely…won`t do anyone any good if you have a wreck or get injured or killed. Duh….

Few nights later was a house fire at the neighboring town…five fire departments trying to save something for the residents with water problems getting in the way…huge house up on a hill and firefighters had problems pumping water up that hill to the hoselines manned by other firefighters…during another snowstorm mixed with sleet no less….

…I can safely tell ya, firefighters do not like to sit or stand around and watch someone`s property or house, burn down….it is the most helpless feeling one will ever have and it just demoralizes us when it happens…luckily soon after I took these initial photos of this house fully involved, they were able to get water up the hill and into the hoselines so firefighters could do the job they were called there to do….

…and then four days later, I woke to the sound of chatter on the scanner early in the morning about a fire at our local truck stop, so I got up, dressed, grabbed the camera, and Onyx went with me to the fire…turned out to be two tractor trailers parked side by side on the back row of the truck stop and well involved in heavy fire…smoke from it could be seen for miles….

the one above was taken by a truck driver parked a few feet away and facing the fire, shot it through his windshield….the others I shot…this fire had many on edge in town fearing hazardous materials were involved, they heard explosions before I arrived…those were the semi tires blowing up….both trucks were carrying food products only….

I got to watch a young department come together with a lot of teamwork at this fire, lots of young firefighters on this department once again, they did a great job and were there all morning long, trying to gain access to the trailer transporting Mac N Cheese Edibles, hence the heavy fire seen before…

Then one day in mid March, I drove out to photograph a car on fire and wound up helping the lone firefighter who responded to the call with the fire truck…the paid crew went to a reported vehicle accident involving a semi and while listening to the second call, I thought he had a crew on board the truck, but on my arrival to photograph the fire, found he was alone, so I offered to run the pump on the truck while he fought the fire…something I had done for 36 of my nearly 40 years on the local fire department….

He had a few minutes of excitement when he trained the hose stream down into the cab of the car through the front windshield and the water stream hit the steering column, obviously made of magnesium which reacts with water and looks like roman candles going off around you….

…then he discovered by accident that the gas tank was obviously leaking gasoline, as the flames kept jumping from side to side underneath the car…refusing to go out…you can always tell flames that are fuel fed, they are extra unique looking….

The paid crews arrived about 25 minutes later as Jimmy was beginning to get more control over the fuel fed fire….I am sure he was glad to see them too…

After posting the story on my FB page, one of my female friends who is a reporter with St Louis Channel 4 News,, spotted it and called me to see if they could use my video for a short story and I gave them permission to do so…she put together a very nice story on it….thanks again Paige !!

By this time in March, our weather was beginning to lighten up and warm up, and I was looking forward to doing some rockhunting in the weeks ahead…:)