Cleaning and Cutting in August

I took some time off in August to get caught up on some cleaning ahead of the Labor Day trip, so I could take some beautiful calcite clusters out there with me. I also rented a tabletop wet tile saw from a friend of mine, who has an equipment rental business, rented it for the entire weekend for less than a hundred bucks. Came in the form of a mitre saw…think it works better on lumber…despite my best attempts to lock it down into place, it kept raising up on me…

Something else these saws need, is a guide and vise, one that securely holds what you are cutting and doesnt vary from the course, which is, or should be, straight ahead….something to work on in the future.

I thought I did pretty good for a first timer with a wet tile saw…

after cutting this one open, I thought I had a colorful egg half, but the yellow came off with paint thinner, turns out it was off the side of the diamond blade. 🙂

have great color and pattern on these two halves, but couldnt finish the cut all the way thru, prob gonna be a bear to fix these, too.

Many, many moons ago, as a youngster, I had a six inch Lortone Rock Saw, my parents bought it for me for Christmas one year, had it for a few years…enjoyed it, but I dont think anyone realized how noisy those things could get…it was in our utility room off the garage, right next to my Dad`s home office. 🙂  I was limited after that as to when I could use it and for how long. 🙂

The last weekend of August I was able to clean up some beautiful poker chips encased in the gorgeous red calcite druse from a few pockets I found back in mid January at MFQ, and put them in flats to take to Kentucky with me….

…that was almost as much fun as it was finding them. 🙂


How I Spent My Birthday Weekend July 2022

For my birthday this summer, I took the day off and had lunch at Missouri Hick BBQ and then prepared for a visit from my friend Don Lapham. Don spent a few days before down in Springfield, Missouri and emailed me a few months before, asking if I could take him rockhounding to Haunted Ridge and another location while he was down here. I said sure, no problem buddy…I did let Don know, that normally we are baking by that time of the year tho, so be prepared for some Missouri wet heat. 🙂

Don came prepared for the wet heat, had a beach umbrella or two with him and brought his Sheik wear too. 🙂  Due to the heat, I had asked Greg Coleman if it would be okay if we arrived around 6 am and he told me that would be fine. It had been some time before I had been to Haunted Ridge, so I was pleasantly surprised to see Greg had made good on his thoughts to build a new entrance off Roderick Road……

…and he had lined it with a lot of big boy plates and landscape boulders of druse, some rootbeers included, and these are available for purchase…and I would bet Greg and the guys will assist in loading them for you….

you pass by these beauties and then stay to the right of the lake on down to the new parking lot….

…big open parking lot, with a lot of parking space, and the pay shack in the middle on the far side…

There is still no entrance fee, you get your liability waiver forms here, sign them, hand them back to Judy or one of the other employees, and then one of the guys loads you, your buckets and tools, into the four wheeler, and takes you off to your choice of locations. When you return, you can either pay your driver or pay here at the shack for your buckets you filled with beautiful druse.

It was much cooler in the day then, and after a brief visit with Greg and the crew, he loaded us up into his new side by side and took us over to the new Rootbeer Pits, so we could dig up a few buckets of rootbeer plates.

Greg showed us a couple of spots in the pits where he had seen some rootbeer plates pulled out and we began digging soon after…

It didnt take long for the heat to catch up to us, despite being in the shaded areas of the forest, so we drank our water bottles and kept on digging, and soon had our buckets filled with rootbeer.

this is how they look when you pull them out of the clay dirt…they do take a good powerwashing and then most will treat them with Dawn Powerwash soap and water…most are afraid to use Iron Out on the rootbeer colored plates, for fear it will remove the rootbeer color.

As soon as we had our buckets filled, and were ready to go and escape the heat, I texted Greg to let him know and we were picked up soon after and taken to our vehicles…

Don was staying in the Potosi area, so I told him where to meet me Sunday morning and I would take him to the SS Quarry from there.

Don was waiting for me bright and early the next morning and I led him to the SSQ…luckily we had a couple of hours before the sun heated things up to the unbearable stage…Don broke out his umbrellas for this one since there was very little shade except next to the walls and where we were digging at, there was no shade at all…


Don was telling me about collecting blue halites in New Mexico….he tells a good story, let me tell ya. 🙂

I was able to find him a good deep pocket to work after a little while there, and he was able to liberate some WHOPPER size Poker Chips for his trip home…

BE Clement Mineral Museum Annual Show June 2022

I took the weekend of June 4th off so I could drive down to the B.E. Clement Mineral Museum and visit my friends in Marion, Kentucky and see the show this summer. I used to see my Marion friends a few times a year, back when my group and I were going down to dig out the Eureka Fluorite Mine to help the Board of Directors provide a good digging location each year to the hundreds of rockhounds who visited each month during the public dig season. We truly miss those opportunities these days, as do hundreds of rockhounds who are no longer allowed to go dig there any longer. It is especially saddening, after all the time consuming leg work that Bill Frazer put into getting the mess straightened out, that brought those public and private digs to a screeching halt a few years ago. Bill put his heart and soul into making things right for everyone, exhausting himself doing so, only to then find out that the Board members were split on their decision to re-open it to patient rockhounds who desperately wanted to return to dig there some more. Disheartening to say the least.

I wasn`t able to see Bill or Sherry while there…I had been told by a Board member there, that neither one was at the show and she had no idea where they were even at. I didn`t find out til after I returned home, that Sherry had been at the show and Bill was at home. Needless to say, I wasn`t happy that I had been lied to about that matter, either, as Bill and Sherry are dear friends of mine.

I did get to visit with Gary and Walter Griffith, while I was there…as usual, they were sitting just inside the entryway at a couple of tables covered with fluorites. I had talked to Gary by phone a few weeks before and he told me that they were completely sold out of fluorites, yet here they had some on the table in front of them. When I mentioned that, he grinned and said they had managed to put some back with the show in mind and were able to provide another dump truck load of fluorite chips for the children to dig for outside the Museum. Good people, very resourceful, and great friends.

Walter`s wife came in shortly after I arrived, with their lunch and the grandkids, so I left them to have lunch and went to visit with other dealer friends there, like Jay Tripp from the Bowling Green area of Kentucky, who sells Elmwood Mine material as well as Fluorites from Worldwide sources, and Steve Manley from the Belleville area of Illinois, who collects and sells a variety of crystals and minerals from all over the world….their booths were next to each other so it was easy to visit with them…

the 2 flats at the top are some of Jay`s fluorites and the flat below is Spirit Amethyst from South Africa.

While standing there talking to them, Ed Clement came around the corner and stopped next to me, he was being driven by his daughter, as Ed was recuperating from surgery and unable to walk at the time…I told him it was good seeing him although I would have rather seen him in better health. We visited for a few minutes and then she whisked him off to visit with more folks there. I stayed a few hours and then headed back home. I have been going to the Clement Mineral Museum Shows since 2010.


Unique Bladed Barite Piece

I didn`t go rockhounding the summer of 2022 very much, hardly at all, as I was working nearly every weekend at the golf course as we were shorthanded like every other business was.

One day in May, I was up at City Hall making my monthly utilities payment, and stopped in to see my rockhound friend Jan, who is the Secretary to the City Council. She had a huge bladed barite piece sitting on her desk, among the many rocks and crystals I had given her over the years. I had never seen one this color, it was dark grey to black, has a glassy calcite coating on it, with chalcopyrite bobbles and DT calcites on it. She said a local farmer, who worked at Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine many years ago, had dropped by and gifted her with it. He died a few months later. I was able to identify it by its shape, but like I told her, I had no clue that bladed barite could even be found out there…even though the mine is located well within Washington County…a few miles south of there is the Pea Ridge State Forest and druse quartz is very rarely found out there, except in small sizes and sugary frosting.

Pretty neat piece for sure !!

Geode Fest 2021

Well I thought I had posted this story late last year, but cannot seem to locate it now, so will re-post as much of it as I can remember, meaning the highlights. 🙂

I recall getting up there early last year to visit with vendor friends, namely my buddy John Oostenryk, good friends Charity and Jamey Moog, Dennis Kossow, Kirk the Geode Fest Director, and since 2021 was the first year for Greg Coleman and Johnboy from Haunted Ridge Druse Farm, I wandered over to find them setting up their booth soon after I arrived. They were going to be selling druse quartz from Greg`s farm each day, so naturally I visited with them each day they were there and provided them with insight from my many past experiences during several years of Geode Fest. 

…and across the way from their booth were several tables covered with Viburnum Trend Minerals…albeit expensive ones…and I was especially intrigued with two huge clusters of calcites from the Fletcher Mine that were on display…I dont believe either one sold while there, but they were sure beautiful….here is one….

I was told a day later, that the price tag on it was $ 2500…that prob explains why it didn`t sell while there. I also recall the price didn`t get lowered on the last day, either. Here is another photo of the booths at Geode Fest 2021….

Pete Hahn came up on Saturday, to help Johnboy and Greg work their booth, and went out hunting with me on Sunday morning. The first couple of days I went hunting with John and Sie Shell from Northwestern Iowa, went with us. I had met Shell a year or two before, she is a friend of my Tennessee Rockhound friend Abigail, who has been under the weather for a couple of years now with some health related problems, we hope to see her back out rockhounding with us soon. Shell joined John and I on one of the Railroad Creek locations, upstream from our friend Josh`s place. As usual, Shell and I could not keep up with John that morning….

I had two buckets filled fairly quickly and decided to go back to my truck with them…on the way, I snapped a photo of Shell posing next to the creek…

I remember posting this photo of her on my FB page and several comments from good friends here locally, saying ” they now understood the obsession of rocks now “……or something like that. I got a good chuckle out of it.  🙂   

It was pretty warm last year and I recall visiting the Amish booth with the home made ice cream a few times that weekend. Each evening, several of us went out to eat to the Italian Restaurant in downtown Keokuk, Angelini`s Ristorante is what it`s called, great low light atmosphere inside a remodeled storefront on Main Street and great food, too….

Josh and his wife Jennifer, joined us each evening for dinner there and we sampled the wine selections as well.

Saturday morning Shell and I went back to Railroad Creek and walked downstream to a few locations, she wanted to check out a secret location for geodes…we dug there in the hillside for a bit, didnt find much, and then we walked on down the creek to another place where I had good luck finding good stuff, geodes and calcite chunks, along with John and Chuck Reed, a few years before…we dug into that short bank for quite a while…

I think the best days of collecting were the first day and the last day…Pete and I went to Josh`s Railroad Creek Farm location on Sunday morning, got there ahead of the crowd by different route, and walked upstream to a certain spot we had been directed to, that supposedly had purple interior geodes. I called to check on Shell, and she told me she was preparing to head home early, had changed into her clean clothes and was headed out the door, then asked where we were going…told her we were on our way to RR Creek to find the purple interior geodes…and the line went quiet for a long second, and then she freaked out, decided she would join us, and showed up about 15 minutes later. She wasn`t real happy about it, but excited to see what could be found…amethyst in geodes seems to really bring out the ” FREAK ” in some people. 🙂

As we were walking down thru the brush on a short cut to the creek, I was leading the way with Shell behind me narrating one of her many videos for her sales page, and I recall her telling her people ” that she had woke up that morning and decided to head home, but then received a phone call from some a__hole who told her he and a friend were going to a location that is known to have purple interior geodes…. so she had to change back into her dirty clothes and drive over to join them and now was following the a__hole thru the brush to the location. ” 

I was chuckling about it then, thinking whatever, not like we twisted your arm and made you come with us, sounded like a bit of whining to me. I didnt realize she was recording it til later, when I had several friends see her video and emailed me to tell me she was referring to me as the a__hole on the video, and they were not happy about it. I was like whatever but I understand that she had some blowback on it and this year when I saw her, she apologized for it. We remain good friends. We dug into that bank like there was no tomorrow, and while we found a few geodes, we didn`t find many we could keep due to the size and very few of them felt hollow…

…when you arent finding good stuff…you dont last long at that location and tend to move on to another…

She also got a bit perturbed with me for cracking open my geodes right then and there, when I was pulling them out of the mucky clay mud and dirt…it was dry dirt under the tree roots and clay mud all over the rest of the bank. I was pulling cannonball sized geodes out and while I did break some into three pieces, I also managed to cleanly break a few hollows into just halves…like this pair….

many of the ones I smashed into a million pieces weren`t that great to look at anyway, so no big loss to me, and I wasn`t setting a bad example for any younger rockhounds as there was no one around us for awhile anyway. As far as I recall, we did not find any geodes with amethyst inside them, but we had a good workout and a good time trying. She headed home soon after that and I returned to the booth area to visit with friends before heading home.

John showed me some geodes he picked up from a dealer a few booths away…

…and I snapped a photo of a couple of guys holding one of the biggest geodes I had seen that weekend, one that John cracked open for them soon after I returned to the venue…

I also found out that Greg and Johnboy had done well on druse quartz sales, they were able to sell everything they brought with them. 



Barites From Washington County

Well I am finally getting some time off, boss decided to trust the weather forecasters and believe this winter, Nov 2022 into March 2023, is going to be harsh and snowy, and laid all of us part timers off for the winter season. Now I have some time to catch up on some of my trips and stories and photos. I am reminded weekly from readers how much they like to read my blog site…thanks for your patience. My email is if you want to send me any additional comments.

These are some of the barites I have collected in the past year in Washington County, near Potosi, on private property locations. I heard about Blue Barite long before I ever saw it in person, and so far, I have only found it at one location in Washington County…before this, I had only found Bladed Barite and thought it to be the prettiest barite I have seen…I can now safely add Blue Barite, Crystalline Barite, and Turtleback Barite, to that list of pretty barites.

Here is a flat of Crystalline Barites that I found earlier this spring, I need to clean them up a bit more, however I like the clay coloring on the barite to some level…this level at least, as it makes it easier to distinguish the texture of the crystalline…….

the second photo shows some on my tailgate after cleaning them in Iron Out, so you can see the difference between clean and cleaner. Some of these are crystalline barites on druse quartz and some art turtleback barites on druse quartz, these were found at a newer location in Washington County.

The next photos show blue barites along and some on druse quartz, from the same location as those above….

Some of the best Bladed Barites I have found, have come from a tailings dam location at the north end of Washington County, and from an old mining community near the south end of Washington County….

…and one plate I found at the newer location which is what I would call northwest Washington County…a small section of the barite attached to some beautiful rootbeer colored druse….

Recently my group and I discovered some really pretty Bladed Barites at a new location…stay tuned for the new story on that location…