just got back from a week in Arkansas near Hot Springs...drove down for the July 4th weekend for a family reunion and some hiking with my dog Missy, and took my family quartz crystal hunting as well. I had a few shoots along the way at some pretty waterfalls and did some rockhunting on the way down Hwy 71 south of Joplin, stopped along the roadcuts near the Pineville exit to check for reports of dolomite and calcite but didnt locate anything on the west side of the cuts just south of the exit. I didnt have time to turn around and check the east side cuts on the northbound side at the time, figured I would catch it on the way back, but that idea didnt work out for me at all.
I arrived in Arkadelphia, where I spent the week and drove over to meet some friends in Hot Springs for supper and they showed me a new waterfall south of town and then I prepared to photograph the fireworks over Lake Hamilton there. I photographed the show from the Hwy 7 bridge on the south side of the Clarion Hotel, who had graciously given me permission to shoot the show from their parking lot and boy was it a nice and colorful show over the water.
Sunday morning, Missy and I headed over to Miller Mountain Mine to scout it out and find some quartz crystals. I paid my ten dollar fee and started digging in one of the fifteen new piles that the bucket driver brought up from the mines that morning and right away, started finding smokey colored crystals. A couple next to me introduced themselves as Mark and Carol and turned out to be from the Joplin area. They were pulling several nice single points and small clusters out of their pile all day long. I originally intended to stay til about 2 pm, but had so much fun and found so much material, I stayed and dug til 5 pm. Finally around 4 pm, I got up and took my second walk around and found so much more small clusters and single points up on top of the pile than I had found digging in the pile all day. While there, a few families came up that had started their morning off digging at Ron Coleman`s mine and found only a few crystals after four hours of digging. Three people told us that in three days time, not one new load of dirt had been brought up out of the mine for anyone to dig through and one guy had been there all three days. He said he had found more in all three afternoons at Miller Mountain and would return the next time to it instead. I filled four bags on Tuesday with high hopes for Tuesday.
On Tuesday, twenty of my cousins loaded up with my parents and we caravanned to Miller Mountain Mine for a day of crystal collecting...Bill and Faith, the caretakers there, gave us a group discount on the adult price, with several from California and Wisconsin along this year that had traveled down for the reunion. One of my California cousins is a water specialist for his city and he brought his Honda truck so he could load it down with quartz for the trip home. I helped him locate a few yard rocks for his rock gardens and he actually found some nice specimens as well while there. The weather down there all week was hot and steamy, and Tuesday was no exception, it got hot real fast and several of our group tired of the heat and left by noon. One of my uncles is a retired geophysicist, who taught at Washington University in St Louis, he and his wife went with us and I helped him locate a few bigger boulders so he could trim a few crystal corners off to take home. Bill was a little more prepared for the heat and dug alittle and walked a little all day like I did, and found a bag full of crystals. Joann, his wife, also found several nice crystals and clusters and filled half a bag herself. A lot of my cousins were first timers to quartz, having traveled down to the diamond mine state park three years ago on our reunion trip at DeGray Lake Park for the first time, and wasted their time, finding very little of anything there that day. They sure didnt waste their time on Tuesday and left very happy with their finds.
Before leaving, I purchased two baskets of uncleaned quartz crystals, one for me and one for my cousin from California...Bill helped me load the baskets and as we walked out of the cool office hut into the heat, we were both amazed to see a full size Chev Suburban drive up the steep road pulling a 35 foot long Holiday Rambler camping trailer...loaded down by six rockhounds from Georgia no less...and no easy feat in itself at all...the road up Miller Mountain for anyone who hasnt been there, is up a very steep angle and no room to pass another vehicle, nor any place to turn around until you reach the top. I`m still wondering where he turned that rig around when they left. Wow...
Wednesday was a shopping day for those who wanted to go and Thursday was a free day for those that stayed that long. On Wedneday, my California cousin John went shopping with some of the others and visited a flea market in Hot Springs. John is also a collector of old fishing lures it turns out and he found several at one of the booths there. He also spotted a nice old cluster of large quartz crystals on the seller`s desk and was able to purchase it from the guy for thirty five bucks ! After he showed it to me that evening before dinner, he asked me what I thought it cost him and I estimated its worth at about one hundred fifty to two hundred, rock shop pricing wise, and then he told me what he bought it for. What a buy !
John and several of my cousins left early Thurday morning and about mid morning I stopped to visit a quartz crystal hunter and dealer friend of mine who lives in the area. Mike was there three years ago when I was at the first family reunion at DeGray Lake and we became good friends..he gave me some great information on mines to visit and dig at in Mt Ida and some to avoid, and was able to steer me to come great locations to dig Arkansas Herkimers and green chloride quartz as well.
Seems Mike had been digging and finding some very nice clusters of quartz crystals on Wednesday at one of the Mt Ida mines and showed me just a few of the eight five gallon buckets of material he had found in one pocket. I was totally floored by the color and clarity of the crystals, and most of the clusters were medium to large in size, with a few smaller pristine clusters as well. While there, Mike told me he had a little problem, he had too many crystals and asked me if I would help him by taking some home. It only took about five seconds to decide that I could make enough room in my pickup bed to accomodate his request. I was able to help him create some new room for his new conquests by clearing off one complete rack for him, about five buckets worth, and yes, Virgil, I wrapped them very carefully before I loaded them up in my truck. Mike even helped me wrap them.
I came home Friday evening, long drive from down there, with a few hundred pounds of quartz crystals, including one enhydro crystal that Mike gave me, and plans to return to a certain mine in the Mt Ida area in October and possibly even November when I return for my fall trips.
If anyone is planning a trip down to the Hot Springs/Mount Ida areas for quartz crystal hunting, give me a shout and I`ll let you know some areas to go to for great material.
Wow, James! That is great to hear! I've been searching all morning for current information relative to this exact topic. I live in Fort Smith, and a friend and I were discussing a rock-hunting excursion in the near future. I e-mailed one of my professors (a geologist) inquiring about the possibility of locations closer to my area to find interesting rocks and minerals, and am waiting for a response. I have always heard that Mt. Ida is a great place to find quartz, but you just confirmed that for me in a major way! My friend and I will definitely plan a trip soon. What a helpful post! Is there any way that you could provide some good tips on the hunt? I visited Murphreesboro as a kid, to no avail whatsoever (I'm thinking that it was because I was an impatient child, LOL). Aside from that, the only experience that I have is a childhood obsession with rocks and minerals and a small collection of stuff that I've found in shops throughout the years. I'm ready to do the work myself! =)
I have photos of my trip posted on my blog site, go to this link and it will take you to that story...some of my other rockhounding exploits can be viewed by clicking on the next page at the bottom of the story...
I`ll add more photos of my finds in the next day or two as well...
in my humble opinion, I wouldnt waste my time or money on a trip to Murfreesboro to the Diamond Mine and several of my friends and family would say the same thing after having driven down there in the past few years. However I also know some people that swear by it, so I guess the decision to go is yours.
I personally think a trip to the quartz mines are much more of a sure thing as far as finding substantial material for collecting.
I wanted write a short note to thank you for your Arkansas quartz report and for the link to your photoblog, both are very much appreciated. I read your report and enjoyed your photos this morning and found them quite enjoyable. I'll be looking forward to your next outing too! Thanks,
I always enjoy your nice reports too. I`m heading outside to get some pics of some of the nicer large quartz yard rocks I found this trip, and will get them posted on the blog site too.
Nice work - I enjoyed your report and pictures!
cleaning more quartz today, found some really nice small clusters and one larger one lurking in the clayballs I brought home...almost as much fun as finding them down at the mine.
posting some more pics soon to my blog site.
Virgil G Richards
Great report James! And yes I caught the fact that you actually wrapped the specimens! Great job! Holler when you figure out when you'll be going this fall as I'm hoping to plan a club outing for the time frame. Hopefully I will have returned to work somewhere by then and will have the good fortune of actually being able to get out in the field again!
Thanks for showing us your crystals. It is always useful to see what can be found at various locations. You did good, by my standards anyway.
actually I have only unwrapped and gone through about half of what I brought home so far...been so busy with work but off this weekend and might actually get some more catching up done, still need to get my fireworks photos posted too and only a few stories behind, so guess that isnt too bad. also had a bad wreck call yesterday and airlifted the victim out so have to get that one posted too.
actually Docia and I are going to be attending the Quartz Show at Mt Ida on October 8th, 9th, and 10th and thinking of going down there on the 7th and possibly doing some digging at one of the mines there that was highly and strongly recommended to me by my buddy at DeGray Lake, and believe me, after seeing the super nice clusters he had there from that mine, the eight buckets of clusters that came from that mine he referred me to, I really want to go there and do some digging, and I think a friend or two will be joining us down there, but the more the merrier I`m sure. And then I`ll be taking my fall vacation down there again this year in mid November as well.
I have made some inquiries at this mine with the owner to see if we can get in there on the 7th to do some digging, that will be about the same time as the Championship Quartz Dig, which I have little interest in, I would just like to find some nice clusters like my friend found. I`ll keep you updated on what I find out if you want.
I`m planning to drive down to Marion again for their public dig on September 11th as well, see if I can find some more of that beautiful fluorite.
Peterson`s Rock Garden Redmond,Oregon has a huge cluster plate from the the Ocas Stanley Claim`s.
Mr. Bailey spent three weeks digging the cluster out for Rufus Peterson in 1953.
The cluster was water clear for the must part wt. was about 300 Lbs.
Grandpa was in town ( Lebanon,Oregon visiting my family per Jack Birth....... in 1952.
Rufus went back with Grandpa ( Henry Stanley ) Rufus dug part of the three plates out Bailey finish the work and delivered it.
The Cost was FREE, though some of Peterson`s Family forgot the true price of the material.
I would dig in the Fisher Mountain area if i wanted top grade Material. The Government dug there for radio quartz in the 40s.
Though in, Olee dont trust him Son of Ocus ......
Sorry to say about Family though the truth
The old rock shop is on South Pine Address is i think 130 so. Pine Mount Ida Ar.
Since 1987 after Ocus`s death, I wont deal with Olee Stanley.
I have been by his rock shop, building is still there, but hasnt been open for business for awhile.
My trip last year to Coleman's sounds a lot like yours. No new piles to go through and I think possibly what was there was a prepared mix as it was mostly top soil with a few crystals dispersed throughout. I find it strange that the pile was mostly top soil when the pit is at least 100 ft. deep.I would have probably gotten more for my $20 if I'd just bought a bag of crystals. Dave
Wow Dave, top soil only...thats pretty bad and yes you are right, as much as he digs in that pit, there should not be any top soil whatsoever in those tailing piles, clay dirt and rock is all I have ever seen come out of there. that is so sad that he has resorted to doing what some of the mines in the Mt Ida area do.
I had a buddy tell me that Ron hit a large spring down in one corner of his pit, and was pumping like six thousand gallons a day out of it in order to keep digging in the rest of the pit...then had a team of divers come in and dump some stuff down in the hole and plug it up so he could continue digging it. and then had to do that a few more times after he would hit that spot again with the excavator and start all over again.
we checked out the pricing structure between Ron`s Mine and Jim Coleman`s mine at Miller Mountain, and saved quite a bit. At first we were looking at taking a group of forty in there, and about half were kids twelve and under, and Ron was going to charge $ 20 for the adults and $ 10 per kid...at Miller Mountain, they asked how many in our group and we had seventeen in our final count on the group and they only charged us $ 7.50 per person. Plus we were all very happy with our finds. My cousins who went to the Diamond Mine last time and wasted their entire day, were VERY happy this trip at Miller Mountain Mine.
We went to Sonny Stanley's place back in 2001 and I talked to the old fellow for a half hour about collecting all over the U.S. It was the year of the big ice storm and bad accident at one of the mines. He told me to go down to his mine and charged me $3 for the day. He sent down one of his workers later on to make sure I did well.
We were finding all kinds of what I thought were great specimens until his worker showed us how to get the "real good stuff". I was trying to knock down a place where there was a dangerous overhang and he helped me knock it down. Inside this overhand was a plate of crystal 5 feet around. I couldn't handle that big a piece so he told me to go get the sledge out of his pickup. He broke it up into manageable pieces for me. We filled up the back of my SUV with crystal plates and crystals. It was on Fisher Mountain that he had their mine, just down the road from Mt. Ida. The store in town was run by his wife. The whole day cost $3. He wouldn't take any more when we returned the key to the gate and showed him how well we did. We were the only ones in the mine all morning.
The fellow that helped me was only interested in 3" or bigger double terminated crystals, of which he was pulling out plenty of and tossing to his wife to wrap. He found this great spot the day before and allowed us to share in the bounty. He had prepared it with the backhoe the evening before.
I couldn't help running my fingers over those beautiful crystals embedded in the clay and never put my gloves on until I notice that I was bleeding all over the crystals and the wall of clay.
At that time all the mines were closed from damage to the roads from the ice storm and a youngster digging under the cliffs in one of the mines and having it collapse on his legs. I believe he lost at least one leg and was fortunate not to have lost his life. Unsupported tunnels, even a few feet can kill you. If it's solid rock it's one thing but digging into soft rock or dirt is an accident just waiting to happen.
James I am going for first time this fall. Have asked people where to go. Just read your post & thought I would ask your opinion. Being a newbie doesn't mean I don't have dreams of large perfect crystals. Thanks for any info in advance. Tell your friend if he has any more extra buckets that he wants to get rid of, I would be more than willing to be neighborly and help him put
as others can attest on this board in the past year, there are really only two mines worth exploring at, Miller Mountain Mine, which is also sometimes called Miller Coleman Mine, and Bear Mountain Mine.
Bear Mountain Mine is owned by the folks at Fiddlers Ridge, operated by their son, Bobby, and is the only mine digging its own material AND allowing the public to go in and dig their own. There are other privately owned mines in the Mt Ida area that dig but do NOT allow the public to enter and dig their own crystals. Many of the mines who salt their mines with crystals, get those crystals from Bear Mountain Mine.
I wouldnt waste my time or money to go elsewhere, these are the ONLY two I go to anymore.