Wolf Creek Dam, Kentucky

Geology in Action, Wolf Creek Dam, Lake Cumberland, Kentucky

The construction of Wolf Creek Dam in central Kentucky began in 1941, but work was interrupted by WW2 and the dam was not completed until 1951.  Potential problems with the integrity of the underlying Ordovician Leipers limestone were appreciated during construction and extensive cement was placed in a number of cave features that were known to exist before the earthen dam was built above.  However, that early work proved to be insufficient in preventing seepage from Lake Cumberland through the underlying karst.

dam11947 photograph highlighting cavernous regions in the dam’s base that were filled with cement.

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Benson Mines, Star Lake, NY

Have you driven Route 3 in southern St. Lawrence County?   Did you know that as you pass just east of the small hamlet of Star Lake you are just hundreds of feet south of what was once the largest open pit iron mine in the world?  That’s right, in 1958, during the height of its life, the Benson Mines open pit iron mine held that lofty title.  The pit was 4 kilometers long, 250 meters across and 400-600’ deep.  Today the pit is host to a whole lot of brilliant blue water and the surrounding Appalachian Park region is forest covered and virtually pristine wilderness.

The high concentration of iron in the rocks of the region was first recognized in 1810 when engineers surveying for a military road found their compasses wandering.  But until the timber industry built a railroad to the region the iron ore could not be exploited.  Even with rail, the area was still remote and from 1890 to 1940 mining was sporadic and limited.  In 1941, Jones and Laughlin Steel Company leased the properties and constructed plant facilities. Continue reading

Happy New Year

Mineral Musings in the January, 2014 WCGMC News:

Happy New Year:

Has everyone made their New Year’s Resolutions?   You know, the one’s you keep until you can’t anymore.   Here are mine:

1)  I resolve to attend as many rock, mineral, and fossil collecting trips with WCGMC as possible (that should be easy to keep).

2.  I resolve to clean up, organize, and label specimens from each trip before the next trip (now that would be a first for me).

3.  I resolve to lose 15 pounds during next year’s gardening and collecting season (I manage to do this most years).

4.  I resolve not to gain those pounds back during the hibernating/eating season that follows the summer (trouble is I fail this every year such that resolution #3 becomes necessary every year).

Maybe we should share resolutions at an upcoming club meeting?  Or the next time we are in the field.

Our fearless trip leader, Bill Chapman, tells us that one early trip will be April 1 with a visit to Ace of Diamonds in Herkimer.  I guess that is as fitting a day as any for folks with our hobby to be “hunting diamonds.”  Most of you are well acquainted with digging in the Cambrian dolostones of Herkimer County.  For me this will be a new treat.  I have been there once, but decades ago and only briefly.  I’ll be looking for a few 3 inch crystals on matrix that look like this !

herk large