In November of 2017, Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club undertook a 9 day collecting trip to Arkansas-Tennessee-North Carolina. This is mostly a photo essay from the first half of the trip in the Arkansas quartz district of Mt. Ida and Jessieville. Published in WCGMC December 2017 newsletter. Part II on the rest of the trip will follow.
3300 miles and 3300 pounds of Arkansas quartz: the miles are accurate, but the weight may be a bit of an understatement. Once someone started putting large clusters and quartz-covered pieces into the trailer (I think it was Glenn!) it seemed contagious. Everyone simply needed more! Buckets were filled at three sites, half bushel baskets with crystals encased in red Arkansas mud were purchased, we traded for yet more, and eventually even the spaces under the seats in the van were dedicated to Arkansas quartz. And we hadn’t even headed to North Carolina yet!
The days were shorter in October, but the weather during those days was spectacular and my favorite group of rockhounds was as busy as ever taking full advantage. The month could easily be renamed Octoborocks by the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club.. While we weren’t planning for our 10 day November trip to Arkansas and other warmer southern spots, we were doing just about everything imaginable. Continue reading
At one of Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club’s December workshops (and we had two!), Robert Webster arrived with some beautiful larimar to cut, grind and polish. After his successful work he posted pictures of several of his creations to our club’s Facebook Group page.
Raw, cut larimar (left) and some polished pieces. All prepped at the WCGMC workshop in December. Specimen and photos by Robert Webster, extracted from his post to the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club Facebook group site.
At the November meeting of the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club there was general bemoaning that the field season seemed over. That was until two members suggested that we visit the Lake Ontario shoreline on Sunday for one last outing. And so we did. In fact ten of us spent several hours walking the rocky coastline at a couple of our favorite haunts. It was our 22nd club field trip of the year, and probably our last.
Where should I start? The 10 day August trip to Thunder Bay and back again was a blast. We all returned with enough minerals and memories to last through the winter (or at least until our trip to the Adirondacks in September!).
But first and foremost: Just as the 1959 stamp Issue in the header was a joint issue of the USA and Canada, this trip was a two country trip with WCGMC and the Niagara Peninsula Geological Society (NPGS) of St. Catharine’s, Ontario. Those of us from WCGMC thank NPGS for allowing us to join them, and in particular to their field trip leader Ashley Pollock, who planned the itinerary and set up the many visits requiring permission and outside leadership.
July was a busy month for Bill Lesniak and his travelling rock and mineral kit stand. If you have not seen his operation, Bill sets up at whatever event will allow him and, on the behalf of Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club, offers free rock and mineral kits to youngsters. They do have to earn them though. They must cut out labels, display dexterity with glue sticks to apply them to the egg cartons he provides and then, with help, locate the 12 specimens (this summer: 6 rocks, 4 minerals and 2 fossils). In the end they go home with something that looks like this:
The end of April was an active and exciting period for Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club diggers with two trips, each of three days duration. While we wait for warmer weather to our north, the club ventured to the neighboring states to our south, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
published in the April, 2016 WCGMC Newsletter
If you have yet to visit the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club workshop in Wolcott during one of the club’s monthly Saturday events, then you are missing out on the opportunity your club membership provides you to saw, slab, grind, and polish rocks into cabochons, spheres, or whatever geometric (or non-geometric) design you wish. Not to mention the camaraderie provided when 10-15 or more rock hounds come together to partake in such activity. But there is even more you are missing. Each month we convene it seems that our Workshop Coordinator, Glenn Weiler, has managed to introduce something new and creative to the shop. Continue reading
Yellow is the color of sunshine, of brilliant warm summer days. It is the color of bananas, lemon meringue pie and butter pecan ice cream. There are beautiful yellow breasted birds and wondrous yellow flowers. Some cultures view yellow as the color of happiness, amusement, and even optimism.
All that is well and good, but yellow is also the color of wulfenite, sulfur, heliodor and a number of other wondrous minerals and gems. And, of course, it is the color of gold. It was with this appreciation of the color yellow that WCGMC convened in November for a celebration of “Yellow Minerals”.
Prepared and published in the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club News, October 2015. WCGMC newsletter Oct 2015
Our 14th collecting trip of the year (but who is counting) was, surprisingly, the first official WCGMC venture to St. Lawrence
County in 2016. But what we suffered in tardiness, we made up for in quantity. The trip was four days long and included seven separate collecting sites (one, Rose Road, was visited by members on three separate occasions over the 4 days). Several of us stayed in a rented home on Star Lake, owned by Anita Persson, wife of George Persson, who helped us with the Benson Mines visit during the trip.
The trip was not scheduled to start until Thursday morning September 17th, but Bill Chapman and I had arrived in Star Lake early evening on Wednesday and we decided to take Bill’s black light to Rose Road in Pitcairn for an early start. As always the lower area, known to many as the purple diopside mound (or PDM), lit up bright yellow under long wave with the mineral scapolite and the albite at the “wollastonite skarn” (or green diopside mound) lit up red under short wave.
After 3 nights in Cobalt (see August WCGMC newsletter), we headed to Eganville in search of more collecting adventure.
Although the primary objective of our trek back to the Grenville Province was minerals, our first stop was at a limestone quarry where large cephalopods and coral could be found. The Haley Quarry, 8 miles southeast of Eganville, exposes the Lindsey and Verulam Formations of the Upper Ordovician Ottawa Group which are known for their large cephalopods, some of which are exposed in nearby Bonnecherre caves.
This is an experiment in uploading the complete Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club Newsletter to my site. Click on the green link below and you should find the newsletter. Several of the articles are also entered as separate posts.
WCGMC September News
During the third week in July, seven WCGMC members spent 7 days and 6 nights collecting in Ontario. The first three days in Cobalt, Ontario are summarized here. Part 2, three days near Eganville, will be reviewed in a subsequent entry. Modified from August, 2015 WCGMC newsletter article.
From its discovery in 1903 until around 1920, Cobalt, Ontario was a hotbed of silver mining and the center of Ontario’s economic mining industry as over 10,000 inhabitants opened more than 100 mines in search of silver. Over 100 years later, and for 2 days in July, 2015, seven eager rockhounds from WCGMC followed in the old timers footsteps.
A typical scene from Cobalt: Remains from the Crown Reserve Mine in the foreground, and mine dumps from the Kerr Lake Mine across the lake.
In the July issue of WCGMC News, one of the club’s long time members offers his memories of a favorite site and a favorite mineral. Ken Rowe, and his wife Rocky, have been club members for over 30 years.
This is a brief reminiscence about my collecting at the Gouverneur Talc Mine and the Zinc Corporation of America Mine in Balmat, New York in the late 1980’s. We began about 1980, when my wife and I were fairly new members of the WCGM Club. We were guided by Jim and Marion Wheaton, the founding members of WCGMC. At that time the Balmat site was an underground mine for zinc.
Just before our visit to the Gouverneur Talc Mine a cave-in had led to a partial collapse to highway 812 and repairs to the road required just about all the available tailings to fill in the damage to the road. Upon arrival at the mine we were very disappointed because we were expecting some good specimens of hexagonite. All we found were a few forgotten boulders around the perimeter of the site, so we (about 10-12 persons) made the best of it. Can you imagine all the hexagonite buried now beneath the road! Continue reading
Published in the July 2015 WCGMC Newsletter
I have a confession to make. Yes, I admit it, for the first few decades of my adult life I collected minerals while scoffing at the notion of cutting rocks and polishing their surface to produce symmetric reflective surfaces. Cabochons, smabochons, … spheres, smears, I would say, or something to that effect. Well, since joining the Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club I have come to realize that some rocks, even some minerals, are best displayed and enjoyed after they have been carved, sliced, ground, and polished. What is more, that process can be fun and there is art involved in the creation of a polished stone. I am not a total convert, I still cherish and generally prefer natural crystalline specimens, preferably on matrix and often in association with other minerals, but I am now capable of collecting, and yes even, horrors, purchasing a polished cabochon.
OK, with that admission of past guilt, or new guilt depending on your persuasion, I decided to peruse the GemFest floor for particularly interesting pieces that had been butchered by a saw and then beautified by some process of trimming and polishing. I found several that caught my fancy. But I must warn you, beauty, color, and symmetry are not enough. The rock or mineral must tell an interesting geologic story and just like a classic mineral specimen it must have a provenance, a banded agate from somewhere just won’t make my short list no matter how beautiful it might be. So what did I find?
Pennsylvania and the Limestone Products Quarries in Mt. Pleasant Mills and Middlebury beckoned a number of Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club collectors south for May Day. The day started with the annual dig atop the quarry collecting wavellite. As the cover photo suggests, we dug high, low, left, and right in the third cut atop the hill, but unfortunately we were not as successful as in past years. Lots of color but not many full balls and none of the deep green the Buffalo Club had on display at its show in March. We probably did not dig deeply enough to deserve quality pieces. But, yes, that is Jerry Donahue in the middle of the photo with his sampling tool. It was great to see him back in the field with us.
Spring has arrived and Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club did not let any grass grow under its feet before activating its field season. In fact, we did not even let the snow melt.
It was April, it was opening day, and there were diamonds involved. But no, it was not baseball. Rather, April 1 is opening day for “Herkimer diamond” hunting at Ace of Diamonds Mine in Middleville, NY and 12 intrepid WCGMC members put on their boots and their woolies and made the annual trip. Exposure was limited and the snow prevented the owners from bringing in new rock. But there were still “diamonds” to be found and the sun was out to warm our hearts if not our hands. April 1 may actually be more tolerable than August 1. We even signed up a new member while digging, welcoming Donna Dow to our growing family of crazed collectors.
Those of us who visited the Rochester Lapidary workshop for an open house in March were both fascinated and impressed by their pair of sphere making machines. But while most of us went home wishing we had one, Glenn Weiler went home and actually built one! When we all arrived on April 11th for our monthly workshop Glenn was working on his fifth sphere. While he admits the “contraption” needs a few design improvements before achieving perfection, Glenn’s ingenuity was once again demonstrated. Below is a picture of the machine and his first five products. The small blue sodalite sphere at the top is gorgeous. The layered orange sphere looks like Jupiter to me, except it is not made of gas! Glenn will have a complete Solar System soon. And can you see the Herkimer diamond at the right end of the vug in the largest sphere?
Written for the April 2015 WCGMC newsletter
Since the days of the Roman Empire, purple has been the color of royalty. As a combination of red and blue, purple is not a spectral color and therefore lacks a defining spectral wavelength. However, that has not prevented people from claiming purple to be their absolutely favorite color. Women build their wardrobes around their purple dresses, folks paint their bedrooms purple, gardeners plan their seasonal blooms from tulips to irises to petunias, and yes mineral collectors must have plenty of purple in their displays. Fortunately they have some wonderfully gorgeous minerals from which to choose.
March 13th was Purple Mineral Night for the Wayne County Club. Members brought in their purple minerals and we all drooled over them. Naturally there was lots of amethyst in attendance. Simple clear quartz (SiO2) is colored to various shades of purple when small amounts (< 20 ppm) of iron (Fe) replace Si when the quartz is naturally exposed to ionizing irradiation. The smaller iron atom leads to lattice distortions that effect light passage imparting the color variation. With a hardness of 7, amethyst makes a wonderful gemstone as well as a colorful mineral specimen.
Written for the February, 2015 WCGMC News
The month’s site article is leaving New York again and is headed for the Piedmont region of North Carolina. No, not because it is necessarily warmer there, although it probably is, but because I am the editor and I decided it would. But seriously, who doesn’t like pyrite cubes and when I discovered some in a bucket in the Weiler’s barn/club workshop last month I asked where they were collected. Turns out they came from the Standard Mineral Company Mine in Glendon, North Carolina. WCGMC had ventured south on at least two occasions (2009 and 2010) to dig pyrite on trips organized by the Mountain Area Gem and Mineral Association (M.A.G.M.A.) of North Carolina.
It sounded like an excellent opportunity to revisit some club history. And then I got really lucky. A visit to the M.A.G.M.A. website yielded photographs from those trips and bingo there was Bill Chapman in his orange collecting uniform holding up a 2” pyrite cube for all to see. The gentleman just behind his right shoulder is Bill Lesniak. I considered this is clear proof that they had actually made the trip south and I set off to learn something about the mine.