Basic Know-How for an Enjoyable Field Trip

SENHMC member Linda Millette showing off a very large crystal of Beryl that she found in the mine tailings behind her.  That ought to clean up great, Linda!

Most of the mines and quarries we visit were first worked many years ago.  The famous Mt. Mica mine at 200 years old is unusual because it was first opened in pursuit of gem Tourmaline, but most of the mines around our region were opened in the late 19th or early 20th century in pursuit of mineral resources for various industries.

In those days the search for minerals was mostly by museums and geologists who sought only the finest examples, and many interesting specimens of lesser quality, being seen as contaminants by the industrial miners, ended up in the mine ‘dumps’ where they can still be found today.

Recovering these old specimens has become a fun hobby as these mines became largely idle, and as the material has only increased in value over the years.  Some locations have been collected heavily, while others have remained largely untouched, and a few are being actively worked with fresh material hitting the dumps

The idea is to dig into and turn over the mine tailings, trying to get into old material that has been overlooked by previous collectors.  There are as many strategies for that as there are collectors, but here’s some info to help you get started.