By Mira Bai
If you are like me, you have purchased your gemstones, minerals and crystals already mined, cleaned and ready to use. But how much fun would it be to take a trek up to a local public mine and dig your own? "Rock Hounding" is something I have always wanted to do. To dig in the soil and find a natural beauty seems like the ultimate treasure hunt, doesn't it? What a thrill it would be to prospect for Hiddenite crystals or precious emeralds and rubies in the mines of North Carolina, dig for Opals in Nevada or sparkling Sunstone in Oregon. Rock hounding is not only a connection with Mother Earth, but a rewarding, fun-filled experience as well.
I know you are excited, but don't go hop in the car just yet. It is a good idea to look for a list of public mines in your area. You can do this by contacting your local Rock or Geological Society. Most cities and towns have a Rock Hound Club you can join, attend meetings and go on scheduled digs.
Do your research before going on a day trip to your local mine. Some mines are opened only at specific days/weeks or times of year. While some mine businesses provide all of the tools necessary along with guides, others charge an admission fee to allow you into the dig site and then leave you to your own devices. If you take the kids, you may want a public mine where the owners load a bucket full of dirt and you sift through to find your treasures. This is normally the case for mines that are too difficult to hike in to.
Let's look at a few mines to see how they operate and what you can expect.
The Rose Creek Mine is located in Franklin, North Carolina, USA. It is open from April 1 to October 31. Mining rates average between $4 and $75 depending on bucket size and whether you retrieve your own bucket of dirt (with treasures inside), or whether you have the company dig and fill the bucket for you. Make sure to bring some containers, like plastic baggies or boxes to tote your treasures home with you. They also suggest you wear old clothes, because you are bound to get a little dirty; as well as a cushion, towels and a clean, spare pair of shoes to wear for the trip home. You will also want to bring a picnic lunch. To visit the Rose Creek Mine website, click here
The Sheffield Mine, also located in Franklin, North Carolina, USA, is similar to many mining businesses opened to the public. For an admission price of between $10-$15 the excavated dirt is brought to you and dumped into a long flume. You sit on benches and shake away the dirt with screening filters to find your treasures. They provide all that you need for this treasure hunting experience, including something to take your finds home in. Allow at least two hours to screen through your dirt. This mine is opened from April 1 to October 31. For more information on the Sheffield Mine, to visit their website click here
For more "Mine by the bucket" places to visit in North Carolina, click here.
Want to get your hands in the dirt and do your own digging? Try the Crabtree Emerald Mine. Admission fees average $20 per person. Children are free. Bring your own digging tools. Only shovels, picks, hammers and chisels are allowed – and don't forget the protective eye wear and buckets! A release form, which can be found on the website is required.
For a list of other Gem Mines in the North Carolina area, visit this website http://www.squidoo.com/NCgem-mining
Want to dig your own Herkimer Diamonds? A review of the Crystal Grove Diamond Mine is two thumbs up! One of the few mines where you can still "mine your own" Herkimer Diamonds. Opened from April 15 to October 15, you can bring your own hand tools, screens for filtering and buckets – or rent some tools when you arrive. Prices are affordable at $10 per person. They even have cabins and a camp ground available adjacent to the mine so you can have a fun-filled week or weekend.
Or try the Ace of Diamonds Mine with accompanying campground. Mining season starts on April 1 and runs until October 31 from 9:00 to 5:00 daily. A very reasonable $8.50 per person per day (children 7 and under are $4.00 per day). Prospector tools are available for rent or for sale. You can even camp right where you dig! It is suggested that you wear old clothes and bring or wear shoes suitable for climbing over rocks and walking in mud – as well as gloves, hats, safety glasses, collecting containers, sun block or rain ponchos. For more about the Ace of Diamonds mine and what it has to offer, to go to their website click here.
Is quartz crystal what you love? Try digging in Arkansas!
At Coleman Crystal Mines you can find a variety of clear and white natural Quartz. While you are not able to actually go into the mining pits, loads of dirt filled with crystals will be dumped. You are then able to go through the piles of dirt and find your own buried treasures. Cost is $10 per person age 10 and up. Children 9 and under are free. Want to know more about what to expect? Click here to go to Coleman Crystal Mines information page on their website.
Another popular Quartz crystal mine where you can find white to clear quartz is the Arrowhead Crystal Mine. This mine is opened year round by appointment unless they are at a show out of town. Looking for crystals for the entire day averages $20 per person. For those 16 and under, the price is $10. Larger group rates apply. Arrowhead Crystal Mine has a large webpage dedicated to their mines and digging information. Click here to find out more.
All this talk of digging has me amped up to take a trip and find some of my own treasures! I don't have a personal story to share at this point, but I bet many of you do! Send us stories of your digging experiences – we would love to hear them AND we would love to share them with others, as we continue this series on Rock Hounding. If you are an experienced Rock Hounder and want to share locations of interest, we would love to add these to our expanding list as well.
For a complete state by state listing of rock collecting sites, visit http://www.42explore.com/rocks2.htm. I bet you will find a location near you!
So make sure to get lots of information before you haul your buckets and supplies up to your local mine. Be informed and know what to expect. This is a true dream for anyone who wants to go to the source and find their own crystal friends. I am definitely going to plan on a trip for next Summer!