Field Trip to Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location

May 8 2021 Field Trip to Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location                         

By Charles Snider

I had been looking forward to this fossil trip sponsored by the Georgia Mineral Society for the chance to find tetrapod tracks. I was familiar with ferns, branches, and other vegetation because I had gone to Carbondale and Centralia, Pennsylvania sites of old strip mines, and collecting through the shale and slate, had found many fine ferns and fronds. This was the first chance to find real critters! Of course, I knew that if I made a breakthrough discovery that it would need to be shared with the Alabama club, and respective university and state agencies, but I would be happy with that for a breakthrough discovery.

I arrived the night before and stayed in Birmingham. All I needed was a place to sleep and shower, so I found a cheap hotel near downtown. How cheap was it? Let me put it this way, the night attendant was behind bullet-proof glass. I made it in great time however, somehow avoided the regular and horrific traffic around Atlanta, so I had time to step out in Birmingham that evening. I had my first post-covid margarita at a fine place that followed COVID protocol and then a night-cap at an establishment called Collins Bar. I recommend Collins Bar because their main decora is a huge mural of the entire wall behind the bar of the Periodic Table of Elements. So, while you are sipping a drink, you are quizzing yourself, or others on the Periodic Table!

The next morning, I met the field trip leaders at the nearby Walmart for sign-in. I have said this before, I wonder if Walmart appreciates that they are the universal meeting site of most gem, mineral, and fossil society field trips? If they did, they should offer early Saturday morning sales on gloves, chisels, hammers, and prybars.

We carpooled to the fossil site, formerly known as the Union Chapel Mine, and now also called the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site. The area is large and full of slate and shale, to turn over, crack, split in half, and examine closely. The site sat on an ancient marsh, so is full of Pennsylvanian Age plant fossils, ferns, fauna, and tetrapod tracks and other vertebrates. The abundance of fossils, and the abundance of variety make this former coal mining site one of the most significant fossil sites in the world. In the 1990s, the grandson of the owners of the coal mine brought some examples from the mine to their high school science teacher, who recognized that these were something special. The teacher was able to visit the student’s family’s mine, and recognized the significance of the tetrapod tracks, and abundance of flora, fauna, invertebrate, and other fossils, and shared the information with the local paleontology club, word spread to professional paleontologists, the university, and the state. Now through a collective partnership of private and public, state and academic, the site is preserved and protected for fossil digs by academics, researchers, and fossil clubs.

The labor is not intensive unless you want to crack and pry apart larger shale and slate pieces. There is a lot of material on the surface for collecting and examining. There are cliff walls to one side, but that area is off limits. Past visits had yielded tracks, and we were told of someone’s discovery of the tracks of a giant scorpion. During the dig, I had the good fortune of seeing others’ finds that included burrows of insects, many broken branches, twigs, and other tree parts, and potential tracks. My personal finds included an almost 12 inch branch in a large plate, some plates with broken bark, twigs, and branches, and some interesting plates that had gas bubbles that I learned later were marsh bubbles – not the most exciting find, but fascinating to think that marsh bubbles were preserved in situ like that. At the follow-up Zoom show-and-tell, some fellow members had found tracks, where you could see the claws, and the back and forth motion of the crawling creature.

For future visits, be sure to take plenty of snacks and water. While the area is adjacent to where you park, the nearby gas station, or Walmart are far enough from the remote location that your limited time and access to this special place would be compromised if you were leaving for snacks or drinks. There is no shade, so be prepared with sunscreen.

I did engage in a conversation with members who noted that if some of the surface stone were moved with a bulldozer, and just 5 feet lower were exposed, that there would likely be new, and potentially breakthrough discoveries to be made. This was an excellent trip however, well organized and coordinated, and I am hopeful to return. For other fossil stories, and especially geode hunting and geode cracking articles, please find other articles at http://www.americangeode.com .

Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location
Union Chapel Mine/Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site Fossil Location

2021 Columbia, SC Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show!

The Columbia, SC Gem & Mineral Society will hold its   2021

53rd Annual Gem, Mineral, & Jewelry Show                 

Fri Nov. 19, 10:00 – 6:00;

Sat. Nov. 20, 10:00 – 6:00;

Sun. Nov. 21, 12:00 – 5:00

Jamil Temple

206 Jamil Rd.      

Columbia, SC 29210

Club member’s rock collections on exhibit & lapidary demonstrations.

South Carolina amethyst on display.

Sponsored by The Columbia Gem & Mineral Society

Jewelry, beads, loose stones, fossils, minerals, gold, silver, & tools for sale

Geodes sold & cut

Sponsored by The Columbia Gem & Mineral Society

$5.00 for adults, Sixteen & under free.

 All military & their dependents free.

803-736-9317   Sue

803-356-1472   Sharon, dealers

ashrader@mindspring.com     

http://www.cgms.rocks
https://www.facebook.com/Columbia-Gem-and-Mineral-Society-Inc.

If you would like more info on local Mineral shows and rockhound clubs click on the American Geode News page for up to date listings and links to Gem Show, Mineral Show, and Fossil Show announcements. American Geode updates our rockhound news twice an hour and showcase the top mineral shows and rockhound news in the USA and the World. Also, follow American Geode on Twitter for even more rockhound events, commentary, and laughable quips from American Geode. https://twitter.com/AmericanGeode
https://www.ebay.com/usr/americangeode

2021 Grassy Creek Mineral and Gem Show!


Grassy Creek Mineral and Gem Show!

The 37th Annual Grassy Creek Mineral and Gem Show is put on by the Parkway Fire and Rescue to raise money for new equipment and new buildings.

This Gem Show has everything! Over 60 US and International dealers with almost any kind of jewelry, gemstone and mineral specimens, fossil, lapidary equipment and more you might want. Each booth is 20 by 40 foot so there are LOTS of items for sale.

Parking and admission are free.

Food is available.

Portajohns are available. Hopefully by the time of the gem show, the new restrooms and shower facilities will be built.

This is an outside event so be prepared for rain.

Gem Show Dates: Sunday, July 25th to Sunday, August 1st, 2021 with some vendors open on Saturday 24th.

Gem Show Hours: 9 to 6 daily with many vendors open earlier and later because they are staying with their booth.

Gem Show Address: 136 Majestic View, Spruce Pine, NC 28777 at the new Parkway Fire and Rescue event grounds. This location is on the hill above the previous location.

Contact: Donna Collis:  collisdonna@yahoo.com 828-765-5519 or Parkway Fire and Rescue at 828-765-2117.

Email: info@grassycreekgemshow.org 
Website: www.grassycreekgemshow.org. Applications and pictures are available on the website.
Grassy Creek Mineral & Gem Show
136 Majestic View, Spruce Pine
PO Box 188 Spruce Pine, NC 28777
Phone: (828) 765-2117, Email: info@grassycreekgemshow.org

The gem show is organized by Donna Collis, who has been involved with the event for over 20 years, and Roger Frye, who has helped plan the show for more than two decades.

Started by the Grassy Creek Fire Department, for the first two years, the gem show took place where KFC and Taco Bell are now located. When Grassy Creek Fire Department merged with Altapass Fire Department to create Parkway Fire and Rescue, show organizers chose to keep the name. The show was later moved to the field across from Parkway Fire and Rescue for three years before moving to its former location at Parkway Fire and Rescue in 1990, where it remained until 2015.

The department purchased the field on Majestic View from Wade Hughes in January 2016 with the intent of making it the home of the new Parkway Fire and Rescue.

Parking and admission to the gem show are free and money raised goes toward new equipment for Parkway Fire and Rescue.

If you would like more info on local Mineral shows and rockhound clubs click on the American Geode News page for up to date listings and links to Gem Show, Mineral Show, and Fossil Show announcements. American Geode updates our rockhound news twice an hour and showcase the top mineral shows and rockhound news in the USA and the World. Also, follow American Geode on Twitter for even more rockhound events, commentary, and laughable quips from American Geode. https://twitter.com/AmericanGeode
https://www.ebay.com/usr/americangeode

Knoxville Gem and Mineral Society rock sale May 29-30, 2021

Knoxville Gem and Mineral Society will be holding a rock sale Saturday May 29, 2021 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM and Sunday Sunday May 30, 2021 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The sale will be at the KGMS clubhouse 2931 Fawver Lane, Knoxville 37914. Please bring checks or cash.


There are over 80 varieties of rough available including Angel Wing, Black Onyx, Bloody Basin Agate, Brenda Agate, Brazilian Agate, Carnelian, Golden Moss Agate, Graveyard Point Agate, Kentucky Agate, multiple varieties of Obsidian, Ohio Flint, Oregon Picture Jasper, Petrified Wood, Red Agate and Jasper, Serpentine, Tennessee Paint Rock, Tiger’s Eye, Rhyolite, Unakite, and Wonderstone.

For more information visit
Knoxville Gem and Mineral Society on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/315143346677089/

If you would like more info on local Mineral shows and rockhound clubs click on the American Geode News page for up to date listings and links to Gem Show, Mineral Show, and Fossil Show announcements. American Geode updates our rockhound news twice an hour and showcase the top mineral shows and rockhound news in the USA and the World. Also, follow American Geode on Twitter for even more rockhound events, commentary, and laughable quips from American Geode. https://twitter.com/AmericanGeode
https://www.ebay.com/usr/americangeode

Graves Mountain, a Rockhound’s Mecca

Graves Mountain

Field Trip to Graves Mountain on Friday, January 29,

This was my first field trip, and outdoors adventure since hernia operation exactly one month earlier, and my first trip to famous Graves Mountain, so I had my gear, tools, and clothes laid out for at least a week prior. I had to take the day off of work too, so this was a special day.

Graves Mountain is the site of an old mining operation, like so many rockhound locales, and in this case Tiffany’s back in the Roaring 20’s was mining for Rutile. Rutile is an industrial semi-precious gemstone used to polish diamonds. Again, like so many mining operations it changed hands, owners, there were lawsuits, etc. and so on. In addition to Rutile, the area was mined for Kyanite for industrial purposes. As of 2021, the site is privately managed, and opened occasionally to clubs and private excursions, so I was able to visit this famous site through my membership with the Georgia Mineral Society.

The directions that Juergen Poppelreuter, one of the trip leaders, provided were perfect. I actually arrived 20 minutes before assigned arrival, and I was not the first! People were excited!

After the safety talk, we embarked on the march to the pits. There is a main, very large pit, the primary pit, and then another pit, that I believe is split in two, that is higher up the mountain. The march is not too difficult but for future rockhounds, I suggest backpack, sturdy garden wagon, or if no wagon, then some kind of trolley because, whichever pit you choose, the walk from the parking lot is about 15 minutes.

The minerals you are hunting for are primarily rutile, kyanite, lazulite, pyrophyllite, and iridescent hematite. From socially distanced conversations with the other rockhound, the iridescent hematite and rutile were arguably the most desirable, and the rutile the most elusive.

Something that is essential to bring with you is a camera, a real camera if you can pack one because the landscape, the mountain-scape is impressive. Before I got to the pit I took many photos of the landscape as we were luck to have a bright and sunny day. As this site is private and off-limits otherwise, I took full advantage of the chance to photograph this famous rockhound locale.

The style of rockhound here is primarily sifting through the overflow and fallen boulders and surface hunting. The walls are almost impenetrable without power tools, and signs mark the clear risk of being near the wall and below the cliffs. So you move from area to area cracking open larger pieces in search of minerals, and you also keep a close eye on the ground for any crystals or minerals that have washed or eroded out, or perhaps fallen out of someone else’s loot.

Personally, I believe you can only spend a day in one area, in order to substantially mine, rockhound, and collect. The are is simply bigger than a football field. I spent my day in the primary, main pit.

I was able to find some great blue kyanite, some very heavily oxidized kyanite that I will work to clean up, and one decent example of the iridescent hematite. There is a lot of quartz if you are interested in quartz! Quartz is the Georgia State Mineral, and it is very plentiful at Graves Mountain.

If you tumble rocks, the quartz and quartz composite pieces that are all over would supply you with plenty of tumbling material. I did not opt for quartz as my residence is full of it inside, outside, and we have quartz a plenty near us as we live in North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

A rule that I strive to always follow when rockhounding, is collect, mine, and gather a lifetime’s supply for yourself. No matter what assurance you give yourself that you will come back to a locale one day, it seems like life easily gets in the way, and you regret not collecting more. So, when you go to Graves Mountain, bring plenty of tote bags, boxes, your cart or trolley, and make sure the shocks on your car are in good order.

The tools required are pretty standard, sledge hammers, crowbars, picks, bags, water, sunscreen, and snacks. While you can go to and from your car, as I described earlier, it is not the easiest walk, and could be 1/8th of a mile or so, so plan on spending the day, with breaks, and be prepared. Last point on preparation, there are no bathrooms or facilities of any sort, so plan accordingly.

I have been cleaning up my kyanite, and it is a much more vibrant shade of blue than I expected. The dark kyanite is cool, but I do not see it cleaning up as well. I am happy with my iridescent, but I wish I was bringing home a coffee table sized specimen. I did not find any rutile, but in passing conversation with other rockhounds there that day, some smallish crystals were found.

So, like all rockhounding trips, even if you do not find a specimen worthy of contacting the people at National Geographic, the day was full of fresh air, exercise, fellowship, and adventure. I look forward to my next visit to Graves Mountain, to one of the other pits! More pictures from Graves Mountain, and other rockhounding tips, tricks, advice, and locations can be found on my blog if you Google “American Geode Blog.”