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.
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
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.”
In August 2020 I was presented with the opportunity to move
temporarily from New York to a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia. While
very reluctant to leave New York, under the COVID limitations, and my work
being 100% online, I thought why not accept this once in a lifetime
We drove to Georgia with a stop first in Chester,
Massachusetts where I had the chance to rockhound near the old emery mines of
Chester. That is the topic of another writing. Then, we got to North Georgia,
and I was in rockhound paradise. I wasted little time to start hiking,
exploring, and rockhounding along the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of
The Georgia State Mineral is Quartz, and there is plenty of
it around. The cabin is also situated near a stream, full of rocks and stones,
and possibly artifacts too. So, for weeks I was rockhounding and collecting
fine quartz specimens, and panning for gold and gemstones in the creek. It was
a great way to spend each weekend.
Then I suffered some pain one day, and went to the doctor
who informed me that I had a hernia and it required surgery! After repeated,
“you’ve got to be kidding me, I accepted the planned surgery, and also started
to plan on what I would do while recovering indoors, resting and relaxing. That
is when I thought why not try rock tumbling? I have a creek nearby, a lifetime
supply of rocks and stones, so while I can not be our working on my mineral
collection, let some work be done FOR ME, by a new rock tumbler!
So, I started to shop around, and researched and read
reviews of various tumblers. There are two types of tumblers, the small kiddy
ones and then the larger PVC Piping for the Barrel industrial types. There is a
price difference between them of course, but the time is the same. If you have
a small rock tumbler, or a large rock tumbler, each project takes a month. So,
my thinking was, I have a lifetime supply of rocks right now, and I would like
to try larger rocks, around size of my fist, so I will opt for the larger
I ordered one large tumbler off the internet that is very
popular on eBay, Amazon, and other online marketplaces. I was large, with a 20 lb.
barrel. It arrived however, and it requires assembly. The problem with this
one, and I would guess this is not uncommon, is that each piece must fit
together PERFECTLY and EXACTLY right. On mine there was a steel peg that was
just a few millimeters too long and it would not allow the motor to attached
straight. I did not have a metal saw and would not want to pretend I could fix
it either. The problem, I believe, with this popular large rock tumbler is
that, since you have to construct it yourself, each piece must for perfectly
together, and if it does not, you do not have any spare or extra parts. So, I
can not recommend the large tumblers that require self-assembly. Even if all
the pieces did fit, I am not sure I trust myself to know what needs to be fully
tightened, what needs to be lubricated, and what to expect for maintenance. I
returned that tumbler for a refund.
The next tumbler I bought was from a small business that
mostly sells through their website. I was also a 20 lb. barrel, so suitable for
larger stones. When it arrived, I was delighted to see if consisted of a base
with the motor in place, and the base had two horizontal rods that would
rotate. Then it had a large 20 lb. barrel made of steel with a lid. That was
it! You fill the barrel with stones,
water, and the grit, secure the lid, place it on the rods and plug it in. The
rods start working and the barrel starts rolling. The tumbler also had explicit
directions on the manual, and written on the tumbler itself. It does require
lubrication every single day, and the bolts need to be tightened monthly. That
has proven very easy to accommodate. Once a day I check on it, unplug it, add
the lubrication, and then plug it back in.
For the stones I have chosen, it’s been a mixture of quartz
and schist from the creek, and I am tumbling stones 2-3 inches across. You
change the grit every 7 days, for a total of 4 weeks. Each stage has finer and
finer grit to achieve a polished look. I have been delighted to see the stones
at every stage. Probably the first stage completion, the rough grit to bring
out the potential of what looked otherwise like very uninteresting rocks, was
the most exciting. The quartz is looking brilliant too. This is also a
fantastic way to improve, polish, and have fun with the minerals you collect
that are not natural display specimens. If something had a fine point, or was a
beautiful crystal, or mixture of minerals on matrix, I would clean it to
display it. But every other sort of interesting rock you pick up, that is not
so interesting when you get home and clean up your loot, are PERFECT for rock
As I write this, I am just beginning stage 4, week 4, the
polishing stage. Below are photos of how it started, and how this rock tumbling
project is coming along. I am also in week 4 of recovery from my hernia
surgery, and hopeful to be more active in February.
If you have the place for a rock tumbler, they can be noisy,
and the time to check on it once a day, and also keep it running 24 hours a
day, it’s a great complement to your rockhounding hobby. If you have rocks from
past excursions, that are not on display, tumble them! If you have stones that
are not as shiny or pretty as you wish, tumble them!
I love rock tumbling, and even when I am better, I plan to
keep tumbling various stones from my collection, and consider how much you can
tumble during the winter months, when you are not going out anyway!
If anyone has specific questions about the rock tumblers I
tested and researched, or the tumbler I use, please contact me through “Contact
Us” on www.americangeode.com.
I have been posting videos of the rockhounding adventures in Georgia, and the discoveries can be found by searching in YouTube for “Crystal Discovery at NEW and UNUSUAL North Georgia Site.”
Indian Trail Trees or Indian Trail Marker Trees were not what American Geode was hunting in the woods of North Georgia. We did find a very interesting tree however, and we believe it is an Indian Trail Tree or Indian Trail Marker Tree.
It does point in the direction of a fresh water stream that we had discovered earlier so it’s a neat “street sign” that would point one to water, which would be matter of life or death in these unforgiving woods of North Georgia.
We welcome your thoughts though, please email American Geode directly with your insight. http://www.americangeode.com
of this year, the opportunity to leave New York temporarily presented itself. I
had been committed to supporting New York through the COVID crisis, and had
adapted to a professional and personal life that mostly took place over Zoom,
while praying for the safety of fellow New Yorkers and family. However, the
chance to stay in a cabin in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, with the Chattahoochee
National Forest outside the cabin door, was pretty compelling. So after taking
a detour north to Chester, Massachusetts, for a job, and the chance to
rockhound near the abandoned emery mines of Chester (another story), my better
half and I moved to a cabin outside of Cleveland, Georgia.
One of the very first things I
did, after registering to vote, was to contact the nearest gem and mineral
club. I found the Northeast Georgia Mineral Society, https://www.negms.org/, and sent an email to the President
announcing my desire to find out what they were doing, and then I waited. I did
not have to wait long before Claudia Barton, President of the club reached out
to me over the phone for introductions. She invited me to the next meeting,
that take place the first Thursdays of every month, reminded me to wear a mask
and that the meeting, while in person, would be socially distanced, and to
expect a meeting that starts on time and includes announcements, a lecture, a
raffle, social chit chat, Eastern Federation news, and a meeting that would end
on time. All of that proved accurate!
The club is very supportive of
each other. Presently some members are in the hospital, and each meeting
includes an update on their progress, and a way to send a card or message. We
are very lucky that Joe Cooper, the Eastern Federation Region 7 Vice President
is one of our members, as well as our Field Trip Coordinator. Joe always share
any news, updates, matters from the Eastern Federation, and as the club’s Field
Trip Coordinator, has arranged some field trips that are a rockhound’s DREAM!
My real-life job is in antiques
and fine art. In the 18th century, people of means would visit the
finest cities of Europe, seeing the sites and collecting souvenirs (now quite
valuable antiques and works of art) along the way. This trip to see the finest
cities of Europe was known as the Grand Tour. Well, our Field Trip Coordinator
Joe Cooper arranged a rockhound trip that I immediately started referring to as
the “Grand Tour of Rockhounding!” Joe, club members Robin and Jennifer Findley,
and members of another Georgia club visited the finest mines of Arkansas, the 2
different Coleman Mines, and another near Mount Ida to collector minerals and
crystals, and what impressed me most was that They Took a U-HAUL! While I was
not able to attend this field trip, at the November meeting they showed off a
fraction of their finds, and they were so good, personally, I would have
preferred an armed guard to accompany them to and from their cars! So, the club
likes to arrange rockhound field trips, and as another member of the club
shared with me, “in this part of Georgia alone, you can find just about every
North American mineral.” I am personally indebted to Joe Cooper as well
because, as (due to work projects) I could not attend the Grand Tour of the
Finest Mines of Arkansas trip, I was eager and anxious to get out in the field
and rockhound. Joe was kind enough to share a local site with me for quartz
crystals, and while it took me 3-4 phone calls to Joe , including Facetime
visuals of where I was so Joe could guide me, I found the unusual, small quartz
vein exposure, and was able to accomplish some rockhounding on my own.
Another leader of the club is
Richard Walter, who, in addition to giving great lectures (I have only heard
Richard speak once, but I consider myself a tough critic of public speaking),
is also the club’s newsletter editor and Recorder and Secretary. Richard puts
together monthly a newsletter that I really enjoy because he includes detailed
notes from the previous month’s lecture. That is so valuable as we do not
always have pen and paper with us to take notes at a meeting, and there are
always nuggets of gem and mineral information one wants to research independently.
As well, like a paparazzi, Richard is able to catch some photographs of the
meetings that add great context to his descriptions. Not every member of the
club uses email on a regular enough basis to rely solely on an electronic
newsletter, so I find Richard’s commitment to mailing the newsletter to those
members very commendable. Richard was the speaker at the first meeting I
attended. The topic was “The Lazurite Minerals,” and from Richard’s very
welcoming style of speaking, to the specimens he had to pass around, to the
interactive aspect of his talk, I was very impressed, and when I came home that
night I said to my better half, “I just heard a lecture about lazurite and
sodalite minerals that I would have paid $50 to see!” It was just that good a
lecture, and I don’t think it was meant to just impress me.
Other leaders in the club I have
met include Robin and Jennifer Findlay, who have held various board roles. At
the last meeting I attended in November they shared a fraction of their finds from
the “Grand Tour” of Arkansas Mines that I can not stop talking about. They
brought back museum worthy specimens, admitted they will be cleaning crystals
for “at least a decade,” and shared stories comparing and contrasting one mine
to the other. As someone new to the area, that was a very valuable part of
their November talk. We all have limited time, and with the investment in time
required by any rockhound trip, knowing where to go is invaluable. Robin and
Jennifer have also both been responsible for the club’s messaging outside the
monthly newsletter, so I welcome all of their emails to my inbox.
There are many other members I
have not met yet, but I hear very good things about them, and look forward to
2021 when we can all assemble together in fellowship and celebration. COVID has
kept the meetings to a minimum, albeit responsible group, and, coming from New
York, the tragic epicenter of COVID, I was very comfortable, grateful, and
thankful for the COVID safety measures I found at the Northeast Georgia Mineral
In summary, the club President,
Claudia Barton, leads a club that I have found educational, interesting,
friendly, and welcoming. Keep in mind I come with a very high bar of excellence
having been a member for many years of the New York Mineralogical Club led by
the late Mitch Portnoy, a friend whom I miss, and also as a member of the
Island Rockhounds, led by Janice Kowalski, and by Cheryl Neary, both dear
friends of mine whom I love hanging out with and also miss.
I recommend a membership to the If
any members of the Eastern Federation, or the AFMS, have plans in 2021 to visit
Georgia, whether that be a business trip to Atlanta, or for a holiday to North
Georgia for hiking or rockhounding, please get in touch with the North Georgia Mineral
Society. You will find you have friends there, as I discovered.
Northeast Georgia Mineral Society, and find fellowship, field trip
opportunities, and gain gem and mineral knowledge at https://www.negms.org/