October 31, 2014  
Fossil Hunting

Fossil Forum

Fossil Chat

Videos

Fossil Articles

Paleo Cartoons

Contact Us

Fossil Hunting Excursions

Image Galleries

Fossil Links

FAQ
Trip Reports
  

  You are here:  View      
 

North Carolina Rockhounding

I have been married for 10 years and to celebrate, my wife and I went on a trip to the North Carolina mountains. We rented a nice place in Blowing Rock and drove the Blue Ridge Parkway back and forth doing all kinds of fun stuff. We visited Linville caverns, we hiked Grandfather Mountain all the way to the top, and we went gem hunting.

For years, I've tried to get my wife hooked on fossil hunting, but it wasn't until she found out she could find gems that she became interested in hunting for anything. I was excited about gem hunting because I like looking for anything. Our first day rockhounding, we went into the Brushy Creek mine, known for its aquamarines, garnets, and tourmalines. I asked our guide how they found this place, and he said that Native Americans found it. They used to go chip the gems out of the mountain in this spot to trade for things they needed.

We loaded up in the van with the other excited collectors and after just a short drive, we were in the pit. It was actually a hole in the side of a mountain, blasted out in true mine fashion. Some more experienced collectors went right to smashing rocks with a sledgehammer, but I decided to employ my surface hunting skills to see if I could find anything without prison style labor. Almost immediately, I began to find big chunks of aquamarine. I showed my wife and she quickly followed suit. It was a bonanza - there were aquamarines and garnets all over the place!

It didn't take long for the bonanza to end. With 28 collectors picking up everything shiny, the ground was soon barren. 95% of everything I found was in my bucket within 15 minutes. I tried my hand at the sledgehammer, but the heat quickly sapped my will to sledge. There wasn't much breeze in the pit, so I was soaked with sweat within minutes. The tiny specks of rock were sticking to me all over. I quickly gave up the sledge in favor of a small rock hammer. I dug in the dirt in the bottom and started to find stuff again. I found some shade and my wife came over to join me. We spent the rest of the day digging in the shade, chatting, drinking water, talking to our guide, and most of all, sweating. After about 3 hours, everyone was fried and ready to go back.

The same day, we decided to try our luck at the roadside flumes. That's where you buy a big bucket of dirt and rocks from various mines and sift it out in the flumes. Its not as cool as going into the mine, but there's a roof to block the sun (or rain!), a place to sit, restrooms, and a place to get something to eat. Its kindof like camping as opposed to staying at a hotel. MEIN ferret was really into this because #1 on her list to find was a sapphire. They are her favorite stone, and she said if she came back with one she would feel like she had a good trip. As luck would have it, the buckets were loaded with sapphires, emeralds, amethysts, topaz, and a host of other pretty little rocks. Her find sapphire find was unforgettable. Have you ever seen a natural sapphire? They look like ugly little rusty rocks. She was so excited to find one that she did a little dance and said "I would totally do this again, even the hot dirty mine." That made it worth it for me!

We tried some different flumes at other spots and found some nice ones at all of them. Our evenings were spent sorting, classifying, and admiring the day's finds. I have never seen my wife so excited about finding stuff. It was great! On a few separate occasions she actually pulled the finds out on her own and started fondling the serrations. Oops, did I say serrations? I meant pretty little rocks. She even said "We racked." She picked out her best find - a gorgeous, translucent, deep green tourmaline to have cut and mounted in a pendant as a reminder of how much we really did rack!

Location Mitchell County, North Carolina, USA

ID2307
Memberdw
Date Added8/29/2007

A bunch of people were hunting in a small area, so surface collecting was over in about 15 minutes.
The flume was fun and really easy. Some would say its not real rockhounding, but we found a lot like this AND we did it in the middle of a ferocious thunderstorm without getting wet.
A view from the top of Grandfather mountain. On the hiking trail, I was really looking at the boulders closely - they aren't granite. I think its sedimentary because they appeared to be made up of a bunch of tiny smaller rocks. Gotta be some fossils around there somewhere!
A pic of a flowstone formation in Linville caverns, NC's only limestone cave. This one looks like Patrick from Spongebob!!
A groundshot from inside the aquamarine mine. There is an aquamarine and a garnet in this picture. Look at all those footprints!
This is an old emerald mine. We didn't get to go in, but you can see the enormous "cave" that was created by the mining operation.
  

Links
Mica
Mica
Peridot
Peridot
Topaz
Topaz
Tourmaline
Tourmaline
Smoky Quartz
Smoky Quartz
Kyanite
Kyanite
Garnet
Garnet
Fluorite
Fluorite
Emeralds
Emeralds
Corundum
Corundum
Clear Quartz
Clear Quartz
Citrine
Citrine
Aquamaine
Aquamaine
Amethyst
Amethyst
Moonstone
Moonstone
Rose Quartz
Rose Quartz
Amazonite
Amazonite
  

Formations
  

Fossils
  

Artifacts
  

Facebook
  

Copyright 2011 by www.blackriverfossils.org Terms Of Use Privacy Statement