Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Flowers Explore - Quartz Crystal Mining in Arkansas - 2021/07/16

Today we've got a special experience. We're going quartz crystal mining! 

After the Diamond Mining we did earlier in the week, the kids weren't particularly thrilled to be going mining again. Theresa and I had even considered skipping this and just figuring out something else to do. I'm so glad we didn't! Everyone had such an awesome time searching for quartz crystals and it blows the diamond mining experience out of the water. 

There's a few different mines in the area, but the one that got the best reviews is the Wegner Crystal Mines in Mount Ida, Arkansas. Just a short 25 minute drive from our campground, it was an easy drive to get here. 

Pulling up, there's lots of rocks in front to check out and purchase. 

The kids are checking out some of the bigger crystal pieces. These are sold by the pound, I think somewhere in the $5/lb range. 

These are pretty cool! I wonder if we'll find anything like this on our expedition. 

They've also got tables and tables of glass fragments. 

It does come in lots of pretty colors, but I asked a worker and yes, it's just glass. From a factory somewhere. 

Wow, that's some cool looking rose quartz! Ian saw it and immediately wanted to buy a piece for his sister. Pink is her favorite color. 

There's a few different tours you could take, ranging in price. 
We could have taken a 4 hour mining expedition for $40 per person or dug through a tailings pile for $10.50 per person, but we're opting instead for the 2 hour experience at the Crystal Forest Mine. That's $18 per person, but Alli was free! No reservations are required. Trucks leave at 9:30, 11:30, and 1:30. 
We arrived at 9:10am, hoping to get into the 9:30 expedition. Theresa got tickets, but it was a bit oversold. When they gave the call to board the trucks, they filled up pretty quickly. Us and another family weren't going to be able to squeeze in with everyone else, so they said they'd drop these people off and come back for us. 

That'll give us time to explore the gift shop and look at all the other goodies they have here. 

Those are some pretty cool Amethyst points. At $19/lb these are between $100-200 each. 

These Phantom Mine Crystals, from their 4 hour expedition, have a smoky grey crystals that are encased in a clear quartz crystal. 

And that is an insane purple amethyst cathedral. 

Kids, check out this Pyrite!

It looks a gold nugget. 

Speaking of nuggets though, these are copper nuggets. Not as valuable as gold, but these would still be pretty cool to find. I wonder if there's copper mines that you can visit? 

That is a ridiculous crystal of quartz. 

And that crystal has to be over 3 feet tall. 

Theresa thought this $4800 chunk would look good in the RV. 

Okay, now we're talking! Look at those pink and purple rocks! 

They're practically neon. 

One nice feature here is that they let you borrow their tools for your mining experience. You just have to trade them your Driver's License. 

And here's the tools you get. I guess these are 2.5 gallon buckets. Hopefully we'll be able to carry all of our finds in these 3 buckets. 

The trucks aren't quite back yet, and the kids are eyeballing the sandbox. 

Practicing their excavating. 

The kids were constantly asking when the trucks would be back. 

It's here! 

We loaded into a much less cramped truck for our drive to the mine. 

We drove down a very bumpy one lane road to the mine. 

It's less than a mile as the crow flies, but this journey took a little over 10 minutes. 

Suddenly we entered a clearing with a ton of trees cleared away and lots of red soil exposed. People already seem hard at work looking for treasure. 
The kids were expecting a cave to mine in, and were surprised it was an open field.

Our driver pointed out the different areas that we're allowed to search. There's a cooler with water if you get thirsty. It's on the honor system. If you take one, just pay 75 cents when you get back to the gift shop. There's also a cell phone in case of emergencies, and a port-o-potty if you feel the need. With that he hopped back in the truck and we were left to our own devices. 

We've got two hours! Let's get to searching! 
The weather today was so much better than when we were diamond mining. It's overcast which brings the temperatures down considerably. 

This borrowed shovel has seen some action. 

The kids started finding stuff right away. We brought rags to wrap our finds in. They put all their found treasures on one of them instead of calling us over to look at every rock they picked up. 

Alli - This is the best hill in the world! Whatever we find we can keep!

An excavator has broken up the ground here. For a little while Theresa and I tried digging the hard packed ground, but it was super easy and even more fruitful to find crystal in the loose soil. I asked Ian if he could start it up for us find us some good crystals. 

Alli is having a lot more fun here. The great part is that you're discovering something interesting every few minutes! 

Ian cracked open a rock and found lots of little crystals growing inside. He was pretty impressed with himself and came around to show us. It did look pretty awesome! We'll get a closer look a bit later. 

It's pretty hard to tell what you've got right away. You need to brush off a bit of the red clay to see what you've got underneath. 

With about 5 minutes to go, I started digging in a new spot and something popped out at me. I kept exposing more and more of it and realized that it was a pretty good sized quartz crystal cluster! 
Joe (calmly) - Hey Theresa, do you want to come help me over here? 
Theresa realized that was code for "I've found something really good! Come help me find more while there's still time!"

A very short time later, we hear the engine of the truck coming back down the road. We collected up all our tools and buckets and hopped into the back. Crystal mining was so much more fun than diamond mining. These are like the sparkly rocks you'd find and treasure as a kid, but they're even better! They look like actual treasure! 

Let's see those hands. I think I ended up getting the dirtiest. 

It was a fun ride back, except Ian said his head kept banging against the metal bars. 

Here's my best find. I'll get it cleaned up and take another picture. 

After putting our finds in the car, Theresa went back inside to get her license. 

We'd definitely do this again. 

The kids are looking through the rocks again, making sure they're happy with their selections. 

This is what a $25 bag of quartz crystals looks like. 

Time for lunch. We're going back to the RV for a real lunch, but why not have dessert first? This Dairyette seems like a happening place, and was recommended by the people at the Wegner Mine. 

Theresa and I each got a twist cone. 

As did the kids. 

Ian loves maraschino cherries and asked if they could put some on top of his ice cream. They gave him a cup with cherries to go with his ice cream, along with a cake cone on top. 

Alli loves cherries too and quickly asked for the same thing. I had a taste and definitely agree. Cherries make it better. 

The kids were ready to clean our treasures as soon as we got home, but the weather had other plans. I'm really glad we did the morning quartz mining and not the afternoon!

Afterwards at camp we pulled out some disposable tooth brushes and 5 gallon buckets with soapy water and went to work cleaning up our treasures. 

I read that Oxalic Acid will remove the red iron deposits on the crystals. The soapy water and toothbrushes did a pretty good job though. 

Oh look, Ian found another bug. 

Here's all our finds. 

This is the large crystal cluster I found with just a few minutes remaining. 

And here's that stone that Ian cracked open. Really pretty buddy. 

Some rocks we didn't know what they contained, so we took them with us anyway. 

Looking through and identifying their favorites. 

We'll keep a few for ourselves, give away a few to friends, and the rest we'll scatter around the campground. 

Lastly, there were some rocks that appeared to have a layer of crystals inside, but needed some convincing. The kids and I donned protective eyewear, and armed with a hammer and crowbar, we busted up the rest of our big rocks. Nothing particularly interesting came out of them unfortunately. They were mostly just white rock and nothing that we would call a crystal. 

This was a great experience and I'd totally do it again! The crystals you find might not be worth much, but it's such a thrill to find them that the experience trumps it all. 

Ian - The crystal was soooooo fun. My favorite part was finding big chunks. I bought Alli and me a ore piece. I want to go back. 

1 comment:

  1. Now the family can add Quartz Crystal Mining to their mining list! Definitely looked enjoyable for everyone. Lots of interesting/beautiful quartz and rocks...rose quartz (lovely pink), huge purple amethyst cathedral (so purple), and neon-looking purple/pink rocks (amazing color)! Glad Alli found "the best hill" for her digging :-) Good thing it was a morning mining trip, instead of the afternoon...perfect timing! Lots of interesting crystal finds, from the single ones to the cluster ones. Just a fun time digging for the crystals, and then the anticipation to see what's really there after cleaning them up (suddenly reminded me of opening up a Cracker Jack box to search for the hidden prize, wondering what it would be). Oh yes, that truck ride was like the Indiana Jones jeep ride :-) EOM