SVG&MS History

“GEMS FROM THE SHENANDOAH”

Shenandoah Valley Gem and Mineral Society
Waynesboro, VA.

A GLIMPSE OF HISTORY

BY BOB HELT
30 SEPTEMBER 1999

At the request of our club President  I reviewed all past club records to summarize our club history.  Betty Loyd our long time member and past secretary gave me three hardbound binders with club records from Apr 1965. The records were far from complete with many years missing. The following is a summary of highlights.
The club was formed in 1963 (as best I can determine).  I can not tell exactly when/how the club was formed but there is a note (Feb 1968 Bulletin) stating the club had been in existence for six years. An article in the Feb 1968 bulletin states: ” It would be interesting to new members if a historian could be appointed to record all the facts and long hard road we traveled getting organized, getting equipment with no money at all hardly, begging a place to meet, etc, It was not easy; it did not spring up over night.  Had it not been for certain members of our group there would be no Rock Club.”
_ Christmas club dinners have been a tradition since at least Dec 1965; initially the dinners were held at the Church.
_ Long standing members (at least since Apr 1965) still active in the club are Harold Whitten and Leo Cloutier.
_ A note appearing in all early correspondence (1965) states that a copy of the Charter or by-laws will be given to each new member. Per 11 Feb 85 minutes, the by-laws were updated and revised.  Unfortunately none were attached.
_ Club meetings were held at the club room –
Waynesboro Church Of the Brethren since Apr 65; separate workshop nights were held on the second and forth of each month.
_ Name for club bulletin “Gems from the Shenandoah” was won Apr 1965 (in a club contest) by Mrs. James
Kidd and christened by a chunk of Unakite.

_  There was another club in Charlottesville (Albemarle Club); as they jointly met at least on two occasions._  The first fall mineral show was held 12-13 Nov 1966 at Waynesboro High School girl’s gym. (the first
show was members only – no dealers. Betty Lloyd’s Father made the rock display cases for $5 each; approx. 20 were made. A further note states the 27th Annual Gem and Mineral show was held in 1992 ._ The club picnic (in Aug) has been held  since at least since Aug 1966.
_ The club membership has waxed and waned over the years with from 8 to 35+ members attending meetings. Discussion have been held on how to increase membership. Interest in forming a junior club has been discussed several times in the past; however none were apparently started.
_ $50 dollars per year was approved (Apr 1969) for set aside to pay for the annual program; e.g., to reimburse speakers, rental fees for films etc.
_ Honorary  members have been approved in the past to received monthly bulletins after moving away or due to illness, etc.
_ Historic topic of discussion has been problem with equipment and proper operation in the work shop.
_ The earliest record for discussion on the scholarship fund was Feb 1982.  The fund was awarded to a student in the field of scientific study with a comment “financial need should have some bearing on our choice.  In one case due to lack of  students we sent a member to Wild Acres.

_ For quite a few years the club has had an annual picnic to Graves Mountain lodge to look for unakite and have lunch.
_ There were separate program and refreshment lists.

COLLECTING  SITES

There have been several compiled lists of field trips and collecting sites in Virginia; unfortunately none were attached.  The following is a cryptic list of collecting sites as mentioned in the monthly notes. All sites are assumed to be in Virginia unless otherwise stated.
_ O. W. Harris Mica Farm, not far from Richmond, near Ashland and Coatesville. No details of what was found.
_ Westmoreland State Park, located near Montross in Westmoreland County covering 1355 acres.  Perfect for collecting fossils (alligator hide, perfect clams and shark teeth) can be found along the shore and in the cliffs.
_ An old copper mine near Nellysford. It seems one must dig in with “toes, teeth, and fingernails” to gain the
covered treasure.  The climb was almost straight up but the specimens of native copper, malachite, pyrite
and chalcopyrite, were well worth the climb. One member found an arrowhead on the trail to the mine.
_ Syria VA: Be prepared to wade in the river for Unakite, red jasper and blue quartz.
_ Fork Union, VA: Rhodonite deposit (pink manganese silicate occurring usually in massive form suitable for cutting and polishing).  Some crystals can be found there; also fluorescent material. NOTE: This is a fee site.
_ Valley Stone Quarry near Staunton VA: Uncovered a cave while blasting – beautiful stalagmites, stalactites, helictites (stone flowers); travertine deposits were present in many places.
_ Corundum Hill, NC: Rubies and sapphires.
_ Rutherford Mine in Amelia VA: Cleavlandite, smokey quartz and feldspar.
_ Sugar Hollow (off Rt. 81): Found some nice amygdaloidal basalt, jasper and pyrite.
_ At a location near Yellow Mountain members found nice amethyst crystals and a phantom amethyst crystal.
_ Virginia Beach: Large pile of large boulders of unakite (used to strengthen the bulkhead at the far end of the beach near the fishing pier).  The most brilliant red and green the visitor had ever scene.

_ Excavations in Richmond: Green vivianite crystals with delicate radiating needles (derived from prehistoric stone (see Harold Whitten for details).
_ Rule Hollow at the foot of Brent’s Mountain and a place near Diamond Hill to look for gold – no gold found.
_ Schuykill River near Reading PA: Agate brought over during the war used as ballast by ships was dumped by trains along the River.  Agate was of good quality for cutting and polishing.  Also, on Miss Dorothy Reinbold’s (Librarian, Waynesboro Public Library) fathers farm, at Deer Lake near Hamburg PA, many fossils can be found to include one that is quite rare and is the only known location.
_ Chestnut Ridge, Bathe Co, VA: Steep climb up through the woods to a location of quartz crystals.
_ Michigan: Near Mohawk lovely mohawkite (a mixture of silver and quartz ) and copper-bearing datolite was found;  Ishpeming Michigan – beautiful gem hematite; petosky stones at Charlevoix Michigan.
_ Lynches Station VA: Nothing spectacular but some small specimens of turquoise were found.
_ New Hope VA : Nice quartz crystals and  some smokey quartz crystals were found.
_  At the Crimora Mines (to look for manganese, red ocher and blue quartz) members found pyrolusite crystals upon breaking open large nodules or chunks of manganese.
_ Florida: On the bank of a canal near Ocals was found quite a bit of dogtooth calcite, nailhead spar and about a gallon of echinoids (fossils). Tampa: coral on the shore at low tide (had to dig holes).
_ Faber VA lead-zinc mine; good collecting site for galena.
_ Rockbridge County near Goshen where a new bridge is being built over the river  (article dated June 1968). Bleeding crinoids; the color is really superb for this area – almost equal to chazy fossil rock.  Many other fossils are throughout the crystalline matrix.  It cuts and polishes and is very colorful.
_ Mineral VA: Specimens to be found include: pyrite, chalcopyrite, silver, magnetite and gold at the old  mine
dumps.  CAUTION – anyone going should be very careful on the banks where the old timbers are. The ground is very unstable and will fall away beneath you due to the excavating during mining operations.  Gold flakes were found; a magnet was used to remove the pyrite and magnetite and finally tested with nitric acid (dissolves all sounding minerals and leaves the gold).
_ Moore Mines is developing into sites with lots of interesting rocks; possible field trip planned. No further details provided.

_ Petrified palm tree found in Florence , SC.
_ Soapstone mines in Schuyler, VA.
_ Near Charlotte Court House; excellent site for collecting amethyst.
_ Calvert Cliffs for fossil hunting; no further details.
_ Gold panning on WestVaco property near Spruces Corner.  No further details provided.
_ Willis Mountain (Rt. 15 South of Sprouces Corner); open to club members; however will need mine operator approval.
_ Belmont Limestone quarry near Staunton
_ Lone Jack Mine; minerals to be found include: dolomite, purple fluorite, and calcite crystals.
_ An article had been written Oct, 21, 1937 on the silver mine in Augusta Co. Palmer Sweet in 1980 visited the mine and found it exactly as the 1937 article described.
_ Spruce Pine (NC): Emeralds and moonstone were found.
_ Charley McLear’s secret gold panning location near Dillwin VA (Rt. 15 and 20 intersect).
_ Nelsonite and blue quartz – near Bryant, Nelson County, VA.
_ Ligon and Morefield Mines (near Amelia VA):  Results proved to be quite productive. Same materiel as the Rutherford mine (Both are fee mines).
_ Spruce Pine (NC): Emeralds and moonstone were found.
_ Ligon and Morefield Mines (near Amelia VA):  Results proved to be quite productive. Same materiel as the Rutherford mine (Both are fee mines).

_ Cedar Mountain Quarry, Mitchells, Culpeper VA: Excellent collecting site for a variety of minerals to include: prehnite, pectolite, epidote, amphibole and stilbite.  Many other minerals can be found.

 

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