Fieldtrip Report:

Hogg Beryl Mine,
LaGrange Crystal Mine
LaGrange, Georgia
February 11th and 12th, 2006

by Leah Jewel Commer
photos by Don Aldridge

This past weekend my girls and I had the opportunity to visit the Hogg Mine and Clear Crystal Mine in LaGrange, GA, managed and operated by Rodney Moore. Due to threatening snow conditions, we left Birmingham Friday afternoon, making our way over to LaGrange so we would be there bright and early Saturday morning.

The morning dawned early, of course, but far from bright. A misting cold rain was falling as we loaded into the car Saturday a.m. The girls, however, were all bundled up and excited to be going on their first crystal collecting trip. They had their hoods on, I had my hat on, we all had hand warmers and foot warmers, (wonderful invention!) so we were ready for the weather.

Upon arriving, we saw that Marie and Don Aldridge and Bill Mitchum (Wild Bill from Fayetteville), who were acting as hosts of the site for the day, had already built a lovely blazing fire and were registering the DMC members as they arrived.

Leading folks to the tourmaline area

Bill and Don gave us a little introduction as to the type of material we would be collecting that day, and armed with our tools, we started off toward the beryl and rose quartz pits. Hoping to share some of my relatively new experience with my girls, I showed them how to scan the surface for material and then how to rake the tailing piles also.

Digging for beryl

It wasn't long before Sarah Jewel picked up something off the surface and asked me, "Is this good? I have found several little pieces of it." Examining it, I realized that she was already finding some small beryl. While she continued to concentrate on the blue green material, AnnaLeah and I went to the wall where we saw several Mica books visible and began trying to dig those out intact. Despite our limited success with that particular object, we did manage to get some fairly nice pieces.

Going after the mica books

Next, we worked in the rose quartz pit alongside Marie Aldridge. I had already learned on previous digs, where Marie is present, to keep her in sight because she always seems to be carrying around some wonderful "find". (John D., you should be worried, because Marie has tried to shake me before without much success!) Anyway, this was no exception, as she helped us identify some clearly beautiful rose quartz.
In fact, I found so many garden rocks of rose quartz, that we had to take Don's wagon down to the pit and Mark loaded them up so we could haul all of it back to my 4Runner!

Checking the wall for treasure

Despite the wet and cold, we always had the fire to run to and back up against for a minute...just long enough to thaw and then away to the pits again. At lunch, we took a break to eat the falling-off-the-bone baby back ribs that Don had grilled...a perfect compliment to the cold! (I should mention that when Don isn't cooking or carrying Marie's rocks to the car, he is a phenomenal photographer.)

My girls never complained once during that entire long day...they were just having too much fun! Of course, it helped that they were finding more stuff than their mom!

Full of ribs and smiling

On Sunday morning, we headed over to the Clear Crystal Mine. Happily, though very cold (with a little intermittent spitting snow), the day was mostly dry and the sun peeked out from time to time. After a "wild" ride in Bill Mitchum's truck out to the mine...(now I know where that nickname came from), we dug in the pit all day for the clear quartz crystals. Although we had intended to stay for half a day, we ended up staying all day, because we were enjoying digging and spending time with our wonderful friends.

All in all, it was just a perfect weekend spent with my daughters, making memories...sharing something that I have grown to love, and having the opportunity to see them develop an interest that has them outside, enjoying a portion of the beauty of the world surrounding us, as well as the beauty below us.



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