Field Trip Report:

Sheepcliff Aquamarine Mine
Jackson County
Final Days of the Sheepcliff Mine
Spring and Summer 2003

by: Richard Jacquot

The Sheepcliff Aquamarine Mine was a granite pegmatite vein that the miners followed into the mountain on top of Little Sheepcliff Mountain in Jackson County, North Carolina. The mine was operated in the early 40's for gem grade aquamarine, and later for mica. The pegmatite consisted mainly of feldspar, mica, and quartz, with by products like, beryl, garnet, rutile, aquamarine, etc. This report is to document the last few months of collecting that took place at this once famous mine and to show the specimens we were able to salvage from the dumps before the site was closed for good. And most importantly, to preserve the history of a mine that is now gone forever.

For me, the story began in the spring of 2003. I received a call from a man named Thomas Craig, he asked me if I was the person who had written the book on NC mining locations and had included the Sheepcliff Mine. He said he had met a man at the mine who had my book named John Deney. It seemed that Mr. Craig had purchased the land that the mine was on and was planning to build a house over the site. He then invited myself and a few close friends to collect at the site while the work was taking place. This of course, was a fantastic opportunity for any rockhound! Steve Penley and I met with John D. at the mine a few days later. Once there, we employed the use of the 50,000 lb.track hoe on site to move a little dirt for us.

Within 10 minutes of having the first scoops of earth removed, Steve found this monster beryl crystal.

Steve's 5" x 4" beryl

We soon realized that beryl and aquamarine were not the only things we would find, high quality smoky quartz crystals, small amounts of rutile, gem garnet, and some of the largest feldspar crystals I have ever collected were also to be had.

John D., R.J. Jacquot, and Steve Penley working the dumps.

Pegmatite specimen containing giant feldspar crystals that I recovered from the dump material, see lens cap and 5 gallon bucket for size.

John D. and me

A pic of Steve's swelled up hand after having an 80 pound rock dropped on it!, just goes to show what happens when you don't get out of John D's way!

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