Collecting Staurolite Crosses in Sugar Hill, NH

Write By: tmmadmin Published In: Mineral Collecting Stories Created Date: 2015-01-09 Hits: 1761 Comment: 0

After a brief shower in the morning, the skies cleared and it was partly sunny, cool and great collecting weather for out late September collecting trip to Sugar Hill, NH. The leaves had started to turn, and some areas were very colorful- especially west-facing hillsides that were covered with bright red, orange and yellow maples. Six of us from the Keene Mineral Club attended the club field trip.

I hadn't been to this site for 5 years, so I didn't know how heavily the area had been collected since I was last there. Friends had told me that the whole hillside south of the where we were to collect was rich with staurolite, not just up at the top where I had collected earlier. And, they said there were stone walls that were a great source for the plates of schist the staurolite is found in. What we were looking for were rocks where the matrix had weathered away faster than the staurolite crystals, leaving them sticking out above the gray schist. Of course some of the staurolites had been weathered away a lot or partially, and these were not as sharp, crisp and desirable as the ones that were damage free.

I found the best crystals by following a ridge that outcropped occasionally along about ½ mile of the hillside, at about a 15º strike, and an 80º dip. As I followed the ridge uphill, I'd stop at every outcrop and boulder, and I'd pull off the moss and examine the rock for crosses, and just collect these. Along this ridge there were a very low percentage of crosses, and most spots had none at all. I probably looked at several thousand crystals, and only found and chiseled out a dozen crosses, both 90º and 60º/120º, on matrix from 2" to 8". My best find was a nice sharp 90º, about 1.7", sticking out at an angle revealing two sharp flat terminations. The crosses I brought home ranged from crisply unweathered to very weather-worn. The schist is just soft enough that you can trench around the crosses on the boulders and outcrops, then pop them off by undermining. Next time I'll bring smaller, sharper chisels and a 4lb hammer just for extraction. Two guys dug found a stone wall that had nice lustrous staurolites to 2" with fair coverage in large, but there were no crosses. One of them hauled out half a dozen huge 2'+ matrix pieces that were richly covered with shiny staurolite crystals. He layered them in the back of his Subaru wagon like lasagna, with blankets between layers.

When we gathered at the parking area at the end of the day, everyone was happy with their finds and we all brought home good staurolite crystals. Good weather, good digging, good crystals, good friends - all made for a memorable day in the field.

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