Ossipee Mountains, Ossipee, New Hampshire, October, 2011

A pristine 3" smoky quartz crystal is removed from the pocket

Fortunately, it cleaned up pretty good!

What a perfect day for collecting! It was early October - the sun was shining, the temperature was in the low 70's, and the bugs had packed up and headed south for the season. Our day started with the long drive up from Western Massachusetts to Ossipee, NH, which is about halfway up the eastern side of the state. The fall foliage was at its peak, which unfortunately was none too glorious due to 6 weeks of heavy rain and the lack of a killing frost. We arrived in Ossipee at about 10:30 AM.

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2.7" Sharp Flashy Gemmy Orange GROSSULAR GARNET Crystals Asbestos, Quebec

It is a ten hour drive from our home in Greenfield, MA to Bancroft, Ontario - the home of the Bancroft Gemboree. I drove up with a couple of buddies from the Keene, NH Mineral Club, as we planned to go collecting for three days after the show. I last visited this show in 1998 (15 years ago), when it was still a relatively small indoor/outdoor event. This year was the show's 50th anniversary, and they celebrated the event in style with dinners, speeches, etc. There was some rain in the morning of the day I attended the show, but by noon it was over and later the sky cleared.

17 gem crystals from the Big Pocket

In September, 2006 I attended the Franklin, NJ show for the first time, hoping to buy some quality specimens. I was not disappointed, as the tailgaters were out in force, and there was lots of great material to choose from. After picking up our purchases, Jeanne and I headed over to Ogdensburg, to the Sterling Hill Mine Museum. We had been given a tip that the museum was holding its annual gem and mineral sale to clear out some of its excess specimens, and we decided to go take a look. We perused the goodies laid out on tables in the picnic area, then introduced ourselves to president and co-founder Richard Hauck, who showed us around the storage warehouse. It is a fairly large metal building, packed to the rafters with flats and boxes of mineral specimens piled onto heavy metal shelving. The specimens were of every quality level, from 25¢ to hundreds of dollars, all donated to the museum since it first opened in 1990. Amongst the flats we discovered a box marked "Smoky Quartz, Lovejoy Pits, Conway, NH." The locality, now closed, had its heyday in the 1950s, producing superb specimens of pegmatite minerals such as smoky quartz, topaz, and amazonite. Inside the box were about 30 smoky quartz crystals plus a bunch of smaller shards, along with an envelope with the return address of Wesley Crozier of Fair Haven, N.J (who died in 2000). Written in big letters were the words, "Smoky quartz crystals Big Find - 1959". Inside was a hand written document, which was an account of finding the crystals, along with a list of the size, weight and gem percentage of each crystal. I negotiated an acceptable price with Hauck, and we brought the lot home.

For decades, New England mineral collectors have been drawn to Diamond Ledge in north central Connecticut in search of the excellent quality milky quartz crystal plates and clusters for which it is famous. Those who have worked the site with grit, determination, and back-breaking labor have regularly been rewarded with significant specimens. And, those lucky enough to find pockets have sometimes brought home several 5-gallon buckets filled with these highly aesthetic and desirable plates of large-size milky quartz crystals. This well-known, prolific locality is in Shenipsit State Forest, in West Stafford, Tolland Co., Connecticut. It is a wooded area, giving plenty of shade even on a hot summer day, and at the bottom of the steep slope where collectors dig for crystals is a stream with a waterfall and ample pools of water for rinsing mud off of specimens or taking a quick bath.

by Mike New

Treasure Mountain Mining photos; map by Eric Greene

Note: Have you ever dreamed of traveling to a foreign country and buying up and bringing home thousands and thousands of dollars of mineral specimens? I know I have, and in the process I've romanticized the trip into a series of exciting collecting adventures in fabulous localities in the most remote corners of the globe, where I buy the most fantastic and beautiful crystals for pennies. Alas, the reality doesn't come anywhere close to my fantasies (it never does, does it?), but I have been enjoying for several years the opportunity to be an armchair traveler when my friend Mike New heads to Mexico to buy minerals. Here is his latest report, which he has generously agreed to let us share with you. Enjoy! - Eric

Collecting at the Blue Pit on Plumbago Mountain in Newry, Maine

Newry Hill, a spur off Plumbago Mountain, is the most prolific tourmaline producer in Maine. Since its discovery in 1898, production from the mine has exceeded thousands of kilograms of high-quality tourmaline. Then, in August 1972, three amateur mineral collectors traveled to Newry, Maine for a weekend of digging to see if they could find any tourmaline. They hit a series of small pockets containing gem crystals that were so promising that they leased the property, and in October opened some major pockets. This was to become the largest discovery of gem tourmaline in the world, producing one metric ton of fine-quality tourmaline, consisting of many variations of colors never seen before. Overnight, the lives of the collectors who made this legendary find were changed forever.