The Surprise Pocket
in Gilman Notch, Center Ossipee, Carroll County, New Hampshire

by Jonathon Herndon and Eric S. Greene

All photos by Eric Greene. Click on photos to see enlarged versions.


View of Bayle Mountain reflected in Connor Pond, Ossipee, New Hampshire

This is article was first published in the March-April, 2011 edition of Rocks & Minerals magazine. The only changes that have been made are to add extra photos. This article is reproduced with permission of the publisher. Rocks & Minerals is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g935274222.

Arguably the greatest thrill for any serious field collector is discovering, opening and collecting an over-sized, jam-packed crystal pocket. Unfortunately, it's an event that most field collectors never experience. When such an exciting find does occur, it's a thrill that we believe should be shared with the mineral collecting community. The tale of the Surprise Pocket is such a story - with an appalling twist - as told through the eyes of coauthor Jon Herndon.

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.

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.


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.