Collecting Copper in Michigan’s Copper Country

Field Trip: Copper Country Collecting in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula

By Jeremy Zolan

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Supplies Needed:
Safety Goggles
Insect Repellant
Crack Hammer
Wrapping Paper for Specimens
Sledgehammer (optional)
Prybar (optional)
Metal Detector (optional)


The Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan has been nationally famous for over 100 years for its history of highly productive copper mining. The local basalt is criss-crossed with many thick veins of native copper that made up the main ore of many of the mines. Solid natural masses of copper weighing hundreds of pounds were found with relative frequency at the mines. Though these pieces certainly were the most valuable ore, the best specimens from the area are clusters of well formed copper crystals. Other metallic minerals can be found with the native copper such as silver, domeykite, mohawkite, and chalcocite. Many other interesting minerals like datolite, analcime, prehnite, agate, and thomsonite are also abundant in the Keweenaw Peninsula. While all the mines of the region are closed to copper production, many are maintained as museums and fee dig sites. There are also many abandoned mines in the area that can provide good digging in the dumps but be sure to acquire permission from landowners before visiting any location on private land.


Central Mine:
US 41
Central, MI 49950

Photo by Dave Maietta


The large tailings piles of the Central Mine are visible from US 41 in Central, Michigan. Many collectors have had good luck recently working this location. Occasionally, contractors remove large quantities of tailings for construction purposes and this exposes fresh material. In addition to the standard copper specimens, copper included calcite and prehnite can be found here. Silver has also been found with copper here but it is rare. A metal detector is very helpful for sorting trough dump piles like those found at the Central Mine.

Caption: Calcite with copper inclusions. Central Mine, Central, MI 4.9 cm x 4.6 cm x 4 cm Ex. Rukin Jelks Rob Lavinsky Photo

Caption: Unusually large copper crystal. Central Mine, Central, MI. George Vaux collection at Bryn Mawr College. Scale bar is 1” long with rule at 1cm. Rock Currier Photo.central_mine_copper

Caledonia Mine:
202 Ontonagon St,
Michigan 49953

The Caledonia Mine is a fee dig site that requires an advance reservation. When digging at this site, collectors are given a large pile of stockpiled copper ore and tools to go through it. Weekly collecting events on Thursdays and Saturdays are also held from the first Thursday in June to the last Saturday in August on the ore pile. Advance reservations are needed for these too. The workings of the Caledonia Mine are impressively preserved and tours are offered too. The mine tours aren’t necessarily just geared for casual guests. Many kinds of tours are offered, some with a very in depth historical or scientific focus. It is best to check the museum calendar to see if any events are happening during the time of your visit.

Caption: Representative specimen of native copper from the Caledonia Mine’s recent workings. 5.6cm wide. Rob Lavinsky Photo

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
Michigan Technological University
1404 E. Sharon Avenue
Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295
Telephone: (906) 487-2572

Michigan Tech’s A.E. Seaman Mineral museum is among the finest mineralogical museums in the world. Its laboratories are also critical in performing much of the cutting edge mineral research currently being performed. During the period of most intense copper mining in Michigan, many specimens of local minerals were donated to the museum. Their collection of Michigan minerals is the finest in the world and there is a strong local emphasis on their displays.

Check out our custom search and view all the minerals from Michigan for sale on eBay. Not only will you see lots of neat stuff for sale, you’ll also get an idea of what localities are producing in the region.

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Field Trip: Fluorite and Secondary Lead-Zinc Minerals from Marion, Kentucky

Field Trip: Fluorite and Secondary Lead-Zinc Minerals from Marion, Kentucky

Site Description:

The Illinois-Kentucky Fluorspar district is world famous for the enormous quantity of huge, gorgeously crystalline purple and yellow fluorite that originated from the now defunct mines near Cave-In-Rock Illinois. Just take a look at the amazing samples on eBay to get an idea of the current prices and selections. Many collectors do not know that despite the closure of the by far most significant fluorite localities in the region, there are still places in the area to find gorgeous fluorite. While many of these localities are abandoned mines that require deep underground exploration to retrieve specimens, the mines in Marion, Kentucky have specimen rich dumps that are easily worked by hand from the surface. While aesthetic material is plentiful, many of the workings are quite muddy and messy to dig in. It is important to keep in mind that while many gorgeous specimens can be had with minimal digging, specimens of similar quality to those seen in the nearby Ben E. Clement Museum, which features local minerals, are hard to find.

Perhaps the best central location to access all the mines in the region from is the Ben E. Clement mineral museum ( In the museum, they have many of the finest American fluorite specimens on display. Many are from the collection of the museum’s namesake- a giant in the local fluorite mining industry. It is amazing to see the near infinite color variation that fluorite possesses, especially the great diversity within the region. The museum has scheduled digs for fluorite and other kinds of minerals beginning late April through October. In addition to daytime digs, night digs for fluorescent specimens are held too. The museum can also arrange custom digs. Regardless, pre-registration is required.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Supplies Needed:
Safety Goggles
Insect Repellant
Hand Lens
Crack Hammer
Wrapping Paper for Specimens
Sledgehammer (optional)
UV Light (optional)

The Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum
205 N Walker St., Marion, KY 42064


The following is a list and brief description of common minerals found at the Marion area mines.

Calcite: A common gangue mineral. Rarely forms crystals good enough to keep. Often fluoresces red.

Cerussite: Very nice cerussite crystals come from the Marion mines and they are often overlooked. Forms colorless to smoky gray highly lustrous crystals associated with galena and hemimorphite. They either occur singly or are twinned and reach about 1cm in size. Crystals have diverse habits.


Image: Caption: Cerussite- Hickory Cane Mine, Marion, KY 17x13mm Steve Bonney Specimen and Photo

Fluorite: The most sought after mineral at the Marion mines. Found in sharp purple cubic crystals with a maximum diameter of about 3cm. Very easy to identify- the only purple colored mineral at any of the local mines. Found as micro to large cabinet sized specimens. The Marion area is world famous for fluorite.


Image: Caption: Fluorite- Eureka Mine, Marion, KY Crystals to 7.5mm Peter Cristofono Specimen and Photo

Galena: Small cubes of galena to around 1.5cm can be found. Often they are weathered.


Image: Caption: Columbia Mine, Marion KY 6x7cm Steve Bonney specimen and photo.

Greenockite: Rare naturally occurring cadmium sulfide that occurs as ochre colored powder with sulfide minerals, especially weathered sphalerite. Sometimes colors smithsonite yellow.

Hemimorphite: Hemimorphite forms druses of colorless to yellowish crystals in vugs and on weathering zinc minerals. Can cover areas to several cm with glittering crystals. Common, but often overlooked.


Image: Caption: Hickory Cane Mine, Marion, KY 1.7cm FOV Steve Bonney specimen and photo.

Hydrozincite: Powdery white secondary zinc mineral. Fluoresces blue under SW UV light.

Quartz: Typically occurs as small drusy or isolated crystals to 4mm. Some are smoky.

Smithsonite: Ususally forms thick, liberal coatings of colorless to tannish botryoidal material. Some specimens are crystalline and some are yellow colored due to the presence of greenockite inclusions. Cabinet specimens are known.


Photo: Caption: Marion, KY 7.5 x 6.5 x 5.8cm Rob Lavinsky photo

Sphalerite: Small aesthetic crystals of sphalerite to about 3mm are abundant. They are typically very lustrous and orange-brown in color.

By Jeremy Zolan

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UV Light usage in mineral collecting – A Review of a dual band light under $100!

I finally got tired of not having a UV light to use in the field. Years ago I had a nice unit with dual LW/SW and a 12v cigar lighter plug, which worked with lots of portable battery packs and in my car for those nighttime visits to classic UV locations. Sadly, this light was lost and replacing it would be a few hundred dollars.

But, you never know how much you miss something like a good UV light until it is gone. There are just so many things a UV light helps with when checking out minerals. From the visual identification to seeing if a purchased specimen is glued, a good UV light pays for itself, quickly.

I was excited to read about the improvements to handheld Lamp, an all in one unit with a long wave bulb and a strong short wave bulb powered by 6 watts, a decent output, for just under $100. The kit comes with the light, which requires 3D batteries, a sample of minerals to test the light with shortwave and longwave reactive specimens. Safety goggles and a cd rom with study guides and informative literature complete the package, all in all, it gives a great start to any beginner, while the advanced collector will appreciate the power this highly portable hand held unit produces. I found the LW light to be very bright and it made some of the fluorites in my collection to glow bright white/blue. The shortwave light gives a bright reaction, but typically from a distance of no more than 6 inches from the lamp. It will not light up a hillside, or even a whole flat of minerals, but it is perfect for “one on one” specimen viewing.

Below: Photos of the kit, the minerals that came with it and some UV reaction from those specimens.

UV Kit, includes the lamp, 10 mineral specimens, safety glasses and a cd full of information.

UV Kit, includes the lamp, 10 mineral specimens, safety glasses and a cd full of information. Available from

Shortwave Photo Sample two Calcite rhombs glowing bright red

Shortwave Light Sample (photo taken with Galaxy S2 Phone)

Longwave Light Sample (photo taken with Galaxy S2 Phone)

Longwave Light Sample (photo taken with Galaxy S2 Phone)

You can purchase this UV Lamp from the manufacture, directly at for $99.99.

There were two interesting things I learned by using this UV light. This agate deposit near my house became that much more interesting when I found out that every single piece of agate glows bright green under shortwave light. That means there is a lot of uranium in the area, which is giving the agate that color. Then, a hill over from that agate deposit, at another agate deposit, the brown crust on some of the agates was determined to be an uncommon variety of feldspar, after it was found that these crystals, in micron size, were glowing bright pink, typical of the species. You might wonder, so what, crusts of brown on agate? Well, the sweet thing is that these agates would now glow three different colors, green, pink and orange, sometimes yellow, as well. Three color rocks are what it is all about, so being able to notice the brown crusty bits on some of the agates helps identify them for further UV evaluation! It should be no surprise, those glowing agates include the local petrified palm root and what I like to call “Manix Lakebed Agate” which is a slurry of reeds, roots, rods and roughage from the lake that got silicated into a variety of translucent gel agate in shades of clear to black with red inclusions to a thick jasper-like layered wad of organics in stripes of black, red, cream and white. All of these organic masses were ripe with uranium! Several uranium deposits dot the mountains to the south, UV light is a great indicator of “hot rocks”!

At we give this product our recommendation for best starter kit for novices and backup/handheld for advanced collectors.
Just under $100.00 from a manufacturer who stands behind their product.

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Big Diamonds to be Found at the Crater of Diamonds State Park

3.85 Diamond Found at Crater of Diamond State Park
It has been a productive year at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. To date, October 26th, 2013, nearly 400 diamonds have been found over the span of the year, with some rather large ones, several over 2 carats. For instance, Oklahoma teen Tana Clymer found a beautifully formed 3.85-carat canary diamond on October 19th, very similar to the fine diamond that was found by the late Marvin Culver, also of Oklahoma, in 2006. That diamond, the 4.21 carat “Okie Dokie Diamond” has been featured in several books, magazines and has been on display to the public a few times. Another large diamond, a 5.16 carat diamond was found by 12-year-old Michael Dettlaff of North Carolina in August. A 2 carat brown stone was found in June and all of these stones have one thing in common…

Many of these large diamonds are often found on the surface of the digging area.

One of the things many people are shocked to see upon arriving at the park is the actual mine area. It looks like a freshly plowed dirt field, waiting to be seeded and farmed. This area is poked and prodded, pitted and flipped, in search of the small gems distributed in the dirt.
Digging for Diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park Field

Finding the park is very easy, once you are in the general area of Murfreesboro, Arkansas you will see signs pointing to the famous state park. You pay a nominal fee per person and go out into the field to search. You can dig, collect dirt and screen it, looking through the mud for a glassy pebble.
Digging for Diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park

Or, you can do what many of the people who find the large diamonds do, simply walk around the dirt field, looking for crystals that have risen to the surface.
Digging for Diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park

Either way, the Crater of Diamonds State Park is a great place to visit and try your luck at finding a precious stone. The chance of finding one of these stones is stacked against you, but if you happen across one of those rare 2+ carat stones, the Associated Press would like to acquire your photo posing with the stone.

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Rock Hounding for Agates in SouthWest Texas

Rock Hounding West Texas for Agate and many other great finds
By Erin Balzrette
for Katy Rock Shop

Agate from South-Western Texas

Above: Banded Agate from the Alpine Texas area

After rock hounding in Texas with a guide as amazing as Frank Roberts of Austin, Texas, Dawn and I felt ready to go it alone. Also, we begged Frank to come if we got lost or could not identify what we were seeing, and he emailed us all weekend to be sure we were safe. Like I said, we “went it alone”, with Frank on stand-by. We grabbed a copy of The Gem Trails of Texas by Brad Lee Cross and decided to head out.

Agate from South-Western Texas

Above: Classic Agate from the Alpine Texas area

I called Paul at Moonlight Gemstone, of Marfa, TX, (432-729-4526) Bruce Huff, of Katy Rock Shop has a great respect for his beautiful work as do I, and I could not wait to see it for myself, and meet him. The Marfa agate is breathtaking. Paul Graybeal has exclusive rights to the private property in which most of Marfa agate is found. He explained that access to for us to do some hounding would not be possible. He keeps names or locations of land owners who place trust in him to protect their land from sought after agate to himself. It is easy to see why he protects the agate he does. It should be protected, and the land owners have the right to feel their trust has been in no way misplaced. Instead, he invited us to come see him work! This was an incredible offer that I was not about to miss! Paul is thoughtful, generous, patient and kind. I was as impressed by the man, as I was by the work he did, and the agate that surrounded us. Spending the afternoon watching him work, letting us work with him, learn from him, was and experience I will not forget.

Agate from Western Texas

Above: FIRE AGATE from the Alpine Texas area

We couldn’t wait to get to Woodward Ranch ( famous for the beautiful red plume agate only found there. There is so much more to find at the ranch! The Labradorite is a clear yellow! Opals that are gorgeous, and what she calls “yard art” is some of the most beautiful I have seen. (Yard art … no charge!) $6.00 a person, you are given a detailed map, a quick learner’s course, and shoos you before it gets too hot! When you return she counts it out, $6.00 a lb. for agate. We each left paying 18 dollars, 2 lbs. of agate, and many more lbs. of “yard art” so beautiful I am thrilled to have found it. A few items I collected from this trip are on my website. She was a delightful woman who spoke of her late husband Trey in a way that made you want to sit all day and talk to her. I, like so many others, are so grateful that Woodward Ranch is still operating and allowing others to see the wonder it has to offer.

Terri Smith of Alpine, TX, emailed to explain that she will set up Agate “Hunts” for you, a group, or family, in the fall. THE FALL when it’s….cooler? Terri is the logical one here. And so we will go back in the fall and go to the Ranches able to be hounded at that time on the tours given. The email was very nice and suggested that we try the book I had bought for the journey. I was grateful for the advice, and that I had picked the right book! I have heard only great things about Terri and her extensive knowledge of the area and experience.

“The Gem Trails of Texas Book” by Brad Lee Cross, was for our purposes to the mile, correct and accurate in its description of findings, and location. We found beautiful Jasper at the picnic table Jasper sight 8 miles from Marathon. Exactly as the book said. Amazon is one seller that carries the Gem Trails Series.

Agate from South-Western Texas

Above: Iron Rich Agate Geode from the Alpine Texas area

The West Texas Agate was a trip we will never forget, filled with beautiful surprises showing in each piece you see from that area. While visiting the Katy Rock Shop, you will see pieces from all over Needle Peak, Woodward, Marfa, and so much more and it is all there waiting to show you the beauty of West Texas.

Please find links to Katy Rock Shop, Terri Smith, Moonlight Gemstone, Woodward Ranch, Frank Roberts, and more at my website Pieces I collected during this trip are displayed on the site as well.

Agate from South-Western Texas

Above: Iron Rich Carnelian Agate from the Alpine Texas area

Here at we love using to find places to stay while out rockhounding!
And you never know when that hole in the ground is going to require working after hours on, so with,
No Change or Cancel fees on lodging bookings!
So, find a hotel around Marfa, Texas or Alpine Texas and get out and collect some Agates!

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