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Posts Tagged ‘collecting minerals’

I am by no means a professional rockhound. My education is as both a gemologist and a geographer, but I believe both rockhounding (collecting minerals) and my other great interest – caving have been in my heart since childhood. And where better to rockhound than Bancroft, but a word of caution, as both rockhounding and caving appear on my site. Both activities are related to rock, but neither should ever meet. Cave mineral deposits must stay in the caves and a caver who shares both interests (and there are many) should never let their inner rockhound loose beneath the surface.

Wearing my rockhound persona this past Saturday afternoon I headed out to the Bancroft Chamber of comerce to get a vibe on the local collecting possibilities. For a place that styles itself as the mineral capital of Canada, they do very little to encourage that reputation. Remembering back to my childhood, rockhounding was everything in Bancroft – now it is just faded memories and hanging onto loose and fragile threads. Fortunately mother nature takes care of basics and continues giving back. I left the Chamber of commerce disillusioned – not by the staff, not their fault, just the general malaise of the people who call the shots. No effort to justify the reputation.

Anyway I picked up an ice Cap from Tim Hortons and headed off on a kind of aimless ramble, and within about half an hour I’d come upon a spectacular crystal vug (cavity) from which I spent the next few hours scooping crystals.

The cavity is shown in my video – Click here for Crystal cavity in Bancroft video

It was a calcite seam within a road cutting that had been opened by someone else and then abandoned as they obviously did not know what they had found and if they had looked within the cavity when they hammered it open it would be they not me who was posting the pictures.

My point is, you just need to know what to look for. Bancroft is famous for its calcite intrusions, a mineral that solidifies last from molten rock and so it acts as a medium for other minerals to grow in. The vug that I extracted crystals from was predominantly filled with amphibole and feldspar crystals and lying loose in the bottom of the part of the cavity that I dug into were a few doubly terminated crystals – having grown in the medium as opposed to being attached to the cavity wall. In retrospect, looking at the video it becomes obvious that the seam runs on an angle and there is likely to be a lot more to be extracted if rockhounds just follow up and down along the incline of the seam. As this rock cut is in a public place I will just leave its exact location for you to figure out, but there is enough in what I have said and shown on the video for you to quickly pin-point the general vicinity of the deposit.

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Abandoned mine in Quebec – Bristol Mine

P1020339, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Had an interesting time last weekend. I went to see the old abandoned Bristol Mine along the banks of the Ottawa River. The “town” of bristol mines still exists and the old mine property is still obvious for its enormous heaps tailings.

Bristol Mines had been opened in 1872 and by the mid 1950’s over 350 people were employed with shafts dropping down below 1200 feet (iron ore).

From the fence line you could see this piece of machinery, it is at the one end of a concrete building. I believe it is part of the “concentrator”. I suspect that there is still industry of some kind taking place on the property, the roads are plowed.

The day was incredibly cold and our time outside the car felt like were were on some kind of polar expedition – snow above the knees and icy wid that numbed the face. I think I will have to return in the summer and pay better attention to the whole area. We were on “Gold mine road Sud”. There has to be a reason for that name as well as a nearby lake “Lac de oro” and other well known mines and possible rockhounding sites (Moss mine etc).

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Abandoned Mine in Northern Ontario

P1010856, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I had one heck of a time finding the Harcourt Graphite Mine, following directions from an old guide book only to discover that the directions were wrong. Simply put, the mine is only about 150 meters off highway 648 – just outside Harcourt. Being densely wooded, I wandered well past the old buildings and ended somewhere off in the middle of nowhere.

Amongst other somewhat unfortunate events that day I stepped on a rusty nail in the remnants of the old mill. I actually found the diggings by limping through the bush, imagining from clues how they would have situated the mill in respect to where they would have been digging their ore.

This is an example of the kind of mine that is better left un-explored. I went only as far as the adit entrance to get this picture. The roof looks like it needs scaling – just waiting for some errant explorer to bump a rock and down it all comes. I would imagine that the graphite is in the lighter coloured rock as the guide book says that ” yellow jarosite and and rusty goethite” are powdered over the graphite.

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Raw silver found as wire – sold at the Bancroft Gemboree

P1010606, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

If you want it you can find it at the Bancroft Gemboree.

Yeah – they look like fletched arrow spines, barbs on fish hooks or just poorly made hooks but as the vendor explained, they are naturally occuring pieces of silver wire.

I am especially interested in what can be found up in cobalt. There was a massive silver strike up there in the early 1900s. According to the fellow that I was speaking to he said he had no luck in Cobalt – shook his head like it had been a really distasteful experience. “Got these from California”. I suspect he was keeping me clear of a rich hunting ground.

These pieces of silver wire are sometimes found in tangled balls and at other times in thick strands like the branches of a dead tree.

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Bancroft Gemboree 2008

P1010580, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This lady was selling pink buddhas at the Bancroft Gemboree. I have just got back from spending the weekend there and I have taken a number of interesting photos of the people and the minerals that were being sold. This was the first person that I saw as I walked in.

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