Fee Localities in St. Lawrence County, New York

By Michael Walter

PO Box 137

Nicholville, New York 12965

 

     

                   Tourmaline in Calcite                                                                              Scapolite                                                                            Fluor-uvite on Tremolite                                    Fluorapatite

 

St. Lawrence County, New York has been well known for its many famous mineral collecting localities, mines, and mineral prospects for at least 200 years.  Its minerals can be viewed in museums world-wide and its diversity of species is ever-growing.  The number of “classic” sites and Dana localities that have produced minerals is lengthy and second to no other county on the United States east coast.  However, for the contemporary mineral collector more interested in finding well formed crystals than delving into the history of specimen mineralogy, these facts may be of little interest.

The Owen Property, A New Locality. 

For most collectors the amazing thing about St. Lawrence County is that many locations of historic note are still accessible and still producing exceptional mineral specimens today.  In fact, many of these classic localities are currently producing specimens that exceed the quality of those found in the past.  Further, there are newly discovered locations coming to light that are sometimes available to the collector.  One such location is on the land of Mike Owen in the town of Pierrepont.  Recently discovered by local mineral prospector, Donnie Carlin, Jr. of Russell, the site has just begun producing minerals for those willing to investigate. 

The story of this new locality begins in 2011 when Donnie took it upon himself to investigate the properties in the vicinity of the famous Powers farm and Finlay farms.  He basically, scoured the forest, turning over boulders looking for signs of mineralization.  After a great deal of work he began digging in a ridge on the property of Mike Owen finding beautifully crystallized groupings of peristerite loose in a well defined, weathered, calcite vein.  The peristerite, a variety of albite that has an attractive blue schiller, was in well formed crystals to over two inches in diameter and in groupings of all sizes. 

Instead of keeping this new prospect a secret, as so many field collectors do, Donnie spoke to the land owner about continuing a well established tradition of opening the site to the mineral collecting community as a fee locality.  Mike welcomed the idea and very quickly word began to spread that there was another fine collecting locality to visit in northern New York. 

Although peristerite was the first mineral to generate interest many other species were quickly discovered.  Scapolite, the specific species yet to be determined, has been found in large crystals to over six inches in size.  It is present in well formed crystals which are fluorescent, as many St. Lawrence County scapolites seem to be, and cream colored.  The veins containing scapolite are not uncommon and many fine examples have been collected.  A common accessory mineral found on the surfaces of many of the scapolite crystals is the epidote group mineral allanite (Ce) which forms in green to black crusts and small prismatic crystals. 

Diopside is another very common species and it forms in crystals to several inches in length.  Unlike so many other locations the crystals of diopside from the Owen property are often well terminated and lustrous.  Good examples can be had with some investigation and moderate work.  Numerous other minerals are present in crystals including quartz, titanite, mica, and tourmaline.  As with the scapolite specific species of the mica and tourmaline are yet to be determined. 

Collecting on the Owen property requires some patients and maybe even a little luck.  Because this is a new location the property is not dug up as so many other collecting sites are.  The forested ridge has a thin layer of top soil hiding most of the veins and mineral bearing rocks. Inexperienced collectors might view this area as a section of land without minerals to be found.  They would be wrong.  Once the soil is dug through the underlying rock is often found to be rich in fractures and veins that are often well mineralized.  The ridge shows potential for several hundred yards and is presently almost unexplored by collectors.  Even the soil itself holds many fine crystals that have weathered free from the underlying rock.  Simply picking a spot in the woods and digging through the soil to discover what lies below seems to be the simplest approach.  If nothing is found, pick another spot and start again.  Before you know it you will be seeing crystals. 

The Owen property is located on the Irish Settlement Road in the town of Pierrepont, St. Lawrence County, New York at approximately 44 degrees 33’1.12” N latitude by 74 degrees 59’28.64” W longitude.  Exit the small town of Pierrepont by traveling northeast on County Route # 24 toward Brown Bridge.  Go .8 miles on Route # 24 to its intersection with the Irish Settlement Road.  Turn right on the Irish Settlement Road and travel for .6 miles to Mike’s home which will is found approximately 200 feet off the road up a dirt driveway on your right.  Mike charges $10 per day per person to collect and this fee should be left with him prior to collecting.  Directly alongside his driveway is a small parking area in front of a decaying shed.  Park here and follow the red arrows painted on the trees to the diggings.  The trail to the diggings will take you directly south for approximately 400 yards and make a turn to the left (eastward) up the ridge where the digging areas can be found. 

Other fee sites in St. Lawrence County that can be accessed and have been previously described in Rock and Gem Magazine:

Powers Farm, A Classic Tourmaline Locale (Rock and Gem Magazine, November 2000, p. 56-59).  Minerals to be found in crystalline form include uvite (now identified as dravite), quartz, tremolite, diopside, phlogopite, fluorapatite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, calcite, magnetite, talc, and a variety of pseudomorphs. To reach the Power’s farm site in Pierrepont leave Canton New York and travel south on Route # 68 toward the town of Colton. Just 1/4 mile before entering the town of Pierrepont you will see Power’s Road to your left. This is about 10 miles from Canton. Turn left on Power’s Road and drive to
the first house on your right. This is where Mr. Bower Power’s lives. After securing permission to collect at the site you leave there and travel the rest of the way into the town of Pierrepont. Turn left at the intersection in town, travel approximately .8 miles out of town and take your first left, Post Road, which parallels a small steam. At the end of this dirt road there is a narrower farm trail that is passable with most vehicles. Continue down this trail approximately 300 yards and park. If you have a global positioning system (GPS) your reading here would be N 44 degrees 33.278' by W 75 degrees 01.205'. To reach the main site (# 1 on map) walk the trail that parallels the stream always bearing to your left. This trail is about a one quarter mile in length and goes across some low wet areas along the stream then proceeds into a maple forested hillside and bears left to end at the main diggings at GPS location N 44 degrees 33.500' by W 75 degrees 01.206'.

Bush Farm, Dravite Locale (Rock and Gem Magazine, May 2011, p. 26-31).  Minerals to be found in crystalline form include uvite (now identified as fluoruvite), quartz, tremolite, diopside, phlogopite, graphite, fluorapatite, spinel, natrolite, and pyrite.  To reach the Bush farm one takes the Rock Island road, County Route #11, four miles northwest out of the town of Gouverneur.  On a small rise, just before crossing the Oswegache River is the intersection with Welch Road.  Turn right, north, onto Welch Road and follow it for just over one mile to a white house which is on your left and a large barn which is on your right.  Pay your collecting fee (five dollars at the time of this writing) to Mr. Bush and head to the dig site.  Continue northward on Welsh Road for another several hundred yards until you see the farm lane onto the pasture on your right.  This is the most modern entry to the dig site.  The lane is blocked by a barbed wire fence which should be closed after entry.  Follow this tractor path 200 yards eastward and go right, south, into the brush along this same trail.  Approximately 100 yards into the brush you will observe the diggings.  The global positioning coordinates for the digging area are 44 degrees 23’ 45.16” north latitude by 75 degrees 25’ 46.58” west longitude. 

The Rose Road Wollastonite Occurrence (Rock and Gem Magazine, April 2005, p. 60-63).  Minerals to be found in crystalline form include albite, diopside (green and purple), titanite, phlogopite, fluorapatite, wollastonite, scapolite, and a variety of unusual and rare pseudomorphs after wollastonite, scapolite, and nepheline.  The Rose Road wollastonite occurrence is located along the Sprint cell phone tower road just south of Rose Road in the town of Pitcairn, St. Lawrence County, New York.  There are several areas to dig.  The GPS coordinates for the location are 44 degrees 12’05”N latitude by 75 degrees 13’51”W longitude.  There are three collecting areas that have produced noteworthy specimens: The Northwest Diggings, The Northeast Diggings, and the Southeast Diggings, so named based on their geographic positions on the property.