Powers Farm Tourmaline Excavation, Pierrepont, New York
We are still finding good specimens at Powers farm. So far, this year I've only dug there five of six days but they were successful days. Please be aware that the land owner, Bower Powers, Jr., has posted a sign stating that no collecting is allowed along the "River". This is Leonard Brook and no digging, even in the tailings, should be done there.
Several of us have collaborated and published the first definitive work on this world-famous location. Although I have not spent any extended periods of time digging at the farm over the past couple of years, I have managed to collect there several times a year. It remains the finest collecting locality in St. Lawrence County, bar none!
Read our book on this location...
The summer of 2013 found me spending much of my time at this favorite haunt, Powers farm, looking for tourmaline. Since my last entry regarding this locality the tourmaline species has been reclassified and now is called dravite instead of uvite. Nothing changed regarding the mineral itself, this name change is simply due to a reorganization of the tourmaline family by the International Mineralogical Association (I.M.A.). More than 30 New York State tourmaline localities have been effected by this I.M.A. reorganization so be aware of the proper mineral species names for both amphiboles and tourmalines in New York. Also, just so everyone is aware, I will not change any of my previous posting names or labels on specimens tagged prior to this revision.
In June we took a scouting trip, which for us is a planned dig of several days, to Powers farm. The goal was to work the northwestern edge of the classic hill top site to find amphiboles and pseudomorphs not well represented in my St. Lawrence County collection. We were surprised on the very first day of work to find an undiscovered calcite vein below a two foot thick cap of very soft schist. The vein appeared weathered to an extended depth like many of the classic vein in this area of the property. It has been a couple of decades since anyone has discovered one of these on the hill top so you can imagine our surprise in finding this one so quickly. We immediately decided to set up operations and mine the vein thoroughly.
In total I put in 38 days of collecting and my father contributed 10 to 15. The going was not difficult due to soft rock and deep weathering. These factors contributed to most of the crystals that were discovered being of poor quality. However, there were noteworthy exceptions with some dravites of exceptional quality being produced and some of the finest uralite crystals and crystal clusters that I have ever seen being found. Oddities like magnetite crystals and a wide variety of quartz forms were also occasionally encountered.
I am still cleaning some of the dravites but it is likely that I should have three or four exceptional specimens to offer. They probably will never make it to my on-line updates and be sold privately so if you are interested in one of these tourmaline or uralite specimens you should contact me by e-mail at email@example.com
Left: Michael Walter in a large void on southern edge of the vein.
Right: Jay Walter standing in primary vein.
Left: A good view of a small part of the primary vein.
Right: Uralite, in-situ, on a dravite seam within an off shoot of the primary vein.
Two of the treasures collected summer of 2013.
Looking Back in Time...
Beginning in the summer of 2004 myself and Scott Wallace of Majestic Minerals began serious work on a tourmaline seam located just below the classic dig site at Powers Farm in Pierrepont, New York. Although I have dug at this location for more than 35 years, this represents the first time I have collected at this specific spot on the property.
The material being produced is quite spectacular in some cases and may represent some of the best material collected from this classic Dana site in over a hundred years (see Uvite descriptions in “What’s New In Minerals” for the 2004 Springfield Show and Tucson 2004 Show, in Mineralogical Record). Uvites of the highest luster and tabular form are being collected individually and in combination with quartz and sometimes other accessory minerals.
I began a new dig area to the south of the primary trench on the streamside. We have discovered that there are numerous trenches on the claim and we are working at exposing all of them that we can find. This summer’s work involved a narrow seam which was even longer than the primary seam discovered in 2004, where Scott continues to dig.
Dubbed the “Phosphate Trench” this new seam is an anomaly for the Powers farm property. There was little in the way of quality uvites recovered from the dig. Instead fine fluorapatites were produces along with numerous other minerals usually considered just accessories at Powers. Two new pseudomorphs were discovered along with a total of approximately a dozen other species. Yes, we even added some species to the list of known minerals at Powers and their names will be forthcoming. The pseudomorphs were very strange: quartz after phlogopite and microcline after fluorapatites. Fine aesthetic specimens were found but they were very uncommon when compared with the great uvite specimens found elsewhere on the property. This trench has been fully excavated and new seams will follow. More to come soon!
To follow are some of the specimens found in the Phosphate Trench...
Fluorapatite with Quartz and Pyrite Quartz on quartz pseudo. after Phlogopite
Fluorapatite and Uvite Uvite on Goethite Uvite with Microcline pseudo. after Quartz
The summer of 2004 was very productive even though there was only one major find. The 2005 dig season has found both Scott and me back at this same site working it as a private claim. Digging here will keep both of us busy for most of the remainder of the season. There is a lot to do. We are both pushing our sides deeper in hopes of finding more material without damage while at the same time widening the diggings.
Here are what the initial diggings looked like early in the 2004 season.
Scott Wallace going subterranean.
Best cluster in author’s collection. Possibly the best cluster of summer 2004
I have had limited success so far this dig season. At the time of these writings I have dug only eight days and have managed to widen the trench considerably while pushing it downward around another foot or so. Soon I will be working the site on a full-time basis.
Water continues to seep into the trench ever though the weather has been rain free. It appears we may have reached the water table and will have to contend with this issue for the remainder of the time we dig here.
I have been working hard on a comprehensive paper regarding this important mineral occurrence. Now two years into the project, I welcome any information you may have about the history or minerals from Powers Farm. Be sure to check out the article I wrote for Rock and Gem
Scott and me teamed up for the final month of my summer's digging. We had limited success with our search for tourmalines. We did find some fairly nice quartz in limited quantities near the end of the month.
Summer 2004 Update
Summer 2004 found Scott at one end of the excavation about 10 feet below the surface while I was at the opposite end of the diggings about five feet down. The summer’s work produced one exceptional pocket which measured about a meter in length by half a meter deep and .25 meters wide. This pocket/ seam was filled by glacial clay and contained approximately 50 specimens of which about ten would be considered exceptional. They were mostly clusters of tabular uvite crystals to several cm in diameter each. Pieces ranged from 3 to 7 cm in overall dimensions. Some of the best specimens can be seen by following this link....Specimens for Sale.
Although we only sell and display the best of the specimens on our web site, there are hundreds of other specimens produced on a dig such as this one. Almost all show some form of damage and have lower luster. Scott and me sometimes ask one another if there is actually a specimen to be found here that doesn’t show some form of damage. Scott was able to produce two specimens so far this year (2005) that stopped us from asking this question any longer.
TOURMALINES FOR SALE BACK TO FIELD COLLECTING PAGE
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