Mineral Specimens from Treasure Mountain, Little Falls, New York
by Michael Walter
Skeletal Herkimer Diamond "Black" Crystal Cluster Skeletal Herkimer Diamond Herkimer Diamond Scepter
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During the summer months myself and my Father, Jay Walter, spend the majority of our time field collecting crystalline mineral specimens. Living in northern New York State allows us to collect at many classic sites which still give up quality material, now and then. We also spend a great deal of time in southern Canada. These regions of North America have some of the best collecting anywhere and are, generally speaking, still readily accessible to collectors.
The past two years, 2002 and 2003, has found us focusing the majority of our time at a location in central New York State called Treasure Mountain. It is located within the city limits of the town of Little Falls. The site is a commercial dig on an escarpment overlooking the town and the Erie Canal. This site is similar to other Herkimer Diamond collecting locations in the region. Double terminated quartz crystals are found in pockets within the sedimentary dolostone. Calcite crystals and anthraxolite are common secondary materials within these vugs. The main difference between this site and "the others" is that scepters can be found at Treasure Mountain.
Here are a couple of photos of pockets we uncovered during this summers collecting efforts. As can be seen in the photo to the far right the pockets are quite common along a specific layer within the rock. Steel spring wedges and other heavy tools are required to work the pocket level successfully. The central photo shows a good pocket with two parallel growth cluster that have a light coating of clay on them.
We are firm believers in moving large chunks of rock. Chipping away at smaller sections of the ledge can take forever. We try to uncover larger platforms and work our way down to the pocket layer. Once there it is pocket extraction time. This summer we recovered approximately 450 pockets which contained crystals and an additional 100 dry pockets that held nothing. Here is a picture of my dog "Scepter" guarding the next big pocket layer block to be removed. To the right are friends Scott and Tim working in a good scepter area.
This season was fairly successful. Even though we opened 450 pockets containing crystals, there are never as many good pieces as one would like. Scepters are very rare and enhydros probably more so. Here are some photos of the better specimens recovered this summer. The bar in the photo is marked off in one centimeter increments and is 10 centimeters total in length.
Clusters are common but are seldom found intact. Most have to be reassembled. All of these were perfect as is.
This cluster had to be reassembled.
Skeletal crystals can get quite large in some cases. Most of those found at Treasure Mountain are smaller.
Here are a couple of specimens that were unusual due to their inclusions. The larger two have pepper like sprinkles of anthraxolite on a single plain below their crystal surfaces. The central cluster has the most unusual inclusions I have encountered, yet. A close up can be seen to its right. It has the same pepper like inclusions below the crystals surface, but, these are localized to crystal face junctions or in some cases to the internal areas of the face of each crystal, excluding the junctions of the faces.
How about these Herks on matrix with dolomite and calcite.
These calcites were nicer than most.
Scepters are rare and unusual. We only found a few pockets containing scepters this summer out of the many hundreds of pockets found. Scepters found here are often skeletal and sometimes sceptered on both ends (dumbbells). You can find lots of exceptional scepters and dumbbells HERE.
Treasure Mountain in Little Falls, New York is not only a superb spot to collect it is a fun place to be. The staff and owners are accommodating and there is always excitement in the air. Hard work can pay off, and at times, just being in the right place can result in some amazing specimens. Camping and a nice sunset make the experience complete.
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