Bowers' Farm Limonite after Pyrite
Aquadale, North Carolina
January 8, 2005
By Mike Streeter

The High Point Gem and Mineral Club sponsored a field trip to the Bowers' Farm near Aquadale, North Carolina on January 8, 2005. The trip was also sponsored by the Dixie Mineral Council of the Southeastern Federation of Mineralogical Societies. The Bowers' Farm is known for its well-formed limonite after pyrite crystals that occur in an upper red soil horizon. This would be Chrissy's and my first visit to this location.

Chrissy and I got up very early to make the three hour drive to the meeting spot near the site. We arrived at 8:30 AM to find Bud Oates from the High Point club standing next to the road. It was Bud's job to direct rockhounds to the parking area. As it would turn out, Bud was there only to direct traffic as he had an engagement that would take him elsewhere that day. We drove about 1/2-mile to the parking place where we met Greg Hall, President of the High Point club. We were the first to arrive and eager as always to dig! Before long we would be joined by Nancy Elliott from Chapel Hill, and Paula Pierce from Jacksonville, Florida. After waiting a short while for others to arrive, Greg decided to walk us to the site located about 1/2 mile away. Kevin Phillips and his son, Eric, who would show up later, walked in on their own as they had been to the site before.

Greg, who had not been to the site before either, lead us to the digging area without any hesitation with directions from Bud. It didn't take long before we started digging. Since the site was new to us also, I decided to extend some of the holes that had been left by previous diggers hoping that the former rockhounds knew what they were doing. I found that I could easily dig down through the red clayey soil about 2-3 feet to the top of a saprolite. But, I didn't find anything in my first attempt so I moved on to another area where I decided to start my own hole in a spot that looked as though it had never been dug. Chrissy and the others scattered to dig in an area cleared for a pipeline, in the forest and down by a nearby creek.

Kevin and Eric arrived about an hour after the rest of us, they made quick work of finding the mother lode. The first spot where Kevin had decided to dig was loaded with cubes and clusters. He found a 6" layer that contained excellent crystals about 3 feet under the ground and running just on top of the saprolite.

Before the day was over, Kevin would find dozens of terrific specimens, including many cubes, clusters and penetration twins. Kevin was due for a big day because the only time that he had been to the site before, he was only able to find a scattered few cubes.


Paula was only too happy to lend a hand in sorting the dirt as Kevin tossed it out of the hole.



Apparently, it was Eric's plan to hide behind trees and then sneak up on the crystals before they could see him coming. I'm not sure how that turned out but he was pretty good at hiding as I didn't see him for much of the day. I was able by chance to catch a picture of the elusive young rockcat in a rare unguarded moment.:~)

Our affable host, Greg, called it a day mid-afternoon and left with plenty of specimens in his bucket.

Chrissy and I decided to not start another hole around 4:00 PM. By then, we had dug and filled at least a dozen holes in various spots and had done fairly well in a couple of them. As I would later write Bud in an email message, "It took us a little time and a few test pits to figure the place out, but we ended up finding a bunch of limonite cubes and clusters of all sizes. We are quite pleased with our booty and very satisfied with the trip. I would rank the site very high on our list and we hope to go back before too long to try our hand at finding more. Chrissy especially likes this sort of collecting where she can scratch the dirt to find the goodies." But, as often is the case, nobody had a better time than our Opal. After all, she was in the forest where her nemesis, Mr. Squirrel, lives, there was a creek in which to splash around, there was loose red dirt to dig, scratch and lay in and there were other rockhounds around to love on her and scratch her belly when she plopped on her back. Opal can be a real handful at times, but she can never be faulted for a lack of enthusiasm about life.

The following pictures represent just a sampling of the limonite after pyrite crystals and clusters to be found at the Bowers' Farm.

Click on each picture to enlarge

Click on each picture to enlarge

Oh, by the way - if you go to the Bowers' Farm you may want to stop and ask Mr. Bowers if it would be possible to take in a forklift and a large flatbed truck. Chrissy had to leave a big one that she found because none of us could lift it, let alone carry it back to our truck. It would have been a good opportunity to test out Wayne Brantley's Rockbot!

Many thanks to Bud Oates and Greg Hall for hosting the event and showing us a great time!