Martin Marietta Hickory Quarry
Catawba County, North Carolina
July 15, 2006
Report by Mike Streeter
Quarry Photo by Celia Harrington

Page 2

I showed Chrissy my shady spot where she took her own break to cool down and re-hydrate. With all my own jobs seemingly done and not really wanting to start anything new due to the oppressive heat, I wandered over with Everett to see what Wayne was doing. I had heard earlier that he had located a boulder that contained pockets filled with a variety of minerals, including calcite, laumontite, quartz, muscovite, apatite and rutile. Wayne had spent just about the entire morning carefully extracting many fine and interesting specimens. Chrissy had spent time trying to find the other half of Wayne's boulder to no avail.

At around 10:45 AM, I was checking out Wayne's goodies when I looked over to see Everett about 20 yards away. He was looking at me excitedly while pointing down at something in the boulder pile. The almost-wild expression on his face told me that he must have located something that I had to see for myself. I walked over, looked down and my jaw dropped when I saw what appeared to be the other, but better, half of Wayne's boulder. The side of the rock was covered in series of pockets similar to Wayne's, although there was one big difference - in the center of the pocket area, there was a large perfectly-formed and completely-undamaged quartz crystal. I had never seen or heard of anything like it ever being found in the quarry. Naturally, I was equally as excited as Everett on his discovery, except that I was somewhat daunted by the size of the boulder and the apparent inconvenient location, in terms of extraction, of the minerals. My first impression was that it would take many hours to properly work the rock, but we had only about 40 minutes left before we had to leave the quarry. But, 40 minutes is better than no minutes, so Everett and I quickly went to work to recover what we could. We knew that the rock crusher would soon eat the boulder, so anything that we could get would be a plus.

The rock gods must have been smiling on us that morning. The pockets were in a relatively-narrow brecciated zone and behind and running parallel to them and the boulder face were a couple nice natural fractures. It took me all of about 10 minutes with my sledge and chisels to coax the boulder to split along one of the fractures. We were quickly able to liberate a large section of rock that contained many of the pockets. However, the first section of split rock was so large that we had to call Wayne over to help us lift it up and onto the boulder so that we could cob it. Most of the better pockets and the quartz crystal remained on the side of the boulder. Everett bravely held my pointed chisel while I used every bit of my remaining strength to repeatedly strike it with my sawed-off 6-pound sledge. By about 11:15 AM, we managed to exploit the natural fractures to extract some very fine mineral pockets in tact.

Click on each specimen picture to enlarge

Click on each specimen picture to enlarge

Despite our efforts thus far, the large quartz crystal remained in an awkward spot on the boulder and it began to appear as though that is where it would be when we had to leave. But, the heck with that - we had 15 minutes left to work! While Everett again held my chisel, I pounded away with abandon for 10 minutes straight, taking repeated but very short breaks to catch my breath. Just when it seemed that the boulder was going to win this fight, and with only a few minutes to spare, it finally gave it up and split perfectly so that I was able to use a screwdriver to finish extracting the quartz crystal in matrix. WAHOO!!!! To my and other experienced Hickory Quarry rockhounds' knowledge and at the risk of sounding like I am boasting (oh heck, maybe I am), this quartz crystal is the largest to ever be recovered from the quarry. Lucky us!!!!!

Click on each specimen picture to enlarge

We quickly, but carefully, packed up our stuff and were out of the quarry by 11:45 AM. What a great morning!