National Limestone Quarry, Mt. Pleasant Mills, PA
New Street Quarry, Paterson, NJ
Cornwall Iron Furnace, PA
October 2012
By Michael Streeter

Chrissy, Opal and I left our home in western North Carolina early Saturday morning and drove nine hours to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. As we have done a couple times in the past, we set up our folding camper trailer on the banks of Penns Creek at the Penn Avon campground just outside town.

Penn Avon campground
Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

Penns Creek
Penn Avon campground

We met up with RJ Harris and a few other of our Pennsylvania friends at the National Limestone Quarry at 8:00 am Sunday. RJ had graciously secured permission to access the property on our behalf with the owner, Eric Stahl.

National Limestone Quarry
Mt. Pleasant Mills, Pennsylvania
Looking north from ridge

Since there had not been any blasting in the main quarry for at least several months, the pickings were slim, but I did manage to liberate a few decent calcite and strontianite specimens from an vuggy bedrock zone.


Click on each specimen picture to enlarge.

By mid-morning, Chrissy and I caught up with the rest of the crew who had already made their way up to a spot where wavellite can be found on the backside of the ridge that overlooks the southern edge of the quarry. By the time we arrived, the guys were in full digging mode tearing into a steep bank composed of siliceous sandstone, dirt and lots of tree and plant roots. The highly fractured collapsed sandstone contains green to yellow-green wavellite as fracture and pocket filling veins. The following picture, taken on our previous outing to National Limestone in August 2007, shows RJ employing a potato rake as his tool of choice.

RJ Harris digging for wavellite
National Limestone Quarry
August 2007

Two things about the above picture warrant explanation: 1) I failed to pull out my camera to take any pictures before RJ had to leave, so I chose to use a past picture of him to show the wavellite digging area and 2) At that time, RJ had just begun a dramatic lifestyle change whereby he methodically lost well over 200 pounds, so the above picture is no longer representative. I offer the following pictures to demonstrate what can be accomplished by sheer will and determination.

RJ Harris

RJ Harris

RJ even wrote an inspirational book about his impressive accomplishment!

Click on the book cover above
to read more about RJ's story

Chrissy and I met RJ, along with a few of his peeps from his Central Pennsylvania Rock and Mineral Club, about 8 years ago at a field trip to the Standard Minerals Mine in Moore County, North Carolina. Chrissy spent what she describes as a most enjoyable day shooting the breeze with RJ as each worked a section of wall for pyrite crystals while I was off doing my own thing elsewhere in the quarry. Before leaving that afternoon, Chrissy made a point to introduce RJ and his PA crew to me and a fine friendship was born. RJ had yet to begin discovering his thinner self so he was a BIG guy, but as nice a man as you could ever meet. We maintained our friendship by visiting and digging with RJ and some of his crew in Pennsylvania a couple times over the years. RJ may have lost a whole bunch of weight, but his incredible personality remains intact, as he demonstrates every weekday morning with the highest rated morning talk radio program in the Harrisburg, PA market on WHP-580. So, thank you RJ; Chrissy and I greatly appreciate all that you are, whether fat, skinny or in-between.

Now that I've gotten the RJ Harris love fest out of the way, back to the rocks. By the end of the afternoon, we ended up recovering a decent pile of wavellite specimens, like the ones pictured below.

Click on each specimen picture to enlarge.

I couldn't resist slabbing one of the wavellite-bearing sandstones to see if I could make a cabochon and what turned out isn't the prettiest cab around but certainly unique.

On Monday morning, we pulled up stakes at Penn Avon and drove about 2-1/2 hours to the Panther Lake Resort near Andover, New Jersey. The fall colors were about at their peak on the bright sunny day as we strolled around the large and pretty much empty campground.

Panther Lake, New Jersey

The Streeter family

Chrissy & Opal

Mike & Opal