Rocks, Gems, Minerals and More


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North Toe River from the new Hwy-80 bridge

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Apatite in granite pegmatite

Apatite in muscovite

Update as of 2007 - A local individual who leases the property adjacent to the road and parking area has experienced trouble with people leaving trash. However, he does not mind if you park there to access the railroad tracks, but has asked that you place a note on your dash indicating that you are a rockhound.


Wollastonite on white dolomitic marble

(click on pictures to enlarge

White dolomitic marble

Update as of 2007 - This location is now posted as private so no access is allowed.


Looking Northeast from Chalk Mountain

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Hyalite opal on alaskite

Hyalite opal under
shortwave ultraviolet light

Torbernite on alaskite

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Torbernite on alaskite (close-up)

Torbenite on Alaskite

Torbernite close-up

Autunite on Alaskite

Autunite close-up

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Autunite under shortwave UV

I made the following cabochons from material collected from this mine (cab pictures do not enlarge):


Crabtree Emerald Mine's Water Filled Shaft

Click on pictures to enlarge

Emeralds and schorl in quartz,
mica and feldspar matrix

Emerald crystal in smokey
quartz and mica matrix

I made the following cabochons from material collected from this mine (cab pictures do not enlarge):

Update: Access to the Crabtree Emerald Mine is now controlled by a certain individual. According to his rules, anyone wishing to collect at the Crabtree is now required to make a reservation, submit a liability waiver and pay a $20 per person/day fee. The once quaint out-of-the-way free site has been torn up by machine digging making it more difficult than before to find any of the minerals listed in my book. This is not to say that it is no longer possible to find a specimen or two, but you'll likely have to scratch through and sift a whole lot of dirt to make this happen - instead of simply digging, turning over and busting rocks as before. Under the current conditions, this location may be better suited to those who are relatively new to rockhounding and, therefore, are more likely to be impressed with what more seasoned rockhounds would consider marginal specimens.


Almandine garnets in muscovite

(click on each picture to enlarge)


Hootowl Mine Spring

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Hootowl Mine Adit

Hootowl Mine Autumn

Muscovite, feldspar and quartz pegmatite

Update: The Hootowl Mine is no longer accessible to private rockhounds One of the many tourist type gem mine operations in Spruce Pine has assumed control of the mine so anyone interested in visiting the location must now pre-register and pay a fee. According to this company's web site, "Material from other mines will be brought to this location and will be mixed with Hoot Owl material that has never been gone through." It is up to you whether or not you want to pay a fee to dig through material from other locations purposely scattered at mine.


Sinkhole Spoil Pile

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Zoned apatite with quartz,
almandine garnet and feldspar

Apatite in feldspar
and quartz matrix


I made the following cabochons from material collected from this mine (cab pictures do not enlarge):