Post by fernwood on Aug 13, 2017 8:57:08 GMT -5
The year is 1990. Summer vacation to explore Canada for the very first time. Accomplice’s: Husband and 5 year old daughter. Husband wanted to try fishing. One of my goal was to do some digging at one of the many amethyst mines in the area.
We agreed to make Thunder Bay our home base for 4 days. Husband researched potential fishing locations, that would be accessible to a somewhat impatient 5 year old. I researched amethyst mines. Amethyst is my birthstone and I have always loved it.
Cannot remember where we went fishing, but it was a creek that emptied into Lake Superior. If daughter was becoming impatient, her and I walked out to the beach and went exploring. We also found lots of blueberries, which helped to occupy her.
Went to Diamond Willow Mine. Upon arrival, we were the only customers there. Received a very nice tour and overview. Also were shown how to use the tools provided to dig in a tailing location that was being opened that day for the first time.
Daughter started by picking up any small amethyst pieces she could find on the ground and putting them in her bucket. I reminded her that the good stuff was bigger and she had to dig for it. Showed her what to look for on the surface. She soon got the hang of it and found many nice specimens.
After 30 minutes of digging, husband asked if we could leave and go fishing. Nope! I was reminded that we spent a “fortune”, on fishing licenses and had to get our money’s worth. I reminded him that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He begrudgingly agreed to stay longer.
Another 30 minutes passed. Daughter was lovin’ it. Husband was becoming very impatient with me. So, I agreed to leave. Insisted on looking over the specimen’s on the many tables outside the shop. Found a few nice ones to add to my collection.
Time to check out. The dig your own, was priced by the pound. So, if a piece with some nice amethyst crystals had a lot of host rock, you paid for the host rock as well. Unfortunately, husband said we could not afford what were some of my best specimen’s. These were quickly scooped up and added to the display tables, priced individually, for up to $50.00!
We left with 125 lbs of amethyst. Unfortunately, most of it went to my In-Laws gardens in front of their house, including several pieces weighing over 20 lbs. I was allowed to keep about 12 pieces for myself.
I no longer have the many photos I took on this trip. I do have 10 pieces of amethyst, including one large one that I pictured here before.
In case anyone is headed to the amethyst mines, wanted to share my strategy for finding nice pieces. I did research on the host rocks. Knew how to identify them. When digging, looked for promising host rocks, more than the actual amethyst. Above all be delicate in your approach to not damage the crystals. The tools that were allowed in the tailings areas were a “dandelion” digger, a small trowel and a bucket. I was not disappointed with the results.
Below are two photos of one of the nicest smaller specimen’s I still have. It is about 3.5” long by 2.25” wide by 4.5” tall. I love the citrine at the bottom of this and the small areas of copper/red crystals.
The first shows what I saw while digging. The second is of what it contained.