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bmyers.com | Sample Articles | Off Line Treasure Hunting - Digging . . . Search 

Off Line Treasure Hunting - Digging Crystals at the Coleman Crystal Mine

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A pictorial essay of our recent off-line treasure hunting adventures. Or how some people make a really good living digging in the dirt for a few days each month.

One of my favorite TV shows is 'Best Places to Find Treasure in North America'.

Each episode of the show provides information on two or three different places you can visit, pay a fee, and dig (or prospect) for buried treasure.

Locations featured on the show include the U Dig Fossil mine in Utah, the Peacock Opal mine in Nevada, and the Crater of Diamonds mine in Arkansas.

All these places have the same thing in common, they offer the chance of actually finding true (and sometimes quite valuable) hidden treasure.

In fact, the weekend after the show about the Diamond Mine in Arkansas aired, two people found diamonds there valued in excess of $30,000. Not bad, considering the meager $10 daily mining fee investment.

Treasure Hunting in Arkansas

For our treasure hunt, we decided to visit Ron Coleman's Crystal mine in Jessieville, Arkansas.

That mine produces some of the worlds clearest and most highly prized museum quality quartz crystal, and for $20 a day, they allow visitors to dig in the mine tailings, and keep all that they find.

While crystal mining is not nearly as glamorous as diamond mining, the chances of finding valuable crystals are much greater at the Coleman mine than finding a diamond at the Crater of Diamonds mine.

We decided that since we had limited time to dedicate to off-line treasure hunting, and since we didn't want to come home empty handed, we'd try our luck at the Coleman Crystal mine.

The Adventure

The Coleman Crystal mine is 200+ miles from our home, so we decided to drive our motor home, spend the night at the RV park at the mine, and dig crystals the following day.

When we began our trip at around noon on Saturday, it was a clear spring day, with a light breeze. Perfect day for driving, and digging crystals.

But by the time we arrived at the mine later that day, the weather had turned.

Thunderstorms, hail, and tornados were in the forecast, and it was raining when we arrived at the Coleman office for check-in. We were happy to be camping in a motor home, and not a tent.

When we arrived at the mine to check in, the weather had turned.
   When we arrived at the mine to check in, the weather had turned.

We paid our $12.50 overnight fee for the RV campground, selected a campsite high above the water line, and set up for the night.

The camp ground had full hookups, so even though it was raining and wet outside, we were cozy inside the motor home.

Our campsite at the crystal mine RV park - we chose a spot with high elevation.
   Our campsite at the crystal mine RV park - we chose a spot with high elevation.

From our vantage point in the campground, we could see that there were only four other campers there. Three were in large $250,000+ motor homes, with only one camper in a tent.

There weren't many other campers in the park - all were digging crystals for resell.
   There weren't many other campers in the park - all were digging crystals for resell.

We learned that these other 'treasure hunters' staying in the camp ground were resellers. They made a living by visiting places like the Coleman mine, digging loads of crystals, and then reselling those to dealers across the country.

One of the campers told us that in a week of digging at the Coleman mine, they usually took away crystals they later sold for $5,000 or more.

They said they travelled around the country visiting dig-your-own mines and then selling their found treasures at rock shops.

Their success story made us quite eager to get up early and head into the mine the next morning.

The Mine

It rained most of the night, which meant the mine would be wet.

But the rain also meant that crystals would probably be easier to find as the rain would wash away the dirt, exposing the crystals.

The mine is basically a large pit covering several acres, where heavy equipment is used to excavate the crystal veins.

As the crystal laden dirt is excavated, some of it is loaded into trucks which dump the un-mined dirt into the public digging area.

The commercial section of the crystal mine.
   The commercial section of the crystal mine.

Before heading to the mine, we 'suited up' with rubber boots, heavy duty pants and shirts, gloves and hats.

For digging tools, we each carried a plastic bucket filled with newspapers (to wrap our crystals) and a long screw driver to aid in digging.

At work in the mines.  I'm in the middle of the photo carrying a blue bucket.
   At work in the mines. I'm in the middle of the photo carrying a blue bucket.

We dug crystals for about three hours, long enough to fill our buckets, and long enough to give us both stiff backs and necks from being hunched over piles of dirt in the mine.

It was exciting to see the glint of crystal, and to dig it out of the ground, no knowing whether it would be a broken piece or a real treasure.

Occasionally the other miners would shout out about something they found, and we'd go over to look. Everyone seemed to be making some pretty good finds.

Our Treasures

We came away from the mine with a pretty good assortment of quartz crystals. Some clear points, some double terminated points, and many jewelry quality pieces.

Judging by the prices charged for similar crystals in the Coleman store and other nearby rock shops, we probably had at least $700 retail value of crystals.

Some of the treasure we found at the mine.  This is just the top layer of crystals in this bucket.  We place newspaper between each layer to protect the crystals.
   Some of the treasure we found at the mine. This is just the top layer of crystals in this bucket. We place newspaper between each layer to protect the crystals.

Based on our success, it is easy to see how those people we met in the campground who spend a few days digging could leave with $5,000+ in crystals that could be wholesaled to rock shops or sold on eBay to collectors.

While I wouldn't want to dig crystals full time to earn a living, it was a nice diversion, and good example of a different way people can generate a pretty good income away from the internet.

I will definitely be doing some more off-line treasure hunts in the future.


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