So you are thinking that you would like to dig some of your own crystals? That sounds like a good idea. Based on experience, there is nothing like being the first one to see a crystal. It is a truly magical experience.
Arkansas quartz crystals are mined from pockets of crystals which occur in veins of quartz which run thru the hard bedrock layers, generally sandstones or shales. The crystals ‘mines’ are actually OPEN SURFACE PITS, or strip mines. Which is contrary to the common ‘newbie’ misconception that Arkansas crystal mines are caves. THERE ARE NO CAVES!
Most people have ‘no idea’ of where to, or how to, dig crystals. Many people have never even visited a mine and have ‘no idea’ of safety conciousness. A MINE IS A VERY DANGEROUS PLACE!!! Loose rocks are sharp and slippery! In fact, it is one of the most dangerous places one can go. I show you what to look for, how to dig, where to dig, and how to be safe while doing so.
Yes, digging crystals IS a magical experience. I feel the excitement every time I dig!!! I was hooked when I dug my first crystal back in 1990. Things have changed a lot since then. Now the best I can offer you is that you are coming for ‘the experience of digging’. In order to have me help you dig YOU MUST MAKE AN APPOINTMENT!! Email is the BEST way to get ahold of me.
You can choose hard rock mining, or collecting, and pick the mine in which to dig. We will ONLY go to legal, legitimate mines, with whom I have a good business relationship, during normal business hours. There is NO ‘night digging’ or ‘secret spots’ I will take you to. That is illegal activity and NOBODY can afford all the bad karma and legal stuff it breeds, especially me! That being said, mine owners are still allowed to have guests or visitors at their mine. However, you MUST stay within the designated areas. Last year, I took two groups digging. One group found a nice little pocket. The other group came up with a clay pocket, but no crystals were in it.
Please be aware that I have a limited amount of time per year to take people digging with me. Please check my schedule on the “Upcoming Shows” page as to my availability. When we dig YOU keep all that WE find.
I DO NOT HAVE A QUARTZ CRYSTAL MINE, however, I am a very good digger. ***So, I can act as your guide and helper.***
I DO NOT TEXT. TEXTING IS DISABLED due to my phone plan. DO NOT TEXT ME, it is a wasted effort. Call or email me. Email is my preferred way of contact. firstname.lastname@example.org. THANK YOU!
YOU *MUST* MAKE AN APPOINTMENT, in advance for me to be able to take you digging.
1: NO CHILDREN, PLEASE!! My service is open to ADULTS ONLY.
2: NO SMOKING! in my vicinity, near me, or, on my property. Smoking is an absolutely filthy and thoroughly disgusting habit. I consider smelling tobacco or pot smoke to be an assault and react as such. Thank you in advance for you consideration.
3: No drugs or drinking near me. Been there, done that. Have over 15 years clean and sober- by the Grace of GOD! I do not care if you do it, please, just, Do it AWAY from me, and, do not bring it onto my property!! Thank you.
I DO NOT GO TO TUCSON as a dealer. I DO go to QUARTZSITE, AZ as a dealer, all winter.
Now that the disclaimers are stated, let’s move on!
There is a suggested donation for my services, as this is a donation of my time.(see below).
***SUGGESTED DONATION AMOUNTS, are as follows**
1 adult/day – $180, 1 day = 6 to 8 hours
2 adults/day – $350,
3 adults/day – $420,
4 adults/day – $495.
Suface or dump-pile collecting/ Nature Hike.
1 adult/day – $120, 1 day = 6 to 8 hours, plus mine entrance fee for each adult.
2 adults /day – $180,
3 adults/day – $250,
4 adults/day – $300.
CLUBS – any amount of people – especially clubs where I am a dealer! ‘FREE’! As it is up to the club to decide what to offer me for my services.
All rates are negotiable and adjustable to time, weather, etc… I accept MC/VISA/Discover.
There is also the mine entrance fee, which, depending on which mine it is, is usually $12 to $25/person, including me. You must pay for me, too. So add in ~$20/ person, plus $20 for me. I usually am able to get myself in for free, and maybe even a discount, since I am your guide.
In all fairness, I can only handle up to 4 people per day, in order to divide my time equally. Anymore is just spreading myself too thin for personalized instruction. I am also willing to take groups from clubs, for this we can work out our special donation in advance. It will be low since I love to promote the hobby!
OTHERWISE, even though I DO NOT OWN A CRYSTAL MINE, I still know some places where ‘guests’ can dig in designated areas. I will be your guide and show you what to look for and help you find crystals. What WE find, YOU keep!** please see notes below.
RULES and GUIDELINES for tours.
NO CHILDREN, PLEASE!!! I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! PLEASE, NO CHILDREN.
I receive updated safety training every year.
1. You must be in good physical condition. Mining and hiking is very demanding physical labor. Be prepared for 4 to 6, or more, hours of hard working labor in the hot sun.
2. NO children under 16, please!!, no, unhh-uh, not.
3. Bring plenty of food, WATER and other thirst quenching liquids. Be aware that we dig in DRY counties and that alcohol in the National Forest is a citeable offense, along with illicit drugs. Also, I am not a smoker. Please refrain from smoking anywhere near me, or on my property. If I smell it, you WILL hear about it. Thank you.
4. Gloves and boots are must-have items. NO SHORTS, SKIRTS OR SANDALS. This is an open-pit mine, not a beach. Crystals and shards are among the sharpest things on this Earth! Freshly dug rocks are sharp. Newly dug soil is loose, extremely sharp, and can be very slippery.
Kneepads, hats, umbrellas, towels, sweatbands, pillows, kneelers and small mats to kneel and lay on are optional and recommended. As are long sleeved shirts or coveralls. Expect whatever clothing to be ruined when you are done mining. A change of clothes and an ‘extra’ extra shirt is highly recommended.
5. The most dangerous thing about walking around in a mine is: walking around in a mine. “PITFALLS” are THE MOST common mining injury! ALWAYS, WATCH WHERE YOU ARE WALKING! Do not dig above or below anyone. Rolling or falling rocks and debris is very dangerous and has been known to kill.
6. Stay inside all flagged and fenced areas. ABSOLUTELY!! Stay away from all equipment and machinery. It is very dangerous. Use common sense: If you do not own it: Don’t touch it or go near it! Because you sure don’t want to have to PAY for it.
7. Bring your own tools: SHOVELS, hammers, screwdrivers, buckets, bottle jacks, wheelbarrows, etc.., newspaper for wrapping and whatever tools you think you may need. I am unable to provide you with tools. I am not a tool store. I have to buy my tools, too. Digger bars are available locally. Digger bars generally run around $15-$30 each. Oxalic acid for cleaning your crystals is usually $5.00/lb. Depnding on circumstances such as: how much time you have and what I am cleaning, there may be room in a crystal cleaning tank for me to clean some of your crystals, usually free of charge, depending on how much you have and how big the job is… If that is the case- you need to plan your time to include an extra day into your schedule for cleaning.
8. A crystal mine is a primitive area. There are no bathrooms, ice cream stands, ushers, hot-dog vendors, waterfountains or garbage cans. Bring personal items. Please clean up after yourself. Pack out what you pack in. That’s right! NO HOT DOG VENORS :(. BUT, in most places, we can have a self contained cookout or picnic.
9. Johnbe is your dig master. Please pay attention to the dig master and follow his instructions.
10. NO DRUGS or ALCOHOL NEAR ME or ON MY PROPERTY!!!
I will only take ADULTS ONLY digging only between late March and the beginning of April or July. Otherwise, it gets too hot, there are too many bugs and vines and it is generally uncomfortable for an old man like me to dig in hot weather. Heat stroke is a REAL thing. Plan ahead as much as you can. Check the weather. And, most importantly, BE IN SHAPE!!! I reserve the right to refuse anyone who appears to be physically incapable of doing strenuous work all day in the hot sun. AND NO CHILDREN.
Please bear in mind that I reserve the right to screen all persons who wish to participate in a digging tour. I also reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.
***You MUST make an appointment, in advance, for, I may not be home, or, I may be too busy, if you just ‘show up’. Do not take this personally. I also have a life and, always, a lot of work to do. This necessarily means MORE THAN merely calling or emailing me and telling me you are coming to dig and that you are already here and on your way over to see me. PLEASE give me some advance notification. I have a life, too. :)*** Sorry, but cell phone service here is poor and spotty at best and I am too busy to sit around waiting for the phone to ring. Have I made that clear?
EMAIL IS THE BEST WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH ME. email@example.com (Do you understand?)
Once we both have an idea of how and when you are arriving, where you are staying, and how time you have to spend, and how much energy you think you want to expend on the physical aspect of digging, we will be in a better place to be able to make a tentative plan and itinerary. The number of days you spend and the mines and places that we go to are, basically, up to you. Though, I can and do recommend many places. The best thing to do is call in advance and we can put together a tentative package for you.**see note below.
There are plenty of accomodations in the area, ranging from primitive camping to motels to private cabins. I recommend the ‘Aqua Motel’. 870-867-2123. It is very close to where I live. They are ‘digger friendly’, too. There are plenty of other activities for you, too. (though you may just be ‘plumb tuckered out’ after digging, like me!) And, of course, many fine eating establishments.
I work closely with many active crystal mines in the area. I also offer an optional nature hike upon and thru areas of the crystal deposit, so you can get an idea of just how wonderful this place is and how many crystals are here, which, in my humble opinion, is well worth the time. It also helps you to learn about what to look for, and how to recognize when you find crystals. YOU are the boss.
Remember.., I have done this before! That is why I am the dig master. Again, my time for digging tours (and my own personal digging!) is limited due to my show schedule, which can be found on my “Upcoming Shows”, page. Please EMAIL ME for further details. IF YOU ARE A CLUB, PLEASE EMAIL ME and I will go over the details for taking your club. And, as always, EVEN IF I do not have the time to take you, Please feel free to email me and ask me for advice.
1st note- **It is a FEDERAL OFFENSE to be caught digging in the National Forest, not a local offense. SAME GOES FOR DRUGS AND ALCOHOL!! Keep it away from me AND do not bring it onto my property!! PLEASE!!! Don’t ask me to go to an unsanctioned place, and, please do not tell me that you have gone somewhere you should not have gone. If you really NEED a free place to dig, then I can probably find you a place on private property in my driveway.
**Most mines charge a fee of $20/adult guest per day, and let them keep all they find. I know the owners and they welcome me and my guests. We only go into the designated areas. Hopefully, with some luck and hard work, we find something that will make you happy. I am NOT allowed to take you down into the mine. Like it or not, I do not make the rules, I just follow them. There are, however, a couple places where can still dig in the veins, and I am most welcome at these places. The stuff we find will be small, from a quarter inch to almost thumb-sized, if we are lucky- but we will be the ones who do the work and we are the ones who find it! BIG stuff requires BIG machinery, as the bedrock soon becomes hard enough for blasting. For those of you who have no idea of what I am speaking, just imagine trying to split a 2 foot thick piece of quartz by hand, with a hammer and chisel. It has a hardness of 8 on the MOHS scale. Even a 100 ton machine has a problem with this! Also for every large piece you see, over 50 to 100 yards of earth and rock has had to have been moved- at least once.I hope that the above has helped to put things in perspective for you.
The reason for all this is that Professional Commercial Arkansas surface quartz miners are now required to receive MSHA training in order to comply with the guidelines established in the mid-’90’s. I go every year. It is amazing to see how this little known organization, like so many other government organizations, has increased its power over the last 2 decades and is basically accountable to no one. HAVING A CURRENT CERTIFCATION DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE SOMEONE a professional. It DOES show that an individual is safety conscious. I encourage everyone to take safety training courses. The more, the better!
Thus, I am a certified Arkansas Surface Quartz Miner. I receive an update once a year, that used to be free, and has now risen to $40. Even though I do not own or work for an active mine, I MUST be certified in order to be able to walk onto the mine site when I buy crystals. Having a certification DOES NOT make me a professional miner. It DOES allow me to walk onto a mine site without receiving a citation from an inspector for not having a certification. What makes me a professional is that I am a part of the crystal business.
If a safety inspector makes the ‘always unannounced visit’ and catches a non-certified person in an off limits area, they may never know they were spotted. However, the mine-owner certainly will and will be presented with a hefty citation of $6000 ‘per person’ caught. The penalty goes up if this recurs. This is very sad but true chapter in the reality of crystal mining, in OUR National Forest. And it is spreading throughout the country. There has been a movement afoot by the government over the past few decades. Besides declaring all personal property as theirs, (yes, it’s true), The government wants to keep ALL rockhounds out of ALL areas. Please go get safety trained and keep current, in an effort for all of US to be able to keep going and getting the minerals that God has put here for ALL of us. Remember! Just going and ‘digging in the woods’, if caught, could result in a fine and or jail, issued by the US Forest Service, the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission, a policeman or Federal Marshall, and is treated as a federal crime, as it occurred in the National Forest. If convicted, a person could serve their sentence in a federal prison. So if you have a problem with this, you can take your chances- BY YOURSELF. Good Luck! If you don’t like that, too bad- that’s the way it is. I suggest going somewhere else and doing something else; writing your Congressman on a piece of tissue paper (because that is all it’s worth). Or, getting legal and taking a 40 hr certifaction course, heart-saver course and annual refreshers, like I do. Sorry, but I have to make that disclaimer- for my own sanity, and other reasons.
2nd note-**To put this in perspective- eg: someone flying into Little Rock Airport and renting a compact car and staying in a motel for 2 days, will have less time and space for crystals to spare, than a person with an empty pick-up truck and a trailer, here to camp and dig for a week. All this, plus, other factors, are taken into consideration, for YOUR maximum crystal digging experience.
FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY!!, and my own sanity! I must insist on ADULTS ONLY, PLEASE! And certainly nobody under 14.(see rules and guidelines below) A MINE IS NO PLACE FOR CHILDREN! Mining is a serious and dangerous business. Again, a mine is a very dangerous place. It is NOT a playground, nor is it a place for the distractions that children inevitably cause. Anything can, does and will happen, especially with children I am not a babysitter, you need to get one BEFORE you come. I reserve the right to refuse my service to you if you bring children. In other words, if you bring children, the deal is off. There are plenty of other places to take your children. This is for the protection of YOUR children. If you think that is insensitive, then, maybe, NOW is the time you should please start looking for another guide or something else to do. Don’t get me wrong: I like children, just NOT at the crystal mine.