Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors

Beyond the Electronic Forum; A Handheld Resource for the Rock Curious

      Facts at your fingertips of over 200 rocks is an understatement. When you use a small font one can get huge amounts of information on a page that fits in your pants pocket or shirt one as well. This was picked up in the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology store and is perfect for the traveling companion and question and answer period that can ensue when visiting such places. 

     Just to have a book with photos, detailed information and an organization explicit with categories telling you the where and how of your curiosity of minerals and rocks is priceless.  You need to have sharp eyes to read this one, but a treat to own. 

Feasting Your Eyes on Rock Goodness

       Whenever you are near or in Butte, Montana, you have to go check out the Mineral Museum's store to take home with you some of the flashiest, most current books on rocks. I just can't pass up a swing by John's stock of the latest books he keeps on hand when it is either feast or famine

      He says it is famine season right now. I love the pop in your face view of what he has, am able to snap the best right up and have some stash in my bag for savoring at home later. Just a perfect stop.

Got Books Galore!!

      Want to find some good mining books or information on the latest techniques that have been used to find resources in Montana? Head out to the Mining and Mineral Symposium in Butte on Wednesday, October 10th for their used book sale. An array of information will await you for your researching pleasure. 

      They have all kinds of books as well about mining in Montana from many of the geologist in the area and on staff. A great resource for the developing mind.

Rocking Resource

      While soaking up the prospecting sites around Montana with my scouting type vision, I often have questions in the back of my mind about areas visited or images retained. Upon returning home there on my desktop was this book recommended to me at the Trex Agate Shop in Bynum that I hadn't paid much attention to. 

     Upon opening it up, all these charts, diagrams and visuals with short excerpts of the land all over the state that have been on my list or are on it for future visits are covered for research. Such is the fun of finding fodder for understanding the formations and resources. It adds interest and knowledge to persue for the curious, adventurous at heart for gold, precious gems, and opportunity that lays in this book. It's a handy one for exploratory ideas. It's worth checking out.

Book Reviews

Early Prospecting Montana For You and Your Family

      If you want a book that speaks to the heart of Montana's prospecting beginnings, here's a good one. Gotta love the pictures that shows what once was on the streets of a gold rush hubbub. The descriptions also tell the tales of life as it was with change rampant for those without law, structure, services or familiarity.

      Would you like to pay $96 dollars for a pound of butter? We are not familiar with such prices for a common item, but when your food supplies had to be shipped in from Salt Lake City on a wagon, take note that the growing season was not established when this town began.

      The pages of what was needed, what was done, and how it all began are between the pages of this book. It sat among many other materials on a rack in the visitors' center of Bannack State Park. When the ranger was asked what is the best book of the area, this was recommended. The photo represents what it's about and just what you might find in it. The dust has rolled in, the people have fled, and all that remains is the opportunity for people to learn how it was long ago.

        A Must Have Book for Your Montana Summer Travels

 

        Even the most famous explorers relied on a knowledgeable guide. And nowhere will you find a more knowledgeable guide than The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia. It would require almost a dozen of the top guidebooks on Montana to find the information contained in this single volume—and you still wouldn’t have everything that is in this book!

       Here's what it contains:  114 maps — 52 maps of towns and cities — Over 2,000 Restaurants — Over 700 Motels — More than 350 public campgrounds — More than 250 private campgrounds — 96 Forest Service cabins — Over 200 guest ranches and resorts — Over 200 bed and breakfasts — Over 250 vacation homes and cabins — Over 450 outfitters and guides — 130 airports — More than 225 fishing sites — Over 160 Lewis & Clark points of interest — 71 public golf courses — Over 300 museums and historical sites — The text of over 300 historical markers — More than 25 hot springs — Over 300 hikes — Over 100 Cross-Country Ski Trails — Over 65 scenic drives and sidetrips — More than 50 ghost towns — 31 downhill and cross-country ski areas — Over 650 gas stops —

        More than 400 attractions — More than 1,000 photographs — Weather information for over 40 locations — Information on over 300 cities and towns — 1,000s of things to do in Montana — 1,000s of addresses and phone numbers …and more!

A Montana Author and Illustrator Ready to Illustrate the Land of the Dinosaur

     This book was recommended by the staff from the Two Medicine Dinosaur Museum in Bynum, Montana who were at the Butte Gem and Mineral Show. The vendor said that this author studied dinosaurs and then found that drawing them and writing books about them was what he wanted to do. His skills have been put into good use by his making a publishing company that you can access here by clicking on the link. But this is what the author says about himself on his webpage: Ted Rechlin loves to tell stories and draw pictures of wildlife and natural history. Ted got his professional start drawing for DC Comics at age 19. He has been working as a freelance author/illustrator for more than a decade. Ted founded Rextooth Studios, a publishing house, which began releasing titles in 2016. He currently lives in Montana with his wife, Annie and their rescue dog, Marco.  Here's his website: http://tedrechlin.com/

The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall

 

     When one sees a book all tattered and torn from the front cover to the back, one knows that is a well used book of import. That is what happened when this book was brought out to show me what the gal was referencing. I knew I had to get the book because it was very reliable. That's why this is being passed onto you.

     A mention on the internet the strengths this book has is:

 Beautifully illustrated, The Crystal Bible offers a comprehensive guide to crystals, their shapes, colors and applications. With informative descriptions and an easy-to-use format, it is an indispensable practical handbook for crystal lovers and users everywhere--both beginner and expert alike. The book's directory format and beautiful, full-color photos ensure that the crystals are easily identifiable. Descriptions, which accompany each entry, provide information on their appearance, worldwide distribution, attributes, actions and healing properties. Both major and lesser-known stones currently available are covered, including those only recently discovered. A comprehensive index cross-referencing crystals to applications, aliments and conditions makes this book a vital reference for all crystal users.    

     Take under advisement that this book is worth your investment from any book store because, if you are into rocks, it might just be your constant companion like it is for many rockhounds. Worth checking out.

 

 

 

The Northwest Treasure Hunter’s Gem & Mineral Guide Where & How to Dig, Pan and Mine Your Own Gems & Minerals

by Kathy J. Rygle & Stephen F. Pedersen

       As one speaks with experienced prospectors and gets a book suggested or given to them, you absorb it, cherish it, and trust it to guide you in the right direction. However, when you mix your experience with what you know, you begin to look at the book in a different light. That is what has happened with this book.

      This book was loaned to me by Delbert Henry as something to give me good information about prospecting. My friends found it interesting, but when I had a chance to look at it, I didn’t find the same experience.  Even though it is just one part of a 4 part series and tt is nicely done in 2006, but for 2017, not so much.

       As I looked through the information about Montana, I reflected on what was surmised by the book Rock Hounding in Montana, that bogus book. Some educated person at their computer or desk back East combined a bunch of information and put it together as advice, not tried and true, practical information.

        Much of the sites are different now and not quite the same as a decade ago. Once you get out in your state, you  become aware there are many more facilities than are mentioned in the book.

One interesting aspect of this book is the fact that the entire United States is mentioned in the back as to where you can find the gems you might be interested in finding listed by state and the fee dig places.

       The gems are listed first and the places where you can dig for them follow.

       It is interesting to note, that the author mentions that the space for your car in your garage just might be taken over by your collections. No truer words could be spoken as the passion for prospecting can consume one and invade their living area.

 

 

Two Great Books to Own

The World of Dendrites in Agate

By Tom Harmon:

      This book is the subsequent addition to the extensive offerings of Tom’s talents. The photographs do a lot of the talking because the illustrative examples are just fabulous to see.

       The dendrite is a pattern that looks like a tree or a plant shaped formation in the stone. Man and animals alike have dendritic patterns in their respective bodies. He says, “Almost all vegetation, trees and plants alike, form in a dendritic pattern.

       There are floating dendrites, dendrites and rainbow iris, and scenic dendrites explained. He explains where you can find them both in Montana and around the world. You can see photos of dendrites up close and thosw worth a second look.

       These two books are just beautiful references for all things agate. A must have book. Nothing bogus about these two; they are the real deal! 

The Many Faces of Montana Agate Collections By Tom Harmon

           From the get go one much know that both of these books produced by Tom Harmon are so packed full of large color photos of agates on quality paper it is like having a treasure chest packed with perfectness. The visual examples and illustrations embed deeply in your mind just exactly what he is talking about and the illustrations speak to his points that he discusses about the dynamics of the agate.

            A quick list of the table of contents can help you understand just what might be the topics of coverage as this book is an expensive investment but so worth it.

            Montana agate; formation types, the structures within the formations, the inclusions within different structures, the rare and unusual, special one of a kind inclusions, chasing the dendrites, chasing the rainbows, freeform sculptures and carvings, and the collections are all sections of his book. It is like if you want to know anything about the agate, this is the go-to book for sure as the explanations are thorough and educational for the agate seeker’s interest and knowledge.

Bogus Book

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      When Rockhounding Montana was dropped into my life as a gift by a friend, I thought, “How perfect! I can follow these sites and set up my own places to explore throughout Montana.” I loved it as I was independent of other groups or leaders.

      In a very short while I found out this wasn’t true.

 

     In mid August on break from the Wood Carver’s Rendezvous in the West Glacier KOA, I dashed to the Rock Shop of Columbia Falls to take more photos and asked the local rock hounds what they knew about the Kalispell and Whitefish sites in this book. They basically said this book, even though it was a new print, had been out for quite awhile and there was nothing left at either of these area sites. I didn’t seek them because the locals seem to know. The women owners already knew the information in this book was outdated, but I didn’t believe them. I wanted to find out more for myself.

 

      For Labor Day, the first of September, Billings fossil hunting was on the docket. Since I have a favorite cousin there, plans were made to spend the weekend and go to the sites for digging in between shopping, visiting with relatives and dining. Getting input from them proved invaluable.

 

     Sunday morning before setting out, Karen checked the computer for where Pompeii’s Pillar was as I remembered in quick perusal it was mentioned as a destination. On Google Maps the little red arrow pointed to 30 miles away on I94. Decision made, “Better get going in order to be back by dinner time.”

 

     But my 94 year old uncle had called in the meantime and said to be sure and check out a garage sale at 701 Broadwater because it was mainly rocks. First stop on my trek. I learned I didn’t need to go in search of rocks because I found them all at this garage sale. While I was shopping this sale, Jerry Denk, the rock hound and 2X per year garage saler, said if you are looking for agates along the Yellowstone River, don’t go to Riverfront Park like the book advises.  He said, “Go along the fishing access exits of the interstate and follow them to find agates.”  Hmm..better advice than the book! But I wondered, “Why would I need to go searching the river for agates, when my box was full of huge ones already boxed for $20!” Plus, my stash included Montana diamonds, fossils, and all kinds of things ancient. One stop shop never looked so good.

 

     Now this book never mentioned garage sales as a possibility to score big! But that is what worked for me. You learn many new things when in search of rocks! The common purpose brings out all kinds of experiences.

 

     Soon I headed east out on the interstate. After about 18 miles I decided to check the book for directions. Sure enough, for Billings fossils it stated the site was right in Billings even though it said it was at Pompeii’s Pillar 30 miles away. I thought, “What? I remembered always seeing Pompeii’s Pillar along the route east off an exit.”

 

      I turned back and followed the directions given in the book. That’s when my discovery of this book’s information was sorely in need of revision. I found Blue Creek Road, went down it and never found the RV Park they mention to go to.  I stopped at the local pop shop on the corner. The cashier looked at the directions and said she didn’t know of any place down the road like that. She asked a lady in line who said, “Oh, that place hasn’t been there for maybe 6-8 years.” I was looking for something that didn’t exist!! And to make matters worse, when I started to look further I found out there were the same directions for multiple sites.

 

     On my way to the Billings Fossil site I had passed by Riverfront Park which was another destination in the book, so I decided to check it out. I drove to the boat access which my cousin had suggested to take instead of the park. I discovered the Yellowstone River about empty; it was a sea of rocks. I walked out across it looking for agates and what I could find by looking at the river bed. I wanted to take many gravel buckets home and work over for gems or gold, but time was limiting me.

 

     I drove around Riverfront Park which was listed as a digging site and said I could find agates along the shore. Bogus: it was a marsh with no shoreline to walk as the water was all the way to the edge with no exposed shoreline anywhere. How could this be? This was just another wild goose chase!! I did better in my morning stop at a local garage sale and had my car full of rocks of epic proportions. I wasn’t in need of much but wanted to follow suggestions from this book I couldn’t. Another frustration added to the pile from it.

 

     I took off out of there in pursuit of signs along the highway of where to go to the Pictograph Caves that were mentioned in the area. On the way to that state park where the book said you could find fossils, I discovered Four Dances. This BLM facility has a caretaker who came out of his digs while I drove around.

 

    Lynn, the caretaker, was invaluable because he was a volunteer for 12 years in the same area and had quite a history of rock hounding. He started off his conversation with “There are over 50 species of birds in the area.” I told him I was in search of fossils and showed him my book. We compared notes about it and its information. Quickly we decided it was a book made by some editor sitting in an office somewhere like NYC copying and pasting in their computer information that wasn’t correct. They had written it without verification. The information was outdated and it was published it without updates. We figured this book was written like about 12-15 years ago and was sorely in need of revision. Too much misinformation is published in it.

 

    The main reason this book is bogus is because they say Pompeii’s Pillar is on site in like 4 different locations in the Billings area when it is 30 miles away. There was no Blue Creek Road site, there were no agates at Riverfront Park, there was no cave painting park fossils like Lewis & Clark found because you could take anything from a National Landmark that was a State Park and the directions were all screwed up. Verifiable accuracy was not able to be established; it was dashed.

 

      Then the next day when I went to look up the Strattford Hills so I might check out before leaving Billings area, Rockhounding Montana said the site was on a route 9 miles down the road off the South Billings Boulevard. It said to look for a hill off to the side of the road. But Google Map said it was 20 miles out from the main road. I wondered what was right. I knew the book had multiple errors and I trusted Google Map a little bit better so had to weigh whether I would even go try to check that site out or not. At that point when at least 4 local sites were unable to be found and had erroneous information, I decided to ditch the search as the book lain out.

 

     On my way home I had planned on checking out the Lavina site and maybe the Roundup one, but pretty well wagered to guess I would have similar experiences. I drove right on by, heading home. I was done with the book as a guide. It is not what it says it was and it was a huge disappointment because of so many intentional errors.

 

      What this book is good for is to give you ideas of how open Montana is to find rocks and fossils. You get an array of possibilities to go in search of. You must know that it is also important to remember leads can come from talking with people about their own fossil finds. For instance, Jim Lundberg, a local gatherer of wood and rocks, drew his route on my Montana map where he found his fossils of 3 million years old proportions in eastern Montana so I could find exactly what he did.

 

     Amos Knapstad of Great Falls, told me that any cut out south of Great Falls in the hills exposes fossils. He said, “This area was all under water at one time. Many shells, ammonites and former sea creatures are all embedded in the sides of the hills and can be found by stopping to look.”

 

      While camping on Tiber Dam last year, morning hours were searches along the receded embankment and coprolite was discovered. It was with a comparison at home on the computer of the shells and rocks observed on the shoreline that the picture was complete of what we saw. The seabed had been dug out and pushed to the edge while constructing the dam in the 50’s exposed layers of life to find.

 

               You can find fossils, rocks, and minerals of fabulous proportions if you start to look down and follow your own trails with a hint of the pointers of possibilities from this book. Even though so many statements in the book are false, you can learn from it.  You take ideas and then teach yourself in your own way with a little bit of knowledge, insight, experience and intuition. It doesn’t have to stop your search but it just changes it a bit.

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