Field Trip – Penfield Quarry, Penfield NY

Field Trip – Penfield Quarry, Penfield NY

It’s been awhile since we’ve been out on the road collecting crystals. It’s easy enough to stay entertained (possibly until the end of time) digging Herkimer Diamonds! However, our friend John over at the Penfield Quarry outside of Rochester gave us the heads up that it was time for their annual open house. I just have to say that it’s an incredibly cool thing that John opens up the quarry for public collecting once a year. It’s an active and operating quarry, and most places don’t even want to begin to deal with the liability of letting the general public come in to collect. But since he’s a really cool person, and a fellow rock hound, there is an open house there once a season to allow people to collect a variety of minerals. There’s all sorts of interesting stuff there, but the real treasure is the gorgeous purple fluorite that grows along with some beautiful mature dolomite crystals. New York fluorite?!? Sign us up!

So, we got up bright and early to be there for the safety talk and sign-in at 6:45AM, and after that we had 5 hours to carry home all of the minerals we could find.

Here I am taking safety very seriously, as evidenced with my hard hat
Here I am taking safety very seriously, as evidenced with my hard hat


There were probably about 100 people from all over the country there – someone had even come all the way from Indiana for the chance to take home a piece of the coveted Penfield fluorite!

everyone at the open house, getting ready to find treasure!
everyone at the open house, getting ready to find treasure!

We felt pretty lucky, being Herkimer miners, because the dolomite that the fluorite is found in is very similar to the rock we have back home. I started looking for pieces of dolomite that had evidence of mineralization. Pretty soon we had found a good candidate, and Adam set to work cracking that baby open!

Adam and his steel working hard
Adam and his steel working hard
...still hammering away...
…still hammering away…

Our instincts were correct, because he split open the rock and this was waiting for us! You have to look hard, but there is a tiny purple fluorite cube on the dolomite 🙂

penfield flourite
a tiny fluorite cube on dolomite crystals

That little spot of lavender gave us renewed energy to keep on hammering! So, we found another good candidate and set to work:

Adam gets a steel bar into the crack of the rock to get it ready to split
…and there she goes!

The rock cracked in two, and there was a lot of mineralization in the inside, prompting us to keep on working…

Dolomite crystal pocket inside the rock

Finally, Adam and his mighty hammer broke that whole thing down to rubble. And in the meantime, this treasure was buried deep inside that incredibly hard rock

a perfect purple fluorite cube on large orange dolomite crystals!

This pretty much made our whole week. It’s pretty rare to actually find an intact crystal at Penfield, so we were feeling pretty darn lucky to get to take this little beauty home with us.

After all of the fluorite excitement, I took a little break and checked out the rest of the quarry and collected some cool garden stones to take home with me. By that time, it was pretty much time to clean up and go home, so we carefully wrapped our treasures in newspaper and brought them back to Little Falls. What a fun and special day to get to experience! Thanks again to the Penfield Quarry, and especially John for making this adventure all possible!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. ic

    Miss you both… news to visit…..

  2. Monica

    Wow! That is so wonderful! I am sure the pictures don’t do the crystals justice. I will have to stop in and take a look at that purple cube. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience. Young Cliff’s great uncle is a big rock hound and may not know about this quarry being open to the public 1 day a year. I am definitely directing him to your blog. Happy Hunting, Cheers! Monica

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