Just wanted to let everyone know, there may be another mine opening to the public for digging quartz crystals at, near Story, Arkansas, which is just north of Mt Ida. This is the old mine that Gee and Dee used to operate, it had sat vacant for many years and was in reclamation status, trees had been planted, and then a new owner came along and purchased the lease on the land. They have been working with the Forest Service to open it up as a public dig site and there is hope that it will be open by the summertime, however this all depends on the FS.
I have never been to this old mine but have heard stories that some nice clusters were dug out of there in years past. Once open, there will be four mines in the Mt Ida area open to the public. When I was down there last fall, there was also alot of talk of an increased police presence in the area, on the roads and in the National Forest areas. Local dealers in that area, that I am good friends with, explained to me that this is a good thing, that they are mainly looking for meth lab operators and drug users, who are frequently cooking meth in the forest areas around Lake Ouachita. Alot of the increased police presence there includes Federal and State DEA agents who have been known to set up roadblocks on Forest Roads, again looking primarily for the drug runners, so dont be alarmed if you come up on them doing their jobs...in the words of my friends there, you should feel comforted that they are there doing their jobs and keeping all of us safe. James
Did this new site every open and if so, what is the name? I am wanting to go down there in the next week. It will be my first time to dig so if you can give me any good tips and best places to dig at all around that area would be fantastic. I have seen Board camp in mena, sweet surrender, Wegner, and twin creek in mt. ida area and the 2 coleman in jessieville. I also read that there is one on Fisher mountain that you can go pay at Judy's cystals shop and on called Arrowhead ran by a guy named matthew price. I am just not sure which one/s I should try out. I want a good experience with my first time going. Thank you for any inforamtion that you may give.
some of those mines are long gone that you mentioned...like Arrowhead Mine...Matt Price lost the lease many years ago and that one has been reclaimed by the USFS, gate is locked and its a long walk to the old mine from the gate, plus with their new idiot rules in place, you would only be able to surface collect at any of the old reclaimed mines, no digging of any type is allowed down there in the Forest areas nowadays. Hopefully the new administration will clean house and restore the National Forests to proper management for the people, allowing us to once again use our National Forests instead of restricting usage. The old Oden Mine at Story, formerly operated years ago by Gee and Dee, has not re-opened yet, again thanks to the USFS and more of their new rules. Friends down there tell me that the guy that now has the lease, was within days of opening it to the public after spending thousands of dollars to clean it up and bring it into total compliance with the FS rules and then they hit him with even more rules and slowed him down. Its no wonder, as they have treated the quartz mine owners down there like they treated the coal mines for the past eight years, and there are not very many coal mines still operating these days. I no longer go to any of the public dig mines in the Mt Ida area, but here is a brief rundown on them for you. For the past few years there are only five mines open to the public down there. In the Mt Ida area, the public area mines available are Wegners Ranch, which is located south of Mt Ida on Hwy 27 and then east on Owley Road a few miles. Wegners only allows diggers to go to their mine in two hour slots, and they transport the diggers up the hill by an open air caravan vehicle, after you pay a fee of around $ 16.50 each...you can stay longer, up to six hours, but you have to pay that fee per person for each two hour slot you dig there. you can dig in their shallow pit or in their tailings that are spread out next to their pit in the forest area. There is also Sweet Surrender, which is located north of Mt Ida on Hwy 27, north of Lake Ouachita and east of 27 on Horseshoe Bend Road about a mile. The last time I was there they charged $ 20 per person and you surface collected only, the quartz here usually has a thick magnesium coating to the crystals, which is nearly impossible to remove even with acid. and then there is Twin Creek Mine, and the shortest route is to take Hwy 270 east of Mt Ida to the turn off to Judy`s Crystal Shop, Logan Gap Road, take that road around the back of the Mt Ida airport and up the hill, across the single lane bridge over Twin Creek to the Y intersection where you stay right on Collier Springs Road. Its a rough and often single track FS road, mine entrance is a few miles down the road and up at the top of the first steep and rough washboardy hill on your left. If you are just going to the public dig area, this is prob your best bet in the Mt Ida area. To the north of Hot Springs, you have the Coleman Brother Mines, one is operated by Ron Coleman, to reach it you take Hwy 5 north of Hot Springs and turn left at his brother Jim Coleman`s Rock Shop, on Little Blakely Creek Road, take that a few miles and follow the signs to Ron`s Mine on the right, he has a small campground and Rock Shop there too. You pay $ 20 each person to dig in the large tailing pile area. There is a parking lot close to the tailing piles, but if its raining, you will be restricted to the asphalt parking lot an eighth of a mile walk, up on top of the hill next to the Rock Shop...they dont want to get their pretty asphalt parking lot dirty, so when it rains, they dont let you park down by the tailing piles. Pretty bad when a parking lot is more important than a customer, in my humble opinion. To reach Jim Coleman`s Miller Mtn Quartz Mine, you go a little further north past the rock shop on Hwy 5 and turn left on Hwy 298, take that to the west about 11 miles and watch for the big white signs with red lettering for Miller Mtn Mine, turn left on Savall Circle, this is the second Savall Circle, where the big sign is located indicating you turn there. Take that road down and cross the creek and then turn right on National Guard Road, go up and over the hill and down at the bottom turn left on Bighole Road, cross the creek again on a concrete slab and then go up the steep hill, road is sometimes rough and washed out, to the top and stay to the right at the top to the mine office and rock shop...there you pay the caretakers your fee of $ 10 each and they will point out the freshest piles of clay mud for you to dig thru for crystals. sometimes they have baskets of quartz for sale too...when Bill and Faith were the caretakers there, they had excellent baskets of quartz for sale there...I haven`t seen any good baskets there for quite a while. I have had friends go to Miller Mtn Mine in the past year and said they found some good stuff, so its prob the best bet for the Hot Springs area. Judy has the lease on the old Fisher Mtn Mine, but that has been graded over so many times it is nothing more than a big tailing pile that has been heavily picked over and much of the good stuff is deep under your feet. there is a great view from up there, but that is about all one can say about it, you never hear about anything nice coming from that area up there. Good luck and let us know how you did. James