Crystals in Florida?
You know I went a long time thinking that there were no crystals to be found in my home state of Florida b/c its too geologically young & for most of its history it’s been mostly underwater as part of a shallow sea bed. It wasn’t until about 33.9 million to 23 million years ago that sea levels dropped and Florida finally emerged from the sea.
I know, I know. That sounds like a hella long time ago, but compared to most other places, that’s relatively recently.
But a few years ago I discovered that just ain’t so! There are indeed crystals to be found in Florida.
Florida has huge limestone deposits leftover from the Pliocene & Pleistocene Era of Florida’s past… back when it was still living under a large shallow ocean…& that era has left behind large 2 million year old fossilized clam shells encrusted with honey calcite in Ft. Drum, FL.
During the early Pleistocene era, this was the location of the Atlantic shoreline.
On to Ft. Drum!
Calcite comes in many colors and a while ago I did a video all about some of the different kinds… (oh my, so old & embarrassing this video is):
Starting here I go over honey calcite’s specific healing properties.
How These Crystals Came To Be
After the animal living inside the clam shell (Mercenaria permagna) was long gone, calcite crystals began to crystallize from within. How? Well, in Florida mangroves tend to grow along shorelines. At some point, the calcium in the clam shells leached out due to the acid-rich tannins from those mangroves and the hollow areas within the shells provided the perfect crystal growing hollow area.
A gorgeous golden Honey calcite to be exact.
[caption id="attachment_18652" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Fairly recently, workers discovered these amazing SPARKLY specimens while digging up limestone to be used for construction purposes.
This is the area:
The original dig site was known as Ruck’s Pit & the story goes that in 2008, the family who owned the property decided to close it down & allowed it to flood making it now inaccessible.
This is a specimen found at the original location with that characteristic dog-tooth calcite formations. So gorgeous, right?
[caption id="attachment_18653" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]BUT, apparently a lot of the material that was dredged out was moved to another property, now known as the Fort Drum Crystal Mine (although that name is really a misnomer b/c it’s not really a mine at all). Piles of the mined material (tailings) are brought out for visitors to a “staging area” on a farm (that’s what you saw in my above video) allowing visitors like me & my family to dig through.
There are different tailings that are dug from various levels from the original pit so it’s wise to check them all out. 😉
I have to be honest & tell you that I didn’t love the idea that we were digging in an inauthentic site. But I guess I should be grateful that some of the material was saved for us to sort through & have the experience of discovering some of the gorgeous calcite there.
This is the sign you’re greeted with when you reach the Fort Drum Crystal Mine…
I recommend you bring the usual array of mining supplies, although they do have some tools for you to use there. I have a blog post here about that.
I’d also recommend bringing lots & lots of water + a packed lunch in a cooler (it gets HOT out there… & there are no food trucks or restaurants close by). There’s a bathroom, but don’t expect it to be very nice… if you know what I mean.
You might also want to bring a change of clothes for your ride home b/c you tend to get pretty muddy!
You can expect to find lots of partial clam shells with a small calcite crystal filling, like a glittery coating inside the clam…but the larger dog-tooth calcite that used to be mined from the original location is probably all gone. 🙁
BTW, if you’re looking more for the spiral, cone-shaped type shells, those are also very hard to find. We didn’t find any.
If you think you’re going to find the entire clam shell in good condition filled with golden honey calcite…worth hundreds of dollars…well, we didn’t find any of that either & didn’t see any of the other people finding that material either…unless they were keeping it on the down low. 😉
Not to say that what we did find wasn’t lovely & gorgeous!
Was it Worth Going?
Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.
It costs $60/per person/for the day. Kids are less. Yeah…OUCH! Very steep for mining, IMHO.
You’re allowed to mine as much as you wish, unlimited (although I’ve seen others say that you were only allowed to fill a 5 gallon bucket. We weren’t told that, but then again, we didn’t leave with anywhere near that much material)…and despite the website saying that the “mine” is only open until 5 pm…he told us we could stay until dark.
All in all, I’m glad we all went. It was a great experience, but I wouldn’t go back & do it again. Did it.
I’d rather check out other areas to mine.
Now would I go back to Hot Springs, Arkansas to mine quartz? You better believe it! In a hot second!
How to find mines near you
Just Google it!
- Type in the name of your area and “mining” and see what comes up. You may have to do a road trip a few hours out of your way, but it’s an adventure!
- There’s a listing of mines for most US states listed here
- The TOP Spots in the US are listed here
- And if you really want to get into it you can join a local rockhound club and go with them on regular field trips! Here’s a listing of those for the US (other countries may have listings like this too…again…just Google it). 😀
And just in case anyone wants to talk about the ethics of mining… b/c that usually comes up when I talk about this stuffs… and that’s OK, b/c it’s an opportunity to discuss & educate, here’s my blog post all about that. 🙂
Have you done your own Crystal Mining? Been to the Fort Drum Mine? Or a local Mine near you? What crystal treasures did you find? Tell us about it in the comments below!