Dreams of Digging (by Wanda Turcotte)

Hey, all! Just emerging from my post-holiday stupor, what about you? The world outside might be frozen and snow-covered hereabouts, but it’s a good time to start prepping for the season ahead, because you never know!! Spring might come early!!

I am in awe of the brave folks who are still out in the woods, searching for treasure, even NOW. That’s dedication! But for them, shoveling snow away from their favorite spot is no more troublesome than removing any other kind of overburden, and whacking away the frost layer less of a big deal than working a pegmatite wall in search of a pocket. It’s the cold that discourages most of us, so, delicate flower that I am, I’m whiling away my time on indoor pursuits.

For one thing, now is a good time to conduct some research! By the time I send out information for a Dig, I like to have pored through our stash of reference books and maps and pass along useful bits. I search online for anecdotes and reports from other clubs and individuals who may have visited the same location before, looking for tips and hints - running across a video is a major bonus! I compare driving instructions to GoogleEarth screenshots. I have an app called Planimeter which allows me to measure distances on a map fairly accurately, and try to see the current lay of the land in that area. I go to www.latlong.net to see if I can get more precise coordinates for what I think I’ve seen on there, and other maps, to render it more findable, hopefully, in real life. Every good treasure hunt has a trail of clues to follow, and it makes it all the more fun! You’d be surprised how many prospects and undeveloped deposits are still out there in the wild, stumbled across back along, noted in a listing somewhere, but now only waiting to be rediscovered, and at the very least you get a nice walk in the woods. Don’t be surprised, though, if your research turns up a defunct mine with a house built on top of it - it’s happened to a lot of good old dig sites, sadly.

Some locations are known to be open, and either in your research or in querying fellow rockhounds you may come across reference to their current collecting status, but be sure it’s okay with the property owner, one way or another, before you go on anyone else’s property. This site has a list of open, and closed locations: http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mgs/explore/minerals/index.shtml

A lot of towns maintain accessible online tax maps, and once you’ve nailed down the location pretty well, you might be able to ascertain who owns it that way. Stopping in to the town office, or local public works department might also yield good information. Please don’t be disrespectful of property owners’ rights or the trespassing signs WILL be posted, ultimately.

The Maine Mineral Museum in Bethel has a very good assortment of books available, including reprints of older material. You can check their website for hours they’re open, (worth a winter visit), or you can buy them online. (Below are some I’m having fun with lately.) We watch eBay for used guidebooks for any area we’re interested in visiting in the future, and visit mineral shops - the owners are hounders, themselves, and have lots of information to share. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge stored in the noggins of our veteran club members, too, so plan to attend a meeting! Bring your finds to show off! Tell us your stories! We’d love to see you and talk ROCKS!!

Ed Clopton