Creede and Del Norte Field Trip Report
July 4th Weekend, 2003

by Eldon Hunewell


Yours truly got up early (for a change) and managed to leave town by about six-thirty a.m. Friday morning, July 4th. I arrived at fisherman's bridge near Nathrop, CO to enable Brian and Yolanda Busse and his large family to follow me to the collecting areas, but he had errands to do and promised to meet the club at the meeting place in South Fork (the Hungry Logger). I arrived at the restaurant just before 10:30. Stacy Weinberg, Erik Anderson, Ron and Judy Knoshaug, Jerry Leggett (from CMS) and Lin Murphy were all waiting for me and eager to start... after a reasonable wait the Busse family arrived and we proceeded toward Creede but encountered a delay about ten miles north of South Fork due to highway repairs... we finally arrived at the mine sometime about twelve noon... already there were Bob Loeffler, Paul LyVere, and Jane LyVere and Alan Trickey (new members). Not long afterwards, my old friends from South Fork (Ed and Jo and some of their relatives from Kansas) arrived. We were joined later in the day by April Pullen and her fiance Robert Robinson (new members), and her friends Karen Stefanski and Joe Corlett.

Most of the afternoon was spent pouring over the dump above and on the partly buried road south and below the miner's (Mr. Jack Morris, owner of the Last Chance Mine) cabin. I believe we were all pleased with what we found, but myself, Bob and Paul remained the rest of the day and the next day to search for only the very best of the Crystals and Amethystine Quartz (called by some old-timers "Sowbelly Agate"). I made homemade ice cream for the people who remained long enough Friday to enjoy it... including a few tourists who happened to come upon the mine while touring the local scenic bi-ways.

Bob and I stayed in the old refurbished cabin above the Last Chance mine on a claim for the New York mine while Paul, Stacy and Erik were camped on the very top of the mountain. We viewed fireworks from a place near their camp that night after dark.

Saturday, Paul, Bob and myself searched the dump seriously for only the very best of agate and crystals... we were reasonably successful but nothing really-really outstanding was found, but still quite showy when cut later on. That afternoon Jack (the mine owner) took us three "diehards" to try to find the Monte Carlo mine where there were old reports of Chrysoprase on the dumps. It wasn't a successful excursion in the way of finds, but the view was great and the hike was long and pleasant. That evening we ate watermelon and went to town for Barbecue.

Sunday morning, Paul, Bob and myself got up early to meet any people who wanted to go to the Del Norte agate place. We encountered a huge herd of sheep (and sheep poop) on the highway which was interesting, but held us up somewhat and nearly made us late to the meeting spot in Del Norte. We arrived about right on time and Jerry Legget and his wife joined us for awhile at the Agate collecting site... a 4WD road near Twin Mountain. Jerry and his wife left after an hour or so and not long after that the rest of us (Paul, Bob and myself) began finding HUGE thundereggs. I found the first large one and many smaller ones...not long after that Paul's eyes got accustomed to the search and found a larger one than me! Bob topped us all by shortly thereafter finding one that weighed in later at 221 pounds and looks like either an old science fiction movie's depiction of a flying saucer or a flattened large walnut with two mysterious "handles" on it, together with a few lumps on top to top it off!!!... a real curiosity as well as very "cool" in my opinion. Paul and Bob had all they could do to get the large one into Paul's was too heavy for me!!!! We found lots more and at that time I had never ever heard or seen that size of things and quantity from this location... and I had been going there for some 30 years at least! So, I considered it a "strike".

Bob Loeffler spent considerable time before we left for dinner on an extremely large agate-bearing (botryoidal) specimen.

We finally had a meal in Del Norte and went home, with lots of patrolmen issuing tickets in so many places (but not to us, whew!)

The following day, Monday evening, Bob and Paul came to my home to begin sawing the Thundereggs. The first one turned out pretty good, the next one a dud and the next several so-so with only large feather-type areas of Agate. We still have lots to saw and hopefully we will have plume agate by the time we are finished. I understand only a small percentage of the agate from that locality is truly plume agate but we are still hopeful. The large one Bob found is sitting comfortably on my back yard patio, awaiting its fate (be it a specimen or to be sawed later on... eeeeeek!)

All in all it was a very nice and scenic trip for all, I believe... too bad more of the club didn't join us on Sunday for the agate "dig"... the agate was just below the surface, mostly, with perhaps only a very small patch showing... but to the experienced eye it was not that hard to distinguish from the ordinary local rock that was more abundant.