Stoneham Field Trip
September 30, 2006

by April Pullen


    What a perfect day for a field trip Saturday turned out to be! Everyone that went on this trip last year knows what I am talking about. Last year was 107 degrees, with no shade, and thousands of cow flies (or whatever you would call them). All I know is that they bite and bite hard.

    A group of rockhounds headed north out of Fort Lupton to the famous blue Barite collecting site in Stoneham, Colorado. Upon getting permission from the landowner, Frank Bendrick, I set the date for September 30, 2006. Eager and prepared for a great day, a convoy of about 11 cars was quite a site to see on the two-lane Highway 52.

    There was about 20 rockhounds on the roster for this field trip. We arrived at the site at about 10:30am, and I proceeded to give about 2 minutes of instructions. The collecting at Stoneham can be as easy or as difficult as you would like to make it. With the erosion factor, the surface collecting is unimaginable and then if you want to dig for the larger crystals, your options are endless.

    Because of the fact that the temperature wasnít in the hundreds this year, everyone didnít try to get the spot under the only tree on this several acre piece of land. We were pretty spread out.

    The troops proceeded to collect for a couple hours and then you started to see some folks start to break for lunch. We began sharing our tales and showing our treasures. Some rockers chose to select only the darkest blue and clearest and best terminated crystals. Others were picking up everything in site and keeping in mind that we had a grab bag fill coming up in less than a year.

    I heard rumors of a couple of rattlesnake sitings. Dave Peters went and checked out the first snake, to make sure it was definitely a rattlesnake. It was hidden back in a old rockhounding hole, probably, staying out of the sun, keeping cool. Kila and I decided that we would trust the rumors and stay away and continued collecting.

    After lunch, Dave and I decided to drive east around the other side of the butte, by where Eldon Honeywell had been collecting for most of the day. It was a nice change of scenery but ended up not being as profitable as our location from the morning, so about 30 minutes after we got to the new spot we ended up heading back west to finish up the day.

    Dave and I ended up calling it a day at about 3:30pm to head back to Longmont. Our findings included on tiny plate of crystals that looks fabulous through a loupe, a couple of clusters, several crystals with nice blue coloring and some great terminations, and some mix and match Barite for the grab bags.

    Thanks to everyone that could make it and I hope to see you all again next year. I took a quick survey and it seems like the end of September worked better than July, not only for the weather, but timing as well. That will probably be the date that I shoot for when I talk to Frank next time. Keep your calendars open.