These three localities are on State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection property. Collecting is allowed by permit only (see conditions below), which the club obtains every year. The links below provide maps to these localities and literature information. Anyone attending can meet the field trip leader (who will have the permit) at the quarries anytime during the event, no need to call or email anyone beforehand. See your club Chip n Pick bulletin for permitted collecting dates.
Case Quarries, Portland
To reach the Case Quarries or Prospects go to the intersection of Rt 17 and Rt 17A in Portland. Head east to Old Marlborough Road, then north (left) on this road until you reach Thompson Hill Road on the left. Follow to Cotton Hill Road on the right, follow Cotton Hill to power lines and park. Walk up two hills along the power lines until you run into a bunch of white quartz. Quarries are in the woods to the left. Note that this is State property, collecting is by STATE PERMIT ONLY (see rules at bottom of this page). The principle mineral of interest here is beryl, which is mostly a blue green to aqua, some are yellow. Not much is available in the quarries themselves, but there are numerous dumps at the three old quarries to sort through. Schorl, spessartine, columbite, and rare bismuth minerals are also available. Monazite-Ce, the rare mineral petscheckite (UFe(Nb,Ta)2O8 only the third discovery world-wide), and cordierite were recently reported. Much has been written about these little quarries. For details on history, a description, many specimen and site photos, see http://www.mindat.org/loc-6792.html
CCC Quarry, Haddam
Get off the Beaver Meadow Road exit 8 from Rt 9 in Haddam and head NE on Beaver Meadow Road. At the 5-way intersection at Arnolds, turn hard right to go south on Turkey Hill Road. Follow to first right and turn onto Filley Road. Park to the right (west) of the large red barn just up the road on your left. Path to the quarry is straight behind the gate on the left (east) side of the barn ahead in the woods, it may be overgrown but opens up once you are past the edge of the woods. Follow this nice straight path about 600 feet to the second large pegmatite on your right. The digging area will be obvious.
The best collecting is at prospect where a coarse-grained pegmatite vein along the bottom and then up the left side of the outcrop yields good yellow, green, and blue beryl, columbite, and almandine. Micro uraninites are also a possibility. The beryl quality varies from rotten to very gemmy and good ones are tough to find these days. Sift the dumps for fragments to cut into gems or work the narrow vein for crystals. Lots of big mica sheets, too. Collecting is by STATE PERMIT ONLY. Hand tools only!!!!!
Bring tools for digging, prying, sifting, and/or rock breaking – all sizes of hammers & chisels are useful. The eastern path to the prospect is good for wagons and hand trucks. The area is forested and shady. There are no comfort facilities.
!934 aerial photo. Interesting ruins of the CCC camp, and perhaps from other by-gone days, abound, including two chimneys.
1. Minerals in the Smith quarry SW of the former CCC camp are the basic pegmatite minerals microcline, albite, quartz, muscovite, and schorl. The schorl crystals are typically very crumbly. Large partial crystals can be seen in the SW corner of the cut. Some terminated schorl crystals and psuedo-hexagonal muscovite crystals have been the best finds, but much of the limited dumps are unexplored. A football-sized microcline crystal turned up in the spring 2008.
2. The old beryl trench was not very productive.
3. The Cook columbite prospect occurs in a narrow, 2 to 4-foot-wide, very-coarse-grained pegmatite dike that cross-cuts the barren, fine-grained pegmatite that makes up most of the outcrop. Besides the usual pegmatite minerals named above, which can measure 2 feet across, beryl is the most common accessory. Crystals range in quality from very corroded and opaque to gem grade and in color from nearly colorless, through pale green and yellow to deep golden honey. Other minerals include well-formed garnet (almandine-spessartine) crystals, columbite-tantalites, micro-sized uraninites, and massive pale green fluorapatite.
4. The rock surrounding the pegmatites is gray schist. Half-inch-sized almandine garnets of decent crystal quality have been found in outcrops here.
History of Quarrying and Collecting at the CCC Camp Area
The history of quarrying & collecting near the Civilian Conservation Corps’ Camp Filley (Project S-64, Company #1201, Cockaponset S. F.) barracks includes two areas: the Smith feldspar quarry and to the south the smaller Cook columbite prospect.
The Smith Quarry
The quarry's history is a bit sketchy because it does not appear in any of the usual rockhound guidebooks. This 19th century feldspar quarry is situated in a granite pegmatite near the former Civilian Conservation Corps’ (CCC) Camp Filley barracks (built 1933) on Filley Road, at its intersection with Turkey Hill Road, in the Beaver Meadow District of Haddam. NOTE: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a government make-work program during the great depression. CCC recruits were put to work on all manner of public works projects from roads to roadside springs, foresting tasks and campgrounds, etc. The pegmatite quarry appears abandoned and slightly overgrown (gray-toned) on the earliest available (1934) aerial photographs, when the camp was just completed. So it doesn’t appear to have been quarried by the CCC. Research by Ed Force indicates that it was operated by Horace and Daniel Smith. In 1803, their father had bought land from the Heber Brainerd estate (on land west of Turkey Hill Road). The sons bought it in 1829 and after Daniel died, Horace sold what had become known as the Horace and Daniel Smith Quarry (or the Turkey Hill Quarry Lot) to Samuel Arnold II. When quarrying stopped is uncertain. Its size and shape is the same now as then so nothing significant appears to have happened there since. The absence of large dumps suggests they were used as fill somewhere. I found a bottle called “Granite Rock Spring, Higganum, Conn.” on top of a small dump in the quarry. This soft drink was from a company active during the CCC days.
Photos at http://www.mindat.org/loc-247029.html
The Cook Columbite Prospect
history of the prospect is brief or obscure, primarily because until the camp
was built, there were no local landmarks. Working backwards in time from this
brief mention by Williams (circa 1945), "Near the C.C.C. Camp in Beaver Meadow,
large crystals of Columbite occur with Yellow Beryl and Muscovite crystals in a
pegmatite dyke", it is clear he also apparently wrote about the prospect in
1899, which is well before the CCC camp existed, but the general description of
the location and the minerals fits: "Two miles South of the Court House near the
Turkeyhill road Golden Beryl and Columbite are found in fine crystals."
Based on this information, the following account by Davis (1901) regarding columbite in Haddam fits the locality:
"[Columbite] has been mined in the Beaver meadow district on land belonging to the Heber Brainerd estate, where it occurs in a coarse granite associated with colorless to light green transparent crystals of beryl. Many fine specimens were taken from here by Nathaniel Cook and are to be seen in the Peabody Museum and other collections. They were small as compared with crystals found in the adjoining town of Middletown, but were extremely well defined and had very brilliant faces."
Indeed, the closest home on the 1879 Middlesex county atlas is "H. Brainard".
The Haddam Historical Society has some information on quarry worker and later
mineral collector and dealer Nathaniel Cook, mainly his financial account book
that covers the years from about 1818 to 1850. While there are no notations in
it by him regarding minerals, his son John Edwin Cook (1830-1859, he
participated in the infamous John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and
was caught and hung) made account notes on 3 pages (date not included), which
includes the sentence, “A mineral excursion for Prof Tiliman and Dr. Romer [or
Rosner?] of Prussia.” Based on notes by Nathaniel Cook on adjacent pages, John's
notes were probably made in the late 1840s to mid-1850s. He left Haddam by
around 1857. The "Tiliman" may mean "Silliman", who is mentioned in this account
by Hunt (1852) about a Haddam columbite and beryl locality that is vaguely
located, but in detail fits the above modern and historic descriptions of the
prospect in detail:
"Columbite. - The specimen here described is from a locality at Haddam, Connecticut, in which the mineral was recognized by myself, while visiting the place, six years since. It occurs some two miles from the famous locality of chrysoberyl, where also columbite is met with in minute crystals, and is in a huge granitic vein traversing gneiss. The vein is made up of large cleavable forms of yellowish-white feldspar and brown muscovite, with quartz and beryl. The latter mineral is sometimes found in crystals four or five inches in diameter, and a foot or two in length; these are subtranslucent and brownish or greenish-yellow, while the smaller crystals are sometimes almost transparent, of a topaz-yellow or straw color, and if they were not fissured, would constitute gems. They are frequently modified by truncations of the terminal edges and solid angles, but the edges are rounded, and do not admit, of accurate admeasurement. The columbite occurs disseminated through the vein, alike in the feldspar, mica and beryl; some of the crystals were said to have been several ounces in weight, and had been carried out by amateur collectors as specular iron; a crystal since procured from the locality by Prof. Silliman, Jr., weighs 36 ounces. The smaller crystals were abundant and often beautifully perfect, some of them are imbedded in translucent yellow beryl, and have the form represented in figure 1, p. 401 of Dana’s Mineralogy, 3d edition."
Hunt also reports the columbite specific gravity as 5.85 and with three times as much Fe as Mn, this makes it columbite-(Fe) and very typical of the region. Note that Hunt mentions the locality is 2 miles from the chrysoberyl locality, which is indeed about 2 miles north (on Walkley Hill Road). The latter locality is not far from the court house mentioned by Williams (1899) as the landmark former locality is also 2 miles away from.
Based on the all of the above, it appears that the prospect was worked by Nathaniel Cook, at least from 1846 when Hunt was there, and was also visited by Benjamin Silliman, Jr. Son John Cook may have brought him there, or to another place Nathaniel was working. It was known about by local collectors in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, but lacking a name its specific location could not be easily described until the nearby CCC camp was built in 1933. There are many 19th century columbite crystals from Haddam, most of which are simply labeled with the town name, such as the one in depicted in Dana as mentioned by Hunt. Some came from the chrysoberyl locality, but these were typically tiny. It appears that larger ones may be attributable to this prospect. Large columbites just labeled as from "Haddam" on display at the Joe Webb Peoples Museum at Wesleyan U. in Middletown and at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC are very likely from this prospect.
The prospect occurs in a narrow, 0.7 to 1.3-meter-wide,
very-coarse-grained pegmatite dike that cross-cuts a much larger, barren,
fine-grained pegmatite that makes up most of the outcrop. Besides the
usual pegmatite minerals albite, very large tan microcline (up to 0.7
meters across), smoky quartz and abundant muscovite books over 15 cm,
beryl is the most common accessory. Based on collecting trips since about
1990, beryl crystals range in quality from very corroded and opaque to gem
grade and in color from nearly colorless, through pale green and yellow to
deep golden honey. Pale yellow and green beryl crystals are typically
embedded in the pegmatite and a re heavily fractures. Crystals are up to
2.5 to 5 cm in diameter and 15 or 18 cm long, although at one point there
were multiple yellow beryl crystals there that were measured in
decimeters! During attempted collecting, they crumbled apart. Jeff Fast and Joel Sweet also found some nice gemmy yellow beryl in
the mica schist at the contact with the pegmatite. Gem stones up to 5
carats have been cut. Jeff has a medium yellow, 2.94 carat eye-clean trilliant and Russ has one faceted stone of the deepest yellow that is
slightly over 1 carat. The pegmatite extends to the south, and beryls have
been dug from this area, which shows promise for further exploration.
Recent digging along the coarse-grained dike continues to turn up
Other minerals found since 1990 include well-formed garnet crystals (probably almandine based on XRF analyses of pegmatitic garnets from the district), excellent columbite-(Fe) (sometimes embedded in yellow beryl), micro-sized uraninites, and massive pale green fluorapatite.
Pockets were rarely found. Russ Behnke has seen two crude smoky quartz crystals and two columbites that grew in pockets. Otherwise, the minerals of interest were embedded in the pegmatite.
Garnets were found in the pit and in boulders 10 or 20 yards south of the prospect. Some of these were in sharp crystals over 1-inch across.
Jeff Fast collected terminated columbite from here; one radiating spray of crystals is about 2 inches long. They are very fragile, typically with a mica coating and occur near yellow beryl, which is mostly what the locality is noted for. Tabular, subhedral crystals have been found loose in the dump, and in soil under the dump.
Photos at www.mindat.org/loc-193458.html
Cook, John E. (1850 circa): Notes by him in the account book of his father
Nathaniel Cook. Haddam Historical Society, Thankful Arnold House, Haddam,
Hunt, T. S. (1852): Examination of some American Minerals. American Journal Of Science, series 2, vol. 14, pp. 340-1.
Williams, Horace S. (1899): Letter to Miss Eveline Brainerd of Haddam, February 18, 1899. Brainerd Public Library, Haddam, Connecticut.
Davis, James W. (1901): The Minerals of Haddam, Conn. Mineral Collector, v. 8, no. 4, pp. 50-54.
Davis, James W. (1901): The Minerals of Haddam, Conn. Mineral Collector, v. 8, no. 5, pp. 65-70.
Williams, Horace S. (circa 1945): Article for New York Society of Mineralogists. Brainerd Public Library, Haddam, Connecticut.
Clark Hill Quarries, East Hampton
The Clark Hill Quarries are located in the Meshomasic State Forest off of Woodcutter's Road. Look for the State Forest Entrance sign on Clark Hill Road, East Hampton. Collecting is allowed by STATE PERMIT ONLY!
Based on my experience, these quarries (State Forest Quarry #1 and the Nathan Hall Quarry) are quite productive! They have produced two of my best self-collected pieces and many other fine examples of simple pegmatite minerals. In particular, sharp muscovite crystals are very common at the Hall Quarry and the large, dark almandine garnets from there, although fairly rare, are awesome. I tested 7 garnets from Nathan Hall and 1 from SFQ#1 using x-ray fluorescence to determine the metal content and all 8 proved to be almandine, though rather impure with the iron content ranging from 77 to 53% relative to total Fe and Mn content. The black stain results from the Mn content but there is not enough Mn to call the garnets spessartine. Annite (fka biotite) is also common, mostly in bladed crystals up to several feet long. Beryl is uncommon, but crystals can be large, gemmy, and terminated and vary in color from yellow through green to aqua. Zircon, uranium minerals (beautiful autunite and torbernite halos around altered uraninite), and fluorapatite are sprinkled throughout. Albite is abundant; sheaf-like crystal aggregates with muscovite are found on pocket wall fragments at SFQ#1. Microcline occurs as small pocket crystals (SFQ#1) or in very large matrix crystals. Unfortunately much schorl tourmaline has altered to muscovite, but there are interesting tapered pseudomorphs similar to those from Wentworth, NH. Very nice pocket smoky quartz has been found at SFQ#1 and massive quartz, which encloses the sharp micas and matrix microclines, is very abundant at Hall, but good crystals there are usually pocket micros. Although tiny columbites are common, large ones are very rare and when you find one, you will remember every part of the experience! These quarries are full of surprises for the persistent collector. More recently, another pegmatite near the intersection of Woodchopper's Road and the logging road that leads to the quarries was uncovered by logging activity and the core zone has been prospected, yielding many beryls and some good garnets and columbites.
Based on the few references, the Hall Quarry appears to have operated completely before 1922 (see below). There is nothing specific in the mineralogical literature, but presumably it was quarried for feldspar and/or mica. The F. W. Beers County Atlas of Middlesex, Connecticut, published in 1874, shows a large rectangle of land north of Clark Hill Road owned by "N. Hall". The Hall Cemetery is on Clark Hill Road near the entrance to Woodchopper's Road. I have found remnants of an old, late 19th century chewing tobacco hip pocket can, but also more recent artifacts like a corroded Gablinger's beer can (the first lite beer!) and a Cott soda bottle.
SFQ#1 was quarried for mica and feldspar for only a few months in 1942 and 1943. Presumably the low muscovite mica content (see below) and high annite mica content in the graphic granite, which is abundant in the dumps and is typically shipped for ceramics, make this deposit uneconomic. Even a small amount of iron-rich minerals in the feldspar results in brown staining of the ceramic glaze.
See mindat pages for more info: http://www.mindat.org/loc-9660.html http://www.mindat.org/loc-29586.html
Note: These quarries should not be confused with State Forest Quarry #2, which is located along Mine Brook SW of the cobalt mines. SFQ#2 is the locality for many rare phosphate minerals similar to those found at the Palermo Mine in North Groton, NH.
Conditions for Educational Mineral Collecting on State of Connecticut Land
Quarries, Case Quarries, CCC Quarry
Minimum requirements on the
scheduled day for the host group/contact leader and the participants of an
educational mineral collection field day are as follows:
is a one time field day permission (at each location) to collect minerals for
2) The number of collecting participants may not exceed 25 on any of these days.
3) Participants in the field day must be informed that they have been granted special educational collection permission for this specific day and this site by the Commissioner under Section 23-4-1(b) of the Regulations Concerning the Order, Safety, Sanitation and Protection of Property Under the Control of the Department of Environmental Protection. The regulations in part states: “No person shall deface, destroy, alter, remove or otherwise injure in any manner, vegetation, earth or rock material, trees, nor shall any wildlife be molested or disturbed. The Commissioner may grant permission to take samples and conduct investigations for scientific or educational purposes.” (Emphasis added).
4) Participants must be cautioned and advised to wear hard-hats and eye safety goggles.
5) Participants may collect minerals only by the use of small hand tools (trowel, garden scratcher, hammer). The reason for only allowing the use of these hand tools is to minimize extensive excavation, tunneling and the creating of unsafe site conditions for future participants. All holes created should be filled prior to leaving the site.
6) Participants may remove only samples for their own educational use that can be carried in their hands in one trip from the site per day. Participants are urged to consider that others probably would like to enjoy the history of the site and the unique educational experience in the future.
7) Participants must be notified of any special cautions or restrictions required under the site use authorization as outlined below.
8) Participants must be notified that under Section 52-557g the State does not assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by an act or omission of the State.
9) No minerals collected and removed from the site may be sold or used for commercial purposes.
10) The participants agree to act as conservation partners with the DEP and it is requested that they report any unauthorized use and abuse of these public lands.
11) Participants are reminded that future permission for educational mineral collecting field days is dependant upon adherence to the conditions of this permission letter.
12) The field day group contact leader must carry a copy of this permission letter on his or her person and make it available for inspection if requested by state authorities.
The program leader must make participants aware that some of these sites are within the known foraging area of the state endangered Timber rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus. These snakes are secretive and usually detect the approach of noisy humans and move away to hide. If a sleeping snake is encountered, it may recoil into a defensive posture and rattle. If this occurs, the best solution is to back away slowly. Quick movements may agitate the snake. Timber rattlesnakes are protected in Connecticut (CGS 26-311) and should not be harmed.