Fluorescent Mineral Collecting In and Around Langban, Sweden (2010)
COURTESY OF JOHN SMITH (VA)
All nine of us on the trip have a different story on how they came from around the country to be on this fluorescent mineral collecting trip to Sweden. Six (Howie Green [NJ], Herb Yeates [FL], Bob Fendrich [VT], Al Robb [CA], Lee McIlvaine [PA], and Don Yonika [NH]) were there together for a 2009 trip (see UV Waves January-February 2010 issue for two excellent recent reports on ultraviolet mineral collecting Långban by my colleagues Howie Green and Bob Fendrich). For me it all started after the 2009 trip to Långban. I had heard from Howie Green and others on the trip what a great time they had collecting in Sweden. Only at the spring 2010 Franklin, NJ show did I hear that there was going to be another trip and I was invited. Don Yonika had already sold me a couple of nice Långban rocks at the show. I had not initially planned to go, but and when my son Jared and I went collecting with Mark Cole, who was planning to go, he encouraged me to join the group. So, I figured it would be a great experience whether I found lots of fluorescent rocks or not. I knew or had met all but one (Al Robb) of the other eight attendees, and four of us (Howie, Mark, Jörn Cann, and I) had collected together in Greenland in 2006.
We all convened at Gardermoen International Airport in Norway. Norway was our start point because we had originally had planned to collect in the Langesundfjord area. For a number of reasons the Norway portion of the trip was cancelled, but only after we all had made non-refundable reservations. Howie Green was the Trip Leader and he had planned to rent three cars. There would be two passengers and a driver for each car. Luggage was restricted due to storage space restrictions in the relatively small European rental cars. The approximately five-hour drive to Filipstad, in the State of Värmland, Sweden meandered through beautiful Norwegian rural areas (we kept hearing this voice say "recalculating"), before reaching a major highway in Sweden. There are no stores or restaurants in Långban, so our initial destination was a pizzeria in the town of Filipstad approximately 20 kilometers south of Långban. At about 8:00 pm it was still light when we reached a pizza restaurant, which we thought was our rendezvous point with our Swedish hosts and guides Kjell Gatedal and Ingulf Flamborn. Unfortunately, there is more than one pizzaria in Filipstad, and Kjell was waiting at a different one. However, thanks to an E.U. compatible cell phone, things got sorted out.
At the pizza restaurant, we ordered pepperoni pizza, which was understood by the restaurant staff (who spoke little English) to mean pizza with green banana "pepper on it." We later found that salami was the best English word to use to get what we actually wanted.
In Filipstad our hosts advised us that they planned for us to day collect in the neighboring State of Västmanland the next day (Saturday August 28th) at the Kock Mine, and the famous rare earth (but not fluorescent mineral) Bastnäs mine site. After meeting with Kjell and Ingulf and eating our pepper on pizza, we left Filipstad for Långban, for the short drive to the Rock Hotel, where we then quickly stowed our luggage. The Rock Hotel is a sort of rooming house where members of the local mineral collecting club, the Långban Society, stay when collecting at the expansive Långban mine dumps. The Långban dumps, which include the fenced-in dump, the garden dump, the house dump, hematite hill, the pole dump and the lake dump, are an easy walk from the house. Soon after stowing our luggage at the Rock Hotel, we packed our collecting gear, and walked to the "Lake Dump," which was almost directly across route 26 from the Rock Hotel. We were greeted by abundant, extremely bright mixtures of calcite (SW fluorescent orange-red) and dolomite (SW FL redder). The rock cracking and lamping lasted more than an hour, before we decided we should get some sleep before having to join our guides the next morning at 9:00 am for the 90-minute drive to the Västmanland mines.
The author (John Smith) walking to the Dump
Nine o'clock came earlier than most of us wanted, but we were all eager to go to these locations, which were new for all of us. Our first stop, the Kock Gruven (Mine), is really a small prospect. We were promised shortwave peach fluorescing wollastonite with a 10-minute or longer phosphorescence. When we arrived, I was surprised to find that there was already a car parked at this remote location. When we walked through the wooded area to the prospect, we found two collectors from the Stockholm Mineral Club were already collecting there. I don't know how anyone found this place, but after digging and cracking rock for more than an hour and were all rewarded not only with large quantities of daylight white very fibrous wollastonite, which was as lovely as promised, but also a SW green FL mineral, which could be hyalite, and true red weak FL feldspar, which most of us did not collect.
Don Yonika and Lee McIlvaine exploring the Garden Dump
The next stop was the Bastnäs Mine. There was a lot of rock but none of it known for fluorescence. The main quarry yielded massive cerite and allanite in mineral specimens of significant size (and weight). Several members of the Långban Society were collecting there, when we arrived. Herb and Jörn seemed the most interested and both spend time searching the dump. I picked up some allanite and a couple of white rocks and threw them in my bag. We considered driving an additional hour or so to another famous fluorescent location, Garpenberg, in the State of Dalarna, but our guides finally decided against this, based on reports by our Swedish white light collecting colleagues that the mine dumps were not accessible. On the way back from Västmanland, our hungry group passed a couple of unavailable restaurants before having to settle for the Chinese restaurant on the town square back in Filipstad.
Entrance to Jakobsberg - easy to miss if you don't know where it is
(Jorn Cann, one of the best collecting buddies - RIP)
After dinner we made our first trip to Jakobsberg, which was probably the most desired collecting location by the veteran Långban collectors. We referred to it as Jake. It was hard for them to even wait a day before descending on the site. It poured down rain as we arrived, so we waited for the rain to abate, and it did after a half hour or so. Not every one collected because this was by far the dirtiest collecting location. Collectors, who were soaked before their arrival, collected Jakobsberg dirt in their clothing as well as glowing rocks. This Jake dirt remained for the rest of the trip. There are few exposed larger rocks at Jake and digging in the mud and breaking the excavated rocks were the way to find the special minerals and combinations. Bob made the best find that night: A johnbaumite-calcite. Everyone was very happy for Bob and no one was jealous. Other finds were svabite, calcite, margarosanite, and fibrous wollastonite. It was a dirty job, but we returned to the Rock Hotel damp, but undaunted.
The next day (Sunday) we had a later start (10:00a) because our destinations were closer. The first collecting area would be the mine dump from the Harstigen Mine, the type locality for svabite, near Persberg about midway between Långban and Filipstad. I have not heard anyone other than Herb and Don say that they found svabite at the Harstigen Mine dump. We mostly found dolomite and calcite, however here the calcite and dolomite both fluorescent longwave red of moderate brightness. There also were murmurings of a purple fluorescence unknown. My boot soles became unglued at Harstigen so it sounded like I was wearing flip-flops, not a good thing for my feet or my balance on the wet rocky terrain. My colleagues were very sympathetic and never said another word about my plight.
For a lack of new and interesting finds, we abandoned Harstigen and returned to Långban. Ingulf took us on a brief tour of the garden dump, showing us spots where interesting mineral finds had been made in the past. The Garden dump is perhaps 20% or less of the area nearest the old mine shafts and head frame. The remaining dump is fenced off and only accessible for scientific study, if you have a permit. Our principal finds at this time included calcite, dolomite, svabite, and tilasite. We also were shown an area across the road that the local collectors call "Hematite Hill" where some interesting rocks had been found. At that time, Ingulf had to return to his home in southern Sweden a 6-hour or so drive away, and we spent the afternoon day collecting at the garden dump, pulling barbecue covers over our heads to lamp rocks. That evening started a series of delightful dinners prepared by those more gifted than I in the culinary arts. To the delight of all, Howie made the first of several freshly made "from scratch" vegetable soups. The second course was an Indian food buffet with arroz con pelo (you had to be there).
Hasselhojden - what a luxury to be able to drive your car right up to the mine!
That Sunday night we collected at Hasselhojden, a former limestone mine and kiln. Mining was more recent there and almost none of the rocks were blackened, like they were at the Långban, Jakobsberg, and Harstigen dumps. We arrived about an hour before sunset, found equipment Lee left the previous year - none the worse for wear, and collected some in the daylight. Other than road signs, this sight was the only place we saw evidence (scat) of moose. The minerals we collected were a little different here: calcite, willemite, shortwave and longwave sphalerite, and hydrozincite in combinations. The best sphalerite was in stripes up to one inch wide in calcite. Our return time was about midnight. Bob and Don stayed back and collected at the Lake dump and Hematite Hill. Don found a blue shortwave fluorescence that we all thought was swedenborgite, but it turned out to be more scarce, and in my opinion, just as beautiful, berzeliite, as identified by Kjell.
Limestone Kiln at Hasselhojden
Monday began by sleeping in a little. Kjell showed up as promised at 10 with some local rocks for sale. Many were fluorescent, but a few from Garpenberg were not. I bought a Franklin look-alike calcite and willemite from Hasselhojden. We daylight collected at the Garden Dump, where Al and Lee found and broke up a very nice and very large svabite with tilasite boulder, where Howie had found this same combination in 2009, and shared their excess with those who had not yet found this characteristic material from Långban. Others found calcite and svabite. Heavy rock bags were the order of the day. That evening we headed back to Jake, after some of the group napped a bit, following an appetizer of hummus prepared by Howie and a main course dinner of bacon, cheese, and broccoli pasta prepared by Jörn. We arrived at Jake at dusk and scouted out a place to collect. Many went back to locations of previous success, but Al and I went to a new area where suddenly we found lots of what appeared to me to be blue white fluorescence on calcite. Neither of us had found any margarosanite on the trip and we were delighted. Herb came over shortly and said very diplomatically that "margarosanite fluoresces pure blue-white, whereas local mold has a more greenish tint." Al and I had such margarosanite fever that neither of us had thought for a minute that what we had found was not in the normal margarosanite habit of filled seams usually located by splitting rocks at the seams. I dubbed the rocks "fungarosanite." Needless to say the fungal rocks stayed at the dump. Bob found another johnbaumite, but not as nice as his find on the first Jake trip a couple of days earlier.
On Tuesday we took a little break from collecting and visited the Nordmark Museum of local Swedish life. There were several interesting historical exhibits, but my favorite was the mineral museum that Kjell, a carpenter by trade, had built starting from the pine and aspen trees in the nearby forest. We had lunch in a Thai restaurant in Filipstad before our next tour at the Bergsskolan (University–level Geology School) Museum. Kjell had arranged to have the cases of Långban minerals opened, so that we could lamp them. The museum had beautiful swedenborgite, but the favorites of most of the group were the pectolite specimen and the barite/apatite specimen. We also saw some of the type specimens from the local mines. I was surprised to see in one of the cases a zircon from Tigerville, SC, a mine where I had once collected.
We did a little grocery shopping before returning to the Rock Hotel. That night was spent collecting in the Garden Dump. After the light rain stopped, fog rolled in, making footing interesting on our hike back to the nearby Rock Hotel. I only found calcite and dolomite but a few with attractive patterns. Howie, Herb and Lee stayed late. The rest of us started culling our finds and packing them into 20-kilogram "flat rate" (about $75) Swedish Post Office pale blue boxes to ship back to the States and UK. There were no collecting plans for the next day, so packing and culling could continue. At that point we all had a lot of rock to pack.
The Lake Dump - an Idyllic setting for collecting rocks
Packing, culling, and shipping took up most of the daylight hours. Dinner was Swedish meatballs and noodles with lingonberries all prepared by Bob and Jörn. Kjell arrived at dusk to lead us to the Lake Dump again. He had brought his camper and intended to collect all night at the Lake Dump and the Garden Dump. We finally found some of the barite, barytocalcite, and calcite mixtures that the mine is famous for. This material often exhibits a "stars in the sky" fluorescence with the sky being very heavy iron minerals. "Stars in the sky" scheelite and the previously found beautiful mixtures of dolomite and calcite were also collected.
Thursday we continued to pack, cull, ship and replenish food and shipping materials. Several blue boxes departed from Sweden. Most collectors enjoyed their traditional lunches/snacks of slabs of cheese and bread with coke. However, that day we would have a very special New Hampshire home-cooked dinner. Don spent a large part of the day preparing and cooking a delightful meal of whitefish and salmon broiled, while sealed in aluminum foil pocket filled with potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions. Then, for the first time, the group split up and went to three separate locations to collect one last time: (a) one group, Jörn, Mark, and Don went to Hasselhojden to find more willemite, calcite, hydrozincite and sphalerite; (b) the second group Bob, Lee and Herb went to Jake, where Bob found some nice margarosanite/calcite and more johnbaumite; (c) Al and I went to the Garden Dump and found svabite/tilasite and svabite/calcite combinations; and (d) Howie went to the Pole Dump where he found very bright dolomite and calcite combinations. The Hasselhojden group and Garden Dump groups also returned to the Pole Dump before ending the last real collecting day. Everyone found more material to cull and a few more boxes were filled.
The "pole" at the Pole Dump
Friday was the last day to pack before we left early Saturday morning to return the common departure point – Gardermoen Airport. We paid about $175 each for our 8 nights of lodging, which although primitive (one bathroom and paper sheets), was very economical and the only way we could have afforded to spend so many days collecting in Sweden (or any Scandinavian country). Kjell and his wife Britt-Marie invited us to their home for lunch. At this point we doffed our mining outfits and donned into our party duds. I even shaved to celebrate. Three cars took an indirect route (recalculating) and finally reached our destination near Stjålpet. Kjell took us around his grounds and showed us his rock house (constructed from scratch, like the Nordmark Museum) and his sauna. The rock house was a lab, studio, collection display and rockshop. His camera and microscope setup were there. If you would like to see some of his microphotography, seehttp://www.mindat.org/user-604.html#2. Kjell had a special gift of swedenborgite for Howie and a "zebra" calcite for Lee. The main course was a delicious Swedish "sandwich cake" of shrimp and layers of bread, ham, mandarin oranges, cheese and pineapple. There were also German pastries and a cake/pie that was like a combination of pudding and cornbread. We returned to the Rock House and concluded packing mailing and weighing our checked luggage. Al treated us to pizza in Filipstad (at a different restaurant from the one where we ate on our first day in town). We were just getting out of town in time, because the largest (or one of the largest) street markets in Sweden was opening in Filipstad. We heard that as many as 150,000 people could attend.Our scheduled 8:00 am departure from Långban was on time and uneventful. The journey to the Oslo airport was direct and scenic. At Best Western Gardermoen Airport, it was nice to have a very hot and long shower and to share a bathroom with only one other person. The next day we all split up for three separate departures back to the UK and the USA. This adventure was over, but there may be another one with many of the same participants at another place and another time. My rocks survived the journey in the plane in checked and unchecked baggage. Blue boxes arrived safely at all destinations but after different time intervals. Mine appeared to have an interesting journey, but that is another long story.
Many thanks to: (1) Howie for planning this adventure, (2) our drivers, Howie, Mark, and Don; (3) Kjell Gatedal and Ingulf Flamborn for hosting us and showing us where to collect; (4) Britt-Marie for the delightful lunch; (5) the entire group for silently and patiently tolerating my sound sleeping; and (6) my family for letting me go on vacation alone to collect fluorescent rocks.
Sphalerite, Willemite, Calcite - Hasselhojden Mine
Margarosanite - Jakobsberg