The sun was slowly setting so we made dinner and relaxed a while (amazing how slowly the sun sets when you're waiting for it). Once it got dark collected started in earnest. The first thing you notice is the bright blue hydrozincite everywhere on red calcite. All of the small rocks glow. We proceeded to check out the large boulders laying around on the surface and quickly determined that dozens of prior collectors had done the same. That's why they're still lying around.
Located in southwest Kentucky, the Columbia Mine was opened by Andrew Jackson in the early 1800's. It is situated in the famous Illinois-Kentucky fluorospar belt and is but one of hundreds of little mines that have operated in this area from 1800 to the late 20th century. Nearby are several other mines (Eureka and others) but the Columbia so far has been the only one to produce significant fluorescent specimens.
The list of fluorescents includes leucophanite and closely related meliphanite, feldspar, sodalite, rosenbuschite, helvite, apatite and zircon. Our original plan was based on the fact that despite the variety of fluorescents available, collecting at Langesundsfjord has always been done without the benefit of UV lamps. This same situation has led to the amazing and continuing underestimation of Ilimaussaq as a fluorescent collecting paradise.
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.
"Howie and His White Whale" is a combined report of one man's initial trip and how it turned into a subsequent quest for "Ahab's white whale" of fluorescent minerals - and became an obsession. (Howie has visited the complex with us every year except for the first.)
The Minerva mine was located in Illinois. Discovered in 1940 it was mined off and on until 1996. Many spectacular specimens have come from this mine over the years - including fluorescent species such as fluorite, sphalerite, calcite, dolomite, strontianite, and witherite.
I cancelled my plans to take the grandchildren to the fall Franklin Mineral Show. As a Plan B, I decided to go to the Midwest Chapter of the Fluorescent Mineral Society (FMS) meeting and fieldtrips near Cave-in Rock, IL
It was officially spring and time to get out to collect fluorescent minerals.