The group visited Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina. This site was formerly operated by Tiffany Jewelry. In an educational tour, we learned that this facility is host to more than sixty different types of naturally occurring gems and minerals. Many of these are very rare, including emerald, aquamarine, sapphire, garnet, topaz, amethyst, citrine, rutile, and tourmaline, along with an abundance of world class smoky and clear quartz crystals. Hiddenite is also famous as being one of the few places on earth where the very rare gemstone “Hiddenite” can be found!
Following the lesson, students were allowed to dig buckets of dirt or simply search the ground for treasures. Yes, valuable gems and minerals could be found just laying in the dirt; however, these were usually very small. Our students who were now experts in sluicing, used the water in a flume to sift the dirt from rocks and potential treasures. The students then engaged in a new form of mineral collecting: creeking. In a picturesque stream, they waded into mostly ankle deep water and used their sluicing box to “pan” in the way most people visualize the process used by gold miners. It was a great way to end our eventful and educational week: on a lovely and warm spring day, we could delight in beauty of God’s creation in the wooded setting enjoying the sounds of a water rushing over rocks.
For their final reflections, in a quite fatigued state, the students offered these pun filled geology related observations:
Udochi: Don’t take this ST trip for “granite!”
Jake; This trip rocks! It showed me how exciting playing in the dirt, hauling HEAVY buckets of soil, and playing in water, whether in a sluice or picturesque stream, can be. If you didn’t like it, you’d be a stone-cold human being.
Noah: The bus rocked a bit as we rolled for hundreds of miles to mines and caves in three different states.
Nikita: I’m rich! (But only because the geologist picked up the hundreds of dollars of valuable stones, including a large sapphire, I tossed in the dirt!)
John: This trip at times was as hard as rock because there was a lot of difficult labor.
Ansley: I’m rich because I found lots of valuable rocks, but I am even richer because of the experiences I was able to enjoy on this ST and the people I now know better.
Nathan: We persevered through tough conditions and challenges like Rocky training to defeat Apollo Creed.
Eddie: I rocked at embracing new experiences on this ST trip.
Lily: My birthday ROCKED this year.
Mrs. Heitz: How earth shattering to learn that when I enjoy some of my favorite treats, M&Ms and Skittles, I am consuming the mineral titanium dioxide!
Mr. Vreeland (while ankle deep in the middle of the creek): Wow! Did you guys find as many awesome rocks as I am locating?