Rock hounds can't wait to go out into nature to hunt minerals for their collections. One of the most common and prized minerals is quartz. This rock displays well and exists in many forms and colors, from rose quartz to chalcedony. Pennsylvania offers a wealth of minerals and fossils for hunters. Quartz is spread throughout the state, but several locations now ban rock hunting. Before rock hounds go collecting, be sure to call ahead and ask permission.
Quartz hunters will need tools developed specifically for the rock hounding trade. A good rock hammer and sheath to store it in will last years. Chisels add precision when chipping out delicate crystals. A hand lens for magnifying views helps with identifying small rocks. An identification guidebook helps in knowing when you've found quartz and what type it is. Toilet paper, garbage bags and specimen containers are essential for wrapping crystals and storing them. Quartz stones can scratch and chip if you transport them together unwrapped. Also consider your own needs when out rock hounding. Bring water, food, a first aid kit, sunscreen, safety glasses, gloves, map, spare tire and tire-changing gear and plenty of gas.
Quartz is one of the most common minerals in Pennsylvania. Quartz is essentially silicon and oxygen with a few other minerals to add color. These elements combine under heat and form crystals when they cool. Quartz is hard, resistant to erosion and weather and, in its more valuable form, looks like a cluster of six-sided columns with points. Most rock hounds will find broken, dusty crystals when hunting in dirt fields and quarries.
Places to Hunt
Several places exist in Pennsylvania for rock hounds to legally dig up quartz. The Rossville Road Cut is one mile north of Rossville and offers numerous specimens. Prepare to hammer some heavy dirt and rock to get to the crystals. Mud-Grubb Lake is another site to check out. It's located between Columbia and Mountville and near an abandoned iron mine. Mountville Borough owns the lake, so you'll need to ask the town government for permission before hunting. Several quarries in Pennsylvania sometimes allow geology and mineral clubs to visit. Contact the quarries first about possible opportunities to hunt before visiting.
Quartz Digging Tips
When hunting for minerals such as quartz, look for hills, rock outcroppings, quarries and road cuts. Plains and open fields generally make poor collection sites. Label all of your specimens when you find them with the type of mineral and the location where you found it. When in doubt about whether or not you should be at a site, ask permission first. Many locations no longer allow rock collecting due to liability concerns. Rock hunters who ignore "No Trespassing" signs face paying a fine. Always leave the site as you found it. Fill in any holes you dug, and pick up and carry out any trash.
- U.S. Geological Survey; Collecting Rocks; Rachel M. Barker; June 24, 1997
- Rockpick Legend Co.: What to Take Rock Hounding; May 10, 2011
- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Rocks and Minerals of Pennsylvania; John H. Barnes; 2004
- Penn Minerals; Pennsylvania Collecting Sites; R. Stephen Carter; Sept. 7, 2006
- Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images