Visiting a Gem Mine and Driving Diamondback

Summer is definitely here!  The milder temperatures mean another car club outing.  We now belong to three clubs, so there is something to do almost every weekend!  Our Appalachian Mountain Minis club was joined by the Upstate Minis club from South Carolina for an outing last weekend.  We are members of both clubs.  It was a nice drive and a visit to a gem mine.  Meeting in south Asheville, we hopped onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Minis in front and lots more behind.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

At one point, we blocked the lane so the whole group could make a left turn and stay together, so we were shuttled to the back of the line.  It made is easy to get a few more members in the photos.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

We drove north, and stopped at Craggy Bottom visitor center and overlook.  It was cool there, only 59 degrees by the time we got there, so I was happy that I had brought a sweater.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Pink rhododendrons were in bloom all over the parkway.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

We had 32 Mini Coopers with the two clubs joining up.  Here we parked in two rows along the edge of the parking area to get everyone into the overlook without taking up any parking spaces.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The overlook has a view of the Asheville resevoir, part of the watershed.  Layers of Blue Ridge mountains stretch into the distance.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The partly cloudy day was perfect for riding with the top down.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Off we went again, seeing a lot more rhododendrons on the side of the road.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

We had lunch at the Little Switzerland Inn, then went to the Emerald Village Gem Mine just a couple of miles away.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I have not done this before, but it was so fun.  We each got a bucket of rocks with sand.  You begin by dumping just a bit into your mesh bottom box.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

You can see, there are some nice color rocks just waiting to be discovered.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Dip the box into the flume of water and swish around to wash away the dirt and sand.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Bringing it up, you can then pick through the rocks and keep what you find.  It took seven or eight boxfuls to empty the bucket.  I found rose quartz, some crystals, several blue and green pieces and I think maybe a citrine.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

We then went over to the exhibits area, and poked around the replica county store.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

There is a museum with lots of history to learn about mining in the past.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

This was a working mine for many years.  It was the primary mine for feldspar beginning in the 1924, mined by the Bon Ami company for use in its cleanser.  Today, feldspar is mined at another mine in NC for the soft scrub still sold today.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The old equipment like this little dozer is no longer used.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

More old equipment and tools were on display.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

A very old dump truck was on the side of the museum.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Inside were shelves full of old items like lanterns and oil lamps.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

This balance scale was beautiful, and carefully preserved in glass.  It was used to weigh gold.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Going outside, the Bon Ami waterfall has displays of old equipment rusting in front of it.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

This old steam engine was used to run pumps, drills and belt driven equipment.  They say it still runs today, but I wasn’t sure about that given the rust.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Inside the mine itself, you could look overhead to see the veins of various ores.  There were also displays and historical photos set up to learn more.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

After the tour, about half the group formed up again to drive another twisty and scenic road in NC called Diamondback.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

It is beautiful, lush and green all the way.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Coming down into Marion, we were headed to Jack Frost Dairy Bar to get some ice cream.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

At home, I put our rocks out with the identification chart we were given to see what we had.  No emeralds, but lots of pretty quartz.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I piled all of them into a glass bowl for display.  It made a different kind of souvenir for a fun day.

Gem Mine Drive at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Have you ever visited a gem mine?

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26 thoughts on “Visiting a Gem Mine and Driving Diamondback

  1. Your excursion looks like so much fun. I love the old dump truck. Beautiful rocks in your lovely bowl. Great photos of lush scenery. Thanks for the ride along!

  2. Looks like you had a nice day! It’s also nice that you could come away with something pretty and useful for decoration. Thanks for the pics. I don’t think I have ever seen a dump truck that old. Mining is really hard work.

  3. Great post Carole…..beautiful photos and certainly plenty of ideas for our car club to pursue. Some of us heartier ones did make the trip to Cashiers for our Breakfast Ramble and then even drove to Highlands, through the fog and continuing rain. So disappointing for many I’m sure as their didn’t seem to be a lot of cars on display….though we never entered the show…..parking was so far away and it was raining too hard.

  4. That was a great outing! Girl #1 lives in Montana, which has sapphires, and has gone on a few trips hunting sapphires. We are hoping to do that the next time we visit.

  5. Sylvia E Anderson

    What a fun day for you all. We went to a gold mine in Alaska and panned for gold, and what was left, after being washed, was the gold we had found. We then took it to a little museum, where they put the gold into a clear glass circle with a loop on it, and put it on a necklace so it could be worn. It was really a lot of fun. I think all your different color quartz stones make a pretty memento of the day.

  6. Karen Marlow-Goad

    ice cream at the end of what a day sounds perfect! the drive you went on looks so pretty and mining perfect!

  7. Looks like a fun day! I love that old timey country store! How charming! Another use for your rocks could be topping some houseplants with them. They look great with succulents.

  8. Sharon Vrooman

    What a fun day and the photos are terrific. We have the Herkimer Diamond Mine (Herkimer, NY) that allows you to dig and pan. They had a huge fire two years ago, but have since rebuilt and re-opened. I took my kids there lots of times when they were young. My eldest son would always find great pieces that the museum would buy back – he made good summer money.

  9. What fun adventures you have with your car clubs! We drive along the blue ridge parkway a few years ago in late April. It is a beautiful place for a drive.

  10. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, Once again, I enjoyed being taken along on one of your trips with the car club. I know that we visited a gem mine with my Mom and Dad many years ago, but I do not know any more than that. I have several of my gems set up in a glass display just like you and my Mom. I had to smile about the temperatures because the last few days it has been cold enough that we have had to turn on our heat, now it is expected to be in the 90’s all week long. Our mountains our beautiful on both sides of America, yet the weather plays tricks all year long also. LOL. Thank you so much for sharing all of your lovely photos of this lovely drive. I do always enjoy everything you share with us!! Have a magnificent day!

  11. What great fun! My first car was a mini Mayfair (tiny compared to the mini now, but such fun. I’d love another one!) love your collection of gems it looks like it was an interesting day.

  12. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures of your adventures! Amazing turnout of Mini’s. Love all the gems you have collected. Bon-Ami is one of my favorites to use when cleaning the stainless steel kitchen sink or working on a stubborn pan!

  13. farmquilter

    What a fun trip!! The views are amazing…so green and lush!! I’ve dug for garnets in eastern Nevada and opals in northern Nevada. I want to go to Montana and dig for sapphires as well as Georgia – lots o things to dig for there!!

  14. I enjoy reading your posts and letting us “travel”with you. I have visited mines here in Maine –One summer we were near Paris, Maine, and went to an old tourmaline mine. We were able to pick thru the rocks. Didn’t find much, but had a great time hunting! Keep these posts coming!

  15. dezertsuz

    Not only visited, but I used to work for Anaconda Copper. We could go out to the tailings area where the not-so-profitable stuff was stashed, and we’d find all kinds of turquoise and related rock, because that’s one stage in the life of becoming copper. It was always fun to comb through to find good pieces. Your piled up bowl looks great! What beautiful Blue Ridge views. I miss those views from the Arizona Rockies mountain chains, though the colors are a little different there.

  16. thedarlingdogwood

    Pretty! I’ve never been to a gem mine, but I think maybe I’ll take my son in a year or two. I bet he’d like it! And I’ll take any excuse to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway!!

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