Mining Operations at Mount Mica & Orchard Pit Mines, Oxford County, Maine.

Coromoto Minerals Mining Operations at Mount Mica, December, 2004
Mary and Richard Pose with 'the lady'.

Mary and Richard with the pink tourmaline from pocket MMP28-04

We first saw into the 'Room' of pocket MMP28-04 on December the 17th.  A small amount of  pawing around seem to indicate the top of the pocket consisted mostly of feldspar plates that had dropped from the ceiling. This was the last look we were going to get until after Christmas.  By nature, I tend to downplay rather than inflate. I would probably make a poor snake oil salesman or stockbroker.  My descriptions of what we had found tend to be conservative. Gem mining is an emotional roller coaster ride, so the low points can be better managed if one's expectations have not elevated the drop too high.  There are a few people I keep in the loop on what we are finding. Skip Simmons from the University of New Orleans is one of them. So after Skip called Frank Perham to validate my descriptions, he called me in Florida and asked if the could be on hand to observe and participate in the further exploration of this find. Skip had put in yeoman service on the screens working MMP7-04 in May. I readily agreed. Frank seemed to think this was a world class pocket.  I feared we were setting the bar too high and disappointment might be the fruit of this adventure. Mary and I were returning to Maine for Christmas and we had planned, with Richard, to start working the Room between Christmas and New Years. In the back of our minds was a major snow storm could retard this work until March or April. Skip initially agreed to be on hand then, but common sense set in and he postponed his arrival to just after the New Year.

With the annoying distraction of Christmas out of the way, we returned to Mt. Mica on December 29th. A little volunteer snowplow work by Barry Heath opened the road to the mine. Barry had been grafted slowly into our core group over the last month or so. His services were on a volunteer basis, so I had to be more 'respectful' . Barry mines with Frank Perham and together they form our unofficial 'advisory board'.Passageway This board has the distinction of having 90% of their advice rejected out of hand, but that is the way it is done in corporate America anyway. After the snow removal, we had only a few hours of pumping frigid water out of the quarry to pick up were we had left off. Our plan was to remove more of the pocket dirt from the 'Passageway' so that getting into the room would not be such a tight squeeze. A bout of recidivism over Christmas had added even more reason to widen the passage. With Skip's schedule change, we were faced with having to keep our legs tightly pressed together until after the New Year. As an addicted pocket digger, with no hope of reformation, this was going to be a major challenge. So after working the Passageway down perhaps six inches, the five of us just sat there wondering what to do.  The Room may be only skin deep and a few scoops might have it bare to the bone... like the Christmas turkey post the sandwiches. So to pass the time, we decided to pump clean water into the Room from the sump in the main pit and back out again. I hoped we could wash away some of the silty rust and get a better view on the Room's contents. So while the rinse and spin cycle was running, we sat around speculating what the huge mass was at the end of the Passageway, a feature christened 'the Turtle' by Frank. The bets ranged from , a huge quartz crystal, a lump of lowly feldspar,  to the Mother-of-all elbaite..... Frank also theorized there would be a major specimen just on the other side of his Turtle.....mmmmmm

Although we had pumped the adit and the pocket, water continued to run in. The floor of the Passageway was always wet with several inches of icy water. So to make the process of the viewing of the Room a little more tolerable, we laid down boards. Splinters were preferable to ice water. With the boards in place, Boards in the Passagewayit was now possible to slide in on one's back, grab the Turtle's side, and drag in  furhter such that one's upper body was just into the Room. Each of us, with the exception of Barry, took a turn. Barry is more comfortable outdoors. The marching orders were 'look but don't touch'. So each of us, more than once, worked our way in and gazed around. Each time we did so our comfort level increased and emboldened us to go in even deeper. After Richard came out, he announced, 'you can see them in there'. 'The pocket snakes?', Barry asked. 'NO ...tourmaline', Richard laughed. Richard has a terminal case of positive attitude no matter how dismal the situation, so I naturally downwardly adjusted his assessment. At this point, I decided to put Frank's prediction to the test. So, with great determination, I slide myself in more than before so I could look clearly at the back side of the Turtle. Once in position, I could see that behind the mass there was a large dished out area in the pocket debris. Looking around for Richard's tourmaline, I grabbed a lump that looked neither like feldspar or quartz. I briefly examined my find laying on electrical cords in the water pressed tightly in space that would allow no fast exit should the hair dryer drop into the bathtub so to speak, my greatest fear. I decided to beat a retreat out to daylight. We had already practiced the 'unplug the light' drill, should the person in the pocket look like they were undergoing and epileptic seizure induced by pocket ecstasy. I had my doubts that this condition could be detected once a person was fully wedged in.

Once I had my discovery out in the light, though it was still badly covered in rust, I could see it was a fragment of red tourmaline about the size of my fist. Almost jokingly, I turned to Richard, and said 'Go in there and get the rest of it'. So while Richard worked his way back up the birth canal, I went out to my truck to try to illuminate the interior of my red chunk with my truck's headlights. In the head lights, it lit up like a traffic light. As I was standing there admiring the piece, Barry walked up to me and said, 'You'd better get back in there'. At first I feared Richard was in trouble, but when I got back to the adit, he was out of the pocket. Mary, Frank and Richard were looking at something and laughing excitedly. Frank held out to me a huge tapered elbaite with a complete basal termination. Richard was saying when he picked it up from on top of the debris, he felt like he was being electrocuted and beat the fastest retreat he could manage clutching his prize. The sight was unbelievable. Frank too was saying that he experienced a flashback to Newry, to 1972, when they found the enormous  'Jolly Green Giant' elbaite as Richard passed out his find. (The Jolly Green Giant now resides in the Smithsonian ) My humble fragment fit neatly to the bottom of this new crystal. What a prize...and how did Frank know it was there behind his 'Turtle'?

 2004 mining season ends on a high note at Mt. Mica....but its still  not the end of pocket MMP28-04......

Big pink
Our 19 cm find cleaned up little