Chris Tucker Minerals
Specializing in minerals from Montana


 

Early in the morning of the 7th of March I threw some tools in the truck and gathered the dog and headed east to the barite and calcite locality near Myers, Montana.  Barite and calcite along with pyrite, it's alteration products, quartz, and gypsum occur is septerian concretions in the Bearpaw shale.  The locality and material is very similar to the famed Elk Creek, South Dakota locality.  The crisp cool air of the early morning had hints of rain and the thought of aborting the trip passed through my mind.  I quickly stopped for fuel and turned the truck east on the interstate.


Sadie, my collecting partner for the day.  This locality is one of the few that she can go to, she doesn't do shafts.


This view of the interstate is typical of eastern Montana.


Soon I had left the outskirts of town and the miles quickly passed.  After a short distance I reached my exit and I left the interstate behind.  Now on a county road I followed the river east passing small farms along the way.  Upon reaching Myers, I quickly stopped at the property owners home.  Of course they were no where to be found; I checked a number of the out buildings and found him working on a piece of farm machinery.  After some brief conversation I received the necessary permission and I again hit the road.  I have been fortunate to have had a long relationship with many of the land owners in the area.  For nearly thirty years my family and I have had the privilege of access to the locality.  In recent years, illegal collecting of fossils and minerals has become a growing problem in the area and at least one armed encounter between a land owner and and an illegal collector has taken place, something that would way heavily on my mind shortly.  Passing the old school house I made my way along through the maze of dirt roads toward my current target.  Due to recent rain and snow I would not be able to drive all the way into the property as the roads become impassable when wet.  I followed the winding dirt track as far as was safely passable and came upon another vehicle parked off in the brush.  Knowing I was the only person who had permission to be on the property I approached the vehicle with caution.  I made note of the vehicles license number and noticed several boxes of ammunition plainly visible in the vehicle.  Judging from tracks, the vehicle's occupant had walked east into the property; I don't enjoy being shot at and I really dislike being shot, so I retraced my path to the land owners house and informed him of the vehicle and its mysterious occupant.  By the time I had returned to where I planned to park my truck, the mystery vehicle was gone.  Quickly gathering my tools, I set off up a narrow draw that has produced some outstanding barites in the past.  
 


The old school house, the grounds of which are now used as pasture.  Today, children of the area are bused to nearby larger communities.


In the narrow draw was a group of concretions.  I quickly looked them over and chose a likely looking target.  During the course of the day I would collect through several concretions.  Concretions in the area range from a foot in diameter to monstrous things that may be as much as six feet thick and thirty feet long.  The really large concretions may take several days to completely work through.  I prefer concretions that are barely exposed with no signs of weathering on the surface.  While they may be hard, the potential treasures inside are often better preserved. 


Several concretions weathering out of the surrounding shale. 


This concretion that I have partially exposed will be the focus of the rest of this narrative.

Page Two
 

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