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Catskill Collecting

Posted by Jeremy Zolan  
avatar Catskill Collecting
July 20, 2006 08:04PM
My family and I are taking a trip to Woodstock for the weekend and I was wondering about collecting localities up in the catskiils. There are some good fossils, I am interested in them but I am more curious about mineral collecting localities.
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 20, 2006 10:42PM
As far as I know, there has been no hydrothermal/igneous activity in the Catskills (and little besides sedimentary rock).

The Shawangunk mountains, however, host several lead/zinc mines that were operated for lead in the mid 1800's and lead and zinc in the early 1900's.

I have been to the Wurtsboro/Shawangunk mine several times. There is a lot of vein material (quartz crystals, sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite in that order of abundance) available on the dumps. I have found some crystals of sphalerite (I think) on quartz.

It is a nice hike (give yourself a couple hours for the hike itself) from Roosa Gap road. Take NY Route 17 to exit 113 (Wurtsboro, Route 209). Take 209 north for 4 miles, watch out for a small yellow firehouse sign on the right side of the road, and take a right on Roosa Gap road. After turning right onto Roosa Gap road, take another right in 50 feet. Follow the road up the hill. About 1.5 miles from Route 209, on a sharp left bend, there will be space to park. The trail intersects the road about 100 feet further up the road. The trail is marked with aqua blazes. It is the only trail in the area.

Hike the SOUTH trail from the road (on the right side of the road). You should first descend into a valley, then start up into the ridge. After a while, hiking along the rocky ridge, the trail will intersect with a wide trail (more like a dirt road). Follow this path (to the RIGHT) down to several dumps and shafts. The upper dumps seem to have more sulfides. Several interesting ore textures (apparently epithermal) are present.

Bring lots of water, and check for ticks. The hike is worth it for the views alone.

Good luck,

Re: Catskill Collecting
July 26, 2006 08:50PM
would this be the same thing?

"For a nice 4 - 4.5 mile hike along the ridge (south from Roosa Gap Rd., with no loop back) park another car in Wurtsboro. (exit 113, right at light onto Sullivan St., (Hiking Shack on right!) At the end of Sullivan, pass the horse ranch, and where the road veers sharply to the right, there’s a left hand turn - pull in and park at the old VFW hall - the trail comes right through there.) If you choose this path, when you reach the top of the ridge, there’s a large rock with directions - indicating Long Path and Wurtsboro Ridge Trail.
Follow the blue markers along the Wurtsboro Ridge Trail. This takes you down past the VFW hall. Continuing on (across 17M) will take you into the Basha Kill Wetlands. The lead mines are about 2 miles from the start (from Roosa Gap Rd), a couple of hundred feet down the hill. County historians claim that these mines are the oldest in New York State, in and out of operation for about three centuries."

taken from

I'll be travelling up to Hunter Mountain later this August. It seems this location will be on my way up there. Hopefully I'll be able to stop by. Are the specimen nice from the area?
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 26, 2006 09:23PM
Yeah, that is the same place. It is harder to find from the VFW hall area (although it is less of a hike), because you have to find the correct path leading up the ridge to the right from the dirt road (there are several).
I would suggest hiking from Roosa Gap road. The scenery is nice.

I was there 3 times in the past two or three years. Having had little access to hydrothermal deposits containing lead/zinc/copper minerals, it was cool for me to go there and crack open rocks to find galena for the first time. Most of the material is white quartz (often with a breccia texture) with sulfides. Little that I have seen is in good crystals, it is mostly massive. But in some small pockets in the quartz, adjoining massive sphalerite, I have seen well- defined black/brown crystals that look like sphalerite. Some of these are "decayed" (chalcopyrite disease?). The sphalerite is the most common sulfide. The upper dumps seem to have more galena. Also present (apparently in support of the epithermal theory of this deposit) are abundant quartz crystals, mostly smallish.

Regarding the mining history, I read in one of the geological studies of this mine that there was evidence that very small scale lead mining was done prior to the mid-1800's lead operations. Apparently, when they reopened it is the early 1900's (for about a year) they used brought the ore down to the base of the ridge with a tram (like a ski lift). Ellenville and a few other locations all belong to this same Shawangunk mountain district.

Ian Merkel
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 26, 2006 10:59PM

I have collected many times in the Shawangunks as I ived in New Paltz area for 7 years, the entire time collecting as often as I could.

The Wurtsoro mines have provided the above mentioned, although nothing very flashy besides galena cleaves. I have expored numerous workings and tunnels in the area with limited luck. The largest problem with collecting in the Shawangunks in the quartzite is so damn hard, the hardest rock I have ever hit actually. A local historian tells me 5 road operations went out of buiness installing 44/55 through the park, as the rock is so hard (just a side note).

The only locale I will suggest is behind the firehouse in Ellenville. They blasted for the road going aroung Sams point in the 70,s and hit many large quartz vugs. There are multiple very large plates in the natural history museum in Manhattan from this find. There are still some open vugs exposed in the cut and nice exposures of the quartzite. Some decent pyrite also exist in a small vein towards the middle of the cut.

Good luck!
avatar Re: Catskill Collecting
July 26, 2006 11:57PM
Hey, I'll check it out soon! I didn't get a chance to collect when I went up for vacation. we were running late and there was no time to stop anywhere. We originally planned to leave early but it didn't work out.
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 27, 2006 03:10AM
When I lived in NY in the 60's I bought a spinel crystal. I think it said it was from Ellenville NY. Anybody know this location? I might be dreaming though.

Re: Catskill Collecting
July 27, 2006 04:34PM
The history of the "gunks" actually are suppost to start sometime in the early 17th century. The place was mined by Natives, and settlers would try to get this information out of them, as to the whereabouts of the mystery deposit. The place has been in buisness on and off, because they often realize its a great idea, then realize its too hard to separate the ore.

Anyways, as for the Ellenville place. I'll just put it this way; I'll be bringing friends who dont do much crystal hunting. Will They be able to find crystal points easily? Is there really anything left in these open Vugs, or will we be needing to do some breaking? I figure it would be okay if there are boulders in the ground we can work on, but is it safe to work the wall? Is it actaully a wall, or a slope, or what? Just trying to prepare all I can. Thank you!
Ian Merkel
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 28, 2006 05:41PM
Hi Jeff,

From what I have heard, I agree. the original mining is supposed to have begun with the natives. As far as finding crystals goes, Elllenville and Wurtsboro are not ideal as they have been picked over for many years. There were more workiongs in Wurtsboro with galena, sphalerite and chalcopyrite, which Ellenville lacks (only quartz was found in Ellenville), and the views from Wurtsboro are far supperior. I only found galena in Wurtsboro, but with more time and more eyes more surely exists. In Ellenville there is not much for the picking in reality and the rock is soooo hard. But if you will be in the area, it is worth the stop, and who knows what you may find that I failed to notice.

If you are going to the area and you have any other thoughts, passs them on. I lived there for many years and I have hiked nearly all the trails in the Shawangunks multiple times. The aterfalls are spectacular.

Re: Catskill Collecting
July 28, 2006 06:12PM

Actually, there was a metal mine in Ellenville (lead, with possibly Dutch copper mining ealrier, as chalcopyrite was apparently more abundant there as compared to Wurtsboro) but I haven't been able to find the location. I realize you probably know that and that you were referring to the quartz crystal location.

Much of the sphalerite in Wurtsboro is fine-grained and dark (high iron - and mercury, interestingly) and is hard to tell from galena.

Re: Catskill Collecting
July 29, 2006 01:00PM
there are quite a number of collecting spots throughout the Catskills of of the more famous being the gore mountain garnets, the emery deposits there mined over the last century have reportedly produced Almadine X'ls in excess of one Meter, the brownish red facet material from there selling from 15-30ct for finished cuts. In the town itself of Woodstock there is a interesting old flea market that has been looking more like a rock show lately called Mowers market held on Saturdays and as of late on Sundays. The Herkimer miners there could point you in the direction of several regional sites of interest, one of which produces quartz and Garnets only 50 yards from the market..right under someones doorstep!!
but leave the digging tools out of the equation of that one;)
Ive already asked for permission to dig up their
no luck as of yet:)
happy hunting
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 29, 2006 04:13PM
Hi Stonebear.

Gore Mountain is in the Adirondaks. The Fonda area (Herkimers) is along the Mohawk River Valley. The Catskills are considerably south of both areas - especially Gore Mountain.

(Sorry for the "remedial geography lesson" - but it wouldn't do to have people thinking Gore or Fonda were down in the Catskills. It might misdirect a collector or two... :~} )

avatar Re: Catskill Collecting
July 29, 2006 05:04PM
True- Gore isn't even geologically similar to the Catskills. Herkimer is distantly similar but it is closer to the Adirondacks then the Catskills.
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 29, 2006 05:18PM
Actually, the geology of the Adirondaks is very different than that of the Catskills - much more highly metamorphosed, and much, much, older - as in gneiss grade preCambrian (compared to the Catskills barely metamorphosed post-Ordovician.) - Alan
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 30, 2006 04:47PM
For martin; Your spinel is probably from Edenville not Ellenville. Actually even Edenville isn't correct. It should be Amity. They are about 2 miles apart.
Re: Catskill Collecting
July 30, 2006 06:28PM
There was an arsenopyrite operation at Amity, right?

Re: Catskill Collecting
July 31, 2006 06:01PM
Phil, You are absolutely correct. The specimen said Edenville and it is Amity.
Is Amity in the Catskills? I remember seeing the site in a R+M collecting book.
Re: Catskill Collecting
October 15, 2006 10:51PM
I realize this is an old subject, but.......
I went to the Adirondaks to the Barton garnet mine a couple of weekends back. You aren't allowed to use any tools at all. Frustrating looking at all the huge garnets and not being able to pry them out. However, using their method of dumping buckets of water on the ground I was able to find some nice specimens. I only took out 1/4 of a pound but in there was 6 or 7 very clear pieces, no cracks or occlusions. As a birthday gift I gave one of them to a friend who is going to see a jeweler about getting it set in a ring. Should be interesting to see what the jeweler says.
Anyways, the point of my post is that the state of NY says it is illegal to take any mineral off of public land. Private land is a different matter if you can get permission. Has anyone ever run into legal problems collecting in NY?
Re: Catskill Collecting
October 16, 2006 01:22AM
Illegal to take minerals off of public land? Who said this? As far as I knew, mineral collecting was another form of "passive recreation" that was allowed on public lands excepting National Parks and other special preserves. Please clarify!

I guess we need to be vigilant to make sure that laws that restrict mineral collecting don't get (intentionally or not) piggybacked into conservation, etc legislation. Mineral collecting seems to get little respect (and often little awareness) as we all know.

Greg Black
Re: Catskill Collecting
November 29, 2006 03:13AM
Hi, Anyone still on this ?
I live in Elenville, have been collecting crystals for most of my life and know thee are more places the "old timers" tell me about to find crystals. I have found thousands of small points and just last year , on my own property I found around six or seven quarts crystals that are around five lbs each, you can not hold two in your hand at the same time. With these huge crystals I found around 15 smaller ones , maybe you can hold three in one hand,,,,a nice find. These were from excavating an area along side the old D&H canal.
I also think I just found the filled in cave where the mother load can be found. I have found many nice clusters at the ( i think) enterance of the cave that was filled in by the town years ago. Anyone know about this cave? Below Rt 52 on Old Plank Rd in Ellenville. Maybe up from Spring Glen?


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