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Central Texas Rockhounding

Posted by Rachel  
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
March 19, 2007 03:59PM
My God, just who in the hell do these tin-pot tyrants think they're fooling around with? We're Texans! The last imperial dictator who came up here and tried to revoke the Constitution had his butt handed to him in a paper bag at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

It really puts a burr under my blanket when I think about the audacity of the Austin City Council in enacting a comprehensive ban on the collection of minerals within the city limits. Is this a joke? mineral collecting, even on your own land or on another's with permission, is considered theft of city property? WTF? I'm sorry to rant about this, but if everything on or below my land already belongs to the city, just what the hell am I paying property taxes on it for?

There is already ample precident including, I believe, a Supreme Court decision, that states that any act by a government entity that prevents a private landowner from enjoying the full use of his property, either through restrictive covenant or outright seizure, without fair compensation, shall be deemed unconstitunal. In other words, Mr. Mayor, if you aren't going to allow me to dig up that blue-capped celestine that keeps dinging my lawnmower, come see me, and bring your checkbook. This silly ordinance is open to attack from so many angles that it makes the Alamo look like Fort Knox.

The Travis County Commission has recently jumped on the land-grab bandwagon by passing a resolution to ban the use of metal detectors on all public property within the county. Outraged detector enthusiasts organized to put up such a stink that the Commission agreed to rubber stamp a motion to repeal the ban...That is, until the Texas Antiquities Commission jumped into the fray and obtained an emergency court injunction to leave the ban in force. Just to make sure that nobody on the County Commission entertained any notions of siding with their constituency, the TAC followed up on the injunction with a healthy dose of lawyerage, and the threat of mass sueage. The state Attorney General's office threatened to sue the beejezus out of Travis County should they go against the TAC by rescinding the ordinance.

So much for our "representative democracy". The people spoke, in a loud clear voice, and five faceless apointees that nobody elected, in an obscure office deep in the bowels of the state bureaucracy, decided that the people could go screw themselves. Well, at least the County Commision had enough sense to limit the scope of the ordinance to public property. They don't call this the People's Republic of Austin for nothing.

I can see the bumper stickers now, "I'll give up my rock hammer when they pry my cold dead fingers from the handle" or "As for me, give me micro acicular sprays of selenite on marcasite nodules, or give me death". I think I'm going to go dig up some chert in my backyard for a little flint knapping and dare the APD SWAT team to do something about it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2007 04:09PM by Franklin Roberts.
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
March 19, 2007 05:13PM
Amen Frank! I spent many pleasant hours collecting in the hot Texas sun before the ordinance change. Has only modified my collecting habits - I now carry a camera and stash my finds to be picked up when I'm sure the gendarmes are not watching. No law against doing geologic research and taking pictures. However, as a geologist I've been stopped by Austin police and threatened with charge of carrying a concealed weapon (rock hammer under front seat of my vehicle). I asked if a carpenter could carry a hammer and he said yes its one of his tools - duh!! He said if I would put it where I couldn't reach it easily I would not get a ticket! Of course like many other sites much of Austin issues were driven by a few idiots that were injured on city property or did destructive damage to property in their quest to blast away a hillside in search of a few crystals. I failed to mention that the one case I'm aware of was dropped because it was on private property with the owners permission (I expect the city was concerned it would lose and set a precedence for private property).
I'm sure you have heard of the case in Lincoln national forest, New Mexico a few years ago where a group backbacked with tools back 4-5 hours into the mountains to collect smokies. After collecting for a period of time were suddenly surrounded by federal agents with automatic weapons (forget the nearby meth labs, stills, drug runners, and illegals - get those Smoky Quartz thieves for stealing federal property). The government took all the smokies (which they said would be taken back to the locale and dumped) and I believe later dropped or reduced the charges.
I lived many years with in sight of San Jacinto monument where Santa Anna met his demise at the hands of the "Yellow Rose of Texas" and a few loyal Texans. .....Hal P

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/2007 05:17PM by Harold (Hal) Prior.
avatar Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
March 19, 2007 05:59PM
Santa Anna had a few more good years and stints as president of Mexico over the following 40 years (he would do real well on Survivor).
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
March 19, 2007 08:16PM
I think the Lincoln NF incident was a case of the USFS claiming the collectors were "prospecting without a permit." I don't recall the details, so I don't know if there was any validity to the claim or not. The problem is that the USFS doesn't seem to be able to distinguish between "prospecting" and "hobby mineral collecting." Their own regs don't clearly define the two activities.

Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
March 22, 2007 07:53PM
Whoa! I had no idea my recent post about collecting in the Austin, central Texas area would spark such an interesting exchange on the current situation, which I find very disturbing regarding the rights of individuals to recreationally collect a few rocks when others individuals can and do tear up the terrain with a variety of motorized toys. Austin seems like a great place with some liberal minded ideas I can appreciate but those surrounding collecting a few rocks seem a bit absurd. Anyway... I like your approach Hal and as a photographer Using your technique feel quite appropriate. I'm still in the area for another two weeks and do hope to find a few things to add to my collection up north in Canada. Hal, I'd love to talk to you and maybe see some of your collected specimens. Any chance of this happening??

heather smith
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
June 16, 2007 08:10PM
Hey all, I know not much has been posted on this thread as of recent. I am in Austin for a few weeks with my 2 young sons and we are very hyped up to go hounding. I come from a long line of rock hounds and am continuing the tradition with my children. I have done some on line research concerning the general area and rock/fossil hounding and stumbled on this thread. I grew up in El Paso and spent many hot summer days with Dad hammering away in Hatch and Oro Grande, NM. I love rocks, but the recent changes to laws are starting to scare me. Do you think they would actually fine a 29 year old mom with her 8 and 2 year old son for picking up some rocks? Other wise I am ready to blaze the trail and find some good pieces to document our trip. Any other good info or directions or even pointers and advice would be greatly appreciated at the moment. You can email me personally or post here I guess. Thanks a million, Heather Smith.
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
June 16, 2007 11:15PM
Once you leave the city limits of Austin you have no problem as long as you respect the rights of private property. To the west and north toward Llano nearly every road cut has abundant fossils. Some of the small dirt roads on west side of lakes (Travis) have so many fossils along the roads it difficult to walk on them (Sea urchins, oysters, etc.). Every new roadcut west of Austin has the potential for mineral occurences. Just be careful and use common sense around traffic and ledges. Wish I was still close enough to roam around the Texas hills. .....Hal P
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
June 17, 2007 12:30AM
Heather, I'm currently in Austin myself visiting my cousins, but I go back to Dallas tomorrow. I recommend Mt. Bonnell. Go early in the morning. The rocks heading up to the entrance of the trail (from the parking lot) have LOTS of strontianite. I collected about 10 pounds of it the last time I went.\


Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
June 18, 2007 01:14AM

Call me at (512) 848-8309. I can escort you onto several private collecting areas where you and your sons can have a great time collecting minerals.

David, if you had told me you were going to be in town, I could have taken you to Badu Hill with me yesterday.

silvetta ann
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
January 03, 2008 03:15AM
Franklin, adopt me--
and my granddaughter.


I'm stump'd......
I found one eighth to one half inch thick running layers of super clear glass-like sheets in a bluff around Aspermont, TX. They aren't totally flat like a pane of glass, they seemed to conform to the pressure of the rock pressing them above and below. It was so weird to see, I was stunned and mystifried, and that's note worthy. I dug out several pieces but most were in such HUGE heavy sheets I couldn't get them out. The land belongs to my daughter-in-law's family. They said the "stuff" is broken up in most creek beds and they don't think of it as anything special (anymore than sand). PLEASE tell me what you think it is. Could it the bastard offspring of an incandescent merging of diamonds and selenite? A glass company's 3 million year old dumpsite? WhaTha?
is there any place that would be interesting, as far as minerals (or hidden diamonds) in the Abilene area we could go seek and find? We spend way too much time where the James crosses the Llano around Mason. I have a granddaughter that is growing into my rockhound shoes and I'm running out of places to take her.
I’m taking her to the Great Salt Plains Lake out side of Jet, Oklahoma this year, I wish I could find something like that close to Abilene. Lake Abilene just doesn't cut it when it comes to possible jewelry making stones, albeit there is some freaky-deekie rocks around that lake.
We are members of the rock club that's here in Abilene and we’re both learning how to slice and dice stones. She is only nine years old and this is the very first passion in her life, and I want to find more places that will keep her off the streets and digging in the dirt for several years. Thanks so much for taking anytime to respond. And, if it's too much to type to explain, call me 325.660.0659
Silvetta Ann,
Oklahoma born,
Texas raised....perfect.
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
January 04, 2008 07:50PM
Hi, Rachel,

It's not exactly close to Abilene (except maybe by Texas definition of "close"?), but you should definitely take your young rockhound down to the Big Bend area. You can collect high quality agates, great for polishing, at the Woodward Ranch south of Alpine and the Stilwell Ranch south of Marathon. The Davis Mountains between Alpine and I-10 are beautiful volcanic terrain. Ask the nice lady at the Blue Agate Rock Shop in Fort Davis about local collecting, including down around Terlingua (and buy some beautiful Balmorhea agate). The Moonlight Gemstones shop in Marfa also has great local agates and other stuff, and may be able to advise on local collecting. That is just gorgeous country around there!

Happy hunting!
Bill Barr
Ted Tower
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
January 27, 2008 10:39PM
What is the best way too get started in the rockhounding? I'm retired nd don't know much about the difference in the rocks. Also ,would like to know some good places to goto begin my hunting.
I live in Dripping Spring,and have alot of marine fossils on my small piece of property.Thanks for any help you can give.

Ted Tower
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
January 30, 2008 05:32AM
The best advice I or anyone else can give you is to join a club of rock & mineral enthusiasts, where you will find lots of helpful, generous people interested in different aspects of the geology-related hobbies, pursuits and obsessions.

According to the Bob's Rock Shop website, there's a club in Waco: WACO GEM & MINERAL CLUB,
 PO Box 8811 (76714-8811),
 Meetings: 1st Monday, 7:30 pm, Richfield Christian Church 
Fellowship Hall, 4201 Cobb Dr.

There are also clubs fairly near to you (by Texas standards): in Austin, visit and in Arlington, visit

Texas is full of sedimentary rocks with fossils. For minerals, you're fortunate to live near the Llano Uplift, a great region for collectors, especially those interested in pegmatite occurrences - check out this thread for details and contacts. If you become interested in lapidary work, southern Texas has lots of petrified wood, and the Big Bend area is one of the premier agate-producing regions in the country.

Good luck, and welcome to our world, where being old enough to retire doesn't mean you have to stop acting like a kid!

Bill Barr
Ted Tower
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
February 07, 2008 08:56PM
Thank you for the information. Got permission to go on a place just north of Lexington,Tx. Found some nice size pieces of petrified wood. Now I'll be looking for a place out near Big Bend.
Ted Tower
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
February 20, 2008 03:29AM
Back in Georgetown for 2 months. Franklin or others wanting a rockhounding partner let me know, I'm ready to go. Celestine, calcite and good marine fossils of interest.

Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
February 20, 2008 09:40PM
just came back from austin last weekend, i found very nice fossils close from a friend's house in the north of allen park, close from the MO PAC. probably a spot where nobody ever goes as it's mainly private.

i'm a 36 years old father of two kiddos, 8 and 4. french, living in Dallas. it's pretty difficult finding spots to go rockhounding with my older one. i'm still searching. mineral clubs are great but their goal is not really to give you GPS coordinates. :D

David Aldridge, your site is great: and it's exciting to see what you've found around the metroplex.

anyway if any of you guys know where to legally prospect, i'll be delighted to gather any infos:D

Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
February 21, 2008 12:23AM
Hi Bill, Sparth

I will be otherwise occupied for the next couple of weeks, but will probably be open to taking collectors out to the uplift after then. I've had some problems with a couple of collectors returning to trespass after being allowed to collect at two of my sites recently. In at least one instance, this has put my access in jeopardy with the land owner. I will be installing new signs and fencing as well as other security measures because of this. Once these expensive improvements are in place, I will again be open to sharing my collecting sites with my fellow rockhounds on a probational basis. Should the problem continue, I'll be forced to reconsider my position on sharing my sites with other collectors. You know the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished".

Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
February 21, 2008 04:24PM
frank, i really understand.
i think i'd freak out to the simple fact of being one someone else's property without any consent.
my only goal is to be able to bring my kiddo see what the whole thing is all about. he is amazingly passionate about rockhounding, i've never seen him being so fascinated about anything. and as a result, i'm slowly becoming as much addicted as he is. :D

we have the woodward ranch in mind, and we want to go as soon as we can, but unlike llano, it's a long drive from the metroplex. on the other hand there seems to be no public land at all in llano.
such a dilema!

nicolas - sparth
Re: Central Texas Rockhounding
September 21, 2009 03:03AM
Hi there. This topic is old, but I wandered around Convict Hill, Mt Bonnell, and Mt Barker recently with my daughter. Here is what I observed:

1) Convict Hill - significant non-crystallized white Strontianite in vugs with mud. One nice flower of crystals on ground at base. Verified with microscope. Several marine fossils, fwiiw.

2) Mt Bonnell - a little clear calcite in rock, a few nice grey heavy hunks of celestite loose on side of hill, one small nodule inside limestone near path, a couple of pieces of flint/chert, and a fair amount of crystalized strontianite in vugs which I left in place. Verified a small piece that was on ground below vug under microscope.

3) Mt Barker - uh, there is only a few feet of mountain left visible. Wouldn't waste my time. I did look one spot and see a vug filled with small greenish transparent crystals of some sort (unidentified). I assume the green is from the mineral, but I don't know.

On the way up from Houston I found some nice palm wood in a creek under a highway and some nice other opalized and silicified wood! Not sayin' where! Palm Wood is too hard for me to find, and this is about the only thing within reasonble driving distance from me here.

Since Frank graciously took my daughter and myself out several years ago, I've developed quite a passion for rockhounding. Hi Frank! I prefer to avoid central Texas because it is so developed (almost all private property) and so far from here. I've taken multiple trips to California, Colorado, and Arizona this year. In fact, tomorrow, I'll be working the Stifle Claims near Sacremento, CA tommow looking for green and purple Vesuvianite xls.

Hint: I've found four tools indespensible in this order: GPS, Stereo Microscope, UV lamp, and (to a lesser extent) geiger counter.

I ignore California serpentine, but I'd love to find some Texas serpentine and talc... Colorado and Arizona are great with all that BLM land and abandoned mines!

One other ?: Lake Buchanan is low. Is it low enough to find Baringer Hill or anything good out there. I found some graphic granite and some weird red orbs on quartz where the water is supposed to be, but nothing exciting...


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