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The Old Quartz Peddlers of Hot Springs, Arkansas

Last Updated: 5th Mar 2008

By Daniel Russell

Quartz Crystal Peddlers
of Hot Springs, Arkansas 1878

Selling quartz crystals from a horse-drawn cart, hot Springs, Akransas ca. 1878

“On the hill-sides near the hot springs beautiful clear quartz crystals are found lying among the grass blades… The famed “Crystal Mountain” above spoken of is some thirty miles from the springs, but at different localities in the vicinity of the town fine masses of pure white translucent quartz crystals can be found incrusting fissures in the rocks. From the Crystal Mountain and other crystal mines nearer the springs the “crystal-hunters,” as they are called, bring in wagon-loads of magnificent specimens. Some of the blocks, glittering with thousands of various-sized pointed hexagonal prisms, are as large as two or three feet square. These crystal masses of all sizes and single crystals are kept on sale at the stores in the town, and nearly every visitor buys or mines for himself some specimens of these Arkansas diamonds.”

Van Cleef, A. “The Hot Springs of Arkansas” Harper's New Monthly Magazine,
Volume 56, Issue 332 January 1878 pp. 193-211

Near the Hot Springs, Arkansas, large quantities of clear quartz crystals, covering considerable spaces, are blasted by the farmers during the winter, and sent to market. This beats jam making all to pieces. The American farmer can turn his hand to anything, and has even been cute enough to meet the taste of those who imagine that rolled pebbles of quartz cut the best, as he coolly puts the quartz just blasted into a box, and by rolling the crystals therein makes pebbles to any extent required.

Semmons, William “Notes On Some Of The Metalliferous Deposits Of The United States” Liverpool Geological Association Transactions Vol. 5 (1884-1885) p. 55

At Crystal Mountain, Ark., and in the region around Hot Springs for about forty miles, large veins of quartz are frequently met with in a red sandstone. The exact geological horizon of the Arkansas quartz has not yet been accurately defined. The crystals are common in the millstone grit and in the underlying rock, occasionally the lower strata and also the millstone grit coming through the beds anywhere between the layer of carboniferous and the Cambrian. In some cases, detached crystals are found in beds of sandstone or quartzite, and again in quartz veins that traverse both the layers of the carboniferous and the underlying beds. They are often found in cavern-like openings, in one of which, a cavity 30 feet long and 6 feet high, were found several tons of crystals, the sides of the cavity being completely covered with them. (See Illustration.) Wagon-loads of these crystals are taken to Hot Springs and Little Rock by the farmers, who often do considerable blasting to secure them, and who search for them when their crops do not need attention. They are sold by the local dealers, principally as mementoes. Probably a hundred wagon-loads have been bought by visitors at these and other resorts. Usually only half of the crystal is clear, and a clear space over two inches square is quite uncommon. The sale of uncut crystals from this region amounts to fully $10,000 per annum. At Hot Springs, Ark., clear rolled pebbles, that are found on the banks of the Washita River, are often sold and are more highly prized than the crystals, because of the mistaken belief that they will cut into clearer gems. The great demand for these pebbles, which are scarce, has so excited the cupidity of some of the inhabitants of the vicinity that they have learned to produce rolled pebbles by putting numbers of the crystals in a box, which is kept revolving for a few days by water-power. Any expert, however, can discern the difference, since the artificial ones are a little whiter on the surface.

Kunz, George Frederick
Gems and Precious Stones of North America
The Scientific Publishing Company, New York NY 1892

Completed 20 Feb 2008
Revised 5 Mar 2008

Article has been viewed at least 15304 times.


Another wonderful article! Keep them coming! Joe Freilich

Joseph Freilich
29th Feb 2008 4:11am
Thanks! Nice to see another islander running amok here

Daniel Russell
5th Mar 2008 2:50am

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