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Ruck's Pit

Kevin Sulikowski (2) April 12, 2012 07:07PM
The wife and I are going to Fort Drum Crystal mine on April 18th can anyone give me any pointers and tool list to bring. We are new to collecting and this will be our first time to Rucks. I will be driving down from Mass and will have alittle room for tools but may not have alot. I was told from a local club member to find a spot and try to dig down since most of the top stuff has been gone through and to take my time and choose the better stuff i find through out the day. Not that i really know what im looking for Lol.
Steve Hardinger April 13, 2012 12:05AM
My understanding is that the 'interesting' part of the pit is flooded and inaccessible, although there may be some material from this zone at a dump pile. I also understand that collecting is limited to one five-gallon bucket, and maybe one piece beyond that.
Anonymous User April 13, 2012 02:23AM
I was there a few years ago, and the pit was closed for collecting then too. You work the staging area for material dredged out of the pit before it is used for road fill etc. The staging area consists of many piles of material from different levels in the pit. Eddie will show you where the best calcite in clams are, and other piles consist mainly of different kinds of fossils, limestone concretions, etc. The material is broken up pretty well already, but hammers and chisels are handy to bust open some of the larger boulders to get at the calcite. Most are not hard to break, as the limestone is very porous and weak for the most part. If you are interested in calcite, there is a lot. If you want only perfect clams full of crystals, these are harder to find. Most clamshells occur as halves, and therefore have less calcite in them. Less well known is that marcasite occurs as bronzy iridescent crusts on the limestone, calcite, and shells. This is harder to find, but is a cool Florida find.

My favorite find are dark spherical limestone concretions with small rosettes of calcite on one end.

Each person is allowed a five gallon bucket plus one "matrix specimen" that can be larger. Tools other than hammers and chisels are not really necessary. We brought a large prybar, and didn't use it.

Have fun and enjoy Florida! Now is the time to go - another month and it will be 95 every day down there.
Anonymous User April 13, 2012 02:38AM
Check out the article I wrote with photos of our trip.
Gary Maddox April 13, 2012 03:08PM
The best calcite-clam specimens from Rucks' Pit were collected from the exposed walls of the pit, from late 2002 through 2007; however, the original pit was permanently flooded in late 2007, when mining ceased and the pumps were shut down. Prior to this, Eddie Rucks removed a large amount of clam-bearing matrix rock and stockpiled it on nearby land. For a daily fee, collectors could search through these piles for specimens. At about the same time, a new pit was started on nearby land (not Rucks property), but due to economic conditions (lack of a local market for road bed aggregate, the commercial prioduct of these quarries), it was shut down. I believe that Eddie has gained access to this new pit, and may be mining it for calcite specimens and perhaps, removing material for collectors as well.

Recent finds don't seem to measure up to the material we commercially collected from the original pit, which was in operation since the 1950's, but the switch in mining techniques from using explosives to just track hoes in 2002 allowed calcite-filled clams to be recovered whole. It boggles the mind to contemplate how many incredible specimens were blasted into oblivion during the 50 or so years that the pit operated before mining techniques changed.

If you get the chance to collect at either location, the best calcite-clam specimens will be enclosed in blocks of limestone matrix, which shields them from damage, so if you want to collect these, bring chisels, pry bars and hand sledges. Field trim promising matrix pieces to a manageable size, then take them home for final prep work. Trim very carefully around the clam "bridges" (the thin crystal tops of the specimens), which can be very delicate and brittle. The calcite specimens found loose on the ground often look nice when found, but are usually found to be badly damaged, once taken home and cleaned off. They do make great give-aways though, for classroom geology talks and beginning collectors.

Fort Drum caan be brutally hot and humid, even this time of the year, so be prepared with hats, sunscreen and lots of fluids...
Adam Berluti April 13, 2012 05:21PM

Here is the link to Eddie Rucks website
contact him if you are going so he can set you up. You rinse down piles of material with a hose. All you need is 1gal bucket and a shovel for each person. Maybe bring a sledgehammer and a hamer and chisel in case you want to bring back a plate of clams and it needs trimming.

Good luck!

Gina Trundell May 15, 2012 04:21PM
It is my understanding that the material Eddie Rucks is selling is stolen. There is an ongoing dispute between his estranged family and him. Upon selling the pit, Eddie took roughly 30 thousand dollars worth of material and stock piled it on his property. (which is why digging is now there). He stuck his family with the 30 thousand dollar bill and pays none of the fees to them. It is sad, but we should really be careful who we associate with. I won't be going back!
Terri byner May 16, 2012 07:32PM
Yes, I heard that as well. Actually, Eddie didn't sell anything...he never owned any part of the pit. He loved for people to think so though! He used it to make a living, and then after his family sold it, he went there and stole the material. When the buyers went to back out because of the missing material, a 30000dollar lien was put on the deal. That money was taken out of the land deal and Eddie kept the goods. Wow. Now you know why he is the mayor of Ft. Drum! Quite the politician. I also just don't want to deal with people such as that. I highly doubt that he has any sort of permit either. or insurance! I would hate for someone to get hurt, there would be no recourse!
Roger McNabb June 11, 2012 11:08PM
Thank you so much for the info. I checked into it as well, and you are right! Not a place I want to be. Anyone can do a search through public records, ie. Okeechobee County Property Appraiser, and find out much. I too, am through with this site. Anyone know any other reputable places in South Florida comparable to the rucks pit?
Joan Cavaliere March 14, 2014 08:37PM
A group of 5 of us went yesterday to what used to be Rucks. Had we read the above information prior to our visit, I would not have agreed to go. The restroom was so disgusting I would have rather gone next to the vehicle. He charged $45 per 5 gal bucket per person, no sharing. The pick was not great, although a person there (not in our group) dug a fine piece. After reading what a creep he is I will not return. Not to mention the loose chickens, along with their crap all over. Oh yes, he was selling you pick eggs for $5 per dozen. Talk about greed. He is a prime example.
Guriel Zeigerman March 17, 2014 05:34PM
As someone who maintains a website on Florida rockhounding, I've kept up on the status of Rucks Pit for awhile. Digging in the actual pit ended in mid to late 2006. The pit itself was closed the next year, and the land was sold in 2011 by the Rucks family. There have been conflicting stories as to the status of the material Eddie currently possesses, as well as some allegations by people claiming to be family members of his that the material is in fact stolen. None of this I've been able to confirm for 100% certainty.

What I can tell everyone is that the caliber of specimens to be found in the rubble piles he lets you dig through are nowhere near what you could unearth from the pit itself. You must understand that these clams are encased in limestone rock that protects them during excavation. This layer is also a completely different color than some of the material recovered from the mine. Thus, it is logical to conclude that these exceptional specimens cannot physically exist in loose rubble piles that people are allowed to dig in. I've been there, and you can still find clams with massive calcite or "drusy" calcite coverings, but not sharp dog-toothed clams as you would in the single layer in the main pit. Those days are indeed behind us. As for what he charges, it's always up to you whether the money is worth it. Just do your research on what's available and other people's reports first.

Michale October 19, 2016 09:43PM
Where else in the southeastern USA can these types of calcite shell specimens be mined? I'd very much like to dig for these but refuse to do business with Rucks.
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