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lost coal fire minerals

Posted by skip colflesh  
skip colflesh November 05, 2009 10:52PM
Wayne Downey ( downeyite ) has informed me that his entire stash of minerals, from the burning coal beds in PA, was disbursed illegally from a storage facility. There were two 50 gallon drums packed with specimens and it is uncertain if the reciever through them out or knows what he has and will be selling. Please contact me by email if any volume of these specimens show up for sale.
Albert Mura November 05, 2009 11:59PM
Can you tell us what minerals we are looking for? pictures? Al
Mark Heintzelman November 06, 2009 01:14AM
Awful news, I'll be sure to keep an eye out! I too hope they didn't come into the hands of someone who believes them to be just waste product and toss them!

General appearance of material is likely similar to attached photos.

open | download - Sulphur Blooms, Sal Ammoniac.jpg (92.6 KB)
open | download - Sulphur Blooms, Sal Ammoniac etc. - burning coal mine deposition on Hrnsfel.JPG (527.9 KB)
open | download - Sal Ammoniac with Sulphur, Cryptohalite, Mascagnite, and Tschermigite.jpg (76.9 KB)
Uwe Kolitsch November 06, 2009 08:48AM
"from the burning coal beds in PA"

From several localities (which ones?) or only from one?
Colour of the drums?
Rock Currier November 06, 2009 10:43AM
The only person I can think of who might want to make off with those barrels of burning coalfield specimens might be Alfredo, but not all the time. Only when he goes off his meds.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
John Krygier November 06, 2009 11:11AM
Uwe Kolitsch Wrote:
> "from the burning coal beds in PA"
> From several localities (which ones?) or only from
> one?

It must be Centralia PA ( which is the only underground mine fire in PA that I know of. I recall seeing crusty, smelly deposits when the fires were near the surface (they move around in the maze of underground anthracite mines). Also piles of drill cores (they were forever drilling holes, trying to find the fire, and succeeded in only feeding oxygen to the underground fires). Well worth a visit if you are anywhere in the region.

John K.
Joseph Polityka November 06, 2009 02:19PM

This sounds like minerals from the coal mine fire in Shenandoah, PA (my birthplace) that got out of control in the 1960s. This is around the same time that the fire in Centralia started. There were also other sites that had the same issues. When I was a teenager we used to sit next to the steam vents (not smart) to keep warm in the winter. We were doing the usually teenager stuff, like drinking cheap beer and wine and smoking cheap cigars and found the rock waste piles a convenient and private place to hang out.

Shenadoah is the birthplace of the Dorsey brothers and MRS T's pierogis. The town has really gone down hill in the last 50 years, yet I still go back to visit my parents graves and to buy some of the best Polska Kielbasa in the world at a local butcher shop. .

There are still some scattered smoking vents, but the main area where the minerals were formed is the site of a Little League ballpark.


Joe .
Mark Heintzelman November 06, 2009 07:35PM
Most likely Forrestville I would assume, the original site of his downeyite find, however the material would likely be similar in appearance to specimens from most of these many coal-fire sites. The ones pictured above are from Keeley's run and Centrailia, and there is also Burnside which was heavily collected at, but I have only micros from there in my collection (no matrix).

Joseph Polityka November 06, 2009 08:13PM

I agree with your assessment about the downeyite find. I remember collecting beautiful botryoidal sulphur and other micro crystals at the Shenandoah site.

It's ironic that most of the coal fires were started by town residents who burned gargage at the town garbage dumps.


Alfredo Petrov November 09, 2009 02:15PM
Rock, I'm far too lazy to haul a whole barrel of anything - a couple of Kg would be plenty!
Skip Colflesh November 10, 2009 12:36AM
They were Shenandoah. and the barrels were not specified for color. I'll try to get that fact cleared up. I fear the storage co. auctioned them off and they got pitched but we can hope not.
Donald Vaughn November 16, 2009 02:07AM
auctioned? who'd buy some crummy old rocks anyway ;)
Rock Currier November 16, 2009 07:02AM
Probably those would have been hauled off to the dump.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Wayne Downey, Jr. PG March 05, 2010 11:49PM
The minerals were reference samples collected over a period of 40 years from mine fires all over the east coast of the US.
Including, Shenandoah, Burnside, Forrestville, Glen Lyon, Shamokin, Wanimee, Laural Run, Williamstown, Centrailia, Ashley, PA and some samples from Philippi,WV and a few samples from eastern Montana and Wyoming near the Acme mine fire.
They included type mineral specimens of 13 new species that had not been named yet. No Downeyite was in this storage facility since it requires permanent storage in a vacuum desiccator to exist. Most of the samples were in plastic air tight containers and labeled on the lid. Almost all contained delicate crystals on fragile matrix and rough handling would destroy them. Several samples were slated to go to the Smithsonian collection including a type sample of beta-germanium disulfide which was the first terrestrial example of a new crystal system dubbed VLS. I had first discovered this material at Shenandoah, PA. in 1968 but didn't identify it as a new species until 1973 when it was analyzed and photographed at the USGS in Washington ,DC using an SEMQ.
I don't hold much hope at this time for recovery. But if you come across some of this material please contact me, most of these fires have been extinguished and no longer produce the mineral sublimates. This makes them rare and at least to me, historically priceless. By the way, most of the samples are truly amazing under a binocular microscope.
Gary Lentz November 29, 2010 02:45AM

As a lad I often went to the burning fields at Williamstown before they were extinguished. I have some specimens of sulfur bloom and other minerals stashed away in my collection if you should ever need a sample for scientific purposes.
Just FYI.
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