North Carolina Mountains
Updated on January 16th, 2020

Blue Ridge Mountains North Carolina Memories

This is a view of the cabin we had in the mountains near Spruce Pine and Burnsville North Carolina from 2008 until 2016.

This is a view of Mt. Celo of the Black Mountains from the back porch of our cabin.

I liked to introduce some mountain history during my mine tours. One of may favorite places to visit was the Dellinger Mill, the only remaining active grist mill in North Carolina. The is a picture of the annual Dellinger Mill Folk Fest.

The hit of the show is Jack Dellinger, a fourth  generation millright who restored the mill after completing his career working for IBM as a software engineer. Jack was part of the small team which wrote the code that controlled the Saturn Five rocket  for the Apollo 11 mission tot he Moon.

Jack Dellinger was helpful in providing information about the Hawk and Clarissa mines which were near his mill along Cane Creek.  During a visit to the Clarissa Mine, he rediscovered the gravestones of his maternal grandfather and grandmother which he had last visited when he was a teenager.

The Hopewell Native American Clarissa Mineworks were similar to the ones at the SinkHole Mine.
I conducted a great deal of research into Hopewell mica mining in the Spruce PIne Mining District which has been published online.

I liked to start my mine tours by explaining history of the the Spruce Pine Mining District durina a tour of the Bon Ami Feldspar Mina at  Emerald Village 

Tour customers could collect at the McKinny Feldspar Mine tailings at Emerald Village. High quality specimens of green Muscovite Mica can be found there.

   began my mine tour experience by giving tours of the Martin Feldspar Mine which was owned by a friend, Lud Leiner., I enjoyed  taking a break by the South Toe River on these tour.

I would not been able to conduct my mine tours business without the help of Bud Phillips. Bud introduced me to Lud Leiner and to Ed Silver, one of the owners of the Sinkhole MIca Mine. Bud also gave me access to the Marble Mine and the McBee Mine.

Ed Silver (in the middle), co-owner of the SinkHole Mica Mine, not only gave me access to take tours to the SinkHole Mica Mine, but he was also exceptionally helpful in our research into the history of the Hopewell mining of the SinkHole, Robinsn, and Clarissa mines 2000 years ago.

George Silver a jewish German immigrant (original surname Silbur), fought in the revolution and was the first to settle in the SinkHole MIca Mine valley. One of his sons built this cabin in the early 1800s in another valley near by in what is now the small town called KONA (Potassium, Oxygen, Sodium).

One of these most rewarding aspects of Bo's Mine Tours was working with kids from the ages of 10 through teenagers. It was like being back in the classroom except we were oudoors in the mountains and collecting in real mines.

I don't think I ever had a young tour customer who didn't really enjoy the hands on aspect of the tours. I had one who wasn't that interested in the rocks but really liked learning how railroads enabled the mining of feldspar.

Bo's Mine Tours at the Crabtree Emerald Mine.
Patience was usually required when collecting at Crabtree.  But, one of my customers found this 4 ct Emerald (on the right) in the gravel before I got my Rodeo unpacked.

The Capman Emerald

 The Ray Mica Mine involved a nice hike to the collecting area.

The Ray Mica Mine was the best place to find Aquamarine.

The SinkHole Mica Mine produced the best collecting of pegmatite minerals for my tours.

I led tours of large and small groups at the SinkHole Mica Mine.

It was just a short hike to see one of the shafts used by 19th and 20th Century miners at the SinkHole Mine.

Or view the 2000 year old mineworks of Hopewell Era Native Americans.
I published a paper on this subject. See
SinkHoleNative American Mica Mining

Mixed Media 36" X 36" painting of a Hopewell Era
Native Amrican mining mica from a tunnel at the SinkHole Mine

The painted was painted by Jerry Newton,
a well known artist who lives off Highway 80Spouth in Celo, NC.  Jedrry worked on the painting for many minth using real mica and clay from the SinkHole Mica Mine.

Jerry Newton's Website

One of my first tours to Bud Phillip's McBee Mica Mine was with three adventurous sisters.

One of the sisters collecting at the Abernathy/McBee Mine tailings.

It was a one mile hike from the McBee Mica Mine to our campsite at Bud Phillip's Marble Mine.

Swimming in the Toe River at the McBee Mica Mine.

McBee Mica Mine after a weekend of work with the Groover family

We were able to enter the McBee Mica Mine and after a few steps in water were able to inspect the mine tunnel

Our Campsite at Bud Phillip's Marble Mine

Marble Mine Campsite Cooking fire

As members of the Mountain Area Gem and Mineral association (MAGMA), Diana and I were invited todo some collecting at the North American Mica Mine near Hiddentite, NC.

This is one of the samples we found there. It has several varieties of gem quality Beryl including Aquamarine at the top and right edge and Golden Beryl (Heliotrope) in the center

I always recommended the Rio Doce Gem Mine for customers who wanted to go sluice mining. The owners Bob and Elaine are great people and are excellent gem cutters.

In my opinion, the best deal at the Rio Doce Gem Mine is the $65 bucket.  It has enough material for two opeople and includes one faceted stone or one cabochon. Here are a selection of facetable stones I have on hand from the Rio Doce Gem Mine.

Tam is an annual outdoor Grassy Creek Gem and Mineral Show the first week end in August at Spruce Pine. Vendors from all over the country are there.
I met many people at these shows who were helpful in the developement of my Bo's Mine Tours business, some of which  I still work with today in my Bo's Jewelry hobby.

I met Lloyd Nanny, the owner of The Thermal Gold Mine there one summer when I had this table of SinkHole Mine specimens in a display in Mable Bengamin's tent at the show.

The Thermal City God Mine. We even did a little research into North Carolina Gold mining in the 1830s. It turned out that there was quite a bit of gold found and distributed even including the manufacture of gold coins. which resulted in the

I met the forth generation current owner/operator  of the Thermal City Gold Mine, Lloyd Nanny, at the Grassy Creek Germ and Mineral Show in August, 2013. He not only gave me a lot of information on the history of gold mining in the area but also personally met each of the tours that I brought to his mine.

Looking for garnets in the North Toe River

Bo and Diana at a Folk Fest at our cabin

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Robert S. "Bo" Smith