Martin Feldspar Mine

Yancey County, North Carolina

Last Updated: May 16th, 2023

The Martin Feldspar Mine is located on land owned by Lud Leiner and operated by Rock Mine Tours.  Several old mine sites are located on his property. One of these mines, the Martin Mine, was a feldspar mine which operated sometime around the 1920s. The mine is located next to the South Toe River. The feldspar was mostly open pit mined using explosives and hand tools to remove the feldspar. The feldspar was then put in a large metal box and moved across the river on a cable attached to the hill on the mine side of the river and a tipple on the river shore. The box of feldspar could then be unloaded into a boxcar on the far side of the river on to the Clinchfield Railroad's Black Mountain Line (renamed in 1953 as the Yancey Railroad when it was sold to a group of Burnsville citizens). Mined rock material which was not considered of high enough quality to be moved across the river was dumped on the slope on the mine side of the river. This dumped material called " tailings" is what tour participants could examine and collect from during the tour. This "tailing" material consists primarily of the Spruce Pine Pegmatite minerals of feldspar, smoky quartz, and several kinds of mica. In addition, several  accessory minerals can also be found; garnet, black tourmaline, aquamarine, and a variety of the mineral zoisite called thulite.

Mica, Feldspar, and Quartz


Garnet in high quality feldspar

The mine consists of a series of mine sites with a beautiful nature trail between mine sites. The trail is mostly an easy walk with a few moderate places. This is an excellent tour for family groups of all ages. A walking stick may be helpful for some tour participants!

Picture Tour of Rock Mine Tours' Martin Mine

The tour is normally started at this picnic table at the parking area with a discussion of the geology of the Spruce Pine Pegmatite and a description and samples of the primary minerals to be found on the tour.
The first stop usually made is at Mine Site #3 to make sure everyone can identify the basic pegmatite minerals; feldspar, quartz, and mica.
This opening at Mine Site #3 may have been a tunnel blasted into the cliff to mine a particularly good area of feldspar.
Mine Site #4 normally offers good collecting including several different types of mica, garnets, black tourmaline, and occasioanlly aquamarine.
These aquamarine specimens were found by the tour group above at Mine Site #4. The specimen on the left has an area of excellent gem quality .
Mine Site #5 has some iron staining of the feldspar cliff. Garnets are commonly found here.
This old cable is located on the trail close to Mine Site #5 on the way to Mine Site #6. This was one of the cables used to move boxes of feldspar across the river to the Yancey Railroad tracks on the far side of the river.
Mine Site #7 has some excellent specimens of good quality feldspar, quartz, mica, garnet and graphic granite.
Lud provided this rope at Mine Site #7 to help tour goers down to and back up from the South Toe River.
The beautiful South Toe River runs along the entire Martin Mine tour route.
The "tailings" continue down the bank of the river from the mine sites tour trail to the edge of the river.
This young tour participant was most pleased with this excellent specimen of Spruce Pine pegmatite; feldspar, smokey quartz, and in this case, some very nice mica.