We traveled to Keokuk Iowa with other members of the Minnesota Mineral Club on April 12th for our second trip to the Keokuk area hunting for Geodes. We made the same trip with the club last year, which was marked by a major unexpected late season blizzard on the day of our return. This year, the blizzard was on the 11th and 12th, so we actually enjoyed getting out of town although the first 200 miles of the trip were very windy.
We stayed at the Super 8 in Keokuk, which was more than adequate and reasonably priced. We left at 6:00 AM to arrive by noon, with a scheduled 1PM rally of participants to hit our first target site, Vickers Geodes.
Due to our prior arrangements, Vickers had prepared a section of their location for some good old fashioned rock pick work, which most club members seemed to enjoy and find fruitful. I preferred to walk the creek area on the theory that the spring high water would have dislodged many geodes and in fact I found quite a few along the banks of the creek.
I mostly filled a five gallon bucket, and was happy to pay Vickers $25 for my winnings.
The next day we caravaned to a private farm in Missouri where the club has visited before. Owned by an Amish couple, we followed them in their buggy to an area adjacent to the Fox river which runs through their property. A large sandbar was accessible by wading in the swiftly flowing water a bit more than knee deep. Once on the bar, we were able to find geodes virtually everywhere we looked.
I also took the time to wade to a further down river shore line which was also very productive. There I spied two huge geodes in the middle of the river and was able to roll them to shore.
I used a 5 prong claw type garden hoe as my “picker” which save a lot of bending over. It also served as an effective cane which came in handy negotiating terrain and current. If I had one tip for other geode hunters it would be to get one of these. Much cheaper than the scoops advertised in rock and lapidary mags.
I managed to accumulate two five gallon buckets of geodes in relatively quick order, making an effort to stick to geodes of baseball size or larger, and many of softball size. Again, we benefited by being first pickers on the site after the winter and subsequent spring high water.
Amos and his wife Laura were wonderful hosts and helped us move our heavy full buckets up the steep bank to where our cars were waiting. Laura had made plates of cinnamon rolls that were warm and delicious and just the thing to reboot our energy levels after our geode hunting efforts.
Many of us then went to Wild Cat park in Hamilton Il, where we found another good source of geodes after about a half mile hike in the lower portion of the park. I settled for just a half bucket here as I am a wimp and didn’t relish the idea of hauling a full bucket back the 1/2 mile trek. The best part of this location is that it is free and open to the public.
That evening we all headed to Vera’s a restaurant next to the Super 8. We had a great time visiting with one another and recounting our day together.
The next day we started at Woody’s rock shop in Hamilton, which is open by appointment. There we found more geodes and other attractions. He had a table to broken Geodes that were available at $40 for a five gallon pail or 3 pails for $100. I picked up a pail’s worth, but was disappointed that the selection was not as nice as it was last year. Not to complain though – still a good deal from a dealer who mines tons of geodes year around. Most of which he sells at shows around the country.
Our final stop was at Jacobs Geodes.
Here we worked a cliff. I had tried to walk the creek through Jacobs but had enough of cold feet and did not find the picking very encouraging the first half mile or so. Perhaps it had already been scoured. So I joined the group at the cliff.
There I took a position and hammered away at a mud and shale section which produced a lot of marble to walnut sized geodes. I soon learned that they tended to cluster in layers and with experience was pretty good at knowing when there would be multiples. Before too long though, my arm tired and I was geode satiated. By now it was noon, and time to up and head back for the six hour trip home.
My total take on the trip came to just shy of 5 five gallon buckets of geodes plus those I bought from Woodys. Next step will be to crank up my lapidary saw and discover what’s inside.