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Volume 3, pages 27-28, 1918



Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia

     SLOWLY our train moved northward towards Virginia. Back of us, in North Carolina, we left a graveyard of fond illusions concerning mineral collectors' paradises, as described by Mr. Trudell last month. As night came on we curled up on the seats, using our blanket rolls as pillows. Of Salisbury and Danville memories remain of waits in cold gloomy train sheds and stations. At 6.35 the next morning (July 27, 1917) we were awakened by a dark voice crying "'Melia, Melia, all out for Amelia." Picking up our knapsacks, we lurched to the door, and out into the cool morning air of a typical quiet and peaceful Virginia town.. Dr. Wherry joined us a couple of hours later.

     Amelia is on the Southern Railway about 35 miles southwest of Richmond, which is 117 miles south of Washington, D. C., from which it may be reached by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. Another route is that from Baltimore, on the York River Steamship Line down the Chesapeake, boats leaving Baltimore and Richmond in each direction, 6 A. M. and 6 P. M. daily except Sunday. It will probably be found necessary to spend a day or a night at Richmond, as there is not even a pretense of connections between the trains on different railroads; and the collector planning a trip to this locality alone should allow about three days.

     Amelia, or as called in former days, Amelia Court House, is familiar to everyone who has examined a mineral collection assembled twenty-five or thirty years ago as the locality of brilliant green cleavable amazon-stone, glassy white crystalline albite, and resinous rounded cubic crystals of microlite. It is also known as the locality of many rare-metal minerals, the species hatchettolite being found only there, while the microlite above mentioned, the name of which refers to the minute size of its crystals (a character shown by other occurrences), was obtained at Amelia Court House by the pound.1

     The old mica and feldspar mines lie north and northeast of the town, but only one of them ever yielded any noteworthy minerals. This is now owned by Mr. A. H. Rutherfoord, who had kindly extended to Dr. Wherry permission to visit the locality and collect specimens. It can be most easily reached by walking northeast up the railroad to a private road, just beyond a grist mill, running north to Mr. Rutherfoord's house. From the house continue across the fields, past a pond, and thru a patch of woods, to a tiny stream on the bank of which the mine is situated. Tho the mine has been abandoned for some time, specimens are abundant in the dumps, and intensive collecting with picks would bring a wealth of good material to light.

     Albite in beautiful groups of white tabular crystals is the most conspicuous and abundant mineral; some of it is a good moonstone. Closely associated with it is amazon-stone, and lamellar calcite (argentine). The albite is the matrix of the following rare-metal minerals: microlite (we obtained a rough one-inch crystal), columbite, manganotantalite, monazite, cyrtolite, and cassiterite. Other minerals found were milky quartz, beryl, muscovite and leverrierite. Traces of spessartite and chlorophane were noted, but these are now very rare.

     We worked on the dumps the whole afternoon, and then returned to the hotel. A little after six, the ringing of a bell was heard, and we were ushered into a well-appointed dining hall. Each table was furnished with a variety of sauces, a great quantity of hardware on clean white linen; in fact there seemed little room for the quantity of food which would be needed to sustain three hungry rock-breakers. But there was room and to spare for the repast set before us which reminded us of the derivation of the name of the aforesaid microlite. The youngster who waited on us had mahogany-red (Ridgway; 40 per cent. red, 60 per cent. orange) hair and freckles, and wore for the occasion a white starched linen coat, in which he moved noiselessly around the room in his bare feet. He brought each of us a thin slice of bread, two button-size biscuits, a tiny meat cake, one slice each of ham and tomato, and some coffee. We managed to live thru the night by patronizing the soda fountain around the corner.

      The next morning we made another trip to the mine to bring back a final load of specimens, which were packed at the station; and at noon we took the train for Richmond and Washington, finally returning to Philadelphia Sunday evening, after a most instructive and on the whole enjoyable vacation trip.



1 For a list of minerals see Dana's System, p. 1071, and W. M. Fontaine, Notes on the occurrence of certain minerals in Amelia Co., Va., Am. J. Sci. [3],25,330-339,1883.


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