Morefield Gem Mine


Useful Information

Location: 13400 Butlers Road, Amelia, VA 23002
(37.358347, -77.918580)
Open: Temporarily Closed.
[2021]
Fee: Temporarily Closed.
[2021]
Classification: MineGem Mine MineFee Mining
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Morefield Gem Mine, 13400 Butlers Road, Amelia, Virginia 23002, Tel: +1-804-561-3399 Fax: +1-804-561-4799.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1929 Morefield Mine opened by Silas V. Morefield.
1931 leased by Seaboard Feldspar Co.
1942 leased to Minerals Separation North American Corporation.
1943 explored by The U.S. Bureau of Mines for “strategic and critical materials” for the WWII war effort and national mineral security.
1949 mine closed.
1985 reopened as a fee mine for gems by Warren (Bill) D. Baltzley.
1996 bought by Sam and Sharon Dunaway.
2016 temporarily closed.

Description

photography
Topaz and Amazonite, Morefield Gem Mine, VA, U.S.A.. Public Domain.
photography
Topaz, Morefield Gem Mine, VA, U.S.A.. Public Domain.
photography
Triplite, Manganese Oxide, Morefield Gem Mine, VA, U.S.A.. Public Domain.
photography
Triplite with strengite, Morefield Gem Mine, VA, U.S.A.. Public Domain.

Morefield Gem Mine is located in Amelia County, Virginia. This area has two highly mineralized pegmatite dikes, mined in the Rutherford and the Morefield Mines. They are 600 m long and estimated to be 90 m deep, and contain more than 80 different mineral varieties. The mine has abundant microcrystals for collectors specialized in micromounting.

The Morefield Mine produced many minerals of commercial importance. Typical minerals are mica, topaz, feldspar, beryl, phenakite, and minerals of the tantalum/columbite series. It is a very good locality for amazonite (KAlSi3O8). Amazonite is a green tectosilicate mineral, a variety of the potassium feldspar called microcline. It was named after green rocks which were found in the Amazon River, though it is unknown whether those stones were amazonite.

The mine was discovered by Silas V. Morefield in September 1929 while he was hunting on his land. He found an outcrop of quartz with a large beryl crystal exposed. He was familiar with the minerals from nearby Rutherford Mine and Champion Mine. He drilled a hole in the outcrop, loaded it with dynamite, and shot, exposing large masses of mica and weathered amazonite. He set his finds on display in the store and gas station he operated in Amelia Court House. A vehicle with travelers from the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) stopped by, and they told coworkers at the U.S. Geological Survey about their find. So the site became known. Morefield operated the site as a small scale open cast from 1929 until 1931. Then he leased it to Seaboard Feldspar Co., who mined for amazonite, beryl, mica, and tantalite. Since 1942 it was leased by the government as a reserve for “strategic and critical materials” for the WWII war effort. The U.S. Bureau of Mines drilled holes, created trenches and finally deepened a 35m deep shaft. However, in 1949 they left and the site was sold to Deck Boyles who closed the mine and used the shaft as a water source for serving customers with swimming pools for many years.

Today this is a typical American fee mine, where you pay an entrance fee and are allowed to collect a big bucket full of minerals. If you collect more than the 20 l bucket, you pay a small additional fee. It was opened by Warren (Bill) D. Baltzley in 1985. It became popular for geology field trips by local schools and was frequented by families. Since 1996 it was operated by Sam and Sharon Dunaway. Sam Dunaway grew up in Newport News, VA and joined the Gem and Mineral Society as a young boy. At the age of twelve he visited the Morefield Gem Mine, and never forgot this day. He worked as a mining engineer in Virginia, Tennessee, California, and Alaska. When he visited in Virginia and found out that the Morefield Gem Mine was for sale, they purchased it and operated it for more than 20 years.

However, the mine is closed since 2016. In the first years it was still possible to reserve visits for groups or school classes. But currently, probably because of the Corona pandemic, the site is completely closed. The owners are still working on the mine and have reopened the 30 m level which was first reached in 1948. The website is stille online but has not been updated since 2017.