Rural System's

The Prospectors of Nature Folks

Strata above New Castle, September, 2002Prospectors is a for-profit enterprise within Rural System and the Nature Folks unit. As in other enterprises, relations are as important as the specific work of the enterprise. It attempts to relate to all aspects of people's great interests in mining (such at Orinskany and Fenwick), geology, geomorphology, rocks, soils, and minerals. The organization sponsors "prospecting trips" as a primary activity but it has a diverse set of tactics all aimed at improved, comprehensive resource management with an emphasis in the diverse realms of geology. The work will be changing, but in the first years, the tasks will be:

  1. Linking with rockhounds and geologists and working with a craft shop to develop rock-related products for sale.
  2. Developing a club for rockhounds and geology enthusiasts with local meetings and trips and equipment supplies,services, and instruction. Gaining commissions on select magazine sales as part of memberships.
  3. Creating a unified geologic database (including hazard maps) for the lands of the region and moving it into the GIS.
  4. Creating a mines database and area history.
  5. Mapping surface strata with GPS
  6. Mapping radioactivity and potential toxicants (e.g., arsenic and lead).
  7. Arranging for university geology field trips (a "tent city") from universities around the world with analyses and reports on the complex Ridge and Valley Province, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Virginia piedmont
  8. Developing camps for "prospectors," people who want a 2-5 day wildland mining and semi-precious stone search and gold-panning experience.
  9. Developing guided tours with donkeys or llamas, "The Old Codgers Group," education, early dress, foods (promoting Pivotal's Sourdough (see under The Products Group), music, etc.
  10. Working with all enterprises to assure "environmental geology" is integrated into their projects (roads, trails, fishery, viewscapes, soils, forest site quality and tree stand stress, and safety).
  11. Developing publications (e.g., relating forests and geology; geology and wildlife; geology and soil characteristics; geology and albedo (light reflectance); geology and the stream fishery (e.g., stream velocity and pebble size); geology and rangeland types; fossil records; and natural heavy-metal pollution).
  12. Encouraging responsible mineral rock collecting. Providing a stone-polishing service for visitors, one that allows them to take "their perfect stone" from a stream with them.
  13. Reducing problems from abandoned mines and mine tailings.
  14. Exploring profits from new local mining technology that may allow resource development within the context of the Rural System concept.
  15. Mapping anticlines, potential groundwater pollution zones (as under Wintergreen), and developing a groundwater information system.

The activities, services, and products of the Prospectors are likely to include:

  1. Field trips
  2. Newsletter
  3. Research
  4. Photo opportunities
  5. Mineral collecting and displays of local, regional materials
  6. Mining and mineral-resource-based ecotourism (see The Tours Group)
  7. Promoting responsible mineral collecting and prospecting
  8. Sale of prospecting equipment (panning, hammers, display cases)
  9. Publications on geological strata, maps, historical geology and ecology including computer maps of select areas
  10. Publications on mining, clay, sand, and gravel history
  11. Art sales (painting, sculpture, photographs)
  12. Tours into mines and caves
  13. Mineral collections and shows for collectors
  14. Trips to locate abandoned mines and to study their influences
  15. Web-page interactions for members with emphasis on rocks and minerals and on geological mapping (advertising support)
  16. Interaction with the Rural Knowledge Base (contacts for services)
  17. Sale of mined-land reclamation services , notably planning (The Trevey) and nursery stock
  18. Foundation support and memorials (The Memorials Group)

See "Rockhound" notes.

Working with others within Nature Folks, people within this group tend to emphasize the soil and geological elements of the ecosystem. Gold is still found is some parts of the Eastern US. Tours are readily created with a mine as a destination, and then ancillary activities can be included to create desirable tourism conditions ... both into the region and within it for the tour-creating, tour-enhancing enterprise.

Note From: "Maisano, Marilyn" , 8 Sep 2004

As concerns the geology and prospecting, it immediately struck me that the adult audience would clamor to be a part of setting up a mineral hobby group, as well as trade information in more formally developed classes. It seems to me that you, Llyn and I might put together a meaningful grant request to address this. I'll look for a grant source. The Virginia Naturalist program might be a start, but I need to check with Llyn to find out more about it. Also, my friend, Charles McFaddin, (Natural Bridge Caves administrator) is very active in the Mineralogical Society and would be thrilled to help set up a new group, I am sure.

My colleague, Ed Spencer (Wand L geology department chairman, emeritus) is donating many of his professional papers to our geology department. I'll also look through the index to those to see what has been done , by way of research, on Virginia eastern counties, especially King & Queen. Next semester is the time that we assign them hometown projects, so we may get some information then. The network widens!

We'll keep in touch. Regretably, I do have an extra class (and am adding another student into it as we speak!), so I won't be in Blacksburg as much as I had originally anticipated. However, there is the world wide web! Thank goodness for electronics.

A bientot,

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .

Rural System
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 2, 2005