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EdVentures, Summer 2017

Mines, Minerals and Much More!

Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Depart: 7:15 am
Depart from: the Lower Patton Parking Lot, BRCC
Return: 8:30 pm (approximately)
Cost: $125
Registration Deadline:  May 17, 2017
Activity Level: Moderate, some walking on uneven ground, some standing
Included: Transportation, all entry fees, Lunch, snacks and bottled water, driver gratuity, all taxes and Insurance
Not included:  Dinner

North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills are among the oldest in the world. Comprising a complex mixture of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks that have been repeatedly squeezed, fractured, faulted and folded, these ancient mountains contain some of the richest deposits of gems and minerals in the world. The Blue Ridge belt, as the region is known in geological circles, is well known for its deposits of feldspar, mica and quartz, basic materials which are used in products we use every day, including ceramics, paint and electronics. The Spruce Pine district in Mitchell County used to be the most important producer of sheet mica in the US. Today, scrap mica is still produced in large quantities. Feldspar is also mined in Spruce Pine and is a major ingredient in the manufacture of many types of glass. Because of its extreme purity, quartz from the Spruce Pine district is used in the manufacture of computer chips. No other quartz in the world can match the processed purity from this area; therefore, every computer chip in the world uses Spruce Pine quartz in the manufacturing process.

There are many other minerals in the rocks around Spruce Pine. Our first stop will be at Emerald Village. Here we have a guided tour into the Bon Ami mine. We will have a group presentation and learn about the many minerals that occur naturally in the mine. Then we will receive a gem bucket to search. You’ll feel like you are in the old West panning for gold. After Emerald Village, we head for an included lunch at the Western Sizzlin' Restaurant in Spruce Pine. Following lunch, we visit the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. More than 300 varieties of gems and minerals are showcased here. We will be greeted by the resident Ranger who will give us a presentation on the significance of the area as it relates to the items showcased in the Museum.

Next, we will make our way to Linville Caverns, which were opened for public touring in 1937. They were discovered in the early 1800s during a fishing expedition, when the fishermen were astounded to see trout swimming in and out of what appeared to be solid rock. Squeezing through a small opening, they discovered “wondrous splendors of a hidden world”. Since then, many upgrades have taken place and you now travel lit pathways with experienced guides. It is a relatively flat pathway and easy to traverse.

Once we have settled back on the motor coach, we head to our next stop which is the “original” Mast General Store. William Wellington Mast became sole owner of the store in 1913. It sold everything from cradles to caskets and was operated by his family until the early 70s. The store was purchased by a family from Florida and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, you can still mail a letter at the corner post office, warm up by the pot-bellied stove, and enjoy a 5-cent cup of coffee. After we have had an opportunity to enjoy some old time retail therapy, we will head for home with a final stop in Marion for dinner. Dinner is not included in the cost of the tour.

Note the refund policy

Click here for the registration form