Looking For Big John
Jason Martin and his son Dalton gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of Emerald Hollow Mine. I never thought a writing career could land me in a mine. But then Jason hadn’t known his IT career would lead him to owning a mine. Thirteen years ago he was installing IT at the Hiddenite Gem Mine. The elder owners were passionate about gemology and geology; but not-so-much about running a business. Their friendship with Jason grew into “family,” and upon their retirement in 2014, Jason became the new owner determined to organize a sustainable business while holding on to the heart of the “family” business. The name changed to Emerald Hollow Mine.
This is the only operating public emerald mine in North Carolina. Rich in mineral content, dense veins are deep within the 37 acres. Only 3.5 acres are exposed. Jason is adamant about stewardship. Recycling water and soil, managing run-off and erosion, the mine is proud of its record for conservation and safety and inspection compliances.
More than 40,000 visitors a year makes the mine a community cornerstone. School field trips are a daily part of the mine’s routine. Students come from four states as far as four hours for the interactive educational program with three geologists and three gemologists as well as a chance to dig in the dirt or sluice. Here they learn what makes rocks special: it took a long time to make them.
Along with black tourmaline, chromium green mica, rubies, aventurite and emeralds, the visiting miners hope to find hiddenite. It was first discovered here by Dr. Hidden who was digging for platinum on behalf of Thomas A. Edison who hoped to use it to add longevity to his light bulb. This lovely gem sells for $60 a karot, $5000 cut and polished. The tiny one in my picture is valued at $250.
What a fun place to visit and mine in a creek, in a sluice, or dig in a pit. There’s so much to learn about dirt and rocks! Have you ever busted a geode? Did you know the Charlotte Motor Speedway was built on an extinct volcano?
All this and more at the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, NC.