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     North Carolina was one of the first important sources of corundum, both for abrasives and for instrument bearings.  Some gem material was also found.  Photos are thumbnails; click on one to see the full resolution image.
     An article on the history of the State's corundum deposits will be prepared later.   Here are some of the points to be made.  It all began with discoveries of massive sapphire near Franklin (Jenks Mine, Corundum  Hill ).  A collection of nearly one hundred specimens (most collected before 1850) was acquired from the Delaware County (Pennsylvania) Institute of Science.  Several can be seen on the Original Site.  Sadly, most of the material from these mines was groungd up for use as industrial abrasives!! 
     Caler Creek, a tributary of Cowee Creek, was the source of gem rubies that even reached the radar screen of Tiffany and Company.  A few doubly terminated crystals survived the gem trade, and these are rarer than hens' teeth.  See Cowee Valley hyperlink for more details.
     Caler Creek material may have been the source of the aluminum that became the original lightning arresting pyramid atop the Washington Monument, though some say Corundum Hill was the source.
       A lesser-known recent discovery occurred at the Propst Farm near Lincolnton.  The best crystals are unique combinations of colors, usually a salmon pink to red with dots and lines of blue.  Conover resident Doug Hess owned an extraordinary self-collected suite of these crystals, some of which appear on the Propst Farm page. 

     It is now ours, as of May, 2014.  Many of the specimens are far better than the one shown here, purchased several years earlier.  This collection will be kept intact, and occasionally displayed at shows (Houston, November, 2014, first time).  More will appear after cleaning, and I will make a Power Point CD in the fall of 2014 for anyone interested.   


Corundum Hill


Cowee Valley

Propst Farm

Chunky Gal Mountain

     Another important locality is Chunky Gal Mountainm which produces ruby in an amphibole locally called smaragdite.  Most specimens show blebs of ruby, but the one above has a rare, gemmy prismatic crystal (ex coll. Bill Larson).
There are numerous other localities.  Here are some we know.  The last one was previously unknown to us.  (6/3/2008)


   Conover is on Interstate 40, about 80 miles east of Asheville.   These grey sapphires were found within the city limits.   The specimen on the left was found by Conover resident Doug Hess.   One large hex outline specimen was cabbed, producing the somewhat chatoyant "Grey Ghost", shown in the near right image.  The smaller cab on the far right actually shows a faint six-rayed star  (specimens ex coll.  Doug Hess).                                      (6/15/07)  
      Approximately fifty years ago, during the construction of a bowling alley in Conover, a few corundum specimens were unearthed.  The one on the left was found by Conover resident Richard Sipe.  Richard polished the rutilated cabochons , from the same locality, on the right.    (6/19/14)    




Corundum n kyanite

Corundum altering to margarite

Found while excavating for a dam





Ruby in fuchsite

Gift of Burt Kahn

Fine lavender crystal



Found in road cut (Gift of Mike McDuffie)





Nice clunker - ideas where from?