Past Field Trip Details - Kelly Bank & Vesuvius Manganese Mines

Official Field Trip Notice of the Shenandoah Valley Gem and Mineral Society

When: Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Where: Kelly Bank and Vesuvius Manganese Mines

Time: 9:00 AM

Meeting Place: Burger King’s parking lot at I-81 Exit 205

Details: We will be spending about half the day exploring dump piles of the Kelly Bank and South River (Vesuvius) mines for manganese-related material. For those that have been on this trip before, we also may have the opportunity to visit the adjacent National Forest for some other related material collecting. Details will be given at the site.

The Kelly Bank mine was worked during the 1940‘s and has produced some odd extras beyond the manganese ore that it was worked for, including
variscite, turquoise, wavelite and the very rare yttirum mineral churchite. None of these have been collected by us to this date, but you may be the first.

The South River or Vesuvius mine has been worked at different times since the turn of the century and extensively in the 1950‘s. It was a major producer of manganese. Although much of the area has been reclaimed, many collecting locations are still available. I personally found the ruins of the wash plant and Dr. Barwood did speak of massive
fibrous cacoxenite being found around it. We will be looking more closely for this material; also, where I did in my digging there I found an almost pure white chalcedony in a mass big enough for cutting and polishing.

The whole area being of a
quartzite host rock, it contains very nice trace fossils called scolithus. They are the paths and burrows of ancient sea creatures, wormlike animals that are believed to be some of the first creatures on Earth. This quartzite is very hard and will take a polish. I have found some attractive dark purple as well as very pink specimens. The contrasting dark worm tubes make this a neat rock to collect.

What to bring: I would suggest a backpack, buckets and small digging tools. Rugged footwear is a must, as well as gloves and safety glasses. There are no bathroom facilities close by. Bring snacks, lunch and plenty of drinks.

Precautions: The water table is up. The area may be muddy and messy. The creek will for sure be up and we need to use caution and cooperation for crossing. Also, those with health concerns may want to consider the terrain. It is rocky and grown up. Know your limitations; we don’t want anyone getting hurt. The saving grace is that we will be parking fairly close to collecting sites.

Sign up by e-mail to All attendees must have dues paid or bring your dues the day of the trip. Questions? Contact Dean at or call evenings between 5 and 9 PM (540-649-3572)!

Dean Hostetter
Field trip Coordinator

Notes added by the web wrangler:

  • Link to mindat information about the location here.
  • Link to a free downloadable ebook, “Manganese Deposits of the West Foot of the Blue Ridge, Virginia” (©1919, Virginia Geological Survey) can be found here.