Several years ago, Mineral Bliss featured some of the amazing finds by Alana Benkowski in Baltimore City's Herring Run. Identifying them was often difficult. It was obvious that many of the specimens did not flow directly from any logical point of origin in the Piedmont to her collecting mecca. She favored the alluvial deposits where Maryland's Coastal Plain begins at the eastern fringe of Baltimore City. The streams that Jim Wilkinson works are farther west in Baltimore, Howard, Carroll, Montgomery, and Frederick Counties. These streams have accumulated far less extraneous material. They flow directly through Piedmont areas where the mineralogy is specific.What he finds is easier to predict and identify.
He photographs the specimens he collects and posts their images to his home page on Mindat. The page currently boasts 121 photos. While few of them portray "eye-candy," they document species and locality pursuant to the town, village, or hamlet closest to the stream where he found them. Mining sites, quarries,and other more specifically placed localities within these jurisdictions appear separately as "sub-localities," naming the species attributed to them. Exclusive of the sub-localities and species, Jim is the sole source for Atholton, Simpsoniville, Scaggsville, Henryton, and Daniels.
Though he focuses on streams, Jim is keenly aware of and interested in looking for species reported from nearby quarries, mining sites, or other localities. Though so many such spots are posted, built over, cleaned out, or otherwise inaccessible, it is logical that some of the species they produced could show up in rocks in nearby streams. Beryl was once somewhat common in many of the numerous mostly off-limits pegmatites gracing the Patapsco and Patuxent River valleys. Jim collected the 7 centimeter beryl crystal at left in a stream near Marriottsville. It could be worthy of consideration as one of the more extraordinary finds of beryl in recent years anywhere in Maryland.
Jim drove to Frederick County after reading our post about the magnificent suite of minerals that Dr. Jim Cordua collected in the 1960's at the Farmers Cooperative Limestone Quarry. Although we had emphasized the no trespassing signs, the prohibitive overgrowth and no evidence of dumps, Jim found a small stream not far away that was accessible. The sphalerite he retrieved hardly matched the glorious crystals that Dr. Cordua collected half a century ago shortly after workers informed him of recent blasts. But one can feel assured that to find sphalerite or any other notable species from this locality today by any other means would be futile.