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Larry Frank
06-19-2014, 12:51 PM
My wife and I decided to take a few days of vacation and drove from where we live in NW Indiana down to Southern Illinois and Kentucky in the Land Between the Lakes Region.

We drove down to Cave in the Rock Illinois and then had to take a car ferry across the Ohio River taking back roads and off the interstate as much as possible. One place we stopped was Garden of the Gods Park with was amazing rock formations and hiking. Once into Kentucky we had a great time doing tourist type things and hitting as many different BBQ places as we could. There is nothing like good BBQ sitting and looking over a pretty lake.

One day we drove up to a small town called Marion, Kentucky to visit the Ben Clement Mineral Museum. The museum is primarily focused on Fluorite which has been extensively mined in Southern Illinois and Kentucky. This was a collection by Ben Clement and had an astounding number of beautiful fluorite crystals. The lady there gave us an hour long tour explaining about the collection, the man who collected it and the fluorite mining in the area. For me, the visit to the museum was one of the highlights of the vacation and even my wife enjoyed it. (I have a great wife who has put up with my love of sawdust and rocks for 40 some years.)

The best part of some vacations is when you come across something that was not expected not planned and proves to be such a unique place. The museum was that kind of place.

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A final note Almost everyone does not think about the center of the US being an area which has interesting rocks, minerals or geology. Southern Illinois has the New Madrid Fault which produced one of the largest US earthquakes in a period of three months in 1811-1812 with magnitudes over 8.0. The areas of Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois have some large fault zones and the fluorite occurs in a number of them. The limestone of Indiana was used in the Pentagon and Empire State Building. Indiana and parts of Iowa are known for geodes which are hollow rocks filled with crystals. I have collected geodes up to 12 in diameter and filled with beautiful quartz crystals along with other minerals. The area also produces a lot of different types of fossils in both limestone and coal mining areas.