Wednesday, March 5, 2014


A collection of rocks and minerals donated by Clarence Coil (center) to the Penrose Public Library. ©PPLD  Personally, I would like to know what happened to the display.  Can a reader enlighten me?

The previous Girl Scout posting(3-2-14) continued to tweak my interest in Clarence Coil, the head rock and mineral honcho at the 1959 scout encampment.  Last year I had purchased an older specimen (at least an older label) of amazonite stating it collected by Clarence Coil from his mine.  So, it gets more interesting?  What more can I find out about longtime CSMS member Clarence Coil, and just where was the location of his mine?  There are not many people to ask so back to the CSMS History book (Berry, 2002) and the Internet.

While working for Stewart Photographers, Coil (left), Ben Stewart and a couple of helpers sold hot dogs and coffee at Mile 14 during the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. ©PPLD
Clarence was born in Missouri in 1905, moved to Colorado Springs in 1914, and died in 1978.  He was a photographer by trade and worked for most of his adult life for Stewart’s Commercial Photographers.  Besides being the photographer documenting the 1959 Girl Scout Roundup, Clarence was the “official” photographer for the Pikes Peak Rodeo, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Easter Sunrise Services, and the Pikes Peak Range Riders. Evidently he also documented the construction of the U.S. Air Force Academy north of Colorado Springs (and supplied the air photographs needed for siting the structures), and photographed many of our area’s “natural attractions.” He also gave gifts of minerals to the Air Force Academy’s Chapel (several square feet of polished rock and mineral), the Pioneer Museum, the Penrose Public Library and many public schools.  Perhaps one of his best accomplishments was the work he did for the “Parks Department” in helping create a booklet entitled Colorado Springs Auto Geology Tour (copies are still floating around out there).

Clarence Coil, in jodhpurs, boots and warm sweater, wearing skis and holding ski poles. ©PPLD
Clarence was an avid skier and the Pikes Peak Library District has a wonderful photo of his younger days (see above).  I also learned from the Library that Clarence was part of a small group (Silver Spruce Ski Club) that constructed the first ski area around Pikes Peak around 1929 or 1930.  In fact, they also constructed several ski "runs," ski jumps, and toboggan run(s).

The ski jump (I think a jump), constructed of native pine by members of the Silver Spruce Ski Club, was located in the area near Edlo, between Woodland Park and Divide. ©PPLD

Although Clarence was not a Charter Member of CSMS I would guess that he joined in the mid-1940s as Berry (2002) pointed out that Coil, along with a few other club members collected ?amazonite near Crystal Peak in 1945 or 1946.  Also in that time period Clarence and club member, Art Reese, begin collecting smoky quartz, amazonite, and topaz at Glen Cove on Pikes Peak.  On one of the trips to Glen Cove Clarence found a topaz crystal about five inches in length that was, in 2002, located in a museum at Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania (may still be there). Among other localities, this collecting duo (together for nearly 50 years) also dug: 1) amber-colored barite crystals from the concretions in the Pierre Shale on Elk Creek, South Dakota; 2) blue barite crystals from Stoneham, Colorado; 3) and a variety of amazonite, smoky quartz, goethite, fluorite, and topaz from a number of localities in the Pikes Peak Batholith.  One of his favorite places must have been “near the old Stevens Ranch on the banks of the Platte River” where he collected minerals and built a cabin.
Amazonite collected (early 1970s) by C. Coil at the Coil Mine. Width of specimen ~1.5 cm.
My specimen of amazonite was collected from the “Coil mine” but I remain uncertain about the circumstances or even the “ownership” of the claim.  Wilson (2014) stated that “in the early 1970s, Coil and his son David dug down 27 feet to clean out a huge pocket that yielded the finest known specimens of Colorado goethite. Coil's best-known find was the pocket of large crystals of deep blue amazonite with a selective overgrowth of albite on some faces to give a "striped" effect to the crystals [see photo above]. Some are associated with snowy white albite, and a few were found with smoky quartz. At the time these had the deepest color and most striking appearance of any amazonite ever found anywhere in the world. Many of the specimens are now in major public and private collections in the U.S. and in Europe. Coil, his son David, and his daughter Barbara were especially proud of their find of two barylite crystals, one of which was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.” 

Barylite, a beryllium barium silicate [Be2Ba(Si2O7)], is a mineral that was not really on my radar until doing some research for this article.  Certainly I did not recognize it as a mineral from the Pikes Peak pegmatites.  MinDat has a fine photo (copyright) on their website ( of the specimen at the Smithsonian Institution that is "probably the world's finest barylite crystal. 5 x 3.7 x 0.7 cm Collected by Clarence Coil and Richard Kosnar."

My confusion results from the following (from “[Richard] Kosnar arrived in Colorado on May 5, 1970, where he met Clarence Coil and his son, David, who were longtime Colorado field collectors experienced in mining Amazonite from the Crystal Peak area. In July of 1970, Kosnar formed a partnership with the Coils to begin a very exciting Amazonite mining venture. Their first collecting trip together to the old Reeser claim resulted in a spectacular find of the darkest blue-green color Amazonite found at that time. After this great find, Kosnar decided to permanently move to Colorado in October 1971. Together, Kosnar and the Coils mined Amazonite every year from 1970 through 1986. During this period of time they discovered some of the finest color and quality Amazonite crystal groups ever found, in addition to Albite, Smoky Quartz, Goethite, Fluorite, and many rare species all of which were commercially mined at C. G. Coil Micro I Claim (1972), C. G. Coil Micro II Claim (1974), R. A. Kosnar Yucca Hill Claim (1975-1977), R. A. Kosnar Aspenwood Prospect (1985) and R. A. Kosnar Raspberry Hill Prospect (1986).” 
So, although my specimen is labeled “Coil mine” I am uncertain which mine produced the specimen and who actually was the mines claim holder.  Not that it really matters; however, I find history interesting and like to pursue minute leads!

Please note:  all of the photographs, except the amazonite specimen, are in the Digital Archives at Pikes Peak Public Library (PPLD) and are COPYRIGHT, with all rights reserved, by the District.  Used with permission (and I thank the Library).


Berry, Ray (Editor), 2002, History of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society: privately printed.

Wilson, Wendell E., 2014, Mineralogical Record Biographical Archive at