There is not a lot of recorded history on the Willes Quarry. Bastin records that in 1911 the mine opened in 1906 and was active and producing feldspar for pottery in 1911. He records that the mine produced beryl, biotite and muscovite mica, feldspar, quartz, garnet, and columbite. Bastin described the Willes Quarry at roughly half the size and depth that it is today.
In the 1990s Gary Howard mined the property. Gary gave me an account of he and his friend Ted Grant opening a small pockets in the south end of the pit amongst books of mica where they extracted a gem mint green beryl. A fine 10+ ct gem was faceted from the largest section. I later purchased the remaining gem stock which I still have.
John Whitney purchased the property from Gary Howard. John reopened the mine adding purple apatite and zircon to the list of mineral in the mine.
I joined the team in 2019.we added a compressor, drilling equipment and an excavator. We made good progress discovering numerous beryl crystals of golden, green, and blue. Some tiny needles others massive being several feet long and a foot and a half across. We have also opened several pockets containing quartz and feldspar crystals. One small pocket produced a gem blue aquamarine which I cut into a small gem. we have discovered several good specimens of columbite which collectors seem to enjoy. In 2021 a blast produced what might be the largest Columbite in matrix ever found in the state. The specimen needed repair but turned out beautifully and is quite impressive.
The dumps seem to contain a significant amount of beryl. I have not had a challenge recovering a chunk at every attempt.
* John Whitney purchased the mines from the Wixoms. They still live in the front part of the property ; John purchased the back part.
Experts have now stated that the columbite found in 2019 is rated one of 3 of the best columbites in matrix ever found in the world