First, 6-10 feet of solid rock, “Overburden” of dolomitic limestone is removed, before getting to the layer where the large pockets of crystals are.
Once the overburden is removed (an area 10 feet high x 20 feet wide x 15 feet in depth and equal to about 50 tons of rock — this can take 2-3 months worth of weekends), he digs. The next step is the hardest part, what we call, “Lifting the table” rock where the pockets are.
This is all done by hand, setting steel wedges in the seams and hitting them with a twelve pound sledge hammer until the rocks splits off in layers.
This rock is very, very hard rock which is removed in the same manner as the overburden but it takes a lot more engery and hitting of the steel. This is where most of the larger crystals are found.