Saw Mill
Greasy Cove
Horse Mtn.
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I'm Will Smith and many years ago I discovered that Tennessee had rocks with a beautiful center called Tennessee Paint Rock agate. It caused me to become interested in the art of lapidary and I became a member of the Middle Tennessee Gem and Mineral Society. Over the 20+ years I've learned a lot about collecting and transforming those dirty old rocks into a beautiful collection of Tennessee agate and jewelry. From time to time I teach Silver Smithing at William Holland and Wild Acres. I teach a number of lapidary art classes at our two Club sponsored schools. I offer for sale a lot of cut stones to dealers and craftsmen. I am a dealer at our December Club Show and at times the Show Chairperson. This year, 2006 our Club will add a show in August and host the AFMS Annual Convention. On this web site I intended to share with you, my love for Tennessee Paint Rock agate, using pictures and information to help you better appreciate it's place in the world of agate. I intend to add additional images and other collections over time, so keep checking back. Feel free to contact me if you enjoy or if you have questions.

  What to expect  
Recently at Quartzsite AZ. I purchased the big book "Agates" by Johann Zenz from Gene at The Gem Shop. It is a wonderful book on agate from around the world. After review I discovered the book did not include any agate from Tennessee. I wondered why and realized that few people have ever seen our Tennessee Paint Rock agate and when they did, it was from Greasy Cove. I decide it was time for a change, thus the reason for this site. I do not have the greatest collection of Tennessee agate, but I will share with you what I have and other collections over time. I'm going to take you through what I know about Paint Rock agate and share with you as many beautiful images as possible. The picture is an Intersia I created using some rare Dripping Springs Spider Web as the focal stone in the center, surrounded by Spencer Opal, then Tennessee Agate from Greasy Cove, then Labradorite, then Rainbow Obsidian. One side is faceted while the other side is domed.

  History of Tennessee Paint Rock Agate  
The first time I saw Tennessee Paint Rock Agate was at a Gem & Mineral Show in Murfreesboro Tennessee. As I went in the front door I came face to face with a large rock weighing around 40 lbs. with beautiful red ribbon running through a yellow moss type agate, called Paint Rock Agate. I could not believe what I was looking at. Along side this large agate was some smaller football size stones with the most beautiful red fortification I'd ever seen. Ken Swan was standing there and told me how this was agate he found a few days before from a site called Greasy Cove. Ken became a very good friend and we continue to collect together to this date. Ken is better known as the King Of Paint Rock Agate (as seen in picture). On the wall across from Ken Swan was the Owen Brothers: Virgil, Bill, and Chunky who were showing off their display of Tennessee Iris agate which included some of the Paint Rock and another agate called Horse Mountain. They had a back light which caused this thin sliced agate to light up with beautiful rainbow colors. They helped Ken learn about and start his discovery of Tennessee Paint Rock agate. Most of the Tennessee Paint Rock agate deposits are located at at the 1200' to 1600' level on the west side of the Cumberland Plateau. The matrix is generally at the 1600' level with deposits down the mountain due to surface slides or float. The Owen Brothers were mainly surface hunters. They would go up a creek or ditch looking for any color (agate) until the color stopped. Once it stopped, they knew they were at or around the matrix level of the deposit and would start around the mountain looking for agate on the surface. 20 years ago a new logging road was cut at the 1600' level on the mountain above Greasy Cove in Franklin County, when the dozer started rolling out all these round rocks with red and yellow color in them. The word got out and everyone headed for this new location. Once the surface material had been collected, Ken started probbing the earth to see if other agates were below the surface. He discovered many agates were under the surface (as deep as 8 feet) which started a new method of collecting. More agate than anyone could ever expect was dug from the Greasy Cove site and 99% had the most beautiful red fortification you will ever see (much like what you see in Condor today). From this point on, Ken and the Owen Brothers went back to all the old surface collecting sites to dig with great success.

  Major Tennessee Paint Rock Agate Collecting Sites  
Most of us who collect feel the Tennessee Paint Rock agate is all over the mountain side at the 1600' level on the Cumberland Plateau. The major problem is getting access to these locations and time to determine if the agate is of a quality worth collecting. Here are some of the major Tennessee agate sites: Greasy Cove in Franklin County, Mokay in Franklin County, Dripping Springs in Franklin County, Greenhaw in Franklin County, Saw Mill in Grundy County, Heartbreak in Grundy County, Strawberry in Grundy County, and other less important sites in the same counties. I'm sure other locations exist that we do not know about, all to be found by others (maybe you) in the future. All of these sites are on private property and it is just about impossible to get the right to collect. If you do it will take a lot of time to find new deposits, since most of the old Tennessee agate sites have been worked out. New methods may be needed to find new deposits in these and other counties. I feel many other counties have good agate, but one will need a lot of time to search. We leave these unknown locations for those of you who are young and want to experience the excitement of being the first to see that rock sticking up above the leaves with all that beautiful color and fortification. All I ask is that you let me see what you find and give me a little information on your discovery, so I too can feel your excitement. The picture is of a bolo I did in silver using an old piece of Greasy Cove Tennessee Paint Rock agate.

  Other Tennessee Agate  
Iris and Carnelian Agate have been found on the farm land around Horse Mountain in Bedford County for many years. Most of this Horse Mountain Tennessee agate are clear to a honey/peach color. If cut very thin, most of it will iris (rainbow colored light)with a light behind it. Some will turn a brown/orange color when heat treated. In the Putnam/White County area you can find red/yellow/green/brown/black/clear moss type Tennessee agate in the streams and at the 1200' level. Much of the color is washed out when found in the streams due to minerals in the water. Most are very large and appears to be seam agate. I've heard that some Tennessee agate have been found on the Cumberland Plateau above Jellico on the Tennessee Kentucky boarder. I will share more detailed information with pictures as I build this site. I know this is not a picture of agate, but it's as beautiful as agate.

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