The Story Behind Fairy Stone State Park

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Michael Salotti

Long, long ago there where fairies that inhabited a remote area in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They roamed free while enjoying the beauty of their enchanted habitat.

One day, while playing in a sunny glade, an elfin messenger arrived from a far away city bearing the sad news of Christ’s death. Upon hearing the terrible details of the crucifixion, the fairies wept. As their tears fell to the earth, they crystallized into little stone crosses which can still be found to this day.

Although the story is based in myth, fairy stones are real. As opposed to being formed from the tears of fairies, they are actually a mineral composed of iron aluminum silicate. This mineral is commonly known as staurolite and forms into regular crystals which often become “twinned” and take the shape of crosses or X’s. There are generally four types of staurolite crystal formations. The first is “single” which is only one crystal and does not form a cross. The next type is a “Roman cross” which is the most reminiscent of a Christian cross. The third shape is a “Maltese cross” which looks like a cross, except the secondary crystal isn’t long enough to extend past the primary crystal. The last is called a “St. Andrews” and resembles an X. The crystals are hexagonal, or six sided.

They are formed under an exact combination of heat and pressure which was provided by the crumpling of the earths crust during the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. Certain types of rock which have been folded and crumpled in this manner are known as schist. The staurolite crystals are generally harder than their surrounding schist and less easily weathered. As the elements wear away at the surrounding schist, these crystals become exposed. When the surrounding schist is worn away, the more resistant crystals can be found lying on the surface of the ground. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find some still embedded in their schist matrix.

The fairy stones can be found by leaving the parks main entrance and taking a left onto Route 57. Travel about three miles to the first service station on the left. The land to the left of the service station is state park property and fairy stones can be hunted in that area. A small number may be taken for personal collections, but commercial digging is prohibited.

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