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    Hello! Welcome to another page of my Corner.

    What Breed of Dog is a Rockhound?


    | 1 | 2 | 3  | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 |

    Kids Corner:
    1 | 2

    Ron, your friendly Prospector

    "If your wife's curio cabinet contains more rocks than fine might be a rockhound".

    Check out our
    Rockhound Store

    Equipment, Supplies
    And Information for the
    Amateur, Novice and Expert.

    Rockhounds come from all walks of life and to answer the question correctly, one might say they are mongrels. They might include business men, bikers, mothers, managers, children, senior citizens and just about anyone else you can think of. You might now ask, "how or why does someone become a rock hound?"

    That question has as many answers as there are rockhounds. Everyone has a different reason and it would be easier if I just describe how and why I became a rockhound.

    I was born and raised in the State of Maine. I lived most of my childhood in a rural country setting. Across the road from my house was what, as a child, I called a mountain but actually our name for it was, "The Ledge." It wasn't a big mountain. We could, as young kids, climb to the top in about 10 minutes. We were probably about 500 feet up from the base. It was solid rock. At the base was a cave. The opening was formed due to large parts of the "ledge" breaking away and tumbling down the incline in front. This left an opening about 25 feet high and just as wide but only about 10 feet deep. It was enough to offer protection and comfort on rainy days. This was not our main attraction, that came from being on top.

    From the top of the ledge we could see the whole valley. Looking east about a mile was a large meadow with a stream winding through it. Along this stream were several beaver dams and lodges. It was called Meadow Brook. At the south end was the local airport. It only had one runway and was used by small private aircraft. Looking further east, about 3 miles as the crow flies, was Mt Zircon, which was 2240 feet high. It had a Forest Ranger lookout tower on top. During that period, and this would be the late 1950's and early sixties, it was manned by the U.S. Forest Service. From high atop the tower it was said that you could see several states, Canada and the ocean.

    Aside from the great view on top of the ledge I enjoyed the time I spent lying in the sun and picking small purple colored stones out of the surface with my pocket knife. They were about 2 to 5 mm in diameter and we later discovered they were Garnets. Also in the surface were veins of white or milky Quartz and lots of Mica. There was some clear Quartz as well. This interest might be considered as my introduction to the world of rockhounding. I continued throughout my younger days with a curiosity about where I could find better specimens and what might be available in my area.

    My interest continued into Junior High School where I met Duane, a school mate with the same interest. We first became acquainted in Science class. Our teacher, Mr. Blackburn, wanted two volunteers to go outside in the area surrounding the school and look for different types of rocks for the class to evaluate.The tools we had were, a nail hammer, cold chisel, and a pocket knife. Around the school yard was a wooded area and along it's perimeter were large boulders that had been blasted out to build the school. It was in these boulders that we found Garnets and not the little ones that I had become aquainted with near my home. They were large by comparison. Most were between 10 and 15mm in diameter. We also found some terminated Quartz Crystals. I exclaimed to Duane my excitement about these rocks. Duane told me that his brother had an extensive collection of gems and minerals. He also told me that he lived across the road from a mine in the rural community of Newry,ME. The mine he was talking about was "Newry Mine", famous for Tourmaline. That's when my introduction to rockhounding went from a curiosity to a passion.

    Duane invited me to his house and said he would take me to the mine. I was absolutely astounded at such an opportunity. However, it wasn't until summer vacation that I finally got to visit him. The mine was, as he had said, across from his house. We had to walk about a half mile from the road up the hill to the mine. I was expecting to see a traditional mine shaft as seen described books or seen in movies. It was nothing like that. No square hole in the side of the mountain supported by timber frame work. It was simply an area where rock had been blasted out of the side of the hill. It was a large area about 100 feet across and into the side of the mountain some 40 to 50 feet. There was a large amount of cushed rock and boulders in front of this area. This as I later learned was commonly called tailings, or spoil piles and even referred to as mine dumps.

    The first thing we did was walk up to the last area where some of the rock wall had been blasted out. There we could see veins of blue and black Tourmaline in the rock. I said,"ok now what?" Duane told me this wasn't what we wanted as there was no way to separate the Tourmaline from the rock, at least not with the small hand tools we had with us. He actually just wanted me to see what it looked like embedded in the rock.

    We left that area and continued up and around one side of the hill. "Here is where we look," said Duane. It was another spoil pile but much smaller and older. There was no freshly broken or blasted rock. Some of it had small brush and other vegetation growing up through it. We got on our knees and began to dig and sift through the dirt and rocks. Finally Duane had found a piece and showed it to me so I would know what we were looking for. It was about a half inch long, about the diameter of a pencil and had flat sides. It was a black Tourmaline Crystal. By the time the day was over I had managed to find many small pieces. They came in several colors, blue, black, green, pink, and watermelon. I ended up with a good pocketful of all colors. Overall it was a great experience. Later the property was posted with no tresspassing signs and I never got back again. I have, over the years, lost or misplaced the Tourmaline from the Newry Mine and today regret not having taken more care to hang on to them. Also, after leaving school, I adopted a new set of priorities, such as working and military service. This put my rockhounding interest on hold and it wasn't until the early seventies that I once again renewed my interest in it.

    My late wife and I had moved to Herkimer, NY. We kept hearing talk about "Herkimer Diamonds". The name alone was enough to get my attention. I started inquiring about them and found out that there were several places to get them. First let me say that the phrase "Herkimer Diamond" was a name given to a unique type of Quartz found in that area. It resembles a diamond as the best specimens are crystal clear, have terminations on both ends and they all have 18 facets. They were formed millions of years ago. They range in size from a pencil eraser to about one and a half inches in diameter. The most common are about one half inch in diameter or smaller. All are proportionately the same regarding length to width ratio. I managed to find someone who had some, and after seeing them, I was once again struck with the rockhound fever. I made several trips to the Herkimer Diamond Mine that year. I did find some great specimens but, as with the Tourmaline, these too were lost over the years with my continuous moving around the country. Once again, priorities had me giving up rockhounding for many more years to come.

    In this current decade, I am once again into rockhounding and I must add that it is now a permanent endeavor that I am committed to. It began again when I met my current wife and moved to Arizona. We both had a passion for all the things the Southwest has to offer, including the availability of so many minerals. We have been on numerous rockhounding trips with the Huachuca Mineral & Gem Club, as well as by ourselves, either in our four wheel drive pick-up or on our ATV's.

    During these trips we have collected a wide variety of specimens over the last four years including Azurite, Chrysocolla, Epidote, Geodes, Grossular Garnet, many forms of Jasper, Malachite, Pyrite, several varieties of Quartz Crystals, Turquoise, Wulfenite. We often take a Gold pan with us in case we find a good spot to prospect. During this time we have run the wheels off a Ford Bronco and a Jeep Cherokee. Now our 4-wheel drive Ford F150 is starting to show signs of battle fatigue. Gone are the sleek diamond-plate running boards which now resemble a Roller Coaster rail from all the large boulders we have encountered while offroad. This may, to some, seem like a high price to pay just to find a few rocks but to us it is a small sacrifice to make for the pleasure we derive from exploring the beautiful southwest together.

    We are presently taking fewer rockhounding trips as we have expanded our interest from searching for new minerals to taking the ones we have collected and creating something of beauty. We have purchased the Lapidary equipment to cut, grind, and polish selected minerals. We have also developed a web site to share our experiences with others.

    The reason for this story is to answer the question, "what breed of dog is a rockhound?" Obviously a rockhound isn't a dog but they are a special breed and there are signs that indicate if you are part of that breed. This story describes just some of them. There are also some simple questions you can ask yourself to decide if you are a rockhound. They are as follows:

  • Have you ever washed rocks in your kitchen sink?
  • Have you ever eaten lunch on TV trays because your dining room table was full of rocks?
  • Have you ever visited friends in the country, and spent half your time looking at the rocks in their back yard?
  • Does your wife's curio cabinet contain more rocks than fine china?
  • If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there's no doubt, you definitely qualify as a member of the Rockhound Breed.

    I update frequently with new articles. Information contained in these is from reliable sources and personal experiences with a little humor thrown into the mix from time to time. So come back and visit often!

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    Kids Corner:
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    Kids Day at Rockroost Page 2

    Prospector Ron's Articles:
    What Breed of Dog is a Rockhound

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