By Kyle Meredith
The Grant County Rolling Stones Annual Gem and Mineral Show is a popular event where people come to buy and sell mineral specimens, jewelry, lapidary equipment, and other rock-related items each year over Labor Day Weekend. In addition to buying and selling, there are fascinating displays of local and museum-quality rocks and minerals.
One exciting facet of the show includes field trips offered each of the three days. The morning trips are set up to take rock hounds to nearby locations to look for and collect rocks and minerals for display or working into pieces of jewelry. This year for the first time we are offering afternoon tours with knowledgeable guides who will provide information about the underlying geology and history of our area.
Morning trips will depart from the Show venue at 9:00 a.m., and afternoon tours will depart at 1:00 p.m.
On Saturday morning, September 3rd, we will be going to Saddlerock Canyon in the Burro Mountains where we will find dark gray limestone nodules with golden iron sulfide crystals embedded inside. They can be cut and polished into impressive cabochons. The area also offers occasional fossils including ammonites, and many people have carried out some curious yard rocks. The drive takes about 20 minutes from town. There will be some driving in a sandy wash but high clearance is probably not necessary. The walk from your vehicle is relatively easy up a draw over natural terrain not more than a half mile. Saturday afternoon's tour will be led by Dr. Mary Dowse. This field trip will look at the layers exposed along Highway 152 from Fort Bayard to the Mimbres. Participants will see different kinds of rocks of nearly all of the geologic ages of the Earth, and will have the opportunity to collect fossils as well. The trip will visit outcrops along the highway and there will be a limited amount of walking along the highway or up to the outcrops.
Sunday, September 4th, we'll head south of the Cooke's Range to the Green Spar Mine to look for a variety of different stones, including colorful banded rhyolite suitable to cut and polish, fluorite, and attractive yard rocks. WARNING: In past years we have encountered trappers, so it is advisable to leave your dogs behind or have them closely monitored on a leash. The road definitely requires a high-clearance vehicle and good tires. The terrain is (unsurprisingly) rocky, and there are steep slopes. Sunday afternoon you can join Kevin and/or Sylveen Cook (proprietors of Royal Scepter Gems and Minerals) for a walking tour of the geology and ore deposits of the Boston Hill Manganese District. The nice exposures there and the relationship of that deposit to similar settings at Lone Mountain and Georgetown will be a great hands-on learning experience about the regional ore deposition. It requires a short drive across town. The walk is on a winding, sloping path with little shade.
Monday morning, September 5th, we'll take a quick trip down the road toward Ft. Bayard to look for orthoclase crystals. We'll be parking right by the highway, and the walk is an easy trail of about a half mile with some low hills to explore. Monday afternoon will be a bus tour of local mines, so space is limited to first come, first served.
All morning trips will depart from the Grant County Business and Conference Center in Silver City on Highway 180 East (next to Ace Hardware) at 9:00. Afternoon trips will leave at 1:00. Carpooling is recommended when possible. Rain can cause a trip to be canceled, but it's best to show up if you think there's any doubt. Most morning trips are over by lunchtime, but it's always a good idea to bring snacks or a lunch and plenty of water. A rock hammer and bag or bucket are suggested for each trip.
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