Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gem and Mineral Show Field Trips

The Grant County Rolling Stones (no affiliation with Jagger and Richards) are once again hosting their popular Annual Gem and Mineral Show at the Silver City Recreation Center on Labor Day Weekend.

Although people come from far and near to buy and sell mineral specimens, jewelry and other mineral related items, some people may not know that an exciting part of the show includes the field trips offered each of the three days. They depart from the Recreation Center parking lot at 9:00 Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning.

The trips are set up to take rock hounds to nearby locations to look for and collect local rocks and minerals for display or working into pieces of jewelry. In the past, the Rolling Stones have visited sites near Georgetown, Ft. Bayard, Fierro, and they always offer a trip to the club's own claim on Bear Mountain to look for geodes and the famous banded fortification agate. This year, in addition to the Bear Mountain claim, the trips include Saddlerock Canyon and Turkey Creek Road.

The Friday trip to Bear Mountain is a short ways out of town, and most of the material found is well-suited for jewlery-quality cabochons. Fossils are also found in the area, but not everyone goes away with one of those prizes.

On Saturday, Saddlerock Canyon in the Burro Mouuntains has a lush, unique little drainage where dark gray limestone nodules occur 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.

On Monday, the club will visit fluorite mines along dramatic Turkey Creek Road outside Gila where rock hounds might find green or purple fluorite crystals or banded massive fluorite that makes colorful specimens or can be tumbled or cabbed.

A high clearance vehicle is recommended for all three trips, but people can usually find someone to ride with if they are reluctant to drive. Rain can cause a trip to be cancelled, but it's best to show up if you think there's any doubt. Most trips are over by lunchtime, but the Turkey Creek Road trip is farther than the others, and it's always a good idea to bring snacks or a lunch and plenty of water. A rock hammer, small shovel, and bag or bucket are suggested for each trip. You may email for more information.

In addition to the field trips, the Grant County Rolling Stones Gem and Mineral Show includes an eye-popping selection of things to admire and buy, an on-going silent auction, the wheel of fortune, door prizes, and educational mineral displays. It takes place on Labor Day weekend. Sept. 5-7. Hours: Sat. & Sun.10am-5pm, Mon. 10am-4pm. Location: Silver City Recreation Center, 11th and Gold Streets, Silver City, NM. Admission is free.

by Kyle Meredith

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