Coming back from our first post-COVID trip, Ruth & I spent one night in Medford, OR. One of its biggest tourist draws is busy and actually in nearby Central Point, The Crater Rock Museum. This tourist attraction houses the collected items of a passionate rock hound. No wonder his wife Freida became exasperated! Delmar Smith never saw a rock he didn’t want to own and show the world. Touring Crater Rock is both entertaining and overwhelming.
Most people collect at least one geode during their travels. A geode is a mostly hollow, egg-sized and shaped rock that has layers of quartz crystal inside. People collect them for their beauty. A geode is not a thunderegg even though both are rocks. The size of a baseball, a thunderegg is similar to a geode, but inside it is chalcedony and other minerals in a specific geological structure. They are found globally in lava flows. You can see hundreds of both at Crater Rock if you so desire. But they are just the beginning. You can also see rooms full of dinosaur eggs, meteorites, petrified wood, fluorescent minerals, even scrimshaw.
David Holmes Jr., the David of harry & david, another big Medford attraction, collected scrimshaw carvings at one time. Objects of ivory and bone carved by mariners in their shipboard off-time, these historical artifacts are now often illegal to possess, which is probably why David donated his collection to this museum. I assume that Delmar’s least favorite words were, “No, but thank you for offering them to me.” He clearly never turned down a rock, a carved carousel, a piece of jewelry containing attractive minerals, even a Bloody Bart.
Apparently at some point in his rock collecting, Delmar and clearly overwhelmed Freida decided to start their own club. The Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Society resulted. This was 69 years ago. Members met to discuss and show their dug up finds, especially if they were located in Oregon. RAG&MS is still doing this, and Ian Cunningham, who showed us around, talked about his regret that COVID meant missing meetings and rock shows.
I found the dinosaur eggs rather fascinating. They are rare fossils and real dinosaur droppings. The ones at Crater Rock were found in China. About 300 were discovered and this museum collected 50 of them. They were produced by a 2 to 3 ton mother whose dinosaur type remains unknown. I was also taken with Bloody Bart seen just above. He’s bladed calcite with sharp edges that injure people. I was also into toxic substances like Wulfenite, which is a lead-based mineral that harms you if ingested. I’m glad I saw the carousel at the beginning of my journey through the vast Crater Rock Museum. If I had not seen it then, I might have passed this agate, petrified-wood, and sterling silver obsession made by a man in Grants Pass, OR.
Crater Rock gives new meaning to the word lapidary and its kin. If you enjoy gems and rocks, you will certainly enjoy this attraction. One handout Ian gave me talks about Crater Rock’s new and exciting Space Exploration Exhibit. I did not ask how recently it opened. Look for an example of Sunstone, the official Oregon state gemstone seen just below. The photo of it is from dreamstime.com, not The Crater Rock Museum.