memories of family outings.....


Of Rocks and Pebbles and Treasures

What does one do on a hot summer afternoon ? 
How about spending time looking at  rocks ? it turned out it wasnt such a bad idea . In fact it was a most  illuminating two hours .

The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals , Hillsboro . One couple's personal collection of rocks , minerals and petrified wood , housed in their ranch style home that sits in a wooded estate of 23 acres. 

Richard and Helen Rice picked up an interesting  rock by the beach on their honeymoon ( in 1930s) and it turned out to be agate . They were hooked for life.

Their collection has grown to 20,000 exhibits now . A grand obsession ! 

And an infectious  obsession ! A visit leaves one in total awe of the treasures the earth stores beneath our feel like giving each and every pebble  stumbled upon a second look , with much respect . 

The collection is divided into well captioned galleries - Minerals , Gemstones , Meteorites , fossils etc. with  explanatory notes about each exhibit and gallery . 

Discovered " Thundereggs " ! The State Rock of Oregon .  Native American legend says that these roundish stones are eggs of the Thunderbird. ....Geology says Thundereggs are " mineral aggregates that form within rhyolitic volcanic ash layers " . They look like a lump , but when broken reveal lovely deposits of chalcedony , jasper , opal or agate . 

The museum had the largest opal filled thunderegg in the world . ( bottom one in the first collage ) 

" Oregon Sunstone " : copper bearing  Labradorite Feldspar , formed in lava . Translucent stones that flash when it catches the light.

One section is dedicated to minerals they obtained from Maharashtra ( India ).


Top and below : all from maharashtra . 

Rhodocrosites ( The Inca Rose ):  containing manganese carbonate , these minerals  have brilliant colours : all shades of pink and  rosy red . The Incas believed that the  blood of their former kings and queens crystallised and became  gems infused with magical powers . 

The first specimen, that looks like watermelon salad, is called " Alma Rose " , a pride of the museum . 

ChickenBlood Stone : considered lucky and protective by the Chinese who carve charms and talismans out of it . It is a polymorph of kaolinite ( clay ) and quartz streaked with cinnabar that gives the distinct red color . The slab exhibited was mined in California and is named for the person who found it. 

The Rainbow Gallery houses minerals that glow in various colours in the dark unger controlled UV lighting .

A gallery for Petrified Wood : 

Each exhibit more interesting than the other . Who can ever  imagine what the inside of a rock can look like ! 

Natural pattern , like a landscape .

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