Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum

It has been a while now that I have wanted to visit the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum in Golden, Colorado. I’ve read articles about it, heard it was awesome, and still never have ventured to the far west side of the Metro to pay a visit. Well, the time had come; my daughter had a Girl Scout event at the School of Mines earlier this year and while waiting for her event to finish the rest of the family went to the museum…and we’re glad we did! It did not disappoint; the local Colorado collections they had were outstanding!

What I liked most was the fact that they had similar specimens from popular Colorado localities that I have collected. In most all cases their examples of the mineral(s) were much better than I have, but in a few examples I have found similar quality specimens from the same localities. Because I have been to the same location as these were unearthed from; I also was able to definitively identify several specimens that I was only partially sure about!

There were also several specimens that I really like that I have not found that mineral anywhere yet; but they were so cool that I had to take a photo of it anyway. The museum is full of wonderful specimens — these pictures don’t do it justice; you have to *BE* there to truly grasp the magnitude of the beauty of these specimens, but hopefully the pictures get you itching to visit Golden on your next trip to the metro area!

Calcite and Pyrite

A person at the colosseum show a couple years ago had several of these for sale for cheap. I bought one in the same league than this!

Fluorite

Oklahoma Galena

Oklahoma Galena, this is an awesome specimen!  As a storm chaser I remember when Picher was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2008…what I didn’t realize is that it was a Superfund site and is one of the most toxic places in the US.  Picher is a modern day ghost town for a good reason!

Rhodochrosite Stalagmites

Rhodochrosite Stalagmites

NTM Zoelites

North Table Mountain Zoelites

Back in 2010 I was able to visit North Table Mountain on a field trip with the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society club.  This is on Jefferson County Open Space and there is no collecting usually allowed per their website; but the club had a permit which allowed us to collect.  We did find some great crystals as you will see in that blog post. Below are the fantastic zeolite crystal specimens they had in the museum.

NTM Thompsonite

North Table Mountain Thomsonite

North Table Mountain Chabazite

North Table Mountain Chabazite – We found an awesome vug lined with Chabazite during a NTM club fieldtrip!

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Quartz after Halite

This Quartz after Halite specimen is awesome!

Goethite after Pyrite

I love Goethite and Pyrite; this is the best of both!

Quartz after Fluorite

This Quartz after Fluorite is just amazing!

Fluorite

Fluorite. I found a similar piece at the Smoky Hawk mine during one of the club field trips.

Here is the similar (not as big but just as gemmy) fluorite I found at the Smoky Hawk mine.

Crystal Hill Amethyst

Crystal Hill Amethyst Cluster – I have yet to find Amethyst at this locality.

Bone

Petrified Spruce

Petrified Spruce

Petrified Wood

One of the various Petrified wood slabs they had on exhibit — Joshua Tree.

Petrified Wood

One of the various Petrified wood slabs they had on exhibit

 

North Table Mountain Zeolites Field Trip

On Saturday April 17th, 2010 the whole family, along with my dad, went on a hike to North Table Mountain open space in search of Zeolites along with the Flatirons Mineral Club, led and special thanks goes out to Dennis Gertenbach for his organizing this trip.  I had done some reading on what to expect but this was my first hard-rock pounding experience.

We did the 3/4 mile trail and ascended 700 feet up to the Southeastern Quarry.  We overlooked both buildings that I worked at Coors so many years ago so the mountain was definitely familiar; but I had no idea that you could hike on this land (I thought it was private still) and had no clue what I could have been doing during lunch each day!  Once we got up to the Quarry, I immediately noticed the nice bricks that were piled up on the front of the hill and was amazed that folks could actually somehow carve out those shapes from the boulders that were all around.  I would love to know more about how folks do this.

Immediately we started to see crystals in the rocks and it didn’t take long to find what we were after.  Hunter and Daphne started finding rocks right away with cool crystals; and my dad continued with the luck of the Irish and immediately found a large boulder with several exposed vugs that he started working.

Later in the morning my dad was pounding away at his large boulder at a crack he found and ended up splitting the boulder and exposing a new vug.  Inside was some amazing Thomsonite, Chabazite and Analcime crystals.  There also was an interesting black crystal that we still have not identified.  I ended up finding some cool crystals but eventually started to work on the nice pieces my dad was pulling off of the boulder.  There was no way we could carry the big pieces down so I started to work on downsizing into more manageable sized pieces.

After a couple of hours it started to rain and we decided to head down and have lunch.  We ended up with some great crystals and this is a spot I definitely want to go back to in the future!  With a larger sledgehammer next time!

Here was the nice piece that came from the vug my dad found.  Thomsonite, Chabazite and Analcime.

Here is an Analcime crystal.

Here is some more Analcime crystals as part of a vug.

Some Thomsonite on Analcime.

Here is the vug that my dad broke into.

And the other side of the small vug…

Several folks have asked me how to get to this Quarry.  It is on Jefferson County open space which has different rules for Rockhounding than BLM or National Forest, so do your research first.  When I went with this club they had obtained special permission through the County to rockhound in the area.  If you read the link I’ve provided, you will see that you need a permit to collect:

http://jeffco.us/parks/rules-and-regulations/natural-resources-collection/ 

C.7. Collection of Natural Resources

It shall be unlawful to take, collect, gather, or possess any animal, vegetation, rock, wood or any other object on Open Space lands.

Fine: $100.00

NOTE:  This area is riddled with Rattlesnakes!  BE CAREFUL!  This was just a baby snake, but they are just as poisonous, and like all other young animals they tend to be a little more unpredictable!

Rattlesnake in the trail on North Table Mountain

Rattlesnake in the trail on North Table Mountain

Where I’ve always parked in on Easley Road off of West 44th Avenue.  I’ve gotten onto West 44th from Hwy 58 (Golden Fwy) to McIntyre to 44th.  You will pass the Colorado Railroad Museum (which is worth a stop) on your way.  You’ll walk west along the on ramp to Hwy 58 and then hop on the trail marked with the arrow, you’ll see it on your right.

Parking area for North Table Mountain Quarry trailhead

Parking area for North Table Mountain Quarry trailhead on Easley Road

You will see the trailhead in the above map; you walk West up the hill until you run into the North Table Loop.  When you intersect with this trail you will double back and head East.  This will take you right to the Quarry.  Have fun, be safe, and ensure you have permission to Rockhound by calling the Jefferson County offices.

Directions to North Table Mountain Quarry

Directions to North Table Mountain Quarry

And note, it gets VERY HOT and windy up here.  When I’ve done the hike it is in April or May.  Take a lot of water and drink it!  It’s definitely a hike and the wind will dry you out too!