Local Rocks & Gems on Display at Last Frontier Museum

This is the last page of a set of press releases I sent to local newspapers with a copy of the Rock & Gem magazine for September. The purpose is to let Big Bend area residents know that rockhunting is a viable tourist attraction in the Big Bend Region.

Using mostly rocks found on her field trips, Teri Smith has created the Last Frontier Museum to show rockhunters and others what collectible and valuable rocks and gems can be found in the Big Bend Region.

The museum fills a room in the office of the Antelope Lodge. Except for the contents of a display of “Agate from Other Locations”, most of the items in the museum were found by Teri during her years of rockhunting in the Big Bend.

According to Teri, the museum could be much larger if she had the room. “There are many wonderful examples of agate and other minerals that I simply don’t have space for right now”, says Teri.

But the museum is quite crowded as it is, with exhibits covering the different types of agate found in the Big Bend, the colors and forms of quartz crystals found here, the different ways agate can look when you find it, and examples of what you can do with the agate you’ve found. There’s also an exhibit comparing what can be found on each of the ranches where Teri leads rockhunts.

Fossils, too, have a place in the museum. They can be found in profusion in the area near Terlingua, and also as far up in elevation as Alpine and its environs.

The Last Frontier Museum is in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90 in Alpine, and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Admission is free.

Big Bend Agate Roundup Scheduled for October 19 – November 2, 2015

Hi Y’all! I’ve finally gotten a calendar together for all the Walker Ranch hunts in October, and the hunts to the Ritchie Ranch, South Larremore Ranch, the Singleton Ranch and East Needle Peak that go on around them. The schedule is below. Note that all of the field trips begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.
I’ve decided that these events need a name, so I’m going to start calling them Big Bend Agate Roundups. These will be the two-week-long events that go on in April and October each year.
This Fall’s Agate Roundup begins on Monday, October 19, and runs for a total of 15 days straight. I will probably have some help this year in the form of Jean and Brian Larremore, who may do the South Larremore Ranch hunts without me if I get too tired.
There are no changes from last spring as far as cost goes. The price for the Walker Ranch is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth and fifth days are $37.50 each. The Singleton Ranch is $50 per person per day, East Needle Peak is $40 per person per day, and the Ritchie Ranch is $10 per person per day plus $1 per lb. of agate you take. The cost of the South Larremore Ranch varies depending upon who is leading the trip: If I am, it’s $40 per person per day, and if one of the Larremores leads the trip, it’s $50 per person per day.
Also, remember that Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required for all of my rockhunts, and it costs $10 single/$16 dual. If you haven’t joined yet this year, your dues will pay for the rest of 2015 and for the 2016 calendar year.
I believe that Bryan Crumpton will offer the usual “pay in full and get an extra day free” deal for the Walker Ranch hunt, but I haven’t gotten the details for that yet. I will verify that before I ask you to send me any money for the Walker Ranch hunt.
Monday, October 19: Ritchie Ranch. Start time 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 20: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 21: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 22: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 23: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 24: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 25: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, October 26: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 27: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 28: East Needle Peak. Start time 6:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 29: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 30: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 31: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 1: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, November 2: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
I’ll send another email today concerning the schedule of Singleton Ranch, East Needle Peak and South Larremore Ranch hunts this Fall.
Please let me know by return email which rockhunts you’d like to attend, so I can start putting together a sign-up list.

Spring Rockhunts for 2015

The cold weather is over for a while, and I was out on the Singleton Ranch this last Sunday, on top of Telephone Hill.  The rain, ice and snow that we’ve had in the past six weeks has made agate visible everywhere.  The grass has not yet begun to grow, and the pickings are very, very good.  The same applies at the Ritchie Ranch, and I’m sure it applies to the Walker Ranch as well.

I’ve got Singleton Ranch rockhunts scheduled for the second and fourth weekends in February and March.  If you have a chance to come out in February and March, the weather should range from cool to moderate.  In other words, just about perfect for rockhunting. The schedule for the Singleton Ranch hunts will be modified in April, when the Walker Ranch hunts occur.

The second and third weeks of March are Spring Break for most schools in Texas.  I’m scheduling special hunts for families with kids at the Ritchie Ranch during these weeks.  The hunts will be Monday, March 9, and Wednesday, March 11; and again the following week on Monday, March 16, Wednesday March 18, and Friday, March 20.  The hunts will be about half a day long, and start at 10 a.m. at the Antelope Lodge in Alpine.  For details, look at my website at www.terismithrockhunts.com.

The special April rockhunts will begin on Tuesday, April 14, which is the week of the Gem and Mineral Show in Alpine.  There won’t be any hunts the weekend before that because I’ll be out of town for my husband John’s 59th high school reunion in Goliad.

The hunts at the Walker Ranch will probably begin Wednesday, April 15 and continue through Monday, April 20.  After that will be hunts to the Singleton Ranch, the Ritchie Ranch and East Needle Peak.

One of the reasons I haven’t finalized the schedule is that I’m looking at a brand-new ranch this weekend.  If there is lots of agate on this new ranch, it will impact the schedule for the days after the Walker Ranch hunt.  The ranch is located between Highway 118 and Highway 385, close to Santiago Peak, so it may have agate that’s different from any of the other places where I lead field trips. I’ll let y’all know early next week.

This year, another event is also taking place in Alpine on the same weekend as the Gem Show and Walker Ranch Rockhunts.  It’s a show at the Museum of the Big Bend entitled Trappings of Texas.  It’s been held for many years, but until this year it was in February, concurrent with the Cowboy Poetry weekend.  What this means for rockhunters is that lodging in Alpine is going fast.  So as soon as you decide that you wish to come out for the rockhunts, consider booking a room.

More to come next week.


Walker Ranch Rockhunt Update: Other Rockhunts Scheduled!

Walker Ranch rockhunt news:

We have 16 signed up f or all 3 days, deposit received from 7 people so far.

And there are 4 signed up for just one day, deposit received for all 4.

Hunt will be for 4 days:  Friday 4/19. Sat., 4/20, Sun. 4/21, and Mon. 4/22.  For the $150, you can hunt any 3 out of the 4 days.  This gives you a “day off” to go to the gem show without missing out on the rockhunting.

East Needle Peak hunts will be Wednesday, 4/17 and Thursday, 4/18.  Cost is $40 per person.  Let me know in advance if you’re interested in going.  The group will meet at the Antelope Lodge at 7 a.m. each day.

Ritchie Ranch hunts will be Monday 4/15, Tuesday, 4/16, and Tuesday 4/23.  Cost is $5 per person, plus $1/lb for good rocks.  Again, let me know in advance if you’re interested in going.  The group will meet at the Antelope Lodge at 9 a.m. each day.

The reason I need to know in advance for the hunts is twofold:  If no one is interested, we’ll cancel the hunt, and if I don’t know you’re coming, I won’t wait for you if you’re a bit late.

Remember that Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required for all these hunts.  Or you can be a member of an SCFMS club that considers my rockhunts “Official” hunts for their club.




Walker Ranch Rockhunt Scheduled

For those of you who would like to go to the Walker Ranch, here are the conditions under which we can get a 3-day field trip this spring: we’ll need to have a minimum of 20 people who have paid their deposits, and about 2 weeks notice for the owner to be able to come out here and run it. The price is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for all 3 days. Those of you who have been here know that this ranch is certainly worth the price of admission. And there hasn’t been a hunt on this ranch for at least a year, but there have been a couple of good rains, so there ought to be lots of material visible on the surface.

The Alpine Agate Festival is the 3rd weekend in April (19th – 21st), so that is the weekend we’re looking at. Please email me back if you’re interested, at agatehunter@sbcglobal.net (or reply to this email), and let me know how many people will be in your group. We’d love to have clubs come out at that time! I believe that people will be able to dry camp on the ranch if they wish, at no cost. Let me know if you wish to do this, and I’ll verify it before you send in a deposit.

Your reservation won’t be confirmed until you send a deposit of half the cost of the rockhunt. I’ll send you the detail about the deposit once you tell me you are coming.

Before and after the Walker trips I can host trips to the Ritchie Ranch and East Needle Peak. Both of these places have yielded fantastic things recently: at the Ritchie Ranch, a rock was found that had two very different geodes in it: one was a fantastic yellow and pink fortification piece with pinkish quartz crystals in it, and the other was a bare cavity with a few dozen individual quartz crystals in it. These two geodes had formed in the same rock, only about 2” from each other, yet one was very rich in quartz while the other was almost barren! I’ve got no idea which one formed first or how they managed to be so different, but it will surely make an incredible display.

As for East Needle Peak, Cindy Fryar discovered a spot where there are ammonites! They are generally broken, and yellow ochre in color. They are of the type with the curvy suture lines between the segments. The biggest piece to come out of there is about 80 percent complete and the size of a dinner plate! Now that I know there are some down there, I’m going to recheck every place that I’ve found fossils to see if I’ve missed something else!

Cost for East Needle Peak is $40 per day per person, and the Ritchie is $5 per person entrance fee and $1 per lb. of good agate.As with all my field trips, Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required unless you belong to a club that has declared that my field trips are official trips for your club (so that the SCFMS insurance applies).

Hope to hear from a bunch of you soon.