School of Mines Geology Museum

by R Long
February 01, 2018

Museum at the School of Mines

The School of Mines is located in Golden, Colorado, just outside of Denver. The school houses a geology museum for everyone to enjoy. The museum started in 1874 and has one of the 2 Goodwill moon rocks collected during the Apollo 17 moon mission. The museum displays mineral, fossil, gemstone, meteorite, and historic mining artifact exhibits on two floors. The museum includes items not only from Colorado but from all over the world although the museum is a state repository for Colorado’s mineral heritage.

Per Wikipedia “Colorado School of Mines, also referred to as “Mines”, is a public teaching and research university in Golden, Colorado, devoted to engineering and applied science, with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources. Mines placed 82nd in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report “Best National Universities” ranking. In the 2016–17 QS World University Rankings by subject, the university was ranked as the top institution in the world for mineral and mining engineering.” Very Impressive!

Rocks and More Rocks

rocks at the School of Mines

The museum is fascinating. They have cases upon cases of beautiful rocks. Did I just say rocks? They were more than rocks. The raw rock is exhibited next to the finished rock. You could see the bands of colors in the finished “jewel”. I am sure many had no monetary value but they were beautiful. 

I have a yearning to go out & find rocks just like those to see what could be done with them. It is amazing that a simple rock can end up with such sophisticated lines and colors. 

The agates are nondescript and rather plain and really ugly. However, when the rock is split open there is a beautiful display of crystals. I never realized how many varied colors and shades an amethyst could have, from light purple to a deep dark shade.

The crystals are many sizes as well as colors. Some were long and straight but others were short with “fat” crystals crowding the inside of the agate. I had a friend who said she and her siblings used to go out and collect them by the handful, never realizing that they were coveted by others as a true work of nature.

An Old Mine

rocks at the school of mines
ultraviolet rocks

On the bottom floor of the museum, there is an exhibit of an old mine. The miners in the past had to work hard to extract the gems from the earth. Two lit cases held an exhibit of rocks of varied colors. However, the real beauty of the gems is showcased when the lights are turned off and long-wave and short-wave ultraviolent fluorescent minerals are highlighted.

The rocks glow with different colors and intensities. How did they know this? The incandescent lights will come on and you can see a simple round rock that had so much color when the fluorescent lights are on. Who decided or knew to use the fluorescent lights on the rocks? You would easily pass them by and not even know their beauty.

The miners worked with picks and shovels before modern instruments were developed. It is amazing what they did with so little. Many of the instruments used in the late 18th century were on display. We have come a long way from those times. However, it is still the same rocks that were mined a long time ago that we now also mine and use.

Read more at The Guide For Seniors for all things senior.

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