Thunder-Egg-Stravaganza 2019

MEMBERS- CHECK YOUR EMAIL FOR YOUR RESERVATION LINK

The egg hunt that “rocks” returns once again! Join us at Rice Museum on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Admission is $8 for everyone ages 5 and up, and includes admission to the museum galleries. Advanced online ticket purchase is required.

Your mission: locate 4 eggs of different colors around our property and redeem them for prizes. Our prize table includes 2000+ WHOLE thunder eggs. We’ll have volunteers on site all day to cut your thunder eggs open for FREE so you can be the first to see the surprise inside.

Educational talks on thunder eggs in the Northwest will take place inside the museum at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. Egg hunting is available all day.

All ticket sales are final. No refunds for weather. 

ADVANCED ONLINE TICKET PURCHASE REQUIRED

Due to the overwhelming popularity of this event, we require pre-purchased tickets to enter the museum grounds for this event. Members are admitted free, but must still reserve tickets.

  1. Tickets for pre-sale! Tickets are $8 for ages 5 and up, and ages 4 and under are free. Members are free but must sign up for a member ticket. Reserve your tickets below. Member tickets are available 3/11/19. General admission tickets are available starting 4/1/19 at 9:00am. Consider buying a membership.  Your membership not only supports the museum’s educational programs, it has great benefits like early registration and free admission to events like this one.
  2. Morning and Afternoon Admission.  We are limiting the number of tickets sold and offering two opportunities to attend Thunder-Egg-Stravaganza: a morning and afternoon admission window.  If you purchase an AM ticket, you can get in through the front gate any time between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM. If you purchase a PM ticket, you can get in through the front gate any time between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM.  We have plenty of thunder eggs and will not run out.  The event will be the same all day long, regardless of whether you show up at 10:00 or 3:30.
  3. Last admission at 4:00 PM. The grounds will be open until 5:00 PM.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Can I pay for admission at the gate?
No additional admissions will be sold once this event is sold out. This event is very popular and we recommend online ticket reservation (for members) or purchase (not-yet members) as early as possible.

Do we need to be there at a certain time to hunt the eggs? 
No! To redeem for a prize, you need to find four plastic eggs of certain colors (based on their location on the property, the “egg zones”). That eliminates the “mad dash” of other egg hunts and keeps it fair! You can show up any time in your admission window and we promise there will be eggs hidden.

Can adults participate?
Absolutely! Children of all ages are welcome to participate at the Rice Museum.  Everyone loves a good egg hunt.

Do adults have to pay if they’re not participating?
Yes, your $8 covers your admission to the museum regardless of if you choose to hunt eggs. That price is reduced from our $12 general admission.

If I’m in the AM group and I show up at 12:30, can I stay past 1:00?
Yes. You’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like once you’re admitted.

I’m in the PM group but I showed up at 12:30 to get in line, can I come in?
No. You will not be able to park or enter the grounds until 1 PM so we can minimize traffic congestion.

Can I bring my own thunder eggs from home and have you cut them?
No. Our volunteers are here to cut thunder eggs from this event only. Please ask for a recommendation for local cutters if you have your own thunder eggs to cut.

Do you sell food?
Limited snacks will be available for purchase at our hospitality table, so bring your own lunch or plan to grab it from one of the fabulous nearby restaurants. Keep in mind, we do not allow food or drink inside the museum.

Do we have to pay for parking?
Parking is included with your admission, but it is limited and carpooling is HIGHLY encouraged.

Forest Health Project Underway – Pardon Our Mess!

One of the best parts of working at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is the park-like setting on the grounds. We love our rocks and minerals, but we’ll talk at length about any of the earth sciences. For example, it’s common to see us commenting about deer on the lawn, elk in the fields, coyotes along the treeline, or raptors circling overhead. Lately, we realized we had to address some long-overdue management of our forested stands. We love our trees, but there are problems to fix.

The Helvetia elk herd is a welcome sight every winter at the museum.
Forests surround the museum looking west; left is US-26. Note the stand of diseased timber on the right, with bare trunks, stunted tops, and leaning trees.

One concern has been the frequency that the large trees come down in winter wind storms. The Northwest Gallery took a major hit two years ago when a middle-aged Douglas Fir crashed into the roof. Last year a dead branch fell among some school kids exploring the rock pile. Nobody was hurt, but we didn’t want to go through that again.

Trees from the compromised stand landed on the roof of the Northwest Gallery during a 2017 wind storm.

We contacted the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) for insights and explained our concerns centered on safety and environmental management, rather than an economic boost. During a lengthy tour, ODF Stewardship Forester Kevin Nelson from the Forest Grove office walked the entire 28-acre property with us, and told us some of his concerns.

The Southwest Stand is in good shape, but could use some thinning to improve overall health. The Front Yard area is fine, and requires no work. The Compromised Stand has problems that have to be addressed.
  1. The large stand located south of the Northwest Gallery has multiple problems. Dubbed the “Compromised Stand,” it has served as overflow parking for major events, which, in retrospect, was not a good idea. Years of parking cars there has compacted the soil and damaged the tree roots, resulting in unhealthy trees. Several of the larger trees displayed signs of significant rot. The younger trees underneath appeared stunted and in poor health. ODF approved removing most of this stand to convert to dedicated parking.
  2. The trees growing at the bottom of the lawn, dubbed the Front Yard stand, are in good shape, so no action is required there.
  3. The Southwest Stand appears to be in good shape as well, but in serious need of thinning, and showing signs of distress. Our ODF contact stipulated that he would not sign off on high-grading the good wood out of that stand; instead, he advised an “addition by subtraction” approach to remove rotting or undersized leaners, fixing crowded spots, etc. He also advised against keeping some of the larger trees along the edge of the stand that threaten the main museum building. He pointed out a thriving section of Western Red cedar that he recommended leaving as-is, and believes we’ll end up with a truly park-like setting when the job is complete.

With all the permits in place and consultations concluded, Salmon Creek Construction began removing the compromised stand on February 8. They immediately confirmed our worst fears: many of the larger trees were weak and dangerous.

New view east from the Northwest Gallery. Note the large dark middle of the log in front – it had severe rot inside and was not healthy.

In addition, we have some up-to-date advice for the rest of the acreage to the north, which was logged and replanted with Douglas Fir with mixed success many years ago. ODF advised against restocking any more Douglas Fir seedlings, due to extended droughts and changing climate. Way back in Oregon Territory history when Joe Meek homesteaded on the property directly west of the museum, Douglas Fir was a dominant species across the Tualatin Plains. Now, foresters recommend replanting with an Oregon variety of Ponderosa Pine, which is much more resistant to drought. Since six out of the last ten years have experienced drought-like conditions through the summer, he was concerned that we would waste our time stocking with Western Redcedar or Douglas Fir. So we’ll be removing 60-70 unhealthy trees from the front, and replanting with about 300 Ponderosa Pine seedlings in the back, with a mix of local oak. We’ll retain the oak habitat, with a long-term goal of creating some nature trails for public use.

Plot of the museum’s acreage, which abuts US-26 to the south. The open patch to the north was cut and replanted years ago, and could use more trees as long as they aren’t Douglas Fir.

We are sorry to see the trees go, but it was time to act. We anticipate Salmon Creek will be done with the Compromised Stand very quickly weather permitting), so patrons shouldn’t be affected once the trees are down and we turn the slash pile and stumps into much-needed chips. The plan is to address the Southwest Stand from the back, via the service road, further reducing impact to the public. Once the logging is complete, we can apply for a permit, hire an engineering firm to address grading, and lay down a thick bed of gravel in time for our major events this summer. If you’d like to help with our expenses during this operation, feel free to click the Donate button. We appreciate your help!

Wulfenite Specimens Prepared for Spotlight at the Tucson Show

Rice NW Museum is getting prepped and ready to exhibit at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in February. In keeping with the show’s theme this year, the Rice NW Museum will be displaying some of its finest wulfenite specimens. Curator Julian Gray began planning the case layout months ago, and he has been working with volunteer Angela Piller to prepare. They teamed up to assess which specimens can travel safely, which ones look best next to each other, and which pieces tell a compelling story on display.

Curator Julian Gray, left and volunteer Angela Piller chose the wulfenite specimens for travel

The museum has more than a dozen top wulfenite specimens, in a surprising variety of colors and shapes. If you’re not familiar with this mineral, wulfenite is a lead molybdate, with a chemical formula of PbMoO4. Unlike other lead or molybdenum minerals, which are usually gray, wulfenite can be orange, yellow, red, and other colors. Wulfenite most commonly forms in thin, square crystals that are sometimes quite lustrous. According to Mindat.org, wulfenite is “a secondary mineral typically found as thin tabular crystals with a bright orange-red, yellow-orange, yellow or yellowish grey color in the oxidized zones of hydrothermal lead deposits.” Primary minerals are generally sulfide minerals like pyrite (iron sulfide) or galena (lead sulfide). Corrosive ground water reacts with primary minerals forming new, more exotic secondary minerals such as wulfenite, which is highly sought by mineral collectors.

Wulfenite occurs in a variety of colors, and was a great choice for this year’s show theme.

To prepare for the move, the curating team donned their protective gloves and got to work. They removed top candidates from the display case in the Main Gallery and assembled the proposed display on a table, where they could mix and match and evaluate specimen heights and sizes. Once they were satisfied with the plan, they began boxing up the materials carefully with bubble-wrap and other precautions for the move.

Packaging for the move is an important consideration; some of the best specimens were judged too fragile to transport and will remain on display.

The final step is to carefully shift around the remaining specimens in the case to avoid any obvious holes. Keen-eyed visitors who know the collection intimately will spot the changes, but some of the top specimens in the collection are deemed too fragile to move and won’t be making the trip.

The final step is to rearrange the specimens still on display to avoid obvious gaps or holes.

The specimens will return and be back on display by the end of February.

Tucson is one of the most exciting times of year and places to go shopping for the museum collection and new museum store stock, so stay tuned to see what new acquisitions Julian brings back!

Coming Soon: Thunder-Egg-Stravaganza 2019

It’s back! The egg hunt that “rocks” is Saturday, April 20, 2019.

Your mission: locate 4 plastic eggs of different colors around our property and redeem them for prizes. Our prize table includes 2000+ WHOLE thunder eggs. We’ll have volunteers on site all day to cut your thunder eggs open so you can be the first to see the surprise inside.

Member tickets will be available March 11, 2019. Members are free, but must reserve tickets in advance. Consider joining us on our mission and purchasing a membership. Benefits include early access for TES event tickets, reciprocal admission with other attractions, and unlimited admission to Rice NW Museum for a whole year!

General tickets will be available April 1, 2019 at 9:00 AM.

Admission is $8 for everyone ages 5 and up, and includes admission to the museum galleries. Advanced online ticket purchase is required. There will be a morning and afternoon egg hunting session again this year. The morning session admission is 10:00 am-1:00 pm, afternoon session admission is 1:00 PM- 4:00 pm. Grounds will be open until 5:00 PM.

More information will be available after Mystery Mineral Day on February 23!

Guided Tours: Now On Sunday!

Our popular guided tours are now available Saturday AND Sunday!

Guided tours are included with admission and start at 2:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and last for approximately 90 minutes. Get here a few minutes early to purchase your admission, then meet your knowledgeable museum host at the entrance of the Northwest Gallery at 2:00 PM to join the fun.

Tours are appropriate for all ages and cover the whole museum.

Students in exhibit room - Rice Northwest Rock and Mineral Museum.

New Cases Arrive to Hold Upcoming Spann Exhibit

Noted mineral collectors Jim and Gail Spann of Dallas, Texas, have generously agreed to loan the Museum a selection of about 75 of their finest mineral specimens for one year, starting on March 23, 2019. The loaned minerals were selected from the Spann’s personal collection of more that 15,000 minerals. To properly display the care for and exhibit such an important new collection, the Museum has been working hard behind the scenes.

For example, the Museum recently acquired two new cases to hold the gems and minerals. These cases were built by It’s West Display and Lighting of Golden, Colorado, to the museum’s specification. The cases use state of the art LED lighting that will show off the Spann minerals – each case has more that 50 lights! When the cases arrived in Portland they were moved to our facility thanks to a pair of experienced ‘case wranglers’ from All Service Moving.

The two new cases were securely shipped in wooden “coffins” and strapped to a pallet.

After removal from their shipping containers, the 500 pound cases were moved individually to the Main Gallery in the basement of the Museum. This involved strenuous use of straps, a few raised voices, and considerable care to get down the long flight of stairs, but the professionals handled the move without incident.

The second case makes it safely down the stairs.

Once the cases are completely unwrapped and powered up, Curator Julian Gray will work with Jim and Gail Spann to perform the happy task of planning the layout for the exhibit.

Watch this space…

The international range of the specimens we plan to exhibit is impressive – you’ll see material that originated in Uraguay, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Brazil, and China, to name a few. Mark your calendars – March 23, 2019 through February 2020 – this exhibit is sure to draw a crowd!

Plumbogummite from China (photo courtesy of Gail Copus Spann)

Bring Your Finds to Mystery Mineral Day February 23, 2019

Mark your calendars for the next Mystery Mineral Day, scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2019 in the Northwest Gallery. This always-anticipated event runs from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and is included with admission to the museum.

Every year, the Museum organizes a panel of experts in the fields of rock & mineral identification, fossil study, and meteorite analysis. We bring together experts from multiple fields to inspect your “mystery” finds and tell you what you’ve found. Represented organizations include:

  • The North America Research Group (NARG), a prominent local fossil study organization
  • The Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory (CML), the leading Oregon resource for meteorite identification, based at Portland State University
  • Noted mineral collectors on the Museum’s Board of Directors; past experts included Gene Meieran, Scott Akenbrand, and Bruce Carter
  • Staff from the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals, including Curator Julian Gray

One of the exciting opportunities you can take advantage of is the chance to present potential meteorites to the panel. Most such specimens turn out to be “meteor-wrongs” and end up being slag, parts of old tools, or other man-made objects. But not always. In 1999 Donald Wesson and his wife Debbie discovered a large, interesting rock in a ditch in Oregon’s Morrow County and carried it home. After 10 years of storage, Mr. Wesson was inspired by a television show about meteorites to take the rock to a local county fair. Experts there were intrigued, and eventually, the 40-lb. rock was indeed verified as a meteorite. The Wessons sold their find, and in late 2018, it was acquired permanently by the Rice NW Museum and is now on display here. If you’ve got an old specimen laying around that you’ve always wondered about, bring it in!

Gravels from the Willamette River and the Pacific Ocean beaches are a specialty every year, and our panel excels in identifying agates, jasper, quartz, and petrified wood. Mystery Mineral Day is also a great opportunity to show off any noteworthy discoveries you made recently, to make the curator aware of your finds. In 2018, local collector Mike Kaufman brought in some excellent amethyst and quartz specimens he discovered in Tillamook County along a logging road in Oregon’s Coast Range. A pair of the noteworthy pieces are now on display thanks to Mike’s generous loan to the Museum.

Major Oregon Meteorite finds new home at the Rice Museum

The Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals recently acquired the famed Morrow County meteorite, a 40-lb. specimen discovered by Donald Wesson in 1999 in Morrow County, Oregon. The cone-shaped space rock was already on display as part of a loaned exhibit, but is now a part of the permanent collection.

Rice NW Museum Curator Leslie Moclock and meteorite dealer Edwin Thompson
Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals curator Leslie Moclock, left, and mineral collector Ed Thompson showing off the Morrow County meteorite.

The Morrow County meteorite is noteworthy as an oriented specimen, meaning it did not tumble as it fell through Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, it settled into a fixed position, much like NASA’s famed Apollo spacecraft as they returned to Earth. The exterior of the Morrow County meteorite has distinctive flow lines left behind as heat from its fiery passage through the atmosphere melted away its surface.  It also has a distinctive yellowish color due to weathering.

There is a notable anomaly to the Morrow County specimen. There is speculation that the tip of the meteorite’s cone was broken off when farm machinery encountered it. More recently, scientists sawed off a large section from the base to aid in identification.

The Morrow County meteorite is of great interest to scientists.  A team of researchers at The Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory (CML) at Portland State University positively identified the rock as a meteorite.  Further research by CML scientists Melinda Hutson, Alex Ruzicka, and Dick Pugh revealed that the Morrow County meteorite was once part of an asteroid that collided with another object 460 million years ago.  The collision produced multiple fragments, one of which would eventually become the Morrow County meteorite after its journey to Earth.

Morrow County Meteorite
The Morrow County meteorite was discovered in 1999 by Donald Wesson and his wife Debbie. They discovered the interesting rock in a ditch, carried it home, and stored it in various places, including under their deck barbecue. A television show about meteorites inspired Mr. Wesson to take the rock to a local county fair in Castle Rock, Washington in 2009, and a member of the Southern Washington Mineralogical Society referred him to Western Washington University geologists in Bellingham, Washington. Ultimately, the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory at Portland State University confirmed the specimen as an L6 ordinary chondrite. There is no known crater associated with the Morrow meteorite. 

“This is fantastic news for Oregon collectors and meteorite enthusiasts,” noted executive director Julian Gray. “We have been trying to acquire this specimen for years, and we are especially proud to be able to bring this specimen ‘home’ to Oregon. This important acquisition reinforces the Rice Museum’s commitment to the Pacific Northwest rockhounding community and to the preservation of scientifically important specimens. We hope that stories like the discovery of the Morrow County meteorite will spur other collectors to find the next Oregon meteorite.” he added.

Gray also expressed thanks to the Rice Museum curator. “This was a great trade. I want to express special thanks to curator Leslie Moclock, who completed the trade with famed mineral collector Ed Thompson. We appreciate Ed’s dedication to our museum.”

Camp del Cielo meteorite
The Campo del Cielo group of iron meteorites was discovered in 1576 in northern Argentina by the Spanish military in response to Native legends. Indigenous people in the area had been using iron collected from the area for many years to fashion into weapons, and called the place Pigueum Nonralta, which the Spanish translated to “Field of Heaven,” or Campo del Cielo. Subsequent expeditions in 1783 and 1803 verified that the material was not iron ore, but a meteorite. By 1969, scientists had located a 26 impact craters in a strewn field measured about 2 miles wide and almost 12 miles long. The largest single piece unearthed was named Gancedo, for the nearby town that aided the excavation, and weighed about 31 tons. The el Chaco fragment, named for Chaco province, weighed almost 37 tons, and the combined mass for the field is over 100 tons, which if intact, would have made it the largest such mass in the world, ahead of the 60-ton Hoba meteorite of Namibia. Examination of charred wood from beneath larger Campo del Cielo specimens yielded an impact date of about 4,000 – 5,000 years ago. The metallic composition of the Campo fragments is 92.6% iron, 6.7% nickel, with cobalt, phosphorous, germanium, gallium, and iridium also present. Specialists classified the Campo del Cielo meteorite as a coarse octahedrite to granular hexahedrite, group IAB.

The museum also acquired a new 125-pound Campo del Cielo iron meteorite specimen, and it, too is on immediate display. The two new meteorites were traded for the museum’s 200-lb. Gibeon meteorite specimen, a common iron meteorite from Namibia. The Campo del Cielo iron meteorite is an interesting addition to the museum’s “hands-on” display, because unlike many mineral specimens, the Campo actually benefits from human contact. The surface, when first discovered, tends to be rusty and can flake. The oils in our skin, combined with handling, tends to clean and polish the surface. “The oil from human hands is like magic for the care and curation of any Campo Del Cielo,” Thompson explained. The museum invites visitors to explore the entire meteorite collection to learn more about these fascinating rocks from space.

New Topaz Crystals from Pakistan now on exhibit

A spectacular new specimen of topaz and smoky quartz crystals is now on exhibit at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. This exhibit was recently donated by long-time museum supporters Sharon Meieran and Fred Cirillo.

Topaz and smoky quartz from Shigar Valley, Pakistan

The overall specimen, which stands over 14-inches tall, contains two large sherry-colored topaz crystals in a matrix of white/gray clevelandite (a variety of albite feldspar). Several large smoky quartz crystals tower over the topaz crystals. The minerals were found in the Shigar River Valley in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan, an area known the world over as a source of many varieties of gems including tourmaline and aquamarine. Spectacular specimens like this one occur in deposits at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. If gem crystals are able to grow into an open cavity as they form, we get these amazing and showy rocks.

One of the reasons we close on Mondays and Tuesdays is so that we can perform case cleaning, maintenance and installation of new exhibits such as this one. We received several other fine mineral donations in the last month. Look for these to be on exhibit in the museum soon.

If you would like to come see the new specimen, Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is open special Holiday Hours this Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM. Happy holidays from all of us at Rice Northwest Museum!