Rock Hunting in Western Nebraska

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Adventures in the Western Nebraska PanhandleRock Hunting in Western Nebraska

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Rock clubs are dynamic groups scattered throughout the world that unite people who have a passion for treasures that nature provides with exceptional diversity. WyoBraska is a rich and vast geographical area that provides plenty of opportunities to gather spectacular rocks and minerals. The members of the rock club in Gering/Scottsbluff have been engaged in this fun hobby since the 1950s and have maintained records as a formal group going back to 1965.

By: Maria T. Morgan, BA, Anthropology
Photography: Hawk Buckman


Throughout the years they have organized many field trips for collecting rocks, minerals, and fossils. They have also cultivated mentorships as new members joined, have regularly gathered for show-and-tell meetings, conducted presentations, and have attended numerous rock and mineral shows.

Western Nebraska geology. Toadstool Geological Park, Crawford, NE. Photo: © Hawk Buckman
Western Nebraska geology. Toadstool Geological Park, Crawford, NE. Photo: © Hawk Buckman

Most members of this club have been engaged in this hobby for many years and the group’s knowledge base as a whole is quite extensive. Although, their experience conducting field trips extends far beyond the borders of WyoBraska the group’s primary focus is exploring Northwest Nebraska for agates and fossils and Wyoming for agates, minerals, crystals, and fossils. The next mini-field trip in search of agates will be a daylong excursion that will take place in 2023.

The purposed location will be a familiar spot in Crawford’s grasslands, which is about 100 miles North of Gering. Unfortunately, many of the locations that were once available to this group are now privately owned, but some of the property owners do still allow access with advanced notice.

Out of respect to the property owners, the group usually refrains from digging, but sometimes it is permissible. When visiting public land sites where many rocks may still be collected legally, the group checks with the United States Bureau of Land Management. Fossil collecting is a little trickier since there are more laws protecting them. As a rule, the group keeps this type of excavation restricted to private land.

Toadstool Geological Park, Crawford, NE. Photo: © Hawk Buckman

This club also meets every third Thursday of the month at 7 pm at Paul Reed Construction in Gering, Nebraska. Show-and-tell is a standard feature at these meetings to provide members and visitors many opportunities to investigate and hold both local and international rocks, minerals, gems, and even fossils first-hand. It is also a great time to bring up any questions that arise.

Both members and visitors are also encouraged to bring in rocks and fossils to be identified. I brought artifacts from the Legacy of the Plains Museum to be identified and they correctly pinpointed their origins to the Spanish Diggings in Eastern Wyoming too.

Members also occasionally bring in their equipment to demonstrate and teach visitors how to use various types of equipment that are utilized to cut and polish rocks. Some members make jewelry as well and have special equipment for that along with helpful tips to share. Periodically, presentations are also given at the meetings.

George Zieman, a retired professor from Eastern Wyoming College, gave one last year about archeological artifacts he has collected over the years and it was amazing! The group highly encourages these types of appearances.

The Wildcat Hills in western Nebraska offers hiking, geology and exploration, and adventure. Photo: © Hawk Buckman
The Wildcat Hills in western Nebraska offers hiking, geology and exploration, and adventure. Photo: © Hawk Buckman

The group’s favorite nearby rock and mineral shows are located in Crawford, Nebraska, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. These shows are held yearly and attendance is growing alongside the popularity of this educational hobby. Rock and mineral collecting is becoming a big business now though because some people are collecting primarily to make money; however, real enthusiasts are rarely doing that. Most collectors participate to display, share, and sometimes trade some of their cherished collections rather than selling them for a profit. The opportunities to make money do exist though and can pay for this type of endeavor.

New members and visitors are encouraged to join this community gem, no pun intended. It is an exciting way to develop further geological knowledge, engage with and learn from other enthusiasts, find creative ways to cultivate nature and keep updated on current rock and mineral shows. This group’s vision is to pass on their skills to the younger generations, so that they may experience the joys that kept this group active and alive for all of these years.

| MORE INFORMATION

Scotts Bluff County Rock Club
Scottsbluff Rock Club
Membership ($5 per year)
Visitors (free) 

Includes access to periodic field trips and monthly show-and-tell meetings, which are held every third Thursday of the month at 7 pm in Paul Reed Construction’s boardroom located in Gering, Nebraska.

Contact:

Wyobraska Magazine Expeditions

About The Author:

Maria T. Morgan, BA, Anthropology

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