Whether you’re a rock hound, gold bug, or just want to set eyes on a real moon rock, there is much to see and learn at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. Pretty gemstones, precious metals, lots of gold specimens, and historic mining artifacts are part of the collections found on two floors of this FREE museum in Golden, Colorado. And if that’s not enough, check out the exhibits on radioactivity, fossils, meteorites, and ultraviolet minerals. If you get inspired while visiting, the gift shop sells surplus mineral samples for as little as $1. Lapidary materials and equipment and fine specimens for the advanced collector are also available.
The School of Mines has educated students since the early 1870s. The focus of the early academic programs was on assaying gold and silver. Over the years, the institution’s mission has greatly expanded to focus on responsible stewardship of the earth and its natural resources— exploration, extraction, processing, renewable energy production and distribution, environmental mitigation and remediation. According to the Admissions Office, this type of education is in high demand. Nearly 13,000 students vie each year for 875 spots in the freshman class. After all, if it can’t be grown, then it must be mined, or we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the modern lifestyle we have today.
One of the most popular exhibits in the Geology Museum is the “Goodwill” moon rock. In August 1971, Astronaut David Scott from Apollo 17 picked up a 21-pound rock near Hadley Rille in the Apennine Mountains of the Moon. It was the largest moon rock collected up to this time. After Apollo 17 returned home, President Nixon ordered the distribution of fragments from the rock be sent to each state and 160 countries. What better place to display the unique basalt rock than at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum. It’s really not much to look at, but considering it’s 3.3 billion years old, it’s pretty special!
IF YOU GO:
Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum
General Research Laboratory (GRL) building
1310 Maple St.
Golden, CO 80401
FREE admission Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday 1-4 p.m.
Parking fees are required in school lots and on campus streets Mondays-Fridays before 5 p.m. There are a limited number of reserved parking spaces in the lot northwest of the Museum: enter lot via 13th Street. If lot is full, please obtain a permit from a parking kiosk and park in a legal spot along Maple Street, south of 13th Street. Parking along 13th Street east of Maple Street might also be available. If these street spaces are taken, park west of the Museum in lot Q. If you would rather park for free, limited spaces may be available along the north side of 11th Street, two blocks north of the Museum. From May 15 -Aug. 15, free parking is permitted in the neighborhood streets north and east of the Museum.
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com