(By R. S. Mason, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries,
Portland, Oregon. From DOGAMI Bulletin 64, 1969)
The quartz family minerals, which constitute the bulk of the semiprecious gem stones found in Oregon, very likely provide the basis for recreation for more people living in the State than any other single natural resource.
Since World War II there has been a rapid growth in interest by the layman and his family in the search for, preparation of, and eventual display of the wide variety of quartz family minerals. The "rockhounds," as they are popularly called, are attracted not only by the thrill of discovering a particularly fine specimen, but by the fact that it is a recreational pursuit which knows no season, requires no license, and has no minimum or maximum qualification age for participation.
The hobby in its simplest form may entail only the collecting and tumbling or sawing of specimens. More advanced hobbyists often specialize in certain types of minerals or finished materials. The displays sponsored by the numerous "rockhounds" clubs scattered across the State reveal the wide appeal that the hobby has and the equally diverse skills and interests a its various members.
Displays of jewelry are naturally one of the most popular, with collections of mine I specialties, such as zeolites and petrified wood or laboriously hand-crafted objects such as flowers, butterflies, and working models of spinning wheels also finding wide attraction.
There are more than 3,000 members of organized 'rockhounds" clubs in Oregon. The clubs have been active in recent years in standardized displays, conducting field trips, and promoting good outdoor habits.