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Sun City Rockhounds celebrate diamond anniversary

Posted 9/25/23

The Sun City Rockhounds begin a year of celebration 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, honoring its 60th anniversary as a club at Fairway Recreation Center.

Sixty years ago, three Sun city residents …

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Sun City Rockhounds celebrate diamond anniversary


The Sun City Rockhounds begin a year of celebration 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, honoring its 60th anniversary as a club at Fairway Recreation Center.

Sixty years ago, three Sun city residents (Claude Cherry, Carl Bell and Clark Hall) got together around the pool at Oakmont and discussed if there might be any interest in forming a Rockhounding Club. Their experiences with rockhounding varied greatly. Cherry chaired a large Rockhounding organization in California, Bell was an Arizona rancher and knew the Arizona terrain and outdoor life and Hall did lapidary and was instrumental in forming the Sun City Lapidary Club. The three men decided to take a few investigative trips out into the desert and mountain areas to see what specimens might be collected. Arizona happens to be one of the best states in the United States for rockhounding. What these men lacked in experience they made of for with their enthusiasm and vision.

On Oct. 14, 1963, the three men invited a small group of Sun City residents to the Cherry home and the Sun City Rockhound Club was formed. Membership has ranged from 62 members in the early days to 635 members in 1978. They currently have 125 members.

In November 1963, the newly-formed club took its first field trip to the Constellation Road area near Wickenburg. Since then, the club has been on more than 300 field trips throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Favorite destinations have included Burro Creek to hunt for agates, Saddle Mountain to hunt for desert roses, Horseshoe Dam to hunt for Natrolite and Seven Springs to hunt for onyx. The club also takes trips to tour different mines throughout Arizona.

In January 1972, the Rock Dust newsletter was started to keep members informed of club activities. The newsletter continues today and contains important club information as well as informative educational articles. The first Rockhound show also took place this same year and attracted more than 1,000 visitors. The show was designed to illustrate the activities of the Rockhound Club. In 1973, the second show had an attendance of more than 3,700. This has evolved over the years into a biannual rock sale that takes place in November and March. You can purchase specimens at these sales or in the museum gift shop.

By December of 1972, the members had started a Show & Tell, a time to socialize and identify the specimens they found on field trips.

In October 1990, the Sun City Mineral Museum opened its doors. Many hours of manual labor by the dedicated members made this dream become a reality. By November, more than 700 guests had visited the museum, and 585 specimens were on display, all donated by 52 club members. The museum is a “true gem” with three rooms that contain an impressive collection of 1,500 specimens, artifacts and fossils from more than 40 countries. A highlight in the museum is the fluorescent room which has 130 specimens that take on vibrant colors in the dark under UV lights. Visitors have come to experience the brilliance of this one-of-a-kind exhibit. The museum ranks in the top ten mineral museums in Arizona.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-1 p.m. October through April (closed Thursday and Sunday); May through September, the museum is open Saturdays only from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We welcome visits by schools and other community groups to share this rich learning environment.

Anyone curious about rocks and minerals, who loves an outdoor adventure and enjoys socializing with others who have similar interests and want to learn about Arizona geology, this is the club for you!

The Rockhound membership fee is $10 annually. Activities include monthly field trips from October through May, when members pack a lunch, grab their rockhounding tools and head out for a day of adventure, friendship and fun. At the club meetings on the second Thursday of the month, world-class speakers offer expert insights into local and global geology, along with updates on the Mars rover missions. The fourth Thursday is a show and tell lunch outdoors at Sundial Recreation Center. Club members also go to local schools and give presentations about Arizona rocks and minerals.

Guests are welcome to visit at monthly meetings held 6 p.m. the second Thursday of the month in Fairway Recreation Center Arizona Rooms 1-2. Membership is open to all RCSC members/cardholders.