What people are saying

The museum features a wide range of exhibits.

The museum features a wide range of exhibits.

Crack! Like a pistol shot goes the splitting of a geode. No one knows for sure what the inside will look like. As Landon put it so well, “geodes are nature’s grab bag!” Inside a geode was an ice palace with a miniature crystal Washington Monument to boot.

Museum stone cold delightful

Dearly beloved, I want to tell you about an absolute gem of a place. A must-see. The location? Simple and easy. Right slap-dab in the middle of Hooterville.

In my inexorable peregrinations, I have passed this special place a thousand times. I have always taken it for granite. I’m speaking of course about our local Mineral and Lapidary Museum. All of the staff are the friendliest and knowledgeable bunch of folks you’ll ever meet.

Honestly, I do not know why I never checked out this place before now. I love stones and arrowheads. I love the beauty of geodes. What else could anyone ask for?

Beats me. All I know is that while doing a book signing at Mountain Lore Bookstore on Main Street a very lovely lady by the name of Landon Gailey purchased my book and invited me to visit the museum.

Rocks, gems and lovely ladies? How could I lose? Yes, I promised her I would indeed check out the museum.

And indeed I did. As we used to say in the Marines: It was awesome! I was amazed at the brilliant collection that surrounded me. What stones! What glory from the earth! I felt as if I was back in the Tower of London and was gawking at the crown jewels.

Slices of Brazilian agate polished to an incredible intensity. Who knew such mind boggling patterns existed in rocks? Swirls, landscapes, lost cities, rainbows with hues and rays silhouetted against a dark bruised and brooding sky.

Patterns hypnotic, luring like a siren’s call to lonely sailors. Patterns indescribable. Patterns so lovely that as you gaze at their beauty and mystery the sight calms you like a drug.

If all this sounds like mere bombastic hyperbole, it isn’t. I’m simply putting down what I felt.

How about the arrowhead and spear point collection? Years ago I had a modest but select collection myself. Most were found by me and my old buddy, Spellingsworth up around the Almond, N.C., area. The main part of my collection was purchased from the University of California, Berkeley. Corner tang knives, spear points and clay figurine pipes were the cream of the crop.

The museum collection, however, makes my collection pale and anemic. These points are stunning sculptures in themselves.

Crack! Like a pistol shot goes the splitting of a geode. No one knows for sure what the inside will look like. As Landon put it so well, “geodes are nature’s grab bag!” Inside a geode was an ice palace with a miniature crystal Washington Monument to boot.

Ever seen a meteorite? Oh, I don’t mean just any old generic tacky common thing. No sir, the museum now has Hendersonville’s very own red rusty-looking chunk of outer space rock. In 1901 this baby came sailing in from the welkin and landed in a local farmer’s field. (Close by the present Henderson County landfill).

Be sure to view “the Hendersonville meteorite” and learn its story.

And speaking of viewing, be sure to check out the beautiful handiwork of faceter Bob Bissonnette. Remember, a diamond comes out of the ground rough and crude. It takes an artist like Bob to bring out the stone’s natural beauty. He manages to put more facets on a stone than Carter has liver pills. Bob is the creator of the Hope and Cullinan replicas at the museum. Beautiful!

Also be sure to check out the gift shop. They have locally crafted jewelry that is remarkable.

Remember, Christmas and Hanukkah are just around the corner. You sure could make some loved ones very happy with a gift from the museum.

I highly recommend that my readers go and see for themselves the Mineral and Lapidary Museum at 400 North Main Street in Hendersonville. Contact them at 698-1977.

Due to space, I cannot thank everyone at the museum who made my visit so pleasant and a learning-filled experience. I have already mentioned Landon and now I wish to thank founder and head rockhound dude Larry Hauser for putting all this together.

In fact, our community and surrounding area can thank the museum and all of its good people by coming in and viewing all of their handiwork. Think of all the hard work and time these volunteers donate to the museum and ultimately to the city of Hendersonville. All that time and all their skill.
Isn’t that gneiss?

This piece was written by community columnist Stephen Black, a freelance writer. This article was published Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007 in the Times-News of Hendersonville and is reprinted here with permission.