LINCOLN — The remains of the Earth’s geological history are all around.
The limestone and sandstone blocks that form the foundations of many homes are the mineral and organic material left behind by a vast sea that covered middle-America some 600 million years ago. Even a basic survey of rocks in the area reveal crinoids, worms and corals — creatures that thrived in the ancient sea.
The state rock of Missouri, Mozarkite, tells the story of a dramatic epoch that saw the low-lying sea bed pushed up by tectonic forces to form the rolling hills of the Ozarks.
Mozarkite is the star of the 48th annual Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show that runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lincoln City Park. Some 23 vendors displaying a wide array of semi-precious stones, fossils and jewelry have descended on this Benton County town where the state stone is in abundance. In addition to the vendor’s wares, there are trips planned from the park to Harm’s Quarry, near Cole Camp, where the public may dig its own Mozarkite for $1 a pound.
“Mozarkite formed when it was molten, like lava. The material mixed with trace elements, mostly iron, which helps give it it’s reddish coloration,” said Sedalia jeweler Mike Bates, a vendor at the show.
He said the stone is generally found in the area around Lincoln and Cole Camp, and ranges from a white-gray chert to a pink, salmon, or pink colored stone that can take a high polish.
Bates said the stone was used by Native American tribes in the area to fashion arrow points, and was recognized by the Missouri General Assembly as the state rock in 1967.
“All gems are localized, they take their qualities from the mix of trace elements and other material specific to the place they were formed,” Bates said. “What I love about doing this is uncovering the hidden beauty that lies under our feet.”
Bates spent many years working as a traditional store jeweler, before striking out on his own as a “rock hound” and craftsman, cutting, designing, and setting his unique jewelry.
Susan Manning, and her husband, Joe, are a retired couple from Mount Ida, Ark. They spend the better part of each year, from early October to late June, traveling a circuit of rock and mineral shows throughout the southern U.S. This is the couple’s first year at the Lincoln show.
She said she “became a rock hound in 1964, and I ain’t never looked back.”
“My husband thinks it’s crazy. He said he’d drive me anywhere I wanted to go, but there was no way he was digging in the dirt for a bunch of rocks. It takes a special kind of person to do this,” Manning said. “You have to get down there and dig. These things don’t just jump out of the ground at you.”
Although she loves “anything pretty,” Manning has a special place in her heart for quartz crystal, and for the late Ocus Stanley, an Arkansas rock hunter who “helped me learn how to read the ground and know where to look for quartz.”
“After I got to know them, I spent nearly every weekend on the mountain with Mr. Stanley and his wife. I went to my first show in Alabama in 1970. I ended up selling all the quartz I brought. I was just pleased as could be,” Manning said.
For more information on the show, call Linville Harms at 827-4143, or visit the Web site at www.mozarkite.com.