A Day of Stone Hunting with Dan Dunn

You have to love a state whose official rock is a petrified “burp.” Large areas of the land that is now the state of Oregon had bubbly, silicic lava periodically flowing out of it for 11 million years. The lava cooled and became buried. Water got into the hardened shell of the gas nodules and brought mineral solutions which eventually turned to agate. Today those geologic anomalies are called “thunder eggs.”

Dan Dunn, owner of Alpine Boulder Company, showed me around the inventory of his stone yard. I was amazed by the size and quality of thunder egg, petrified log and basalt column specimens at his Helix, Oregon location. Dan owns or leases properties in Oregon with mineral potential. He prospects for special stones and makes them available to wholesale customers.

The building that houses the Alpine Boulder Co. diamond saws and polishers is an old grain elevator. A galaxy of unusual boulders and semi-precious stones surrounds the historic wood structure.

My “day with Dan” is now three weeks past but his enthusiasm for stone has stuck with me. We stone folks often operate in isolation. It’s always a kick to meet others whose lives revolve around stone and share the bounty of our obsession. 

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