Chaffee County club explores local mineral riches

Smoky quartz, amazonite and aquamarine are just a few of the gems and minerals waiting to be discovered in Colorado. Not sure where to start your hunt? Columbine Gem and Mineral Society can help.

Founded in 1947, the Chaffee County-based club is for amateur rock collectors and professional geologists alike. Club secretary and marketing specialist Jenna Klugh-Davis joined three years ago after watching the television show Prospectors.

“I watched the show and said, I want to do that. I looked into different clubs and found this one in Chaffee County.”

The club has monthly meetings with guest speakers. The next meeting at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, features a jewelry-making tutorial by club member Judy Hoch. Hoch owns Marstal Smithy Workshop in Salida. This meeting is limited to club members only, but information on becoming a member can be found on their website, Annual membership fees are listed as $15 per person and $35 for a family.

Like most of their meetings, their February meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Sangre de Cristo Electric meeting room in Buena Vista. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8. The guest speaker will be Cindy Peratt, owner of the Rock Doc Shop in Nathrop. Peratt, who is also a geologist, will present information on mineral identification.

In addition to the monthly meetings, the club also hosts prospecting field trips in the summer, Klugh-Davis said. Since the club arranges the trips, they get permission from claim holders at different sites around the state. One such claim near Lake George is owned by a sister prospecting club in Pueblo. Klugh-Davis said the claim is known for its topaz.

Another claim in Hartsel is full of barite. “It’s a beautiful blue, the ground glitters with it. It’s not very valuable, but it’s fun to find.”

Cache Creek is another popular place for prospecting. Klugh-Davis said her family goes to the creek with their sluice box. “We’ve found a half ounce of gold over 10 visits – so, not much – but it’s fun.”

Interested in learning more? Plan on attending a meeting, or joining as a member. “The club is a great way to learn for people who don’t know much about rocks but think they are pretty. You get to know other people in the industry.”

Check the calendar at for a full listing of upcoming meetings.