Sunstone - MIke Stahlberg/The Register-Guard

Rock Hounding Oregon

People collect a lot of things from the outdoors, but have you ever noticed that person with eyes glued to the ground, who sometimes picks up a rock and examines it like it's a gold nugget?

That's probably a rock hound, and though they may not have found gold, they may just turn that stone into a beautiful piece of jewelry — sort of a diamond in the rough.

If you're a novice, you'll soon be faced with a new language to learn. Words such as cabochons, thunderegg halves, zeolites and tumbled scrap.

While some rock hounds are only interested in the geology of the stone, others have lapidary equipment at home that polishes the rough edges and brings out brilliant unseen colors. Most share the rock hound's principal piece of equipment, the rock hammer.

Oregon is home to a variety of rocks, minerals and semi-precious gemstones just lying around, and most BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands are available for rock collecting, although some may require a permit.

For tips on how to get started, places to go and the equipment you need, check Oregon Rock Hounds Online, or the Oregon Department of Geology at

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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