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Anonymous donor hands over precious rocks

The collection includes spectacular formations that are some of the best in the Northwest

It looks like a glistening cube of raspberry Jell-O resting slightly askew on a bed of frozen strands of coconut.

But you wouldn't want to sink your teeth into this visually appealing dish.

Called the Alma Mater, the rhodochrosite crystal from the Sweethome Mine near Alma, Colo., is part of the Suomynona collection the nonprofit Crater Rock Museum received last month from an anonymous donor from Tucson, Ariz.

It's phenomenal ' with this collection, we will be the most diversified earth science museum found in the Pacific Northwest, said Frank Callahan, vice-president and immediate past president of the Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Society, which owns and operates the museum.

The crystal will be included in three cases from the collection displayed at the society's 49th annual Gem and Mineral Show April 3-4 at the Medford Armory.

The spectacular rhodochrosite is among nearly 200 specimens from more than 30 countries, including the crystals now on display at the museum that reflect all the colors found in a spring flower garden.

In fact, rock hounds refer to them as mineral flowers, Callahan noted.

The collection includes a huge rose quartz from Brazil, an aqua-blue cavansite from India, green vivianite from Bolivia, purple Guerrero quartz from Mexico and a rare, light-green emerald from Colombia.

And there is the slightly off-center cube of red Jell-O.

The red crystal is the rhodochrosite, Callahan explained. It has such a bright red color that people really relate to it.

It's also a rhombohedron, he noted.

You take a perfect cube, then tilt it a little bit, you get a rhombohedron, he said. It's not perfectly cubic.

But it is probably the best example of a rhodochrosite on the planet, he said.

The collection's name, Suomynona, is anonymous spelled backwards. The donor, who died late last year, insisted that his full name and value of the collection remain anonymous.

The collection also includes a dichroic glass art collection featuring works by students of world-renowned glassblower Dale Chihuly.

In addition, the anonymous donor gave the society half a million dollars to expand the museum from its current 5,400 square feet to 15,000 square feet.

Before receiving the collection, the museum was already known for its rocks, fossils and Indian artifacts.

Consider its vast nest of Oregon thundereggs.

We have the best collection of thundereggs in the Pacific Northwest ' nobody even comes close to us, Callahan said.

The largest is a brown egg about two feet long and a foot and a half wide.

But when we cut it open there was only a mudball inside, he said. That happens sometimes.

There is a cord of petrified wood on display, all from Oregon.

It includes four slices of palm trees that grew in the valley millions of years ago. There are also acacia, sequoia and huge fern, all frozen in rock.

Few people realize the Rogue Valley was once tropical, he said. This was a lush, tropical environment. The coast was a steaming jungle.

There is an obsidian collection as well as what Callahan believes is the best variscite collection in the nation. Variscite is a shade paler than turquoise.

In the next room are fossils and Indian artifacts, including sage brush sandals found at Fort Rock that date back more than 9,000 years.

Among the many fossils are four dinosaur eggs found near Brookings.

Appropriately, the duckbill dinosaur is the only dinosaur found in Oregon, Callahan said.

There is no duckbill dinosaur fossil in the museum, but there is some well-aged coprolite ' fossilized dinosaur dung.

The museum, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is located at 2002 Scenic Ave., Central Point.

It's open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There is no admission fee but donations are accepted.

For more information, call the museum at 664-6081 or check out its Web site at If you go

The 49th annual Gem and Mineral Show sponsored by the Roxy Ann Gem & Mineral Society begins April — at the Medford Armory.The two-day event will be from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April — and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. April 4.The event will include exhibits of gems, jewelry, lapidary products and minerals. There also will be demonstrations, food, a silent auction, lectures and door prizes.Admission for adults is &

36;2.50 (50-cent discount available at ), 50 cents for students ages 12 to 18 and free to children under 12 who are accompanied by an adult.A weekend pass for an adult is &

36;3.

The armory is located at 1701 S. Pacific Highway in Medford.

Frank Callahan of the Crater Rock Museum displays one of several rare mineral formations obtained recently from an anonymous donor. The mineral, called rhodochrosite, was found near Alma, Colo. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli