Joplin
Rock&Gem Magazine|December 2020
Field Trip Findings: Gaining More Than Mineral Specimens
BILL REYNOLDS

Early in 2020, 26 rockhounds representing clubs from Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma descended on the History and Mineral Museum in Joplin, Missouri, for a day of fun, fellowship, and field finds.

The itinerary included a guided tour of the museum and collecting ore samples from the zinc and lead mining boom days. Also on the docket was a visit to Grand Falls on Shoal Creek for collecting of stream-tumbled lapidary material and marine fossils. Joplin is a prosperous city of 50,150 people with numerous parks, museums, trails, golf courses, andan aquatic center, among other attractions. Joplin is also the home of Missouri Southern State University with an enrollment of about six thousand. The services, attractions, and opportunities found in this city result from a lot of recent hard work, commitment, and love for the community. The current favorable situation is due to rebuilding after a powerful and catastrophic EF5- rated tornado struck Joplin on the evening of Sunday, May 22, 2011. The tornado took 158 lives, and it was reportedly one of the costliest single tornados in U.S. history. After the tornado swept through the area, hundreds of volunteers came to Joplin to reach out to the survivors and rebuild. My wife and I took part in the recovery work and helped my niece, who had lost her home. The city came back stronger with new buildings, homes, and businesses. Today, murals decorate many of the buildings, and art is present throughout the city.

Editor’s Note: Although travel restrictions and quarantine measures have occupied much of how we live life in 2020, just as we always have, Rock & Gem values the stories, discoveries, and experiences related to field trips. Be it solo excursions, small group adventures, or club-sponsored outings; these reports are valuable and entertaining. This account of a field trip serves to inspire.

We opted to meet at one of the 22 parks located within the city to begin our field trip around this remarkable area. The Joplin History & Mineral Museum is in the park on S. Schiffendecker Avenue, and the Evertt J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum is part of the more extensive museum. When you enter the mineral museum, you feel like you are going into a mine. Among the minerals on display are some of the finest examples of galena, sphalerite, calcite, and dolomite crystals. In addition, there are specimens of chalcopyrite, and many of these specimens are massive. The large pieces were laboriously brought to the surface by past miners and saved for future generations to gaze at in wonder. There is also an outdoor display featuring a collection of equipment used to mine and extract the ore.

The museum manager, Chris Wiseman, graciously gave our group an educational tour of the museum. Wiseman is also the treasurer of the Joplin Gem and Mineral Society, and since we area bunch of rockhounds, he discussed in detail the characteristics of the minerals on display as well as the history of mining in Joplin. Much of the information I present here is from the information Wiseman shared during his presentation.

JOPLIN’S MINING HISTORY

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