Rockin' On The Rim



Russ Stewart can read through rock.

No, he does not have Superman's X-ray vision (although he does have a hat, because, he said, "every hunk has to have a hat.")


Ulexite's common name is TV stone, Russ Stewart said. Here, he shows how he can use ulexite as a sort of magnifying glass.

He has a piece of ulexite, polished on both sides.

"Ulexite is my favorite mineral," Russ Stewart said.

The unique optical property of ulexite is that it transmits light along the long axis of the crystal by internal reflections, very much in the same way as in fiber optics, according Glendale Community College's Web site.

Miniature miner figurines stand ready to work with their pick axes on Stewart's prize rock -- It is an approximately12-inch-by-8-inch chunk of ulexite he took out of the Boron Mine in California.

The milky white crystal occurs with the mineral boron.

"Boron is what is in your toothpaste, carpet, and cleaning fluids," Russ said.

The results of a decade or so of rock collecting fill their front yard: flagstone, petrified wood, marble, quartz, black jade, granite, obsidian, agate, onyx and fossils.

A ceramic fish happily swims through a turquoise pond.


Russ Stewart is the current president of the Rimstones Rock Club. The club meets on at 3:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the meeting room at the Payson Public Library.

One of the features of the Stewart rock garden is a hefty chunk of onyx with holes called "vugs."

Another feature is the many fossils with ancient worm tunnels.

The metal and rock ants came from Mexico. They live on a mound of "chert" a.k.a. "weird limestone we collected off the Rim," Jimi Stewart said.

"Occasionally we will buy a stone, but it is not the same thrill as searching, and knowing, you found the rock," Jimi said.

She estimated 99 percent of their collection is rocks they have hounded.

"When we started, we wanted to collect every pretty rock we found," Jimi said.

"After a while we became more selective. You pick up one pretty piece, then see another one that is prettier," Russ added.

Her favorite Arizona rock-collecting site is Hewitt Canyon for marble; his is Joseph City for petrified wood.

"All kids like rocks," Russ said, so the couple has shared their hobby with the children who live next door, Cody and Vanessa Schuler.

"We have searched for igneous rocks," he said.

Thirteen-year-old Cody is a volunteer in the youth corner of the Rimstones Rock Club's show this year.

"I want my friends to come to the rock show, because there are going to be cool rubbings they can take of fossils, then they can take the pictures home," he said.


Jimi Stewart's favorite stones are garnets. She is holding a root beer (if mahogany sparkled, it would be this color) and deep red (sanguine) uncut/polished garnets from her collection.

Cody's favorite rock find is a piece of jasper from Custer, S.D. He also like the piece of obsidian the Stewarts gave him that they found in Oregon.

Rimstones Rock Club is definitely open to families," Russ said.

The 10th annual show will offer people the chance to learn the difference between needle and mahogany obsidian; see an agate that looks like a filet mignon; decide if they think blue sodalite looks like blue lapis (this reporter was fooled); and if the gold that sparkles is the real McCoy or pyrite (this reporter was not fooled).

Rimstones Rock Club 10th Annual Show

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13,

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 14

The show is at the Tonto Apache Reservation Recreation Center on Highway 87 (mile marker 251) by the Mazatzal Casino in Payson. General Admission $3, children under 12 w/adult, free.

Discount coupons available at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.

There will be display and sales of gems, minerals, fossils, fluorescents, jewelry and lapidary supplies.

The silent auctions are family friendly, with sections for youth and adults.

In the education corner, young rock hounds will be able to participate in fun activities.

Attendees will have chances to win door prizes.

Refreshments and homemade desserts will be available.

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