John Scully’s fascination with rocks started when he was 2 years old picking up quartz in the creek behind his house in Pennsylvania. The fascination, he said, “never really stopped.”
Scully had samples of minerals from quartz to pieces of wood that had been naturally mineralized and petrified, replaced gradually in geologic time by copper, which he discovered in Cuba, New Mexico, near his current home in Española, New Mexico.
Scully, who retired from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, was among more than 60 vendors displaying their minerals, gems, jewelry and crafts made from minerals at the 66th annual Four Corners Gem & Mineral Show held Friday through Sunday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Organizers anticipated at least 3,000 people will have come through the doors to attend the show, the largest fundraiser for the Four Corners Gem & Mineral Club.
“When I retired, I started buying and selling gems and minerals from around the world,” Scully said. “It’s a great business because it doesn’t feel like work. My wife and I travel around the world, we just bought some minerals in Pakistan.
Susie Fisher, volunteer chairwoman organizing the show, said the event will help fund the annual $750 scholarship the club funds for a geology student at Fort Lewis College. In addition, it serves as the club’s chief fundraiser to cover its annual expenses
Randy Ferris, president of the Four Corners Gem & Mineral Club, said the club, located in the turquoise building at 2351 Main Avenue in Brookside Park, currently has about 200 members.
Club membership entitles a person to work in the club’s lapidary shop to cut, shape and polish rocks. The club also has a metalsmithing shop with tools for making jewelry, including casting and kilns. The club also holds open studio hours with stewards available to help tutor members on the use of equipment.
“We’ll have a little over 3,000 adults and kids come to the show. It’s good for the community. It brings people to town and a lot of vendors are from out of town,” Ferris said.
AJ LaFortune, an FLC graduate with a degree in geology, now operates his own gem and mineral business in Durango after working for a time in the oilpatch in the Permian Basin in west Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
After one of the busts in the Permian, LaFortune began his firm, Lafortunate Minerals, in Durango. He sells minerals and gems from his website, but he said most of his sales come from gem and mineral shows held around the country.
“Every time I get a chance, I’m up in the mountains looking for crystals,” LaFortune said. “I take care of my website, then I try to get into the mountains. It sustains me, and allows me to do what I love, going to find crystals.”