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Rockhound Stories That Rival Fish Tales – Episode 2

Red Jasper flourishes in Southern Arizona near the Mexican Border and west of Fort Huachuca, a very old Calvary Post, famous for the Buffalo Soldiers and housing Geronimo after his surrender. It was in the attached town, Sierra Vista, where I went to high school.

Rough Red Japer

 

A friend and I were incurable rockhounds, spending just about every weekend looking for the perfect gems to cut and polish. Red Jasper was always boring to me since it was everywhere. Now, nearly 70 later, I realize its inherent beauty and popularity in the world.

But my buddy convinced me we needed to go hike around Washington Camp, a played-out gold mine, where the stone was plentiful. The first thing that I remember was putting blasting caps in cow patties and watching them explode over the pasture. Do not try this at home! If you would like to know more about blasting cap dangers, follow this link to a 1957 video of the dangers of blasting caps.

Cow patty
An honest-to-goodness Arizona desert cow patty, ripe for exploding.

We often thought of doing that at school, but somehow we never got around to it. Some of the area was very flat but there were lots of hills off to the side. On this day when we were plaguing the countryside with our pranks, we came across a herd of wild pigs (javelina). We started throwing rocks and generally annoying them. For some reason, they didn’t appear to take too kindly to our gestures of “good humor” and started to chase us. If you are really interested, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum even has a recording of what they snort like!

Javelina

​Fortunately for us, there was a nearby tree that could hold our weight. Did you know how ugly and fierce a javelina can look when he is mad at you. OK, now that I have built up your suspense (can’t you just feel it?), the good news is that we preserved our lives that day…and the pigs just lost interest in us and moved on to another snack.

We collected that day nearly 100 lbs of red jasper. It was almost as plentiful as the cow patties. We did make it up to Washington Camp and discovered lots of other fun minerals. All in all, a perfect day for a teenager.

Rough Red Jasper
photo from azrockhound85902