Do you know the history behind the Morrisonite Jasper?
We are blessed with a lot of really cool rocks in Oregon. Morrisonite Jasper is one of the most famous picture jaspers in the world right here in Oregon. It’s not really mined anymore, but we are fortunate that local jewelry designer Steve Wolf acquired a good amount of it and sets it in his gorgeous jewelry, including pendants, earrings, rings and brooches. We have quite a few available in the store.
The History of Morrisonite “The King of Jaspers” By Philip Stephenson www.RareRocksAndGems.com
In early spring 1947, Boise rock shop owner Dudley Stewart was prospecting in the Owyhee Breaks in the southeast corner of Oregon. While scouting, he came upon a small thin older gentleman living like a hermit in a one-room stone cabin along the Owyhee River. This was James Morison (no, it’s not misspelled. That’s the way he spelled his last name, unlike how it’s spelled today). Morison lived alone, never married and had no family. He eked out a subsistence living off the land on his ranch. In the months that followed their meeting, Dudley would often visit James while in the area and would take him back and forth to the store for supplies. They soon became good friends.
James Morison enjoyed looking for Indian artifacts and found many pictographs on the rocks near his ranch. This area of the Owyhee desert teemed with a great diversity of animal life and plants, which made it a favorite hunting ground for the Indians. One late fall day in 1947, Dudley was working one of the cliffs and James came by and said “Look at this rock! Make something out of it.” Dudley looked at the amazing colors and patterns and exclaimed, “Where did you get this?” James showed Dudley where he discovered the jasper and Dudley soon after coined the name “Morrisonite” in honor of his friend James Morison. The Morrisonite madness began with theMorrisonite Jasper.
As word got out, people began showing up as early as spring 1948 looking for this Morrisonite Jasper. Morison became irritated at all these unknown people starting to show up at his ranch. He was thinking about closing the area off completely. In 1950, Dudley remedied the situation by getting the word out that organized group rock hunting field trips would be made by the Boise Gem Club. Dudley was the club’s president and one of its founders. But as the interest in this Morrisonite Jasper increased, so did the tide of people, trespassers and profiteers.
As the years progressed, the claim owners changed hands a few times and mining became more intense. Blasting became necessary and heavy equipment was being used to wench the Morrisonite Jasper from the mountain and pinnacles. No one really knows what happened to Jim Morison. Morrisonite, its amazing colors, layered orbs, outstanding quality and high gloss finish make it the most sought after fine jasper in the world and the uncontested title of the “The King Of Jaspers.”
Excerpted from Morrisonite “The King of Jaspers” By Philip Stephenson www.RareRocksAndGems.com
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