Two years ago a few Guffey residents asked geologist Steven Veatch to give a presentation on the small town’s geological history.
“I didn’t want to just give them something from a book,” he said. “But I was busy with teaching and didn’t have time to do the research. Then I thought that some of the Lake George Gem & Mineral Club members might want to help.”
That was how the club’s annual geological study program was born. When several of the members volunteered, Veatch gave them a crash course in historical research and assigned them jobs.
“I taught advanced Internet research using geology and history databases available at Colorado College,” he said. “These databases are expensive but CC makes them available to guests.”
The volunteers conducted research on old mines and in old documents, investigated the cemetery and took photos of interesting things in and around Guffey. They also went on field trips.
“They found a previously unknown obsidian deposit,” Veatch said. “They went to a natural spring near Guffey and measured its salinity, took its temperature and checked it for radioactivity. The closer they got to the spring the more clicks they heard. When they were right over it the Geiger counter went wild. Something that simple was new to science.”
The volunteers sent their findings to Veatch and he created a scientific paper with all of them listed as co-authors.
“These were truck drivers and housewives and they had their names on a scientific paper,” he said. “They were pretty excited.
Guffey residents also were excited to hear their geological history in several public presentations.
“We had a PowerPoint presentation in the Guffey town hall and it drew the biggest audience they’d ever had,” Veatch said.
The paper also was presented at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
“I know of no other rock or mineral club in the country that has done this,” Veatch said.
History repeated itself the following year with a geological study of Victor. Only that time the club used the study to help raise funds for the Lowell Thomas Victor Museum. The first presentation earned the museum $500 during Gold Rush Days. That paper also was presented to the New Mexico Institute, as well as to the Colorado Archeological Society.
“These studies are a blending of archeology, geology, history, minerals and mining,” Veatch said.
History is about to repeat itself again. The club has taken on the Alma Project to benefit the Alma Foundation and the Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative.
Volunteer assignments include museum, archival, library and Internet research; cemetery investigations, map research and creation; photography of mines, buildings, landscapes and mineral specimens; creating of original artwork and collecting oral histories from long-time residents.
As scientist in charge, Veatch will develop a research design that works and will ensure good scholarship. He is an adjunct professor in the Emporia State University earth science department and teaches special courses at Colorado School of Mines. He also directs VeatchGeoscience, a geology-based research organization.
Club Vice President Dan Alfrey is the study group’s operations manager. He has more than 10 years of geological field experience and is an expert in maps, mining claim evaluation, research planning and project management.
Not all club members are involved in the Alma study. Many have joined the club to learn more about local geology, socialize with people who share their interests, go on field trips and add specimens to their collections. For more information about the club, visit www.www.LGGMclub.org.