Sunday, January 16, 2011

Denim hats: Brought to you by America's mining companies

Aside from the stack of postcards of open pit mines around the state, there are two things I took away from the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum: 1) rocks are cool, and 2) mining is great.

Located in a stately historic building just blocks from the capitol building, the Mining and Mineral Museum has always been high on my list of local Phoenix museums to visit. Add to that the fact that I had a pretty sweet rock collection as a kid, and you've got the makings of a great field trip. So on a whim, a couple friends and I set out to explore the wonders of Arizona's mines and minerals.

As might be expected, this museum has lots of rocks. Probably more rocks than I've ever seen in one place. Except maybe my backyard. We're talking shelves and shelves of rocks, all nicely displayed and labeled in glass cases. I had no idea there were so many varieties of quartz. Even amethyst is a type of quartz. Who knew? I'll include pictures of some of the nicer rocks below. Words really can't do them justice.

The sheer volume of minerals on display was great, but the centerpiece of the museum's collection has got to be the dinner table, featuring all manner of "foods" that, upon closer inspection, turn out to be, you guessed it--rocks! There's steak surrounded by a variety of veggies. A rock hamburger with rock ketchup and rock relish. Rock pies, rock fruits, rock bacon, and even, um, a rock pumpernickel roll?

But the Mining and Mineral Museum isn't just about rocks. It's also about all the wonderful stuff we get from minerals. Stuff like toasters and teakettles...

Borax and horse stall refresher...

Asbestos and telephones...

And... denim hats?

You know what else is made of minerals? Fossils! Like the fossils that might one day be formed by these dinosaurs.

The philistines among you might balk at the $2 admission price for this mineralogical wonder, but check it out: that price includes free rocks (three per visitor, please).

At this point, you might be thinking, "I really like rocks. And who could live without all the great stuff made from rocks? But don't most rocks live underground? How did they get all the way up to the surface?" The answer: mining. Specifically, mining companies. Now, you may have heard rumors about mining companies doing harmful things to the environment or being bad to their workers, but the guys in hard hats on the museum's videos will tell a different story--look, we're blowing stuff up! And check out all these denim hats!

One other important lesson from this museum tour: Rose Mofford, Arizona's 18th governor, was batshit crazy. How else can you explain all the crap she collected over the years, now lovingly displayed in the museum's Rose Mofford Gallery? A turquoise fiddle. Mother Teresa's microphone. A Pope crossing sign. And a truckstop-load of general Southwestern kitsch.

So I guess there's one final important lesson to be learned at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum: our current batshit crazy governor is simply carrying on a proud tradition. And that may be the most important lesson of all...

(As promised, here's a selection of photos of really cool rocks. And if you're interested in learning more about some sort of mysterious political intrigue going on behind the scenes at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, check out this blog.)

1 comment:

  1. maybe i only know this because at some point i was somewhat familiar with fashion, but that denim hat is stone-washed. that's a very important part of our culture. get with it. besides stone-washed jeans will be back in in a decade or so.