It was a perfect day for a road trip as a small group of us headed north to La Center. The Hall Museum consists of a private collection of rocks and minerals accumulated over more than 40 years. The building this collection is displayed in was built specifically for that purpose and based on what we saw in the rough rock area… it will need to be expanded before everything can be displayed.
Richard and Bernice Hall greeted us when we arrived and gave us a personal tour of not only the main display hall, but also the rough rock storage areas and machine shops.
The main hall featured cut and polished rock slabs, spheres, carvings, crystals, petrified wood and cabs. The sphere collection was perhaps my favorite part. I saw beautiful spheres of stone that I had never seen before as well as spheres of truly impressive size. The sliced agate displays were back-lit and showed off the fantastic colors and patterns beautifully. There was a large number of cut and polished thunder eggs and plenty of large slabs of petrified wood.
The main room of the museum was also lined with the trophies and awards that this collection has garnered over the years. I didn’t count them, but there must have been over 100.
Another room just off the main one held Richard Halls impressive fluorescent mineral display. He spent some time showing how these minerals reacted to short and long wave light and the fantastic colors they gave off.
During the tour we visited several machine shops and saw that Richard has the ability to work with most any size and type of material and can manufacture some truly complex things. His main shop held a fork-lift, large lathe, drill press, various sanding, grinding and punching machines and much, much more. The rock shop had rock saws of various sizes including a massive one that had a blade about 8’ long. In the rough-rock storage buildings (yes, there was more than one), I know there was more than one drooling rock-hound and several requests for a price quote of some of the ‘old Stock’ rough. But Richard wasn’t selling.
We all enjoyed lunch in the spacious dining room adjacent to the main hall. Bernice Hall had prepared a large spread for us that included home-made lasagna, plenty of breads, chips, dips, veggies, cakes and cookies. Dorothy Snook’s Swedish Meat Balls were a big hit too.
It was a truly impressive collection and a fun and educational day for all of us. We left inspired to expand and improve our own collections.
– Mitch Metcalf