John Kilgore

John Kilgore, Phoenix Outdoors Correspondent

If you want to be inspired about the possibilities of rock and mineral collecting, you need to look no further than the Elsing Museum at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, referred to as “God’s Natural Art Museum”.

The late Willard Elsing collected rocks for more than 80 years and had opened a rock and mineral shop on Route 66 in Joplin, Mo., in the 1950’s.

 In an article after his death, The Mineralogical Record magazine noted, “As a young boy, Willard became fascinated with all sorts of local collectibles, including arrowheads, ethnic artifacts, rocks and (especially) minerals.”

Building his collection on minerals and rocks of the Tri-State Lead and Zinc Mining area, miners would bring him rare finds which added to the variety of his collection.

By trading and buying, he built his collection to span exquisite specimens from around the world.

The Elsing Museum was moved to the grounds of University Village Retirement Home in Tulsa in the mid-1970s. Elsing lived on site and gave guided tours to anyone who came through the front door.

In 2001, the collection was transferred onto the ORU campus and was organized to be an educational resource for the public.

The Elsing collection includes over 3,000 specimens of spectacular minerals, gems, fossils, Native American artifacts and Oriental carvings. The carvings range from intricately sculpted ivory pieces to jade, open and even cork.

Approximately 200 different mineral species are represented from regional Oklahoma varieties to rare specimens from around the world. Special exhibit rooms are set aside for fluorescent minerals and delicate carvings.

Admission is free and the Elsing Museum is open 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and also by appointment. Contact the museum at 918-495-6262. The website is

If you would like to visit a club of rockhounds, there are two upcoming shows scheduled in Oklahoma.


August 23rd-24this theannual show of the Tahlequah Rock & Mineral Society. It will be held at the Tahlequah Community Center Building, 909 S. College Ave; Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, contact Elizabeth Spinks, PO Box 932, Tahlequah, OK 74465-0932.


On October 26th -27th:  In OKC, the annual show of the Oklahoma Mineral & Gem Society; State Fair Park, 608 Kiamichi Place, Modern Living Bldg.; Sat. 9-6, Sun. 10-5; adults $6, free admission for children under 12. Contact Doug Pollitt, at 405-719-8477 or email and the website is .


 The basic mission of each group is to promote earth science and study it through gems, minerals and


fossils. Some member interests include paleontology, fossil collecting, geology, mineral collecting,


 lapidary arts, faceting, stonecarving, knapping, gems, gem trees, making jewelry, including channel 


work, silversmithing, goldsmithing, wire wrap, beads, and more.


If you’re looking for a new outdoor hobby, rockhounding may be for you.


Reach John Kilgore at

React to this story: