Volume 53 - Issue 1 - January 2020

Monongahela Rockhounds

A Pittsburgh Area Mineral, Fossil, & Lapidary Club


The Monongahela Rockhound News is a Monthly Publication of the

Monongahela Rockhounds,

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Volume 53, Issue 1,

January 2020

Visit us on the Web at: www.monongahelarockhounds.org


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Club News

By Frank DeWinter Our next meeting will be held this coming Saturday, January 4, 2020 at 7:30 pm, in the Munhall Borough Building.

  • Instead of a speaker, we will have a mineral related White Elephant Party.

  • Hosts for January will be: Gerry G & Gwen F.

  • January minerals: petrified wood & opal.

  • As the editor, I will make a motion in the January meeting to change our annual membership dues to keepthe present $10.00 for individual and $20.00 for families for membership where the newsletter is emailed only, but to add an additional $10.00 for either individual or family membership if the newsletter is to be mailed out. The present annual cost for copying and e-mailing out the newsletters for each member who requests is about $35.00 annually so the $10.00 would only partially offset the costs.



For Club members who have not participated previously, we feel confident in saying it was a lot of fun and a huge success. For new members and last year’s non-participants, let us say that now is your chance to join in and have some fun!

What is the White Elephant?

It is a gift exchange and a very entertaining event. If you plan to participate, please bring your gift wrapped or in a gift bag ready to go! The gift could be something like one of the following:

  • Mineral or fossil specimen

  • Cabochon

  • Faceted gemstone

  • Jewelry item

  • Related subject book

  • Field tool

​There will be two tables – one for adults, and one for junior members. The price range for the gifts should be $20 maximum value for the adults, and $10 maximum value for junior members. ​

How does the White Elephant work?

The number of gifts will be totaled from the number of participants for each table. That many numbers will be put in two containers, and players from each table will draw a number at random to determine the order of when they come up to the table to pick a gift or steal one from someone who went before them. When everyone has a number, we start with one and call the numbers in order. When number one is called, the person with that number chooses a gift from the table and opens it for all to see. The number two is called next, and the person having that number has a choice. They can either steal number one’s gift or choose a gift from the table and open it for all to see. If a gift is stolen from someone, that person chooses another gift from the table and opens it for all to see. You can only steal a gift when your number is called. A gift may only be stolen three times, then it becomes property of the last person to steal it. The process continues until all participants have a gift. We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be another incredibly fun and unique club meeting! ​ - Gerry Gagorik


Dues are Due!

The new year is here, and that means that memberships need to be renewed. Dues are $10 for an individual, and $20 for families. Please bring your check to the next regular meeting. We also need a signed membership form with present e-mail address and contact numbers to keep our records current, plus for insurance coverage.

Note: There will be a discussion in the January meeting over a possible additional $10.00 fee for those who want a printed and mailed newsletter to partially cover additional costs.

If you joined after September 1st, 2019, your membership is valid through December 2020.


January 2020 Meeting

• No Presentation. Mineral Related White Elephant Party instead!

• "Rock of the Month" will be Petrified Wood & Opal

• Hosts will be Gerry G & Gwen F WHEN

Jan 04, 2020, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EST


Munhall Borough Building, 1900 West St, Munhall, PA 15120, USA


Meeting Minutes

2 November 2019

By Debbie Thompson

The presentation was by Albert Hines on “Marine Fossils of the Central Basin of Tennessee.”

Show-and-Tell was tourmaline: • The following people showed a lot of really nice tourmaline: JoAnne, Gerry, Albert, Bret, Terry. • Don showed faceted tourmaline and imperial jasper. • Mallary showed gold that she extracted from garbage (her article was in the November 2019 Newsletter).

Business Meeting:

  • Children were given Epidote from Morocco.

  • Election of Officers--the following officers were elected:

  • President - Johanna Burnett

  • 1st Vice President - Bret Howard

  • 2nd Vice President - Debbie Braddock

  • Secretary - Debbie Thompson

  • Newsletter Editor - Frank DeWinter

  • Webmaster - Emmalyn Ilagan

  • Guests: Bennet and Brian

  • New Members: Shawn

  • Upcoming Events:

  • Christmas Party on December 7th!

  • Same caterer and same menu as before.

  • Remember time is earlier than usual--starting time is 5:30 - 6:00 pm.

  • Bring a dessert.

  • Bring better quality items for the auction.

  • Bring inexpensive items for the Rocko prizes.

  • Upcoming trips: None.

  • Hosts for January: Gerry, Gwen.

  • January minerals: petrified wood, opal.

  • January newsletter contributor: June.

  • Speaker for January: None. Mineral-related, White Elephant Party instead!

  • February Speaker: Johanna.


General Information

Monongahela Rockhounds PO Box 18063 Pittsburgh, PA 15236 www.monongahelarockhounds.orgMission Statement

  • To promote, among its members and the general public, an interest in collection of minerals, fossils, and associated items.

  • To promote their use in lapidary work.

  • To promote the study and classification of minerals, gem stones and other items of such nature.


  • Member: Eastern Federation of Mineralogical and Lapidary Societies, Inc.

  • Member: American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Inc.

Meeting Location Munhall Borough Building 20th Ave. & West Street Munhall, PA 15120


​Club Officers

President Johanna Burnett ​ 1st Vice-President Bret Howard ​ 2nd Vice-President Debbie Braddock ​ Treasurer Tony Orzano ​ Record Secretary Debbie Thompson ​ Silent Auction Debbie Braddock ​ Board of Directors June Epp Donald Laufer Frank DeWinter Webmaster Emmalyn Ilagan webmaster@monongahelarockhounds.orgNewsletter Editor Frank DeWinter editor@monongahelarockhounds.org


We normally meet the first Saturday of every month from September through June at 7:30 pm, in the Munhall Borough Building for a presentation, business meeting and a chance to socialize. There is a major focus on the younger members of our club with portions of the meeting specifically for school aged children.Our next meeting will be on Saturday, January 4, 2020. The February meeting will be on the 1st.


Monongahela Rockhound News is the official newsletter of the Monongahela Rockhounds.

Disclaimer & Release: To the best of our knowledge, all articles and information presented in this newsletter are true, accurate and free of copyright infringement. The Monongahela Rockhounds is not responsible for the usage of the information contained in the newsletter. The Monongahela Rockhounds hereby grants other non-profit organizations the right to republish articles in this newsletter for non-commercial usage as long as complete source credit is given, unless noted otherwise.

Deadline: The editor welcomes any and all contributions to the newsletter. Please provide articles and any other submissions for publication at least 2 weeks prior to the upcoming meeting to be considered for inclusion in that month’s issue.

Please e-mail any newsletter articles to the editor's e-mail: editor@monongahelarockhounds.org


Old Mineral Cleaning Tips From the 60's

Reprinted from EFMLS news November 2019, By Larry Huffman from August 2019 Tar Heel Rockhound

I found these in an old “How to Clean Minerals” booklet published by West Essex Mineral Club dated 1968. I have checked and all the products listed are still available.

Crystals (Non-water Soluble)

Use a solution of “Dip-it,” a coffee pot cleaner. Cover the mineral with the solution, then heat it and allow to cool. Scrub the crystals and rinse in clear water. “Polydent,” a dental cleaner, can also be used. Add one teaspoon of the Polydent to each cup of water. To clean fragile crystals, or those hard to reach recesses in some mineral specimens, use “Crew,” a product of Johnson Wax Company. Just spray it on so the foam covers all the area. Let it set for a few minutes and then rinse with water. Works on fluorite and calcite and other non-water soluble crystals. ​ A detergent bath does not always remove all saw oil. Use “Fuller’s Earth,” place a slab or specimen in it—it absorbs all oil. ​


“Oxalic acid” mix with warm water, then immerse the specimen and allow to stand overnight, then rinse in clear water after removing the solution. ​ “Tartaric acid: in crystal form, mix in warm water then immerse in solution overnight. Then rinse in clear water After removing from solution. Tartaric is stronger than Oxalic acid but milder than Hydrocholoric acid.​

Crystals (Non-water Soluble)

Use a solution of “Dip-it,” a coffee pot cleaner. Cover the mineral with the solution, then heat it and allow to cool. Scrub the crystals and rinse in clear water. ​ REMEMBER – No chemical injury is due to “accident” or “bad luck,” it is caused by carelessness!!!


2020 Dig With The Experts Penn Dixie Fossil Park: Blasdell, NY

https://penndixie.org/dig-with-the-experts/ Join us for our signature fossil dig — Dig with the Experts! This is our very popular, once yearly opportunity to unearth the best, most complete, and most unexpected fossils at Penn Dixie. We’ll have equipment do the heavy lifting and scientific experts on site to help with locating and identifying the best fossils. You’ll have to do your share of splitting and digging, of course, but you’re guaranteed to find something cool and interesting. ​ Saturday, May 16: 9 am to 4 pm Sunday, May 17: 9 am to 4 pm Monday, May 18: 9 am to 4 pm (limited staffing) Expert volunteers — including scientists, leading fossil collectors, and experts on local geology — will lead the dig in a freshly excavated section of the Lower Windom Shale and will demonstrate how to find Devonian Period trilobites, cephalopods, fish remains, brachiopods, corals, wood, and a range of other marine invertebrates. Thanks to our experts — all volunteer collectors and paleontologists who travel to Penn Dixie to share their time and knowledge — we are celebrating our 16th dig and in 2020! Saturday participants will receive a special commemorative gift.

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