Former guv’s moon rock going to Colorado School of Mines

The moon rock that long decorated former Gov, John Vanderhoof’s office at his home in Grand Junction is headed today to the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, which will take custody of the fingernail-sized lump of lunar material.

Vanderhoof said he decided to send it the School of Mines after speaking with Gov. Bill Ritter and Tillie Bishop, a longtime state legislator from Mesa County and now a University of Colorado regent.

“Gov. Ritter and I had a discussion about it and reviewed what they offered, which is just great,” Vanderhoof said Sunday.

The school will have custody of the rock, but Vanderhoof said he expects it will be sent to other parts of the state as officials see fit.

The School of Mines has a new museum in which the rock can be appropriately displayed, and it belongs at the Colorado School of Mines, Vanderhoof said, emphasizing the word, “Colorado.”

“This just fits,” Vanderhoof said. “The School of Mines is right for it, and they’re thrilled to death with it.”

The rock in Vanderhoof’s study came to attention earlier this month, when graduate students at the University of Phoenix began searching for rocks delivered to the 50 states and several countries in 1974.

It was one of many chunks brought to earth by astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, the last men to walk on the moon.

Vanderhoof received the rock as governor in 1974, and its twin is on display in the state Capitol.

Vanderhoof had originally voiced a preference for keeping the rock on the Western Slope, possibly with the Museum of Western Colorado, but that won’t occur, a disappointed museum Executive Director Mike Perry said.

“It doesn’t appear as if there are any other options at this point,” Perry said.


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