Moon rock now tethered to Mines

The travels of Colorado’s wayward moon rock reached an end last week at the Colorado School of Mines, where it was locked away behind steel and glass.

There are no immediate plans for the rock to be taken to the highways and back roads of Colorado to be seen elsewhere, a spokeswoman for the Colorado School of Mines said.

“In the near term, because of all the recent publicity, people will expect to see the moon rock when they come to the Geology Museum, and we are pleased to display it for them,” Mines spokeswoman Marsha Williams said. “In the longer term, if there is a lot of interest, we may consider allowing the rock to travel to other secure public areas.”

That falls well short of what Museum of Western Colorado Executive Director Mike Perry had hoped to see.

“It’ll be a warm day on the moon before that rock travels to the rest of the state,” Perry said Friday.

Gov. Bill Ritter had no particular expectations about having the rock travel the state, though, said his spokesman, Evan Dreyer.

“If Mines wants to consider it, that’s great,” Dreyer said. “The important thing is that it’s now on display for the public to enjoy and learn from.”

Former Gov. John Vanderhoof, who said Friday he was comfortable having the rock on display at the Colorado School of Mines, previously voiced hope that the rock would be displayed in various parts of the state.

The moon rock had been displayed in Vanderhoof’s home office in Grand Junction for years, until student investigators working with a former NASA investigator began questioning why it wasn’t on public display.

The rock in Vanderhoof’s office and now in what The Denver Post described as a “vault-like display case” was one of a pair presented to Vanderhoof in 1974 by astronaut Jack Lousma.

Vanderhoof displayed the rock in the governor’s office, and he took it with him when his term expired. He displayed it in his home office in Grand Junction.

Underground dealers have sought as much as $5 million for similar rocks presented to the 50 states and 160 countries by President Nixon.

Vanderhoof, 88, surrendered the rock to Ritter, and it was the former governor who suggested that it go to Mines, Dreyer said.

Perry had wanted the rock to be on display in Grand Junction, on the Western Slope.

“We put in a strong bid to have it over here,” Perry said.

In Golden, the rock that Vanderhoof held for decades now is on display about a dozen miles from its twin, which hangs in the Colorado state Capitol in Denver.


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