Museum would like moon rock, chief says

Man who's had it for 35 years says that's OK, if it stays on West Slope

The moon rock that has graced the Grand Junction study of former Colorado Gov. John Vanderhoof ought to be displayed at the Museum of the West, the museum head said.

Vanderhoof is agreeable to the idea, he said, as long as there’s a way to meet his twin goals of keeping the rock on the Western Slope and paying appropriate tribute to Colorado’s space-program connections.

“Clearly this is the place it should be,” said Mike Perry, executive director of the Museum of Western Colorado, which includes the Museum of the West in downtown Grand Junction. “We would be thrilled to have it.”

The rock, encased in plastic and mounted on a plaque, has a twin on display in the state Capitol in Denver. Both were presented to Vanderhoof in 1974, during his tenure as governor.

Vanderhoof brought the rock west with him when he moved to Grand Junction, and he said it belongs on the west side of the state.

“I want to keep it on the West Slope,” Vanderhoof said. “What I would like to do is something on the West Slope honoring the space program.”

An effort by Joseph Gutheinz, a professor at the University of Phoenix in Texas, to have his students find missing moon rocks focused attention this week on Colorado’s missing rock.

“This has been one of the most interesting moon rock stories I have encountered,” said Gutheinz, a former special agent with the Office of Inspector General for NASA. And having worked undercover to recover the Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock, “I have come across a number of interesting stories,” he said.

Making the moon rock available on the Western Slope seems like a good idea, Gutheinz said.

“The moon rock belongs to the citizens of Colorado and their children, and by the governor coming forward now, they will get a chance to appreciate this extraordinary gift to Colorado,” he said.

Vanderhoof said he also wants to make sure any plan for the rock passes muster with the Colorado Historical Society.

As for the rock, it’s now in safekeeping and no longer in his office, Vanderhoof said.

“It’s safely not with me,” he said.


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