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Rockhounding the District of Columbia

The District of Columbia – with the exception of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History – is a poor area for rockhounding.  The National Museum of Natural History, however, is an extraordinary resource.  Simply the best museum for rockhounders in North America.



Rockhounding Resources

State-specific rockhounding books (including the books listed here as well as other books), regional rockhounding site guides, and other helpful rockhounding resources are identified - by category - in the Books & Gear section of Gator Girl Rocks with a link to the Gator Girl Rocks Amazon Store where you may easily browse selected resources and securely place an order.  Your order will benefit Charity Rocks!

DC Fossils – Fossils In the Architecture of Washington, DC
Website identifies fossils in public buildings/structures in Washington, D.C.

  • Jasper Burns, Fossil Collecting In the Mid-Atlantic States (1991).
  • John Means, Roadside Geology of Maryland, Delaware, and Washington DC (2010).
  • Floyd & Helga Oles, Eastern Gem Trails (1967).


Museums of Interest to Rockhounders

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Mom and me … and a big 'ole Triceratops

Smithsonian – National Museum of Natural History
National Mall – Washington D.C.
The National Museum of Natural History, administered by the Smithsonian Institution, is located on the National Mall in Washington DC.  The museum has an enormous collection.  The museum’s exhibits include the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals (displaying specimens from the National Gem & Mineral Collection, the National Meteorite Collection, and the National Rock & Ore Collections) as well as the Hall of Dinosaurs , which displays numerous dinosaurs.  In short, the museum exhibits an astonishing display of rocks, minerals, gemstones, gems, fossils, and meteorites. I've visited the National Museum of Natural History several times.  It is one of my favorite museums.

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I'm six … the dinosaur would be older.  Notice that mom is more dignified in the museum than dad.

Smithson Crypt

James Smithson's remains are entombed at the Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian owes its existence to a British chemist named James Smithson.  Smithson was born James Lewis Macie in 1765 in France and was the unacknowledged son of Hugh Smithson, the first Duke of Northumberland.  Smithson adopted his father’s name and was deeply interested in chemistry and mineralogy.  He inherited a sizeable estate, but increased its value through shrewd investing.  Smithson died in Italy on June 27, 1829.  He left most of his estate to a nephew, but with a contingency that, should his nephew die without children, the estate would go to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”  When Smithson’s nephew died in 1836 leaving no heirs, the U.S. Congress accepted Smithson’s bequest – 104,960 English gold sovereigns.  The sovereigns were melted down and re-minted into U.S. coinage worth approximately $500,000.  Congress founded the Smithsonian Institution in 1846 as the national museum of the United States. 

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