Welcome to the Mineralogical Society of Arizona!

MSA, along with a Coalition of Rock & Gem Clubs, offer several fun and unique Field Trips throughout the year. We host many interesting Programs & Speakers and you are certain to meet new friends among our Rock and Mineral membership.

Refreshments are served at all MSA meetings and attendees have an exciting opportunity to win Great Mineral Raffle Prizes awarded to one Junior, one Adult, and one Visitor. Members who wear their MSA Name Badges to general meetings are also eligible for an additional raffle.

MSA participates in the annual Flagg Gem and Mineral Show in January, Tucson Gem & Mineral Show in February, Pinal Gem & Mineral Show and Minerals of Arizona Symposium in Spring, and Earth Science Day events in Fall.  We look forward to Exploring, Sharing, and Inspiring your participation in our hobby.

Check out the NEWSLETTER for information on meetings, field trips, and other events of interest to Mineralogists and Rockhounds of all ages.

ALERT!!! Be sure to check out MSA website under MSA CLUB for meeting location and time details. Click here for a printable meeting schedule. Meetings are held the second Thursday of the month, except as noted in the meeting schedule at Franciscan Renewal Center, 5802 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale‎ AZ‎ 85253.

New Meeting Format

Junior Members should arrive by 6:40 PM for Junior Education program starting at 6:45 PM.
All other Members can arrive at 7:00 PM with presentation starting at 7:30 PM.
Meetings are held the second Thursday of the month, except as noted in the meeting schedule.
Brief business meeting and raffle after the program, with Refreshments, Silent Auctions, and Buy/Sell/Trade Event.

Contact us via Email: MSAClub1935@msaaz.org

February 21, 2019 Program: “Red Cloud Mine & Update Mineral Collections in Arizona-II Supplement to M.R.” Presented by Mr. Les Presmyk

Our February 21st program will be presented by Les Presmyk on “Red Cloud Mine & Update Mineral Collections in Arizona-II Supplement to M.R.”  The program will explore the Red Cloud Mine, Arizona’s most well-known wulfenite locality and one of the top wulfenite localities in the world.  It has produced specimens that have been desired by collectors since the 1880s.

The Red Cloud mine is located in the southwest corner of the state, about 180 miles from Phoenix.  It is one of a dozen or so mines in the Silver District.  Today, most of the 180 miles is by paved freeways and highways and only the final 15 miles or so is on dirt and sandy roads.  The Red Cloud was originally claimed in 1862.  The mine was named after a nearby Spanish/Indian trail, not due to red wulfenite scattered on the surface.

The 1899 Territorial Governor’s report to Congress noted the silver production from this district and its wulfenite crystals.  Early mineral dealers like Foote and English both offered wulfenite specimens in the 1880s.  After active mining ended by 1890 very little specimen production is documented from here.  Ed Over changed all that in 1938 after his collecting partner Dr. Arthur Montgomery in seeing a specimen in the Carnegie Museum told Ed how good it was and that set Ed off to examine the property.

The mine then experienced another period of relative quiet.  Starting in the late 1950s but mainly in the 1960s and early 1970s numerous collectors started visiting the mine. By 1975 the stopes were pretty well full of broken muck, making it difficult to collect anywhere.  A short-lived mining operation for silver was initiated in 1979 and resulted in the stopes being emptied.
Then in 1995 Wayne Thompson purchased the mine at a sheriff’s sale.  Soon after an open pit operation was initiated to mine for wulfenite.  At the end of the first year a large pocket was hit, unlike anything ever experienced at the mine before or since. Mining continued for another two years and then the mine was sold to Collector’s Edge, which continued mining for another three years.  The mine is private property and is currently owned but is not operating.




Photo courtesy Les Presmyk.

WULFENITE Pb(MoO4), 3cm, Red Cloud Mine,
Trigo Mts., La Paz County, Arizona, USA;
Les Presmyk Collection, © Jeff Scovil.


Les grew up in our club and sharped his collecting & competitive edge at MSA as a junior member before advancing to regional and national platform to compete and win at several major gem & mineral shows across the United States.  He is a renowned collector, mineral dealer, competitive exhibitor and judge, lecturer, and author.  He is recipient of prestigious 2017 Carnegie Mineralogical Award Medal, 2014 inductee into MSA Hall of Fame, an MSA Milestone Life Member, MSA President 1989 and 1990, recipient of A. L. Flagg Lifetime Achievement Award. He is founding member of University of Arizona Museum Foundation 2006-present.  Chairman of our sister organization Flagg Mineral Foundation 1996-2002.  Tucson Gem & Mineral Society Vice President 2017-present, Tucson Gem & Mineral Show®; Committee member 1987-present, Competitive Exhibits and Judging Chair 1987-present, Saturday Night Chairman 2004-present. He earned his BS in Mining Engineering from University of Arizona 1975. Les worked at Miami Copper Company 1970-1975, Magma Copper Company 1976-1987 and recently retired as Principal Mine Engineer at Salt River Project 1987-2018. He co-authored Collecting Arizona 2012 and numerous publications on Arizona type localities in Rocks & Minerals.



56 years of collecting, starting at the age of 10.  Started field collecting at 11 and went underground for the first time at 17.

Long-time competitive and non-competitive exhibitor, supporting local, regional and national shows.
· Five AFMS National Trophies
· Seven California and Rocky Mt. Federation Trophies
· Tucson Gem and Mineral Show - One Desautels and two Lidstrom Trophies, four Bideaux Trophies, Best of Show and numerous Best of Species awards.
· Denver Gem and Mineral Show – Three Pearl Trophies (best single specimen), several Best of Species, Shorty Witters Award (best exhibit in show).
· Exhibitor and supporter of other local shows, including the Mineralogical Society of Arizona, Flagg Mineral Foundation, Gila County Gem and Mineral Club, and Arizona Mineral Minions.

· Collecting Arizona – published January, 2012 – Co-Author
· Rocks & Minerals
· Red Cloud mine, Nov-Dec, 1997 – Author
· Brushy Creek mine, Jan-Feb, 1997 – Author
· Mining History of Arizona, Jan-Feb. 2012 – Author
· Minerals of the Americas – 2008 book – contributor
· Mammoth-St. Anthony Mine, Tiger, Arizona Chapter – Co-author
· Bisbee, Ray, and Morenci – edited and proof-reader


San Francisco mine, near Cucurpe, Sonora, Mexico       August 1993 to January 1995
Underground mining project for wulfenite specimens.  Surveyed and mapped existing underground mine workings and new decline. 

·Red Cloud mine, La Paz County, Arizona
December 1995 to May 2001 
Open pit mine for wulfenite specimens.  Responsible for all phases of the mine including the mine plan, training and safety. Arranged and conducted field trips for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society, the Mineralogical Society of Arizona, the Arizona Mineral and Mining Museum Foundation, the Albuquerque Gem & Mineral Society and the Los Angeles Gem & Mineral Guild.

Sunshine #6 Claim, Yavapai County, Arizona
September 1996 to May 1997 
Discovery made by prospectors with metal detectors.  Cleaned and marketed the gold specimens to collectors and museums.

Diamond Point, Gila County, Arizona
May 1998 to January 2003 
A small open pit to produce matrix specimens of quartz, calcite and barite while complying with National Forest regulations and successfully reclaiming the mined areas.  Opened the project to field trips to members of the Mineralogical Society of Arizona, the Arizona Mineral and Mining Museum Foundation and the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society.

Fat Jack claim, Yavapai County, Arizona
November 2000 to May 2002 
A small open pit specimen project requiring rewriting the Plan of Operations to allow for continuing operations within the Prescott National Forest.


Mineral of the Month: MILLERITE - NiS By Dr. Ray Grant and Chris Whitney-Smith

Mineral of the Month for February is millerite, nickel sulfide, NiS. It is hexagonal, color is pale brass-yellow with a metallic luster, and the hardness is 3 – 3.5. It is commonly slender crystals to hair-like masses, which is the best way to identify it although pyrite can be fibrous also.

It is a low temperature mineral, found in cavities in limestone, carbonate veins and in barite. Nickel is not a common element in Arizona and millerite has only been found here associated with the breccia pipes on the Colorado Plateau. So far it has been found at two pipes mined for uranium, the Orphan Mine on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and the Hack Canyon Mine in Mohave County. At least 8 different nickel minerals have been found in the breccia pipes, but the total concentration of nickel is too low to be economic.

Members are invited to bring one sample from their collection of the mineral of the month and give a brief story about where they collected it or something about the specimen.

***Unknown minerals for identification can still be brought to the meetings***


MILLERITE, NiS, 9cm (4cm spray) Sterling Mine,
Antwerp, Jefferson County, New York, USA;
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Collection,
Ex. Frederick Canfield, © Chip Clark.

MILLERITE, NiS, 7.4cm, US highway 27 roadcut,
Halls Gap, Lincoln County, Kentucky, USA;
Harris Precht Collection, © Jeff Scovil.
























Visiting Mineralogists & Rockhounds, please get in touch with us!

Trade Minerals
Members please feel free to bring minerals for trade to next MSA meeting.

The Rules of Etiquette
From Rockhound Record 1942

At the risk of seeming impertinent, exhibitors of minerals will provide good insurance to specimens if they will display, in a prominent place on their exhibit, the rules of etiquette:

1. Never pick up a piece of material unless it is handed to you by the owner.

2. Always handle carefully – as many specimens are valuable and cannot be replaced.

3. If you cannot see the specimen well, ask the owner to show it to you.

Membership Dues are Due!

Please pay at the next meeting or mail to Mineralogical Society of Arizona, 5533 E. Bell Road Suite 101, Scottsdale, AZ 85254.
Membership form & dues amounts are on website under MSA CLUB tab.

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New MSA Commemorative Pin

Designed by Chris Whitney-Smith, one of our members, in commemoration of MSA's 75th Anniversary in 2010. 

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Mineralogical Society of Arizona
5533 E. Bell Road
Suite 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Member of the Rocky Mountain Federation of Mineralogical Societies
Member of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies

Last Modified May 30, 2017 by Ron Ginn


Mineral logo photo courtesy of Jeff Scovil.

website by Rock Dog

©2008-2017 Mineralogical Society of Arizona