Rock hound heaven

41-Rock-I-A A vast array of brightly colored rocks and gems were available for sale from vendors adjacent to Mac Hall in Nyssa during the 51st annual Thunderegg Days celebration last week. (The Enterprise/John L. Braise)

By John L. Braese
Malheur Enterprise

NYSSA – Armed with cups of gas-station coffee and coolers full of water, a dozen rock aficionados – and some folks just curious about rocks – left Nyssa early last Friday morning.

Climbing into their own vehicles, they left in a convoy, driving toward the Succor Creek area for a morning’s worth of rock hounding. For the first time, Woody Weyerman, a retired school bus driver from Adrian, led the tour. For the past 65 years, Weyerman has made his own treks into the desert four or five times a year in search of the perfect crystals.

“I really don’t sell many of the rocks I find and cut and polish,” Weyerman said on one of the many tour stops. “I mostly just give away the rocks I have found to people that appreciate them.”

Last weekend, Weyerman’s group included a schoolteacher from Las Vegas and her husband, a family from Ontario, a rock enthusiast from Arizona, and a teenager from Idaho making the trip with her grandfather.

“I have piles of rocks at home,” Weyerman said. “I also look for artifacts of the people that used to live in this area. Finding just the right thing out here happens when just all the things come together in the right sequence.”

As the group took a break along the way, Weyerman discussed the differences and similarities found in the Succor Creek area compared to other areas in and around the county.

“The rocks and gems you find around Succor Creek are a lot like those found in the Leslie Gulch area,” said Weyerman. “But, they are completely different from those found in the Owyhee Canyon area which is not far from here at all. It just all depends on when and how the area was formed.”

Weyerman said he plans to continue conducting the tours for years to come.

“I had a lot of fun showing people what is available out there and helping them identify the rocks they find,” he said. “I would love to do this next year again.”

For those looking for rock treasures without the physical exertion of the Succor Creek tour, Nyssa’s 51st annual Thunderegg Days offered options last weekend.

Vendors outside the Nyssa Elementary School offered the chance to pick up the perfect rock for a price. The number of vendors was up this year, according to Scott McGinnis, president of the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce.

“We filled the area this year,” McGinnis said. “Numbers were up for the vendors, but especially for those vendors dealing with rocks and gems. That is what the festival is all about, so we are pleased to see more vendors coming in with gems.”

McGinnis also said the numbers were up for the tours to Succor Creek. With the temperatures more tolerable this year, the fest also drew good crowds to enjoy the bands on the stage throughout the three-day run.

Patrons looking for eye-catching cars instead of eye-catching rocks got their fill at the Thunder in the Streets car show, Saturday at South Park. The event marked the 22nd year for the car show, with vehicles from both Oregon and Idaho making the trip to Nyssa for the day.

As the show wound down for the day, prizes in a number of categories were handed out.

“This year was very successful and we are starting the planning for next year’s Thunderegg Days,” McGinnis said. “We want to thank everyone that came out and supported us this year and look forward to seeing everyone next year.”