Paris mines, Frank Perham featured at 22nd annual Maine Mineral Symposium May 13-15

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AUGUSTA — Two Paris mines and a famous West Paris miner take center stage Saturday at the 22nd annual Maine Mineral Symposium.

Tourmaline, Maine’s state gemstone, is this year’s theme for the three-day educational event Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, at the Senator Inn on Western Avenue in Augusta.

At 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Dennis Durgin, who is mining the Mount Marie Quarries in Paris, will talk about their history, geology and finds made there.

Durgin is expected to discuss some of the rare minerals he has found, including a unique sapphire blue-colored tourmaline.

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“In the opinion of many people who have seen it, this stuff is as good as blue tourmaline gets,” Woodrow “Woody” Thompson of the Maine Geological Survey stated Tuesday by email.

One of the finest specimens ever found at one of the state’s premier mine sites will be part of a presentation on recent mineral discoveries at Mount Mica in Paris Hill, Thompson said.

That presentation by Gary Freeman, mine owner and operator, starts at 2 p.m. Saturday.

In conjunction with the Maine State Museum, Freeman will discuss recent discoveries made at Mount Mica, “the most prolific tourmaline-producing mine in Maine,” Thompson said.

The famous Mount Mica site was discovered nearly 200 years ago, yet through Freeman’s efforts, continues to yield “an abundance of superb mineral specimens and gem tourmalines,” he said.

The mine owner’s recent finds include multicolored tourmalines, including “a big gemmy crystal perched on quartz crystal,” one of the best examples of Maine tourmaline to be found recently, Thompson said.

After Freeman’s talk, William Simmons will pay tribute at 3 p.m. to legendary Maine pegmatite miner Frank Perham of West Paris.

Pegmatite is a coarse-grained, igneous rock in which gems such as tourmaline are found, Thompson said.

Perham will be honored with a retrospective and tribute that will focus on his contributions to the field of mineralogy.

Simmons and his wife, Karen Webber, are instructors at the annual Maine Pegmatite Workshop, which will be held from May 28 through June 3 in Poland.

Thompson said Webber and Simmons go on mineralogical expeditions around the world and both teach at the University of New Orleans.

At 7 p.m. Friday in the Embassy/State Room, Webber will present “A Visit to the Pegmatites in Central Argentina.”

Other speakers include Thompson, who at 10 a.m. Saturday will share his own experience visiting mines and mineral collections in Cornwall, England; and well-known mineralogical author Van King will talk about his new book, “Nature’s Garden of Crystals.”

King’s book focuses on internationally famous mineral collections.

The symposium is organized by the Maine Geological Survey under the Maine Department of Conservation and a volunteer committee. Thompson said it’s not a commercial rock show, but rather an educational forum.

“The symposium always is a mix of interesting talks, exhibits, vendor displays and field trips,” he said. “And there have been some good things found in the past year or two. There will be some fantastic material on display and to talk about.”

“This is a great opportunity to see Maine minerals and learn more about them,” Robert Marvinney, Maine state geologist and Maine Geological Survey director, said Tuesday.

Field trips are always undertaken on the last day of the event. Details are announced at the symposium.

Registration for the symposium is $20 a person. It’s required for entrance to dealers, talks and all other symposium activities and starts at 3 p.m. Friday in Room 102 of the Congressional Wing.

For more information, visit www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/explore/minerals/symposium.htm.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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