Pioneer Auto in Murdo, South Dakota Houses Unique Rock Collection

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Pioneer Auto in Murdo, South Dakota is renowned for its amazing collection of vintage cars and memorabilia. There is another sort of collection also located at the museum — the National Rockhound Hall of Fame and Lapidary. This fossil, gem, and rock collection includes many rare and unique finds of mineralology.

The National Rockhound and Lapidary Hall of Fame was founded in 1987 by June Culp Zeitner to recognize excellence in the earth sciences by inducting one or more persons each year in six categories: Minerals, Fossils, Metal Craft, Lapidary, Education and Tribute (Deceased). At this time there are inductees representing 44 states. All of the inductees are experts in their fields. Many of them have published several books and most of them have been active in community service.

"This is a dream for anyone who is interested in rock collecting or geology," said Dave Geisler Sr., owner of Pioneer Auto. "We are honored to have this one of a kind collection here at Pioneer Auto."

Included on display are agates, copper minerals, petrified wood, and even a sloth claw fossil — the largest sloth claw ever found. It is quite a bit more than ‘just a rock collection.'

Why in Murdo, South Dakota? June Culp Zeitner, a longtime South Dakota resident, was a world renowned mineralologist and a great contributor to the study of minerals and fossils. She has written 12 books and over 1,000 articles on cutting and polishing stones, natural history and different rock collection methods. Zeitner was the founder of the State Stone Program, which enabled each state to select an official stone, mineral and fossil.

"June Zeitner was passionate about sharing her knowledge of rocks, gems and fossils," says Geisler Sr. "Her father-in-law never walked by a product of the earth without taking a closer look — and June followed right in his footsteps."

Dubbed "The First Lady of Gems" at the White House Rose Garden - during a ceremony to honor and thank June Culp Zeitner and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, Zeitner was a celebrity in her own right. During her lifetime she and her husband, Albert, amassed a significant amount of rocks, gems and fossils. Her writings on these finds would go on to earn her the award of the 2006 Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Mineralogical Award, which celebrates significant contributions to the science of mineralogy.

To learn more about this unique display at Pioneer Auto in Murdo, or for additional information about other exhibits, visit or call 605-669-2691.

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