Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Maggie Schirack and Anna Stafford agree that the hundreds of rocks, minerals and fossils displayed at the Baker Heritage Museum constitute a world-class collection.

They concur on a couple other matters as well.

First, that the displays can be improved to make them more relevant, and educational, to museum visitors.

And second, that the recent collaboration between their two organizations is fortuitous.

Schirack is the museum’s director.

Stafford is a founder of the Baker Rockhounds, a group of local rock and mineral enthusiasts.

This winter the Baker Rockhounds were looking at potential places to have their monthly meetings, and the Heritage Museum, at 2480 Grove St., was mentioned as a possible option, Stafford said.

The idea was attractive, not least because the the musem has multiple rock collections, most notably the Cavin-Warfel Collection.

Two Baker City sisters, Mamie Cavin and Elizabeth Cavin Warfel, started the collection in the 1930s and added to it over 45 years. The Cavin-Warfel collection, all 18 tons of it, was donated to the Museum in 1983.

In discussing the use of meeting space with Schirack, Stafford said the question of revamping the Museum’s rock collections arose.

Schirack, who has a background in archaeology, said she figured the Baker Rockhounds would be a natural choice to help with the project.

She was right.

“This is a fantastic learning opportunity,” Stafford said.

She said that many of the Ba ker Rockhounds, though enthusiastic about their hobby, don’t have extensive knowledge of geology. The chance to work with the Museum’s extensive collections, which span many epochs of geologic history and include specimens from across the globe, is exciting, she said.

Some of the work is simple cataloging — replacing lost labels on individual items, for instance.

But the overall goal, both Schirack and Stafford said, is to refresh the displays to emphasize to visitors the unique geology of Baker County.

“What we’d like to do is organize the collections in a way that promotes local geology first and foremost,” Schirack said. “I’d like people to leave here and understand something about the local geology. Anna’s the right person for the job. I’m excited that (the Baker Rockhounds) are committed to the project.”

See more in the March 22, 2019, issue of the Baker City Herald.

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