Sheri Samson
Chelsea Thompson shares stories with a visiting customer who is also a prospector.

How does someone eat, sleep and dream rocks? Chelsea Thompson from the Rockchuck store in Schurz could tell you.

“I started off in San Diego working for the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) dealing with finished, cut diamonds, but I always wanted to know more. I learned a lot there and found a way to research gem stones, but I still wanted to step back into the raw materials and actually experience mining the rock from the earth with my own hands.”

Through a series of events, Thompson found her way to Mineral County which is where this young, perky woman resides and digs in secured mines locally. Petite in stature, her feisty attitude drives her to hike into rugged terrain with a backpack of tools to explore the unknown.

“We never know what we will find, so it is always an adventure. Our mines have yielded a lovely turquoise which we have named, Little Lady. We also mine a smoky citrine and there are two agates which we’ve named Hell’s Fire and Pearly Gates according to the color layers. They have an amazing yield when cut into slabs and once polished. Each one is different like a landscape.”

This little lady has also altered her lifestyle in a new direction from her San Diego upbringing. She now raises pigs, chickens and eats her own naturally grown vegetables, sharing the overflow with locals that stop by. Thompson keeps a following on her Facebook page, as she is continually sharing her experiences from mining to the country life, with a growing interest of popularity. Thompson sees it as her way of connecting other’s to an unusual way of life which she respects and is devoted to.

Thompson explained her intense passion for the small independent miners, such as herself and her partner, John Keady. Both have been consistent in sharing a variety of rock specimens to visitors, yet their love is predominantly for the Nevada mined products. Sharing minerals and stones with various other prospectors, geologists and environmentalists has found them a niche, so the stories can be shared. As one visiting prospector stated, “these two at Rockchuck are wonderful people and we support them as much as they support us.”

The balance between mining, selling online and preparing the many product lines has created a busy schedule. Within the store’s glass cases are custom jewelry selections, cut gem stones, decorative rocks and unique pieces personally designed and made on premises. Many other art decor and rock pieces are also for sale. A treasure chest sits at the entrance so children can pick out a free polished stone. Thompson enjoys educating tourists and visitors about the rocks and giving hands-on experience to anyone that stops by.

The storefront itself is an interesting shopping environment, with an indoor waterfall, custom rock work and various items of interest. Mining books are available, as well as many gift items which render a price for every budget. For questions or availability, Thompson can be reached at Rockchuck Gem and Mineral Gallery, located along Highway 95 at the Schurz/Yerington turnoff, or by calling 760-978-4567. Thompson also stated that local Mineral County residents can receive a discount at the shop location.