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A Texas Treasure Hunt: Prospecting for Topaz in Mason, Texas

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To hunt topaz in Texas, especially the rare blue topaz found only in Mason County, prospectors need some basic equipment, lots of patience, and at least a moderate case of topaz fever.

I’ve come to Mason to seek a treasure. I bring my boots, shovel, sifter, and rain poncho—and make reservations at the Lindsay Ranch outside of Mason, a requirement for hunting gems on their property. I also arrange to visit the other two rock hunter-friendly ranches in the area and set my sights on finding the state gem of Texas.

Deloris Lindsay greets me warmly. “Let me give you some tips on the best places to search,” she says. Her matter-of-fact cordiality and the fully stocked cabin on Commanche Creek encourage me to start prospecting right away. After a couple of hours sifting and shoveling in a downpour, however, I decide to leave the creek for another day and head into town to continue my adventure.

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Photo: John Spaulding. Mason County Collectibles features the “Grand Azure” blue topaz and other eye-catching stones.

The Mason Square Museum on the town square features artifacts from prehistoric times to Civil War days. Gen. Robert E. Lee’s last command under the U.S. military was in Mason. The history is rich, but the topaz samples are seductive, including the largest topaz ever found in North America (1904): 6,480 carats. This stone was sold by its finder to the Smithsonian Institution for $75. It’s here on loan from the U.S. National Museum of Natural History. In 1969, Texas named the blue topaz its state gemstone.

Just off the town square, I find Sandstone Cellars offers a wide array of Texas red wines, harvested from 13 different vineyards in the nearby hickory sands. A few steps away is the Odeon Theater, the longest continuously operating movie theater in west Texas, built in 1928. It’s best known for the 1957 premiere of “Old Yeller,” based on the beloved children’s story by native son Fred Gipson. Now a nonprofit organization, the Odeon also offers live theater and musicals. Across the square sits Lea-Lou Co-op, a lumberyard repurposed as a popular dance hall and open-air pavilion.

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