Lifestyle

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

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The largest topaz found on Mark’s property was as big as his thumbnail. It was discovered by a family from India, whose minivan got stuck in the mud during their visit. While they waited for Mark to help pull them out, they prepared an authentic lunch from ingredients they brought, and shared their meal with their host. Mark laughs, “It was the first time I ever tried Indian food, and it was in the middle of my own pasture.”

In the morning I meet Michael Seaquist at the local Dairy Queen, and we climb into his pickup truck to go to his ranch. Michael tells me his grandfather had pieced together 15 parcels of land from a German immigrant land company in 1849, from which the 1,200 acres of Seaquist Ranch were established. “The largest stone actually found on our ranch was between 50 and 60 carats, next to a large hole dug by another prospector, who did all the work but missed the treasure,” Michael says.

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Photo: John Spaulding. Michael Seaquist offers me a private tour of his ranch.

I couldn’t go home without a visit just off the square to Mason County Collectibles, a shop of jewelry, decor, and whimsy. Here I find the “Grand Azure,” the largest known Mason County faceted topaz at 587 carats.

As for my luck at prospecting on this trip? It was unfortunately limited to smoky quartz and a good bit of shiny granite. However, while I may not have found any topaz, I discovered another kind of treasure in Mason: the people and the land.  Their warm welcome makes it tempting to return, and like any prospector, I can always hope for a big “strike” next time. I had come to Mason to seek a treasure, and I returned home richer than I imagined.