The original request for this article suggested that I include some pictures. After a lengthy consideration (about 2.8 seconds) I concluded that would be like those obituaries that include a high school graduation picture of the recently de-parted. Who would recognize me as a young geologist, or care? Consequently, only one recent photography is included, and even that might be excessive.
The roots of Roger the geologist
I matured, well maybe, in Detroit which was a hotbed for developing geologists, which explains my lack of interest in glacial geology. Our family home was on a moraine, drumlin, esker, or one of those gravel filled features. The question often asked of me, as I suspect many of you, is what caused my interest in geology? To be truthful, I have no clue. Of course that is only one item on the long list that I don’t have a clue about. Maybe the iron ore ships that we raced on the Detroit River when I was rowing crew, maybe the Cranbrook Institute museum’s mineral collection, or more likely trips west with my parents where I saw real rocks. After attending far too many universities I finally found one that would grant me a Ph.D., which they have been trying to recall ever since. It was at Colorado State University where my friend Tommy Thompson was a faculty member and my advisor that I completed my formal education in 1986.
Outside interests, yes I have a life beyond geology.
My non-geological interests are varied, with family at the top of the list. LuAnne and I have been together for almost 50 years, officially 48 last May. We have a son, daughter-in-law and grandson in Reno, and a daughter and grandson in Albuquerque.
Having always been interested in American history, during one of our industry’s downturns, I took several history classes at UNR. This resulted in my joining the Nevada Historical Society, and starting work on a family history. The Historical Society has a large collection of mining related periodicals and newspaper articles which have never been indexed. I have taken on the indexing project which should keep me occupied the remainder of my life, and then some. For those interested in Nevada mining districts this might be a good place to start your research. The Civil War has always been a fascination for me and while working on my family history I discovered that my great grandfather Otto fought with the 187th Pennsylvania Volunteers at Cold Harbor and Petersburg. On a recent trip to Petersburg tracing Otto’s footsteps I no sooner got out of the car when I was accosted by a lady (I think) who wanted to know if I was a “Confederate or Yankee”? They are still fighting the war there. My interest in history has also lead to serving on the board and as treasurer of the Historic Reno Preservation Society. If you have an interest in the area’s history you might check out HRPS as there are monthly talks on local history that are open to the public.
The Boy Scouts of America has always been important in my life, having been involved in scouting as a youth, a Scout-master for my son’s troop, and just recently spending a week at Philmont, the national Boy Scout ranch in New Mexico. Philmont has a program for geologists to volunteer to spend a week teaching geology. The week was spent at the French Henry historic mining area teaching gold panning and leading tours of an underground gold mine. This was one of the more rewarding weeks of my life.
As many of you know I have been writing the Exploration Review column in the SEG Newsletter for many years, next year will make the total 20. Although not trying to take the place of the “One Eyed Prospector” it has been a pleasure taking groups to task over outrageous public comments and questionable actions. This is becoming harder in recent years as our industry has contracted and the regulators have become more restrictive as to what can be publically released.
GSN is an important part of my professional life. Over the years I held several offices, helped edit a couple of the GSN Symposium volumes, and produced a history of the Society. What I am most proud of is serving as Chair of the GSN Foundation during a period when we built our endowment to over a half million dollars while distributing over $35,000 yearly to support various education programs.
Finally, I continue my involvement at Colorado State by serving on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the
Warner College of Natural Resources. LuAnne and I have also endowed a scholarship in Economic Geology at CSU.
I have had several extremely fortunate opportunities that have greatly enhanced my career, starting with my first “permanent” employment. Stewart Wallace, one of the giants of geology, hired and mentored me for a position at the Climax Molybdenum mine. This was early in the development of the geological understanding of the Climax-type molybdenum deposits which put me in a position to contribute to that understanding while being associated with an extremely talented group of geologists. Working at a large mine taught me how to look at mineral deposits from the outside in, and vice versa, an approach that I have carried with me and extended to other types of mineral deposits. After four years at the mine I was transferred to Golden, CO to conduct molybdenum exploration in Colorado and eventually project development in Canada. During that period I had the opportunity to evaluate, and in many cases, work on most every major molybdenum deposit in North America. That gray stuff (molybdenite) still flows through my veins.
My career took another favorable turn although it didn’t seem so at the time. About 1980 the molybdenum market took a drastic downturn and I could see the handwriting on the wall. A move to Reno and joining Amselco resulted in my being involved in the initial stages of the great Nevada gold rush. I learned a lot about Nevada gold deposits in those early years, an education that served me well throughout my career. In 1987 I followed another dream and I started a consulting practice that continues today. The fun part of this opportunity was the association with several successful companies and being part of a few discoveries.
In 2009 I had a bright idea that the time was right to start a Nevada orientated exploration company so I called a financial associate. My thought was that he would float the idea past a few investors and get back to me. Instead he called having organized the seed money and NuLegacy Gold was born, which went public in 2010. We are now exploring the Iceberg gold deposit in the northern Simpson Park Range.
As I approach the end of my professional career this article caused me to reflect on my life as a geologist and what I have learned. My first exposure to Nevada was my master’s thesis in the Kinsley mining district where I learned to love Nevada and was determined to live here one day. Now that I am here, becoming part of a vibrant geological community has been a reward I had not expected, but one that has become very important in my life. Many of my close friends have come from my association with GSN and the Nevada mining community. I can also attest to having met a lot of “characters” in this business which I also treasure. Spending a lot of time in the field is the best graduate school I have ever attended.
As I transition to a less active professional life I look forward to continuing my volunteer activities and probably devoting more time to them. I also want to do some writing about aspects of our profession. And of course, work more aggressively on lowering my golf handicap.
John Winton Erwin*
Erin L. Hart
Greg T. Hill
Joseph Kizis, Jr
Brooke J Miller
Justin and Ajeet Milliard
Mia (Cowgill) O'Neal
Shea Clark Smith
Roger C Steininger