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Earl Ellifritz

Beauty In Rocks

Earl Ellifritz and His Museum

By Carol Reece
Photographs by Bob Peak

Earl Ellifritz from Rippon, Jefferson County, is an avid rock collector and a talented folk artist. Earl tells us that the dark streaks in the specimen "burn like coal."

It is easy to miss the small town of Rippon, Jefferson County, if you are traveling on U.S. 340 between Charles Town and the Virginia line. It's even easier to miss the sign on the south end of town directing travelers to the Ellifritz Museum. At the end of the driveway is the home of Earl and Edith Ellifritz. Behind their neat, ranch-style home is a bright yellow, two-story museum dedicated to rocks and minerals.

I chanced upon the Ellifritz Museum when I was helping a friend to move. The museum's sign is adjacent to my friend's new home, and my curiosity was piqued when the landlord told me that the museum contained rocks and minerals.

I have been a rockhound – someone who hunts for and collects rocks and minerals where they are found in nature – since I was old enough to walk and pick up pretty pebbles. It's not a genetically derived avocation, as no other member of my family is interested in rocks. So, it's always wonderful for me to meet other rock nuts who share my enthusiasm. I had to go and see what the Ellifritz Museum is all about.

What I discovered is a one-of-a-kind collection of rocks and minerals, found objects, and folk art which have been carefully gathered and are lovingly displayed. Museum curator, artist, and fellow rockhound Earl Ellifritz is the driving force here. He is a lively and friendly man in his mid-70's, and we quickly found much to talk about.

You can read the rest of this article in the Summer 2000 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.