Community, Cottage Grove, Springfield

Thirty years later, Cottage Grove rockhounders crack into XL agate

COTTAGE GROVE – It’s been a little over 30 years since The Springfield News covered Linda and Craig Olson adorning their Springfield lawn with a 2,200-pound Oregon moss agate. This year, the now-Cottage Grove couple started the adventure of cutting into what hid below the surface. 

However, the “pebble” (Linda Olson’s affectionate nickname for the valuable rock) was discovered on a hunting excursion in 1991. Olson had grown tired due to the dreary conditions and decided to take on rockhounding, her favorite hobby, instead. Olson stumbled across the rock on a forest service road, taking in a milky white pocket on its surface, and immediately concluded it was valuable. 

“Some people like diamonds, and some people like gold. Linda wanted a pebble,” she said when reminiscing on her first encounter with the rock. “It just talked to me, and it was essential that it be a part of my life.” 

After flagging down her husband, the two recruited extra sets of hands to transport the rock back to Springfield, a task that was much easier said than done. But with sheer determination, the strength of six individuals managed to combat the rainy conditions and a snapped trailer winch. 

After nearly three decades of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren clamoring over the rock (or “the mountain,” another nickname used interchangeably with the “pebble”), Olson and her husband set out to discover what for many years had remained unseen. 

The Olsons knew all along that they wanted to dig into the rock’s contents but, for years, had not found anyone able to handle its sheer density and weight. 

The “pebble”

That all changed at the Eugene Home & Garden Show in March. Olson and her husband were put in contact with Dan Dunn, the owner of Alpine Boulder Company. The company provides boulder mining and fabrication, creating boulder decor and furniture for individuals and businesses. 

After corresponding with Dunn and being met with enthusiasm regarding the dissection of the rock, the Olsons faced a similar caveat to the one they had encountered 30 years previous: how to transport the rock to their desired destination. 

Enter Bob Paeschke, a log truck owner located in Eugene. With his assistance and self-loader equipment, the Olsons loaded the “pebble” into a trailer bound for Dunn and Alpine Boulder Company in Helix, Ore. 

After appraising the rock with the Olsons, Dunn determined its problem areas and developed a plan of action to best cut into the rock. It was both dense and very hard, requiring mirror polish and a high level of patience. 

“It’s always exciting to cut open someone’s treasure,” Dunn said. “The Olsons are such nice people. They were so excited, and so was I. It never gets old cutting open a new stone.”

Dunn split the rock into three 1-inch slabs and one 5-inch thick slab, leaving the face and posterior ends intact. 

While the rock’s face displayed a milky-white pocket (which had drawn Olson in 30 years previous), the true treasure lay within. A juxtaposing deep blue-gray emerged as the “pebble” became plural. 

“In the end, every slab turned out amazing, mainly because they picked a quality specimen. It was a pleasure working with them,” Dunn said. 

Olson’s brother, Kevin Flory of Pleasant Hill, assisted Olson and her husband in the transportation of the rock’s slabs, using a small tractor to transport it back to their residence. 

The “pebble” is now distributed in various sections of the Olson rock garden, surrounded by trinkets from family members, a lush variety of flowers and plants, and the soft ping of windchimes. Nestled in a rosebush is a sign that reads, “Rockhound,” with a painting of a young man in a canary-yellow hardhat. He is toting a backpack full of rocks while carrying another stone in one hand and a pickaxe in the other. It is a piece from the homestead of Craig Olson’s parents. 

It’s clear that for the Olsons, rockhounding is not just a hobby but a way of life, a way to celebrate family trips gone by, all of them christened by “memory rocks” on display on the Olson property. It is a way to further connect with the earth and its beauty, the chance to explore how humans and nature intersect. 

Thirty years later, the pebble has traipsed generations, as well as residences. While its appearance has evolved, its presence remains held in high esteem for the Olsons and those that have partaken in its adventure. 

“I’ve seen some beautiful agates. I’m one of those crazy people that believe that there’s a mineral essence in the rocks that we absorb,” Olson said. “Something talks to us. And this one is just our piece. It’s a piece that talks to us.”

The Olsons split the rock into three 1-inch slabs and one 5-inch thick slab to reveal the contents within, seen below. 

Then and Now: A most precious rock

Editor’s note: this is a story published on the rock in The Springfield News on March 31, 1993


The Springfield Times

It’s hard to miss the 3,500-pound Oregon moss agate that sits just beside the driveway of Craig and Linda Olson’s home in Springfield. 

The “pebble” — as the Olsons affectionately call their unique yard decoration — contains jewelry-grade agate worth $2 an ounce. While agate and a few quartz pockets are visible all over the six-foot rock. 

“Some people get diamonds and emeralds, and Linda gets a pebble,” Linda Olson says. 

The couple discovered the valuable rock while hunting near Fall Creek two years ago. Linda Olson, an avid rock hound, had grown tired of hunting and decided to pursue her favorite hobby. 

She found the rock in a ditch alongside a forest service road. Workers apparently had unearthed the rock during an excavation and pushed it to one side without realizing its value. 

But Olson did. “It wasn’t a leave-er-right,” she says — referring to the type of rocks that people should “leaver-er-right” where they find them.

An excited Olson found her husband and the two headed back to town to round up their two sons and friends who could help them take the rock home. But transporting the rock wasn’t an easy task. 

The weight snapped the winch that the group had been using to hoist the rock into the Olson’s 4-by-6 foot utility trailer, which broke under the strain. Using a crowbar, they pushed the rock the rest of the way inside the trailer, which was not damaged badly enough to prevent them from hauling the rock to Springfield. 

For the past two years, the rock has laid in the spot where it fell out of the trailer into the Olson’s front yard. 

“It just kind of flipped out and that’s where it laid because we weren’t going to move it again,” Linda Olson says. “It looked good enough for me.” 

The Olsons will not say exactly where they found the rock, but Lowell Ranger officials say people should obtain permits before they go in search of valuable rocks on federal or state land. Recreation forester Sue Baker said rock hounds should not just walk off with valuable property. 

“You can do that with huckleberries but not with valuable minerals,” Baker said. 

The Olsons don’t know how much of the rock is made up of the Oregon moss agate, but the family doesn’t have any immediate plans to sell pieces of it or make it into jewelry. And given their experience with moving the 3,500-pound rock, they’re not concerned that someone will steal it. 

“As long as it’s this big, we don’t have to worry about them putting it in their pockets and walking away,” Olson says.  



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