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Rocky Quinn
(1909-1985)

Leo "Rocky" Quinn was born in Lincoln, Maine in 1909. There amid the rugged, rocky coastlines he developed an interest in mineralogy and geology, and began to build his mineral collection. When his parents' marriage failed, his mother put him in a boarding school, and after running away several times he was kidnapped and shanghaied to work as a sailor aboard a merchant marine vessel that traveled the world. At a seaport in Russia he found more specimens to add to his mineral collection.

After that captive year at sea he returned home to Maine, now a seasoned world-traveler at the age of 14, and located his mother, who had remarried. But he had developed a yen for adventure and travel, so he took off again on his own. In the forests of Wisconsin he worked as a steeple-jack, and competed as a boxer (he was a sparring partner for Jack Dempsey for a while). Then he caught a west-bound freight train, just to see what was on the other side of the Continental Divide. After touring the Southwest (and collecting minerals at every opportunity along the way), he met a woman named Lillian Martin (born 1916) and they were married in 1935.

Eventually the couple settled in Beaver Bay, Minnesota; around 1941 they set up a table at the roadside offering minerals to passing tourists. The results were so encouraging that in 1946 they opened the Beaver Bay Agate Shop on Highway 61 about six miles north of Split Rock Lighthouse and about 1 hour from Duluth. During the off-season (winter) Rocky would travel throughout the southern and southwestern states and on into Mexico collecting minerals. He was among the first to collect vanadinite from the Apache mine in Arizona; he collected beautiful fluorite from the Illinois-Kentucky Fluorite district; and he was always well-stocked with plenty of self-collected wavellite from Arkansas and yellow apatite crystals from Cerro de Mercado, Durango, Mexico. He was a fountain of amusing collecting stories, always fun to listen to. He exhibited his personal collection in his shop, but never sold from it.

Rocky died in September 1985, and Lillian sold the shop to Doc Haase; Doc's son, Jim "Crow" Haase, took over management of the business. Jim set up the "museum" area to display Rocky's collection along with specimens of his own. In 1991, Doc sold the shop to Rocky's son, Roland Quinn, a retired taconite plant worker. He had grown up collecting minerals and helping out in the shop, so the work came naturally. He added some of his own specimens to the "museum," a remodeled the living area.

In 2003 Roland sold the shop to Keith and Teresa Bartel. Mineral collecting and lapidary had long been their hobby; in 1988 Keith started buying and selling agates at his cabin on Sunset Lake; he started the Cuyuna Rock Club and organized various rock shows.

The Beaver Bay Agate Shop is still open today--now the oldest rock shop on the north shore of Lake Superior. It still has on exhibit Rocky's original mineral collection in the little "museum" adjacent to the shop. Lillian, born in 1916, passed away in 2007.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn Lil and Rocky Quinn in 1968.
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn Rock Quinn at his grinding machine, 1949
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn Beaver Bay Agate Shop in the 1950s or 1960s (Postcard published by Gallagher's Studio in Duluth)
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn Interior of the Beaver Bay Agate Shop in the 1950s or 1960s. Rocky's personal mineral collection was on permanent display in the double cases on left wall at the back. (that's Rocky at the counter in the back). (Postcard published by Gallagher's Studio in Duluth)
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn The remodeled Beaver Bay Agate Shop today.
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn Cerussite and wulfenite from Tiger, Arizona in Rocky Quinn's personal collection, displayed in his shop. (Note handwritten display labels in white ink on black tagboard.)
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn Wulfenite and dioptase from Tiger, Arizona in Rocky Quinn's personal collection, displayed in his shop. (Note handwritten display labels in white ink on black tagboard.)
The Mineralogical Record - Rocky Quinn 52 x 89 mm; modern label used in the shop today.
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