Posted: Jan 24, 2013 8:32 PM by Sam Salzwedel
Updated: Jan 24, 2013 10:08 PM
TUCSON - Ralph Thompson found his first piece of petrified wood more than 50 years ago. Now, he makes a living selling the fossilized trees at a gem show in Tucson.
"It's just a fluke," Thompson said. "It's just an oddity, and it's just so beautiful. And I just want to show it to everybody."
He travels all over the West looking for petrified wood on private property. He refines it back in Massachusetts.
"Tucson is by far the largest venue worldwide for my kind of things," Thompson said.
He feels pretty good about the safety at his warehouse. The property has a security system, but Thompson does not like to think about any of his fellow vendors becoming victims of theft.
"Jolts through my body," Thompson said, "fear, it feels close to home."
Somebody stole about $1 million worth of Oregon sunstones last February. Burglars took the gems from a trailer parked at a South Side motel. Tucson Police recovered most of the stones in the past week.
Gem show vendors could lose a year's worth of work and wages if their products are stolen.
"The money that I make now," Thompson said, "I've got to invest all this next year to come here again. And to have that investment threatened like that is very scary."
Thompson's company is called Russell-Zuhl. His show opens at the Mineral and Fossil Co-op on Oracle Road, north of Speedway Boulevard Tuesday.
Check out the latest events FC Tucson has scheduled.
Help those in need this holiday season
Click here to submit a news tip to us!
Become a Facebook Fan!
Sign up on KVOA.com for newsletters, exclusive deals, and more!
Win! Win! Win!
Get news, weather and more on your smartphone and tablet!
Get texts for news, traffic, deals and more!
Stories and videos with Kristi's Kids
What's happening on News 4 @ 4
Let us help grow your business
What's on KVOA and when!
Contact info for our department heads
FCC Public File of Records, Reports, and More
KVOA's on air personalities!
Work at News 4 Tucson
Complete feeds of all KVOA.com stories