Virginia’s Pet Rock

A delegation from Piedmont Virginia Community College brought a sample of Nelsonite for legislators to view.

As if we needed any more proof that Virginia is tragically behind the times, here it is: The Commonwealth is one of only four states in the nation that has not designated an official “state rock, mineral or gemstone,” writes Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath in his most recent constituent newsletter.

Fortunately, Deeds has submitted legislation recognizing Nelsonite as the state rock. Nelsonite, first discovered in Nelson County, is a billion-year-old mineral comprised of apatite and ilmenite…. whatever they are. It was mined over 70 years to extract titanium for use in house paint.

Deeds’ bill, as originally submitted, qualifies as one of the shortest pieces of legislation ever written. It consisted of two words, “Rock — Nelsonite,” inserted into a list of official emblems and designations. The only legislation I can imagine that might have been shorter, by one letter, would have been a bill listing “Beverage — Milk.” A great virtue of Deed’s economically phrased bill is that no one can say, as Nancy Pelosi famously declared of Obamacare, that we’ll have to pass the bill in order to know what’s in it.

Nelsonite joins such other quintessentially Virginia phenomena as the official state bat (the Virginia big-eared bat), state dog (American foxhound), state fleet (replicas of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery), state dance (square dancing), state insect (Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly), and state shell (oyster).

The designation of the state rock is not as contentious as the selection of a state song last year, but the passage through the Senate was something of a rocky road. Five senators voted against the bill. The bill was amended to reinsert mentions of the state bird (the cardinal) and the state tree (the dogwood), which had been omitted somewhere along the way. But according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch,”Sen. John A. Cosgrove Jr., R-Chesapeake, expressed mock indignation that the American dogwood is Virginia’s state tree, noting that its scientific name is Cornus florida.”

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5 responses to “Virginia’s Pet Rock”

  1. Deeds needs to add another short rider to that bill:

    State blog – Bacon’s Rebellion.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar

    This rock has a history….

    how about a official State Superfund site to denote the role of that rock in Virginia ?

    this is yet another example of how people unknowingly enjoy the benefit of a product and have no clue the damage it has caused to the environment and subsequently to taxpayers…. yet – unprincipled politicians will decry the loss of jobs that the EPA regs are causing….

    1. You are right! The mining of titanium ore created this sizeable superfund site in Nelson County; yet now we would make it the “State Rock”?

  3. Does that stone take a good shine?
    Got a rock polisher in the basement.

    1. No shine, please, like the dogwood this rock is already too florid.

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