KEOKUK, Iowa (WHO/NBC) - In 1967, the Iowa State Legislature named the Geode the state rock of Iowa.
Fifty years later, this unique type of rock gets more notice in Keokuk than anywhere else in the state. Keokuk is known as the Geode capital of the world. Geodes are found in an area near where the Des Moines River flows into the Mississippi.
“It’s a tremendous asset, it keeps a lot of people coming here and coming back to Keokuk, Iowa," said Kirk Brandenburger, Executive Director of the Keokuk Convention and Tourism Bureau. ''They come second, third, fourth, fifth time back to the same area to hunt the same things."
Each September, Keokuk holds a Geode Fest that draws people from all over the country. Geodes can be hunted at a couple of spots nearby in Illinois, across the Mississippi River. There are also shops in town where the rock is for sale.
“It is like opening a Christmas present, you never know what's on the inside," said Doug DeRosear, who is a local geologist. “You're the first one to ever see the inside of it, and there's always one better down the road.”
DeRosear estimates only 5% of the geodes in the area have been uncovered.
"Geodes are a big part of our tourism effort here in Keokuk,” said Brandenberger. “People come from March to November to hunt and dig geodes.”