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 Black Hills Inst. of Geological Research
(1974-    )

Black Hills Institute of Geological Research's primary mission is to collect, preserve and provide well-prepared fossil specimens, minerals, cast replicas and related information to museums, researchers and private collectors. They have worked for more than 25 years developing one of the finest and most comprehensive paleontological and mineralogical collections from the Black Hills region, collateral collections from other regions, and an extensive reference library. These resources will be made available to the fledgling Black Hills Museum of Natural History for eventual use in its display and research programs.

The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research is a family-owned business in Hill City, South Dakota. The company was originally called Black Hills Minerals, a name passed to the new owners, Peter Larson and James A. Honert, in 1974 by Willard (Bill) Lincoln Roberts of Rapid City, South Dakota. Bill Roberts established Black Hills Minerals in 1946, but by 1974 was no longer active in the business. While still students at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where Bill was curator, Pete and Jim made their first trip to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. There they saw an opportunity to reach a larger market for their mineral and fossil specimens. Reaching that market, it was hoped, would allow them to continue pursuing their passion for collecting, preparing, and displaying geologic and paleontologic specimens. The following year, in 1974, they returned to the Tucson Show as Black Hills Minerals and first-time exhibitors. In the ensuing years, Black Hills Institute owners and staff have returned to Tucson each February as one of the major fossil dealers and exhibitors.

Peter Larson's brother, Neal Larson, and mineralogist Robert (Bob) Farrar began working with Peter and Jim in 1973, while they were students at the South Dakota School of Mines. Eventually both Neal and Bob became partners in and co-owners of the Institute, Neal upon graduation in 1978 and Bob in 1990. (Jim Honert left for employment with Shell Oil in 1981.) These four young men had each collected specimens in their area of interest since early childhood, and brought their individual collections of fossils and minerals into the new business to form the nucleus of what has become one of the world's finest and most comprehensive research collections of mineral and fossil specimens. Eventually, this important collection will be housed at the Black Hills Museum of Natural History on land overlooking Hill City.

In 1978, the company reorganized and incorporated as the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc. This name change was made to more adequately describe the company's endeavors in all aspects of geology, not only mineralogy. The following year, the Institute purchased and moved into its present headquarters in Hill City. Exhibits featuring specimens collected and prepared by Institute staff have been purchased for display in the world's most prestigious museums. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta; the Natural History Museum in Leiden; Japan's National Science Museum in Tokyo; and museums in the U. S. and other countries such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and Peru, have specimens and exhibits prepared by Institute staff. Recently, the Institute prepared and mounted a large Lower Cretaceous carniverous dinosaur, an Acrocanthosaurus atokensis now on display at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences (Raleigh, North Carolina).

Another area of specialized research for the Institute has been mineralogy, Robert Farrar being the resident mineralogist. Under his guidance, the Institute has acquired numerous display-quality specimens and many rare mineral species for its collection. Bob and Pete have collaborated with German, Canadian and American researchers, especially in the study of pegmatite phosphate minerals that are native to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The Institute is open year-round and the retail store has a large selection of geological materials, toys, books and videos. See their website at
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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