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Ron Hartman and the Lucerne Valley Meteorites

Ron Hartman and the Lucerne Valley Meteorites

 The finder of the Lucerne Valley Meteorite was more than my colleague; he was my mentor and personal friend.

This is the only image of Ron Hartman at Lucerne Dry Lake that I could find.
Photo taken late-1963 / early-1964 by Ron Oriti.

Even if Ron Hartman would have never found that first Lucerne Valley Meteorite, our paths still would have crossed, eventually. Not only was Ron instrumental in helping me obtain samples of other Lucerne Valley Meteorites in the Griffith Observatory collection for classification, but we also found that we had a common interest in meteorite-recovery on the very same dry lakes not only in California, but other playas in Arizona and Nevada, as well. More than once we would cross paths (on the internet) as we researched our mutual interest in dry-lake meteorite-recovery. Even if we never would have collaborated on that dry-lake research, then there was our mutual interest in iron-etching and meteorite-preservation, topics which Ron had been a pioneer in developing some novel techniques.

Actually, it was that particular mutual interest that finally got me to visit Ron at his office and planetarium at MtSAC (Mount San Antonio College). I had some iron meteorite samples to lend to Ron, so that he and his son, Jim, could test their new techniques. And since the College was less than an hour away, it was logical to hand-deliver the samples. But when I saw his extensive meteorite display at the planletarium, I wondered to myself why I hadn’t visited Ron even sooner. It was great to actually hold the meteorite as Ron would point-out its uniqueness. This was far better than email or phone calls, which is how we usually communicated. Of course my visits would never last long enough, because there was always so much about meteorites that we wanted to discuss.

In retrospect, I now regret that I didn’t visit Ron more often. Not sure why, but, by being cross-town colleagues, it gave us a sort of familiarity that made it easier just to make a phone call, if we had a question, or had found an interesting meteorite. And then, there were the various meteorite-related discussion groups that both of us were usually members and that kept us virtually connected.

And, Yes! There were lots of email messages between Ron and me. So, after hearing the sad news about Ron passing away, I started searching my files for all of our old email messages. Many of them went back to early 1999. This goes back to when Ron and I first started to collaborate on the Lucerne Valley locality. I found one message from Ron where he went in great detail about the recovery of the first 7 stones and even described where on the dry-lake they were found. All of this from memory of events that occurred 36 years earlier. At the end of the message, he thanked me for contacting him after making the new (1998) Lucerne Valley finds. He wrote that it reinvigorated his interest in meteorite-recovery and in meteorite curation. Another message that I will always cherish is where he thanked me again for inspiring him to hunt for meteorites again, out on Lucerne Dry Lake. He said that it was a long time ago when he and his former school-pal, O.Richard Norton, last hunted Lucerne Valley. I told Ron that I wasn’t aware of that fact.

A few years later in a personal communication with Richard, he recounted how appreciative Ron was about being inspired again to go meteorite hunting, and not only just to return to Lucerne Dry Lake, but to actually find another Lucerne Valley meteorite. According to Richard, it was a high-point at that time in Ron Hartman’s life, when he found Lucerne Valley 017, a full 36 years after having found Lucerne Valley 001.

Whether or not these events involving Ron’s return to Lucerne Valley propelled him to his other accomplishments late in his career, is hard to say. But I will always be appreciative of having been able to share those “events” with Ron Hartman. And it will always be an honor to call him my mentor, and my friend.

This article was written with the intention of “complementing” the other articles about Ron Hartman that appear in this issue of Meteorite-Times Magazine. So make sure that you read the other articles in this issue by Anne Black and Dorothy Norton.

– – – RON HARTMAN DISCOVERS No. 17 (LV 017) – – –

“Click” on the above image in order to see an image gallery of Ron Hartman’s “Lucerne Valley 017” find.

Lucerne Valley 017, Stone, Ordinary Chondrite (L6 S3 W4), 12.8 grams
Found March 30, 1999 on Lucerne Dry Lake by Ron Hartman
Note smooth exterior and rhombohedral shape.
NOT PAIRED with any other LV find, per A. Rubin.


“Click” on the above image in order to see a map of where Ron’s LV 017 was found!


To see an on-going compilation of links relating to the life and times of Ron Hartman, “Click” on the following link: “ A Tribute to Ron Hartman” .

“Click” HERE – to go to Ron Hartman’s Lucerne Valley Meteorites Web Site.

“Click” HERE – to go to Bolide*Chaser’s “Lucerne Dry Lake Strewn Field” HOME Page.

“Click” HERE – to go to the “archive-version” of CALIFORNIA STREWN FIELDS Home Page.

“Click” HERE – to go to the Directory of IMAGES that were taken in 1999 of the Griffiths Observatory Lucerne Valley specimens.


Search results for internet references to Ron Hartman:

Ron’s website
Lucerne Valley Meteorite
IMCA co-founder
Fallen Stars – IMCA members & meteorite people, gone but not forgotten

My previous articles can be found *HERE*

For for more information, please contact me by email: Bolide*chaser


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