“Are you sure this is what you want to do?” John’s uncle looked concerned. The way a parent or friend looks when they think you’re about to make a mistake.
The rest of John’s cousins were all staring at him, their expressions were confused, amused, and everywhere in between. A fairly large gathering of John’s relatives were crowded into the conference room of a local Tahlequah, OK law firm. The estate of John’s grandfather was being divided among the heirs. John’s father had died while he was in Afghanistan, and being an only child, he stood to inherit his father’s third of his grandfather’s estate. The trip up to Oklahoma to settle PawPaw’s estate had been an eye-opener.
John discovered that his grandfather had owned, outright, more land than any of them ever imagined. Much of it was in the oil and natural gas producing regions of Oklahoma, but a large piece of it was in the foothills of the Ozarks in eastern Oklahoma. That large piece was the one the wolf totem told him to acquire.
John’s uncle continued, “That land might be a bit bigger than the other pieces, but that’s it. You know that land ain’t got no oil or natural gas on it. The money’s in them other pieces. Sure, it’s damn near 10 sections, but it’s worthless. Can’t farm it, can’t ranch on it, no oil or gas. I guess you could sell the timber, but you won’t get much for it.”
John slowly nodded his head. “Yeah, I’m sure. PawPaw used to take me camping up there when I was a kid. I don’t need the mineral rights. I’d just like to have that piece. I’ll trade my share of the rest of the other land and mineral rights for that piece. I think that whenever I have kids, I’d like to take them camping up there. “
His uncle gave him a perplexed look, then shrugged “Ok. Your call.” One of his cousins called out, “That’s ok, we’ll loan you money if you need it!” Chuckles from the other family members let John know that they all thought he was making a bad decision. Papers were drawn up and signed, and John found himself the owner of a large piece of the Oklahoma Ozark foothills.
Later That Week
“Mykuh what?” John looked quizzically at the geologist, who paid him no mind while excitedly read over the test results.
“Mica Schist. It’s a type of stone. This whole area is one giant boulder of it. I’ve never seen one this big!”
“Oh, uh ok. Is it good for anything?”
“Oh, sure! It’s a type of granite, worth about $100 a ton.”
“A ton?” John’s voice was doubtful.
“Yeah, but you got, oh, at least . . .” The geologist looked back at his reports, flipping pages. “200 million tons, probably closer to 250 million tons. And the tests show it to be solid, high quality stone. The geologic activity that created this was . . .”
The geologist kept talking excitedly about his findings. John wasn’t paying attention anymore because he was trying to do math in his head. 200 million times 100 . . . $2 billion? $20 billion? That can’t be right!
The geologist finally realized that John wasn’t listening anymore. “Did you have a question?”
“So you said it’s worth $100 a ton, and there’s at least 200 million tons? It’s not really worth $20 billion, is it?
“Well, no, not all at once. There’s an awful lot of work that needs to be done first, but it would be a good steady source of income if it was quarried. I did some work for a guy that started a quarry with this same type of stone. He netted $600,000 in his first year. Once you get the infrastructure built, I bet you could easily net $1 million a year out of a small operation. If you went really large scale, you could probably net out $5 million.
John chuckled softly. So, Great Wolf Spirit, this is what you meant. “No, I’d keep it fairly small.”
“You should still be able to easily get $1 million annually out of a small quarry, no problem.”
“How long will it hold out? I mean, how long will the stone last?”
“Let’s just say that you won’t live long enough to see the end of it.”
John smiled. Here’s the means to carry out your work, Great One! John turned to the geologist. “Thanks for all your work.” John and the geologist shook hands.
The cost of the survey, testing, and geologist’s report had taken nearly all of John’s meager savings, but it now looked like his money problems were behind him. Or maybe they just changed into new types of money problems.