March 29, 2008 – a warm, yet pleasant Saturday afternoon – I was driving back from my first visit to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area when I saw the signs to mineral museum – not one, but two!! I should have carried The Picking Table (Journal of The Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society) that Dr. Jaszczak had given me a while ago. Not knowing which of the two mines he had mentioned, I followed signs to the Franklin Mineral Museum in Franklin, NJ. A few minutes of chit-chat with friendly personnel and filling out the membership form, I headed towards the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, NJ. It didn’t take too long to hear the voice – that Dr. Jaszczak had mentioned about and it didn’t take too long to realize why people listen when the man behind this voice spoke. Though all mine tours were done for the day, Mr. Hauck was kind enough to take me along during his closing the doors routine.
Fast forward about 100 days – Marg introduced me to Doug Schmidt, an avid mineral collector (or A Rock Hound, as they like to call in Franklin Mineral Museum). After a short talk over phone, we decided to head up to these mines/mineral museums. Personally, meeting new cooler, nicer people who have similar interests is such a wonderful experience and this was no exception – our drive-along (along the scenic routes) discussions covered a variety of topics, mostly related to science, history and teaching.
Given that about 380 different minerals (out of about 3800 known to mankind) are found in this area – aptly known as the Fluorescence Capital of the World, tour of the two mines was very impressive. Rather ordinary looking and unattractive mineral specimen look divine (yeah divine, sexy is an understatment) under Ultra Violet radiation. The experience only gets better with very knowledgeable tour guides who explain things in an easily understandable manner, even for kids and first-timers. On a hot day when temperatures hovered around 90+° F, walking about 150 feet deep beneath the surface in Sterling Hill Mine – where the temperature was ~50° F – was certainly a blessing, considering all the new, cool things/facts I learnt.
These and other pictures, if you are interested, are here. All in all, it was certainly a very enriching day – in more ways than one and reminded a lot about the Seaman Museum, and the Quincy Mine (a full tour of which I am yet to take). I am most certain to back to these places and spend some quality time learning more about the minerals, history … and probably taking more pictures. If you are in that area and like minerals and know how to enjoy them, you should too 🙂