New Jersey Collecting Sites

Franklin and Sterling Hill Mines in Sussex County, New Jersey

Arsenopyrite, Calcite, Fluorescent Diopside, Franklinite, Galena, Powellite, Rhodonite, Scheelite, Uraninite, Willemite, Fluorescent Wollastonite, Zincite and other minerals

Source: The Ore House BBS 516-671-2337
D.E. Russel, sysop


The mines at Franklin and Sterling Hill (the latter in Ogdensburg, about a mile south of Franklin) in northern New Jersey have produced more than 400 different species of minerals, many of which are unique to this mining district. Roughly 80 mineral species from this district are fluorescent, justifying the title of "Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World" which was bestowed on the region in the 1950's.

At present, two collecting localities are being operated by local museums on a regular basis.

The first site is the Buckwheat Dump, operated by the Franklin Mineral Museum. The Buckwheat dump is open every weekend, and a nominal entry fee is charged, as well as a small charge for each pound of material removed. Although the Buckwheat Dump has been collected for decades, the Museum has "turned up" the dump with heavy equipment as well as brought in truckloads of material from adjacent mine dumps.

The standard ore body minerals of Franklin -- franklinite, calcite, willemite, rhodonite -- are easily found. But rarities at Franklin, such as uraninite, scheelite, and powellite have been found on the dump in recent years by collectors.

At the entrance to the dump is the Franklin Mineral Museum, which contains one of the most comprehensive collections of Franklin/Sterling Hill minerals in existance, as well as one of the largest exhibits of fluorescent minerals in the US (the latter requires a bit of work).

Just a mile south, in Ogdensburg, is the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. The museum occupies the site of the former Sterling Hill Mine, and offers guided tours of the underground workings 7 days a week. Although this mine never actually possessed a dump -- waste rock was ground up and returned underground to fill the "stopes" (the enormous underground voids left by mining) -- the museum staff has created one by bringing tons of ore to the surface for collectors. Collecting is ONLY ALLOWED ONE DAY A MONTH... its important to call ahead for dates and times. In addition to the usual ore body minerals which are common in the area (franklinite, willemite, calcite, zincite), recent tunnelling on site has brought up fluorescent diopside, brilliant, tiny arsenopyrite crystals, brightly fluorescent wollastonite (previously a great rarity), galena (common at many mines, but rare at Franklin and Sterling Hill!) and a few other oddities.

In addition to the mine tour, the museum hosts a large exhibit hall containing mining history and mineral displays.

Both the Franklin Mineral Museum and the Sterling Hill Mining Museum have gift shops burgeoning with mineral specimens for those who prefer the "silver pick" to getting dirty; the specimens are not just limited to local minerals.

Both sites are only an hour outside of New York City and provide a delightful daytrip for families.

For further information contact:

Franklin Mineral Museum
Evans Road
Franklin, NJ 07416

Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Passaic Street
Ogdensburg, NJ 07439

Collecting Site Index

Table of Contents 7/2/95