2005 Mining History Association Field Trip


Franklin/Sterling Hill, NJ Mining District

Franklin Mines and the Mineral Museum

June 19, 2005

Tour Hosts: Staff of the Franklin Mineral Museum

The Mining History Association field trip to the Franklin and Sterling Hill, NJ mining districts was one of the of the most comprehensive ever taken by the MHA.  There was a lot to see because the history of the area started with iron mining and smelting at Franklin Furnace before the Revolutionary War and evolved into one of the most important U. S. zinc mining areas from the 1850’s to 1986.

The first stop on the tour was the Franklin Mineral Museum. The museum has a large collection of the hundreds of mineral types from the Franklin mines.  Its buildings include the old Taylor Mine power house at the edge of the Buckwheat Pit.  It was previously owned by the New Jersey Zinc Company.  Mining in Franklin stopped in 1954.  The pit, now flooded, was used to mine the near-surface portion of the “U” shaped orebody at the bottom of the “U.”  The MHAers were permitted to walk along the long west side of the deposit to observe a small part of the West Vein exposed in the pit wall of the old Trotter Mine.  This area is normally closed to the public.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum in nearby Ogdensburg, New Jersey, preserves the mine and mill as it was when production stopped in 1986.  Its surface and underground tour interprets the entire cycle of mining from drilling, blasting, and loading the ore and transportation of the ore to the surface.  The tour includes the on-site Thomas Warren Museum of Fluorescence with a world class exhibit of fluorescent minerals.  MHAers were also permitted to visit the hoisting and milling facilities on the hill above the mine.  These are not usually part of the standard tour.

There are seven photo galleries from this field trip.

Gallery 1 – Franklin Mines and the Mineral Museum (Below).

Gallery 2 – Sterling Hill Mining Museum.

Gallery 3 - Underground Tour of the Sterling Hill Mine.

Gallery 4 - Underground Tour of the Sterling Hill Mine (Cont’d.).

Gallery 5 – Surface Tour of the Sterling Hill Mine.

Gallery 6 – Sterling Hill Mine Headframe, Mill, and Railroad Load-out Facilities.

Gallery 7 – Sterling Hill and Franklin Fluorescent Minerals, and Thomas Edison’s Iron Mining and Magnetic Processing Experiment (the latter was not part of the MHA Trip).







(Above) View of the Buckwheat Pit, Franklin, NJ.  The pit flooded when the Franklin mines closed in 1954 after more than a century of zinc mining.


(Left)  Statue of The Zinc Miner at the Franklin Mineral Museum.  It is “Dedicated to the men who worked in the world famous Franklin and Sterling Hill Mines”. The sculptor is Carey Boone Nelson.


MHAers with Dick Houck outside the Franklin Mineral Museum.

The Franklin Mineral Museum’s collection from Franklin, Sterling Hill, and around the world.


Walking through the surface pit of the Trotter Mine.

West Vein of the ore body exposed in the Trotter Mine.


New Jersey Zinc Company Offices and Laboratory.

Silent smokestacks are the only remains of the large mining and milling complex at the Palmer Shaft of the New Jersey Zinc Company.

Photo Credits: Johnny Johnsson, Mike Kaas and John Park


Franklin Mineral Museum, http://franklinmineralmuseum.com, Accessed 8 January 2012).

Sterling Hill Mining Museum, http://sterlinghillminingmuseum.org,, Accessed 8 January 2012).

Pete J. Dunn, “Mine Hill in Franklin and Sterling Hill in Ogdensburg, Sussex County, New Jersey: Mining History 1765-1900,” 1-7 (Alexandria, VA: Dr. Pete J. Dunn, 2002). 

Carrie Pappa, “A Mile Deep and Black as Pitch: An Oral History of the Franklin and Sterling Hill Mines,” (Granville, OH: McDonald and Woodward, 2004). 

Rodney P. Johnson, “Thomas Edison’s ‘Ogden Baby’,” (Highland Lakes, NJ: Rod and Anne, 2004)




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