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A Geological Enigma in New Jersey

By Linda Tancs

One of the oldest mines in the United States, Sterling Hill was first worked before the 1730s, a source of local employment for residents of Ogdensburg, New Jersey. It is one of the most famous mines in the world and a geological enigma, with 350 different mineral species found there (a world record for such a small area) and more than two dozen of those found nowhere else on Earth. Closed in 1986, it was the last operating mine in the state and produced 11 million tons of zinc ore. It’s also famous for the abundance of mineral species documented as fluorescent, highly coveted by collectors. Named to both the state and national registers of historic places, guided tours last about two hours and include one hour in the underground zinc mine, 30 minutes in the large exhibit hall and about 10 minutes in the museum of fluorescence. Mineral collecting is also available amidst 200 tons of high-grade zinc ore, much of which contains fluorescent mineral.

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