30 Plant Street
Phone Number :
Easiest way to get directions :
Take Interstate 80 to the western part of New Jersey. Get off at route 15 northbound. Look for local route 517. Look for signs to the mine! (It will be a left) Alternatively: Google maps
Cool things to do while visiting :
Go Rock Collecting!
There is both a 'Rock Discovery Center' and a 'Mineral Collecting' site,
both of which can be visited on each trip, under supervision, for a nominal fee.
Another way to get into these sites is to become a donating and supporting
Member of the Museum Foundation. More information on becoming a
member will be available near the bottom of this article.
By the way, the reason why rock collecting is cool is because they are
all marble chips or fluorescent in nature.
Visit the Food Center!
Over-priced rock candy in half a dozen assorted colors and flavours.
Need I elaborate?
The store also sells various ice cream and caffeinated goodies for your personal
nourishment before your trek into the dark bowels of the earth.
Visit and Explore the Gift Shop!
A wide and complete collection of bracelets, necklaces, and charms with an
accent on the animal and mystical.
Inexpensive gem rocks, all prepared in the museum's rock tumbler.
Several specimens of amethyst stone and gold figurines and samples.
Take the Public Guided Tour!
read on curious explorer
The tour of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum begins in the Museum itself. It is here where you are allowed to roam about the actual locker room used by original miners and gaze wantingly into the gold standard display case. There are several one ton specimens of the actual ore mined by the Sterling Hill Company in the room, all laying ready for the tourists' "personal edification" (catch phrase of the mine tour guide). Useless Factoid #1: The Sterling Hill Mine was the last fully operating mine in New Jersey, closing only in 1986 nearly fifty years after the runnerup--the sister zinc mine in Franklin, NJ. The minerals in these zinc ore samples which grant them their fluorescence and, in select cases, phosphorescence are Zincite, Willemite, and Franklinite. These minerals are elementally a zinc oxide, a zinc silicate, and a zinc iron manganese oxide respectively*. While Willemite is found sparingly around the world, the other two minerals are exclusive to the Sterling Hill Mine and the neighboring Franklin Mine.
Once the group masters a short quiz testing their knowledge of the museum (questions aimed towards the little ones on the tour) you are finally introduced to the elder tour guide who brings you up to the mine's primary adit, collects your tickets, and commences the tour of the mine. The tour will cost you $10 (tickets are to be purchased near the gift shop before the 1pm starting time for the tour), with a one dollar Triple-A discount and a free tour to any and all Ogdensburg Citizens.
Things to know about the mine: It is cold and wet inside. The interior temperature is 54 degrees Fahrenheit on a good day, it does get colder, and a local fault line in the marble bed of the surrounding hills creates quite a bit of dripping water throughout the tunnels. There is a faint mist due to the water and temperature, but if you bring a long-sleeved shirt or jacket you will be most comfortable. Good walking shoes are a must, because if you slip odds are you will hit your head on solid rock. The tour guide guarantees that the rock of the tunnel is harder than any of the heads of the people in the group. For the alleviation of those faint at heart, air is still pumped into the adit level by a pipe connected to the roof of the tunnel, so breathing is at no time an issue...unless there is a spectacular power outage.
The mine was, at one time, a very elaborate structure with levels sprawling deep within the Earth (useless factoid #2:) to a depth greater than the height of the Empire State Building. The entire tour is given only on this upper 'Adit' level of the mine, as since the mine stopped operating and water was no longer pumped out of the tunnels said tunnels filled with water at a rate estimated to be one foot per day for seven years*. The water level has remained dependant on seasonal rain levels for several years now, and it is estimated that there is one gallon of water for every person on earth in those tunnels.
One of the first stops on the tour is the elevator, where the guide has a (young) volunteer demonstrate how workers signaled to the above ground tower to what level they needed to be transported to. The tour then winds through the upper level of the mine for about 30 minutes pointing out the various points of interest of the mine including an underwater lake, the several architectural designs used to support the mine, and the Rainbow Room. As this is not meant to be a spoiler to the tour for any who would be interested in making the trip, I will avoid getting too specific on what happens on the tour, as there are several surprises.
The tour momentarily exits at Passaic Pit towards the back of the property, where the Guide expands on the Museum Foundation's wishes for the future, which lie mainly in the opening of another tunnel to the public as well as the addition of two new trails to see the refining process of the mine as it was when still operating.
The tour group will embark on a short underground journey and walk into the GeoTech Center, which was home to the workers' cafeteria and check pick-up, and is currently home to several fluorescent and phosphorescent samples from around the country and soon around the world. After a long self exploration of the GeoTech Center the group is led back to the surface, and the tour concludes.
On becoming a Member :
So, you're interested in Geology, really liked the tour, or just have money to burn? You, my friend, want to become a contributing member of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum Foundation. One year memberships are available for $15-$100 dollars while $500 will land you an extended membership. For further information on joining the Foundation, drop a short line to
Sterling Hill Mining Museum
30 Plant Street
Ogdensburg, N.J. 07439-1126
*Sources include The Sterling Hill Mining Museum Map and Guide, the words of the Tour Guides themselves, as well as my personal experiences on the tour.