The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum (Ogdensburg, NJ)

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum, located in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, offers visitors a tour of an old zinc mine, a large mining and mineral museum, and an opportunity to collect fluorescent minerals from a dump of rocks left over from mining operations. If you have an interest in mining, geology, rock collecting, or New Jersey history, it is worth a visit. Ogdensburg, and Franklin to its north, are internationally known for the variety of fluorescent minerals and the New Jersey state mineral Franklinite, which is a non-fluorescent zinc ore.

Note the variety of colors found in the rocks a the bottom of this photo. Even in daylight, these massive rocks are colorful — under a shortwave UV light, even more so.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

One of the entrances to the mine is on the side of the mountain. The mountain is named Sterling Hill.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

The mine is a half-mile deep, but it is mostly filled with water. The tour guide takes you only through the top levels of the mine. There is no danger of falling to lower levels and drowning. But just imagine falling into a pool of water as deep as the Empire State Building in total darkness — not that’s a horror movie!

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Look down a corridor and you’ll see mining equipment and a room where explosives were stored. Along the tour you’ll see mannequins handling assorted mining equipment like drills and jackhammers, setting dynamite charges, and riding an ore elevator.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Two large slabs of rock fluorescing orange and green under shortwave ultraviolet light. The walls of the mine behind the slabs also fluoresce. Most of the orange is calcite and the green is willemite, although these are not the old minerals that fluoresce these colors. Under white light, calcite is usually white to gray, and willemite is red or green.

Fluorescent rocks. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

This is the “rainbow room” portion of the tour, featuring an anticline of green, orange, purple, and green again fluorescing rock, with a large pile of loose rocks of differing colors in front of it. Not to be missed! In the museum, there are many rooms of fluorescing rocks to explore.

Fluorescent rocks. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Dynamite was used to break through the solid rock of the mountain to create tunnels and get the ore down to a liftable size. The museum has an impressive collection of detonators that were used to trigger explosions from a safe distance.

Dynamite plungers. Fluorescent rocks. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

A bust of a happy miner with his mining lamp surrounded by actual carbide mining lamps. Originally miners wore hats fitted with candles.

Happy Miner. Fluorescent rocks. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Safety first! Some mine safety cartoons from the mine tour and museum. I smacked my head on the walls of the mine a few times, so be careful. 🙂

Danger. Fluorescent rocks. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Warning, Fluorescent rocks. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

CNJ railroad tracks in the woods (Atsion, NJ)

The Central Railroad of New Jersey, and its famous train “the Blue Comet”, split the New Jersey Pinelands, connecting southern New Jersey and Atlantic City, to central New Jersey, and distant locations like Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New York City. The rail only functioned between 1929 and 1941, but its remnants can still be found today in Pinelands locations like Atsion, Chatsworth, and Manchester.

Often, when I visit the Pines, I stop at the Atsion Furnace, which was once used to make iron. The spot is used by kayakers to launch their boats into the Mullica River.
Atsion Furnace

Walk south from the furnace and you’ll find Washington Road. Washington Road becomes Railroad Avenue. It has potholes large enough to consume a mid-sided sedan. The sand road is colored gray from the ashes of forest fires. Forest fires are a common occurrence in the Pines. Fire-resistant trees like pines and oaks thrive in the area.
A dirt road with Hyundai Sonata sized potholes.

Walk along the road and you’ll come to railroad tracks. The tracks have a patina of rust but they’re still firmly spiked to their wooden ties, which are now nestled in a bed of pine needles, soil, and moss. Weeds, and periodically trees grow between ties, making it all the more fun to imagine a massive blue locomotive flying along the rails.

Follow the tracks to the north, and you’ll come to a bridge where the rail crosses the Mullica River.
CNJ bridge in the woods

This is a view of the bridge from the side. Try to imagine a huge train racing by overhead.
The CNJ bridge from the side.

Very little graffiti on the bridge — rare for New Jersey.
Graffiti under the bridge

More places where you can see the rails: