Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence

A former iron and zinc mine known as the Sterling Hill Mine, the Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence is dedicated to showcasing the diverse variety of minerals, with a particular focus on the fluorescent types. Situated in Ogdensburg in Sussex County, New Jersey, the Sterling Hill Mine Museum is near the Franklin Mine, which is renowned for mineral mining and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence


»History & Geology

History & Geology


The site of the Museum became a mine when it was mistakenly thought to be a copper deposit in the 1630s. After changing hands several times over the next couple of centuries, the mine was closed in 1986 and foreclosed to due to tax issues. It was sold to Richard and Robert Hauck in 1989 and opened to the public as a museum in 1990.

The Sterling Hill Mine features ore bodies that lie within a formation known as the Reading Prong Massif and which are contained the Franklin Marble, which was deposited as limestone in an old Precambrian oceanic rift trough. The underground fracture underwent extensive changes over a time span of around 1.15 billion years ago, exposing the ore bodies at the surface and leaving the glaciers of Pleistocene strewn with ore-bearing boulders. The giant rocks are known to have more than 350 types of minerals, with 91 of them being fluoresced and 35 being endemic to the region and found nowhere else in the world. Things to Do in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence - Photo: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence

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»The Mine

The Mine


The Sterling Hill Mine features more than 35 miles of tunnels that delve 2,065 feet below on the main shaft and a further 2,675 feet on the lower shaft. The mine maintains a constant air temperature of 56 °F throughout the day and night and is home to the Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence, the Ellis Astronomical Observatory, and a unique collection of mining equipment.

The Sterling Hill Mine offers exclusive mine tours that explore the mine under the expert guidance of knowledgeable staff and geology experts. The tour includes a 30-minute visit to the Zobel Exhibit Hall, which is home to a wealth of fossils, mineralogical samples, mining memorabilia, and meteorites, followed by a 1,300 feet walk on the level ground into the mine through an underground passage that passes through the Rainbow Tunnel. The Rainbow Tunnel is a 240-foot section of the underground passage that was blasted out using 49 dynamite blasts in 1990 and ends in the Rainbow Room, which demonstrates the building of the tunnel and the samples of fluorescence found in it using short wave UV lights. Things to Do in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence - Photo: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence

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»Zobel Exhibit Hall Exhibits

Zobel Exhibit Hall Exhibits


The Zobel Exhibit Hall features more than 12,000 items on display, ranging from fossils and ore specimens to fluorescent mineral and copper, silver and gold presentations. The Oreck Mineral Gallery is housed in the main exhibit hall and houses hundreds of inspired mineral specimens in fiber-optic lighting glass display cases. Special exhibits include displays of copper, calcite, fluorite, barite and quartz, pegmatite minerals, and the minerals of Africa, China, and Russia.

The Periodic Table Display is a new 10-foot representation of the Periodic Table of the Elements, with 112 cubbyholes housing an example of the elements, and an item made from that element, such as a chunk of gold! The Fluorescent Mineral Display is set in a small room in the corner of the Zobel Exhibit Hall and features a seven-foot display of the minerals extracted from the Sterling Hill and Franklin zinc mines. This room offers visitors the opportunity to minerals glowing brilliantly in the dark in vibrant colors. The Precious Metals Display houses a collection of gold items from around the world, ranging from crystals and nuggets to sheets, and wires. The exhibit also displays ‘fool’s gold’ and specimens of native copper and silver.

Other exhibits in the museum include various kinds of ore specimens, fossils, and mining equipment such as compressors, dynamite detonators, jaw crushers, rock drills, and ore cars. The display on mining equipment also showcases the evolution of mining and the equipment that was used in the past such as oil lamps, candle picks, carbide lamps, and electric cap lamps.

The Edison Exhibition highlights Thomas Edison’s involvement in the mining industry between 1890 and 1900 and displays several items invented by Edison that was used in a large iron mining operation outside New Jersey. Articles and specimens displayed include telephones, phonographs, batteries, light bulbs, and miners' electric cap lamps, as well as specimens of iron ore, and photographs of his fully operating iron mining works.

The Fossil Exhibit features petrified wood, dinosaur bones, dinosaur eggs, stone embedded with dinosaur footprints and a full-size replica Tyrannosaurus Rex skull. The Meteorites exhibit showcases pieces of land from Mars and the Moon, irons, pallasites, stones, impact breccias, and blobs of glass tektites.

The Zobel Exhibit Hall is also home to a variety of artworks, paintings, and sculptures with a mining theme, including two beautiful European 19-century mine models, several oil paintings, and a collection of sculptures of miners at work in brass and bronze. Things to Do in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence - Photo: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence

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»Visitor Information

Visitor Information


Founded in 1999, the Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence was established to reveal the beauty and utility and share the wonders of wonders of fluorescence and other minerals, as well as to serve as an educational facility for educators of science and technology. Occupying several rooms in Sterling Hill Mine’s 1916 ore mill, the Warren Museum offers permanent and rotating exhibits and displays, lectures, classes and workshops on the subject, as well as displays more than 700 mineral-related objects that highlight the diversity of fluorescence. The Museum also presents a range of traditional ultraviolet lamps and an outstanding reference collection and developing research library of fluorescent minerals.

The Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence is located at 30 Plant Street in Ogdensburg and is open to the public for group tours every day at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. The Rock Discovery Center is a large outdoor area at the Museum that offers a fantastic introduction to earth science where young visitors learn about the various rock types that are mined and quarried in the northeastern America. The Rock Discovery Center is open on Saturdays and Sundays at 12:00 pm, April through November.

Back to: New Jersey

30 Plant St, Ogdensburg, NJ 07439, website, Phone: 973-209-7212 Things to Do in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence - Photo: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence

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Things to Do in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence