Sterling Hill Mine Museum
30 Plant Road
Ogdensburg, New Jersey 07439
Open: Sunday 9:30am-3:30pm/Monday-Friday 9:00am-3:30pm/Saturday 9:30am-3:30pm/Check the schedule on their website outside of July and August. The tour is usually 1:00pm.
Tours: 10:00am & 1:00pm
Fee: Adults $13.00/Seniors (65+) $12.00/Children 4-12 $10.00/Children under 4 Free
My TripAdvisor Review:
History of the Mining industry in New Jersey
I visited the Sterling Mining Museum when visiting Sussex County to learn more about New Jersey’s Mining past. The Sterling Mine was once a big source of zinc in the United States until it became cheaper to mine it elsewhere. There is still zinc in the mines. The mining stopped in 1985 and the mine was closed in 1986.
Tours at the museum vary by the time of the year and during the summer months there are two tours, one at 10:00am and one at 1:00pm and the tours take two hours with time to visit the gift shop and the restaurant at the beginning and end of each tour. Everything shuts down after the last tour around 3:15pm so plan your visit accordingly.
Arriving late for the tour, I started in the downstairs museum section which has the original lockers for the miners and their daily equipment, specimens of minerals and ores that have been found in the mine and elsewhere in the country. There are Native American artifacts and fossils of dinosaur tracks, bones and fragments of sea life. There are also many antiques from the Victorian age to the 1960’s to look at and items like detonators to show the items used to do the mining.
The second part of the tour will take you outside to see the outer workings of the mine and how things moved around. There are mining carts and transports, equipment to more the ore for washing and to market. There is a silent eeriness about the mine like someone just shut off the power and then walked away.
The entrance to the mine
The best part of the tour is of the mine itself. You will tour the tunnels where the miners worked, see in the tunnels when mining was done by hand instead of machine. where the mining cars moved and how the miners got from one level to another to work and the dangerous conditions of the work as a miner. You will travel down tunnels and see the inner workers of a foreman’s office down in the mines and how the system of ‘tag out’ works for accountability.
The mine tour
At the end of the tour you will be taken to the tunnel of illumination and when the tour guide dims the lights, you will see the tunnel come to life in color as the minerals radiate with color.
The Rainbow Tunnel
I would not recommend this tour to anyone with a walking disability or who has to use a stroller with children. It is a lot of walking and very difficult to maneuver around the tunnels. I know they say it is accessible but I saw so many couples struggling through the tunnel you have to do it at your own discretion.
The mining movement from tunnel to tunnel
Mission Statement of the Museum: (Taken from the Museum Pamphlet)
Our mission is to tell the story of the Sterling Mine and to inspire lifelong learning about earth sciences, engineering and the responsible use of the earth’s nonrenewable resources.
Since the crafting of this mission statement the museum has broadened its focus considerably. We are concerned not just with the metallic resources that most people think of when they hear the word “mining” but with commodities taken from the Earth-bulk rock taken from our quarries, sand and clay excavated from surface pits and oil and gas obtained by drilling. These commodities constitute the raw materials from which almost everything else, our house, cars, highways and bridges, computers, on and on are made.
As an institution we are neither pro-mining nor anti-mining. Instead, we are a museum about mining, again with that word used in its broadest possible context. We teach not only how mined materials are produced but also the many uses to which mined materials are put and we place special emphasis on the environmental and societal consequences of resource extraction. Alternatives to mining such as recycling and the use of alternative materials are highlighted as well.
What we do:
*We inspire students to pursue careers in science and engineering.
*We inspire people to be thoughtful and responsible stewards of our environment.
*We are committed to preserved our historic facility, rock and mineral samples, artifacts and records to support research and foster understanding of this unique geologic area.
*We promote an understanding of human involvement in our environment and how science and technology relate to that connection.
The Mine History:
The Sterling Hill Mine is a former iron and zinc mine that was last working underground mine in New Jersey when it closed in 1986. It became a museum in 1989.
Mining began at the site in the 1630’s, when it was mistakenly thought to be a copper deposit. George III of the United Kingdom granted the property to William Alexander, titled Lord Stirling. Stirling sold it to Robert Ogden in 1765. It went through several owners until the various mines were combined into the New Jersey Zinc Company in 1897. The mine closed in 1986 due to a tax dispute with the town, which forclosed for back taxes in 1989 and auctioned the property to Richard and Robert Hauck for $750,000. It opened as a museum in August 1990.
The ore bodies at the Sterling Hill Mine lie within a formation called the Reading Prong massif; the ores are contained with the Franklin Marble. This was deposited as limestone in a Precambrian oceanic rift trough. It subsequently underwent extensive metamorphosis during the Grenville orogeny, approximately 1.15 billion years ago. In the area of the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines, 357 types of minerals are known to occur; these make up approximately 10% of the minerals known to science. Thirty five of these minerals have not been found anywhere else. Ninety one of the minerals are fluoresce.
There are 35 miles of tunnels in the mine going down 2,065 feet below the surface on the main shaft and 2,675 feet of the lower shaft. As of 2017, other than the very top of the mine the entire lower section has been flooded due to underground water table and hence longer accessible. The mine remains at 56 degrees F constantly (Wiki)
(This information on the mine was taken from both Museum brochure and Wiki and I give each full credit both the information on the mine and the museum)
The Sterling Hill Mining Museum Promotional Video:
The history of the Museum:
I want to thank YouTube and The Sterling Hill Mining Museum for these videos on the museum.