Our team visited the
Sterling Hill Mine in Ogdensburg, New Jersey. We didn’t realize
how famous this mine is until much later. This mine is known
worldwide for its
fluorescent rocks called Franklinite and
The tour began in the mining museum. This mine was closed
in 1986 because it wasn’t making enough money. There is still a
lot of zinc, franklinite, and willemite there but it would cost
too much money to mine for it. It cost $18,000 a month in
electricity just to pump the water out of the mine. Now the
water has flooded most of the bottom levels, or floors, of the
mine. That is about 1100 feet of water. A quarter of a billion
gallons of water filled the mine when it closed. Our guide said
that the surrounding
area wouldn’t have to worry about
because there is lots of water that can be pumped out.
One of the first things that we saw was a bunch of lockers
that the miners used. We thought that miners wore their work
clothes home after work each day. Our fathers do. The miners
changed their clothes and took a shower before they left work
because they got so dirty in the mine. Then they hung their
dirty clothes on a hook which was pulled up high into the air on
wire 'ropes' to
dry for the next day. This is pictured on the right.
Then we went through the museum where we were able
to take a lot of the pictures of
that we have on our site. They had tons of them. This really
helped us because we could get pictures of gemstones but that
didn’t give us any idea about what they looked like when they
were mined as ore.
We entered the mine through an opening called an
[on the left]. It
led us to a horizontal
tunnel. Did you know that all mines must
have two ways out in case of cave-ins or fires? This made us
feel better, too. The marble walls seemed to be strong,
though. Originally the walls were limestone and then they
metamorphosed [changed] into
Our guide showed us how the zinc was mined. We thought it
was interesting that there was such a thing as miner manners.
Miners wore a headlamp that would light up what they needed to
see. Our guide told us that a ‘good miner’ would keep the lamp
shining down and not in the eyes of the other miners.
We noticed that this mine was quieter than the
Coal Mine that we visited before this. Coal mines have a lot of
gas build up in them and need to have
ventilation, or air
flowing through them, at all times. This means that there are a
lot of LOUD fans running all the time. Zinc mines don’t have
methane gas. This made us feel better in many ways.
Some mines are like underground hotels except we wouldn’t
want to stay overnight! There are a lot of ‘floors’ or levels
inside, just like a hotel. On each floor, there are rooms
that have been cut out of the rock with rock or mineral pillars.
Miners used something called a man cage
to get from floor to floor [picture on right]. This hoist moves the men 800
feet per minute. Now, that's fast!
This mine was first discovered because of something called an
outcrop. An outcrop is when you can see pieces of the
mineral on the surface of the land. Engineers and mining
people also look for rocks and minerals that are usually found
in the same place as the mineral they are looking for. For example, an engineer
might be looking for zinc but find pieces of franklinite
instead. Since these are often found in the same place, it
tells the engineers that they should dig deeper.