Glowing Rocks and Dazzling Minerals

A fluorescent rock display in New Jersey

Do you like things that glow in the dark? Do you think minerals are marvelous? Do you think that fluorescent rocks are one of God’s coolest inventions? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you are like me, and you MUST go to the Franklin Mineral Museum and the Sterling Hill Mine Museum in New Jersey, if you ever get the chance. They are both on the sites of former zinc mines, in which much of the mined ore happens to be fluorescent. They both also have large and admirable collections of other minerals in amazing crystallized forms, and fossils too. The mineral collections are truly impressive, comparable in quality with large well-funded science museums. The museums are located within 10 minutes of each other, and both have gift shops where you can get fluorescent rocks, special lights (long-wave and short-wave) for viewing them, geodes, fossils, other mineral samples, and other related items, mostly affordably priced.

I learned about both museums a few years ago, and have been wanting to go from the moment I knew they existed, but circumstances just hadn’t lined up until today. They were well worth the drive (a bit more than an hour from my rectory in Newburgh) and the admission ($7 and $10 respectively). My only complaint is that at the Sterling Hill Mine Museum I would have liked to have more time allocated on the tour to admire the spectacular mineral collection in the “dry house”. Here are some photos of the museums!

Franklin Mineral Museum fluorescent rock display. The top photo is in normal light; the bottom is with the long-wave lights on. This display is easily 20 feet long, and is truly spectacular.

This museum seems like the Tardis - it looks bigger on the inside than on the outside. There are three rooms with non-fluorescent minerals and fossils, well worth the visit in their own right.

This statue of a miner with a bird is at the Sterling Hill Mine Museum.

For an instant I thought this was just an “even big buff miners are sensitive to the beauty of nature” statue, then I remembered the role of canaries in mines… He has reason to look at the canary with affection.

"The Key to the Mountain" - one of many statues at the Sterling Hill Mine Museum

A modest example of the many amazing mineral samples on display at Sterling Hill.

Inside the mine. The halls are spacious, but probably not advisable for people with claustrophobia.

The "rainbow hall", part of the mine where the rocks are fluorescent - lit with normal light on top, and ultraviolet (or infrared?) below. In my opinion, almost worth the price of admission alone. The red arc is probably 5 feet high or so.

Another corner of the "rainbow hall" in the Sterling Hill mine. These are big rocks, not the small-to-medium sized samples most museums have.

If you have gotten this far reading this post, and think these photos are worth looking at, I have only one word to say to you about these museums: GO!


About Matthew Green

I am a translator, origami artist/teacher, and photographer, a blogger, former philosophy professor, and I love to sing. You can see my photos on Flickr and buy prints of some of them on Fine Art America. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter (@mehjg), and in various and sundry other social media sites on the web.
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