Saturday, August 15, 2009

Recent Tips on New England Collecting

The above pictured site is NOT one of the localities that Nancy Millard mentioned during her talk on August 7, 2009, at the East Coast Gem and Mineral Show in West Springfield, MA. Rather it's the accessible dumps of the Manhan Lead Mines in Loudville, MA. The image is simply posted as an example of a New England locality. I had camera problems when Nancy was addressing us and couldn't photograph her or any of the samples she brought with her. It just so happened, however, that the day before her talk, I was on location here at the Manhan Dumps. When checking out my finds under the scope a few days later, a couple pieces amazed me. You'll have the opportunity to read that story and see some unbelievable related pictures in next week's Mineral Bliss post.

Nancy Millard is a former full time professional miner of Herkimer diamonds, seasoned collector, and proprietress of "Natures!" in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Prior to her presentation, she handed out copies of a 1963 publication I'd never heard of that struck me as priceless. Mineral Guide to New England provides pertinent information and concise directions to just about all the great New England localities. What it doesn't tell us is which of these localities still exist nor any updated particulars as to where permission to collect is necessary. Trespassers subject themselves to danger, and their lack of protocol has predicated the closing of many wonderful collecting spots. They are considered pariahs within the mineral collecting community.

Here's a summary of the localities Nancy Millard mentioned:

  • The best means for visiting the greatest number of localities is to join whatever mineral societies sponsor field trips to them. That's the only way to visit the great Palermo Mine in North Groton, NH.

  • To collect at the Wise Mine in Westmoreland, NH, either contact and locate Bob Borosky to obtain permission or join the Keene (NH) Rock and Mineral Club, which sponsors field trips there. It's said that yttrium makes the fluorite from this famous locality green. Ms. Millard noted also that on "the other side of the mountain," the fluorite is blue and purple.

  • In Surry, NH, on Old Walpole Rd (Exit 12A off Rt. 10 going north from Keene), look for a tiny bridge. Cross the bridge and check out the botroydal hematite covering the stones over the embankment.


  • In Greenwood Maine, the tailings of Tamminen Mine continue to be rich in pegmatite minerals. (Mineral Guide to New England notes "cubic! quartz crystals," spodumene, amblygonite, and pollucite.) It directs collectors to the Tamminen residence 100 yards north of the mine to obtain permission. Presumably the Tamminen Mine is still on private property, and permission must be obtained.

  • Ms. Millard also recommended the Harvard Mine, also at Greenwood, and located at the top of a mountain reached by hiking a trail leaving the town road at a point a little above the Tamminen residence. The cut is on a face of the mountain from which the dump slides down the hill. Mineral Guide to New England described purple apatite , manganapatite in dull green rounded crystals, and bottle-green tourmaline as being common here.

  • She noted that the Deer Hill Mine in Stow, Maine, continues to be a great locality for amethyst. Based on the extensive information available by searching the Web, I would assume that the Deer Hill Mine is easy to find and readily accessible.


  • The great Eden Mills locality is now closed.

  • Ludlow, VT is great for gold panning. While Ms. Millard did not discuss the specifics, I determined with just a little bit of web searching that supplies (and presumably information) are readily available in downtown Ludlow. From the web site of a Bed and Breakfast that takes its guests gold panning, I learned that a good place to go was in Plymouth State Park in a stream called Gold Brook, about 3/4 miles upstream and uphill from where the road crosses it.
  • Here we all were in West Springfield, MA, so needless to say it was disconcerting to learn that the Lane Quarry in Springfield had closed. Other than that, Nancy had no word on any Massachussetts localities. Next week, check our upcoming post about the dumps from the Manhan Lead Mines in Loudville.


  • She rated Greens Garnet Farm in Roxbury, CT as "the number 1 place in Connecticut." It's all about almandine garnet. Everything you need to know is at John Betts' web site.
  • Nancy also highly recommended a great locality for quartz crystals and quartz after natrolite in Stafford Springs CT where a trail heads out from a "parking lot behind a school." Web research convinces me that this school and parking lot is on Highland Terrace, just past the Hyde Duck Pond. The trail heads uphill. Start climbing, go right, and after about 20 minutes, listen for water, and upon hearing it, you're there.


  • OK, New York's not in New England, but if you'd like the scoop from a former professional full time Herkimer diamond miner, here goes: Nancy noted that in the Herkimer, New York area, there were three mining locations, all of them open to the public for a fee. The one known as the Ace of Diamonds she said would definitely be the most appealing to any field collector.

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