Visit Ruggles Mine in Grafton, New Hampshire

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Visit Ruggles Mine in Grafton, New Hampshire

Going way back to 1803 can be a delight when you visit the Rugles Mine in Grafton, New Hampshire.  This mine was the first commercial meca mine in the country.  The mine is in the Littleton Formation which was formed during the Devonian era approximately 300,000,000 years ago.  The mine contained minerals such as Mica, Feldspar, Beryl, and Uranium were mined at Ruggles for 175 years.

When you study minerals you will find that minerals and rocks fall into three classes of identification, metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. All of these mineral formations are found in New Hampshire. Let’s look at the metamorphic rock which is formed under extreme conditions of heat and pressure.  These rocks were once igneous or sedimentary rocks. If you exam metamorphic rock samples closely, you’ll discover how flattened some of the grains in the rock Igneous rock.bmpare.  There is also the Igneous rock which is formed when magma or molten rock cools and solidifies. The word "igneous" comes from a Greek word for fire. Deep inside the earth, the temperature is very high and the minerals there are in liquid form called magma. As the magma pushes towards the earth’s surface, it starts to cool and turns into solid igneous rock. Sedimentary rock is formed when wind or water deposit sediments and the sediments become compacted. This type of rock includes sandstone, limestone, shale, conglomerate and gypsum.  These are formed by layers of eroded-broken down earth that settle to the bottom or the rivers, lakes, and oceans where layer of eroded earth is deposited on top of each other and pressed down more and more through time until the bottom layers slowly turn into rock.

The minerals from the Ruggles Mine were used in many different areas.  In 1874 the mine was said to have been owned and operated by a guy names J.W. Kelton who had the mica transported out of Grafton by the railroad, not by the secret ox-cart of earlier years.  Feldspar was another of the minerals mined.  Feldspar was used in making high grade ceramics.  It was also used in the enamel surfaces of early appliances such as stoves and refrigerators.  It was also used in making false teeth.  When Bon Ami owned and operated the mine between 1932 and 1959 the feldspar was used in their non-abrasive scouring powder and glass cleaner.  Beryl is another mineral mined there. Beryl is the principal ore of the metal known as beryllium. Beryllium is lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel. Today, beryllium alloys are used in atomic reactors, electrical components, and as metal on spaceships components used at NASA.

The mining operation at Ruggles continued for 160 years but in the early 1960′s the government quit subsidizing the mica industry and the mine could no longer complete in price with the mica imported from brazil and India so the operation was closed.

In 1963 the Ruggles Mine was opened to the public. For 40 years visitors have been able to come and experience a part of this geologic and mining history. When entering the mine today one can still see where the feldspar and mica of the pegmatite connects to schist of the Littleton formation. One can witness the tremendous forces of the earth’s folding by observing the layers of schist that stand vertically above the pegmatite. The collecting of minerals is permitted at the Ruggles Mine; one can take home pieces of this history. Exploring the enormous caverns and tunnels provides insight into an event that took place 350,000,000 years ago. A visit to Ruggles provides insight into an important part of mining and geologic history.

Directions

50 miles from Manchester, NH
50 miles from the White Mountains
120 miles from Boston

Route 4 at the Village Green
in Grafton, NH 03240

Ph: (603) 523-4275

Open Weekends from
May 15 through June 6, 2010

Open Daily
June 12 through October 17, 2010

Admission:
Adults $25
Children (4-11) $13
Children under 4 are Free with a paid adult.

Hours:
9am-5pm except
July & August 9am-6pm
Last ticket sold 1 hour before closing
 

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