Updated: Jun 9, 2020
If you were to spend a day exploring the wooded areas of the northern New Jersey, you might stumble upon old closed up mine shafts or abandoned mine buildings that once belonged to one of the 450 underground mines that operated in the state. Although you might not think it, Jersey was once a vast mining state with operations throughout all of the north. The state's mining industry dates back to the 1600s when copper was first mined along the Delaware River by dutch settlers, and one of the United States' first iron mines opened in Rockaway around 1710. If exploring one of these mines excites you, you might be out of luck. Many, if not all, of the entrances, are permanently closed and off-limits to the public. However, there is one mine that has been letting people In since the early 90s!
Grab your hardhat and mining gear and head on over to the Sterling Mine in Ogdensburg, Sussex County. Once operating as one of the state's largest Zinc mines, it now functions as a mining museum giving residents a literal in-depth look into the mining operations of New Jersey.
When visiting the mine, you'll be able to visit many areas, including the inside of the mine shafts! On the walking tour through the mine, you'll be guided to areas including the Lamp Room, Shaft Station and Mine Galleries. The tour is about 2 hours with a full hour spent in the mine.
Half an hour of the tour will be spent in the Zobel Hall Museum, which used to function as the Change House for miners. Think of it as today's locker room. In this museum, you'll get to view parts of the old Change House along with a large display of Minerals.
The last half hour of the tour is spent in the Warren Museum of Fluorescents. When you enter the first room, you're greeted by a floor to ceiling wall of rocks glowing in various bright gorgeous colors!
Arguably the most anticipated and well-known part of the tour is the Rainbow Tunnel. This area of the mine, when lit with shortwave fluorescent lights, glows red and green and is just a breathtaking experience.
After the tour guests are welcome to explore the parking lot which houses a number of large mining machinery.
Guests are also welcome to take part in mineral collecting where you can dig through areas of rocks to hunt for local and international minerals. Another activity to take part in is sluice mining, which is similar to the way you would pan for gold.
Check out the video below for more on the history of the Sterling Mine!
The mine is open year-round but operates with limited hours and activities in the non-summer seasons, so be sure to check their website for current operations. If you want to learn more history of the mine be sure to watch the video below! Click here for hours and directions.