Monday, August 15, 2005

Geo: CT Mining Museum

Kent is always a beautiful place to visit, and a group of little known museums just north of the village offer unique experiences you won't find anywhere else. Tucked away off Route 7 are the Sloane-Stanley Museum, featuring the work and tools of Connecticut master painter Eric Sloane, The Connecticut Antique Machinery Museum, featuring an extraordinary collection of antique farm and industrial machinery, and the Connecticut Mining Museum, a true "diamond in the rough" for local mineral hounds.

The boys and I enjoyed bouncing around back and forth between the attractions on a trip up to Litchfield County and Kent Falls just the other day.

You can't miss them. Just look for the old steam locomotive parked along the railroad tracks north of the Kent village, just to the west of Rt. 7, and a few miles south of Kent Falls State Park. Turn in, and after crossing the tracks, bear right to follow the road to the Machinery Museum. Make the first left to reach the Mining Museum.

Mining has been an important industry in Connecticut since European colonists first settled in the region, and the state was in many ways the place where commercial mining in the US began. The mining of materials such as traprock and commercial grade marble remains a large and important industry in the state today.

All around the outside of the Mining Museum are specimens of many of the state's most noted and collectible minerals. In the back of the building are a collection of iron buckets that once rode the rails of special railroads used to transport ores out of local mines. Inside is a map of current and former rock quarries throughout the state, a recreation of an underground mine, and outstanding displays of Connecticut minerals.

Built by a former New Milford teacher, John Pawlowski, the museum features cases filled with fine examples of local minerals. There are specimens of quartz from New Britain, Malachite from New Milford, Corundum & Sillimanite from Norwich and many, many more.

There is a wonderful display of minerals associated with Connecticut traprock, an igneous rock known as basalt that formed from lavas that flooded the Connecticut Valley nearly 200 million years ago. Here are specimens of my personal favorite, Prehnite, as well as Amethyst and Calcite.

Also not to be missed is a piece of Verde Antique green marble from a quarry in Orange, Connecticut, that began to be worked in 1811. Verde Antique marble from the quarry was used to make the fireplace mantles in the East Room of the White House. There is also a wonderful display of minerals that show remarkable color under special light.


At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They have mystery mineral "grab bags" for $1 at the gift counter. The man told us the best part was figuring out what you got, and he was right. My kids had a blast trying to look theirs up.

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