Some of our Favorite Collecting Locations
IMPORTANT: Unless otherwise noted, ALL COLLECTING LOCATIONS are on private property, closed to the public, with the owners only willing to allow organized, PRE-APPROVED field trips by club groups with proper guidance, and their own liability insurance. Be aware that many mine owners have invested in security measures. Do NOT visit these locations on your own.
NEW HAMPSHIRE LOCATIONS
Beauregard Mine: Located in the town of Alstead, the Beauregard Mine is an excellent location to hunt large crystals of Beryl. While many of the crystals are opaque and non-lustrous, there are still good pickings of Aquamarine, some with clear gem nodules. Surface scanning is often productive, as is turning over the top few inches. Older material may be reached by digging deeply along the sides of the dumps, where the woods have been taking over. Do not disregard the feldspar boulders, which often contain unseen crystals. Also produces nice specimens of Chalcopyrite, Mangano-Apatite, and Zoned Muscovite crystals. The mine road is usually passable for any high-clearance vehicle, parking is at the mine entrance so there’s no hike, and there are no bathroom facilities.
Recommended Tools: Scratcher, (or potato rake), folding shovel, pick-hammer, sledgehammer for breaking large rocks.
Palermo Mines: Located in North Groton, the Palermo site consists of a number of mines, and is actively worked with fresh material hitting the dumps every year. Renowned for its spectacular assortment of rare phosphate minerals, including many which were first discovered here, a casual collector can usually count on finding nice pieces of Aquamarine, Heterosite, and lapidary grade Triphyllite with Pyrite inclusions. Happy is the digger who turns up a choice hunk of the bright blue Scorzalite! The mine road is rough in spots, and low-clearance vehicles will not make it up the last hill. The main digging areas are about 300 yards from the parking area. There is an exceptional outhouse on site.
Recommended Tools: Your favorite digging tools will come into play at this location, with small hammers for light trimming, perhaps a small sledge if you want to tackle a boulder. You will not be working any ledge. Screening may be productive in spots.
Tripp/Clark Complex: Also in Alstead, here’s another simple but robust pegmatite deposit, known for its large, sharp and colorful crystals of Aquamarine and Heliodor, as well as glossy Schorl crystals, and large Garnets. The Tripp Mine is one of the only places open for collecting where one can still find Rose Quartz in abundance, though you may only take home enough to fill half of a 5-gallon bucket per visit. Under new ownership, the dumps are being freshly turned and new workings are adding material to the tailings. The mine road should be passable for a high-clearance vehicle, with the digging areas about 100yds from the parking area. In season, there is a porta-potty on premises.
Recommended Tools: Bring your digging tools and rock-breaking tools. The dumps are extensive, and turned frequently.
Mt Apatite West Complex: Located on the outskirts of Auburn, this site consists of several quarries and prospects, all tapping into the lithium-enriched local pegmatite which has produced gem material – both Tourmaline and Garnet, as well as prized specimens of museum quality. Famous for its Purple Fluorapatite, here you can also find specimens of rarities like Schernikite, Brazilianite and Gahnite, as well as richly colored Lepidolite. Fine specimens of Graphic Granite lend themselves to lapidary work, as well. This mine is owned by Poland Mining Camps, and only pre-approved organized field trips, or PMC day-trippers may dig here. The mine road is passable for most vehicles, parking is within a few yards of digging, and there is a porta-potty on site.
Recommended Tools: Digging tools, hammers for breaking rocks, and screening for colorful gem material can be productive in some areas.
Bumpas Mine: Located in Albany Township, it was opened in 1927 in pursuit of Feldspar, but collectors flocked there for the sharp, colorful Beryl crystals and Rose Quartz, which could be had in abundance. The dumps are now overgrown and compacted, making collecting somewhat difficult, but good material may still be found. Famous for the log-sized Beryl crystals unearthed there long ago. A picture of a section of one of those is shown below. It currently resides at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, in Bethel, ME.
Recommended Tools: Here is a place where a long-handled rock pick would come in handy. To open up the compacted surface of a long-standing dump, having something you can swing and pry can help you access the lower layers, which will be more workable. Digging and whacking tools, definitely a root saw if you explore the wooded margins
Consolidated Quarries: Located in Georgetown, down on the coast, the Consolidated Quarries work the coastal pegmatite. Lithium enriched, and with new minerals found every year as the miners pursue the next gem Tourmaline pocket, the Consolidated is home to large crystals of Beryl, glossy columnar Schorl, Eosphorite and Purple Fluorapatite, to name a few sought-after materials, as well as recent finds of Arsenopyrite and Perhamite crystals. The mineral list is long, and of course, includes the prized Watermelon Tourmaline. Parking is right off the road so any vehicle is fine, and the walk to the digging areas varies from 150 to 400 yds. There are no bathroom facilities.
Recommended Tools: Digging tools are good, and in spots screening for gem material is productive, but this is also a site where you are allowed to work the outcrop, unless otherwise restricted by ongoing operations, so if you’re up for it, heavy hammers and chisels will be required.
Emmons Quarry: Emmons is a narrow cut on the side of Uncle Tom Mountain in Greenwood. If you ever visit the site, you will marvel that the original miners managed to get tonnage of Feldspar down the mountainside and to the processing mill. Later, Emmons proved to be a treasure house of rare microminerals, some of which haven’t been found anywhere else. Collectors prize the Purple Fluorapatite crystals which may be found associated with the distinctive rounded columnar Muscovite pieces, and the sky-blue ones which can be found in vugs in the Feldspar outcrop. Beryl in the varieties Aquamarine, Heliodor, Morganite and Goshenite are found here, as well as lustrous Quartz crystal clusters. The amount you can take home is limited to what can be fit into two 5-gallon buckets. The road in calls for a high-clearance AWD vehicle or better, and the nerve to drive up the switchbacks at the end. Parking is at the mine with little walking required. There are no bathroom facilities.
Recommended Tools: The tailings in the quarry are fairly shallow, but extensive dumps are throughout the woods, and off to the side. Compacted in places, and requiring some effort to loosen up, this old material still yields excellent specimens. Except for areas which are reserved for ongoing mineralogical research by the owners, the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, you may also work the ledge – you’d need heavy hammers and chisels for that.
Havey Quarry: In the town of Poland, not far from the famed pegmatites of Mt. Apatite, lies the Havey Quarry, the source of Sparhawk Tourmaline. ‘Watermelon’ Tourmaline was first recognized here. Opened in 1900, since 2013 it has enjoyed new acclaim, not only for producing fine gem material, but also distinctive specimens of deep purple Lepidolite, Hebron-style Fluorapatite crystals, sharp Cassiterites, and Loellingite-replaced Almandine Garnets. Large pockets of Smoky Quartz crystals have been recent discoveries. Collecting activity is confined to the quarry pit, but the dumps are easy to work with shovel and screen, and many collectors have had gems of their own cut from the pieces of Tourmaline they find here. You may take home as much as will fit into two 5-gallon buckets. The mine road is smooth enough for any vehicle, the walk to the diggings is about 100 yds, and there is a porta-potty on site.
Recommended Tools: Digging tools are good, and in spots screening for gem material is productive. You are not allowed to work any ledge.
Mt. Mica Mine: Located in Paris, ME, the Mt. Mica Mine was first opened in 1821 specifically in pursuit of gem quality Tourmaline, and they found it! Still producing world-class Tourmaline crystals today, this mine is also a producer of choice Purple Fluorapatite, rare Rose Quartz crystals, (the first location they were found, anywhere in the world!), Almandine Garnets, Beryl and Quartz crystal clusters. The road in is smooth, accessible to any vehicle, and the collecting area is about 200 yds from the parking area, where there is a porta-potty. Besides access via an organized, pre-approved field trip, both Dig Maine Gems and Poland Mining Camps offer guided visits to the site.
Recommended Tools: While being prepared to trim down a large rock at need, this location is best approached by digging. If you come prepared to move lots of material to reach deeper, older tailings the pickings are still very good. The mine is being actively worked, and you will be restricted to the area between the parking area and the dumps. Bringing your shovels, screens, and a root saw if you dig the margins is your best bet.
Anson Betts Manganese Mines: In Plainfield, in western Massachusetts, the Betts Mine is a fun, shady dig on a hot summer day. In addition to organized club trips, smaller groups may arrange a date privately by contacting EarthDance. Your take-home is limited to the contents of one 5- gallon bucket per visitor, each day. The most sought-after material here is probably the Rhodonite, which is found in fine lapidary quality, but sharp, lustrous crystals of Spessartine Garnet are also prized, as are specimens of Rutile, Pyrite, and Pyrrhotite. Parking is just off the road, and well-maintained paths lead throughout the property between the various collecting areas, which are well-identified. There are indoor bathroom facilities available inside the facility’s dorm.
Recommended Tools: A small shovel and a couple of hammers ought to be all you need. You’ll be digging and moving bread-loaf-sized rocks, most of them darkened with oxidation, and your best course is to gently hammer off a corner to see what you’ve found.