Mineral Collecting in Maine (Part 2)

One of the unfortunate aspects of living near by a good mine is not being able to collect there. I can understand if the mine is still being worked by a company, but that is not always the case anymore. Now there are mines that are closed to collectors, because the land is owned by a private collector. This individual works the mine in their free time, hoarding any samples found in their basement. As much as I hate this, I would probably do the same thing if I had the money to do it. It still hard to think about all of those nice samples ending up in someone’s basement collecting dust. Another reason that seems to becoming more and more common has to do with legal issues. Some owners of mines close them off to the public, because some bonehead sued them. In my mind if you go to a mine, fall and hurt yourself, you should live with it. Anyone in their right mind knows there is a certain amount of danger walking around mines that are no longer in operation. So, since people are afraid of being sued, they have closed off access to collectors. Irresponsible collecting methods is another reason why some mines have been closed off to the public. I contacted a land owner once for permission to collect on their land, and he granted me access. That is why it never hurts to ask, even if the mine is closed to collectors. They may be willing to consider a case by case basis. The reason he closed his mine to collecting is, is because some bonehead thought it would be appropriate to bring an excavator and some dynamite. The guy actually blasted on his land. That is enough to make any land owner bar collecting on his their land. Fortunately there are still those mine owners out there that recognize the importance of mineral collecting to the public. It is a fun, and exciting hobby that anyone can enjoy. They keep their mines open despite the prospect of being sued or morons showing up with dynamite. One such owner is the Perham family.

The Perham family owns four mines located in the Greenwood and West Paris region located in Oxford County. These mines are the Harvard, Nubble, Tamminen, and Waisanan mines. Before heading to any one of these locations I would recommend you stop at Perhams Jewlers and check out their shop. They have all sorts of equipment for sale such as rock hammers, chisels, and gold pans. Their Jewelry is good to, but by far the number one reason to spot their is their mineral exhibit. They have samples there that have been collected over the years from their mines. They have a monster sample of smokey quartz, beryl, and tourmaline there. One could spend a good hour just looking at these samples. I do not believe any of them are for sale, and if they were, I know I could not afford one.

The Harvard Quarry is the best in my opinion followed by the Tamminen and Waisanan quarry. If memory serves me correctly than the Nubble Quarry has the least to offer. I didn’t spend much time here as all I could seem to find was biotite and muscovite mica. The Harvard Quarry was the best. I found large chunks of schroll and garnet in green orthoclase feldspar. Pockets of lepidolite can be found here as well, along with large pockets of quartz. I have also heard of gem quality apatite crystals being found below in the talice pile. The apatite was purple with wite caps. A good variety of minerals can be found here. The Tamminen mine contains good samples of beryl. From what I saw there seemed to be more of a variety of minerals here. This would be a good place to use a screen to look for some gem quality samples. I spend most of my time in these two mines. I basically lump the Tamminen and Waisanan mines together since they are so close. The list of minerals that have been found in this area are:

Clevelandite, almandine garnet, beryl, biotite, muscovite, quartz, lepidolite, montmorillonite, spodumene, topaz, vesuvianite, tourmaline, and zircon.

These are the more well known and popular minerals. A whole host of other minerals, less common can be found here as well. I have only ever found tourmaline, garnet, lepidolite, quartz, muscovite, and biotite, in any kind of abundance. Black tourmaline and garnet are the most common at the Harvard mine. The Tamminan and Waisanan Quarries seem to offer more in the way of variety. I have only ever heard of the gem quality apatite being found at the Harvard site. The book I have also does not list apatite, it lists fluorapatite. Any collecting being done at the Harvard mine should be done with care, especially when climbing around on the talice pile down below. There are large chunks of clevelandite here that can be extremely sharp. I cut myself pretty good and did not even notice until I saw the blood dripping on the rocks. All of these mines are easy to locate, but if you get lost just stop into Perham’s Jewelers where they have maps.

Driving from the directions of the junction of route 117 and 118 in Norway, go west on route 118 for 0.95 miles. Turn right onto the Greenwood road and drive north west 5.3 miles. Turn right onto Richardson Hollow road and continue 0.4 miles to parking area located on the right hand side of the road. The trail to the quarry is across the road from the parking area. (Maine Mineral Localities 3rd EDT. by W.B Thompson, D.L. Joyner, R.G. Woodman, V.T. King).

Anyone that makes there way to the University of Maine in Farmington’s geology department can see some samples collected from this region by the geology club. They have a real fine mineral collection to view as well.