A Collector's Guide to Maine Mineral Localities

Chapter 1. Introduction

Maine is world famous for the colorful crystals of tourmaline, beryl, and rare minerals that are found in veins of coarse granite called "pegmatites." Other interesting types of mineral localities also occur in the state. This guide will provide you with information on these localities, including directions on how to find them and suggestions to help make your collecting trips more productive. Chapter 2 contains descriptions of the geologic settings of Maine minerals and Chapter 4 lists sources of additional information. Chapter 3 gives tips on mineral collecting equipment and techniques for those who are new to the hobby.

Several previous guidebooks have been published by individuals, mineral clubs, and State agencies. We acknowledge the efforts of these industrious forerunners in gathering and disseminating information on Maine minerals. In order to be really useful, a guidebook must provide the reader with adequate directions to go out and find the collecting sites, some of which are merely small holes in the ground located far back in the woods. The maps prepared by Morrill and others (1958) and Morrill and Hinckley (1959) were a major step in this regard, as were the detailed directions to pegmatite localities given by the Federation of Maine Mineral and Gem Clubs (Morrison and others, 1973).

This publication follows the precedent of the Maine Federation guidebook in giving specific driving and walking directions to each mineral collecting site (see Chapter 6). The location maps included in this guidebook are portions of U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps at a scale of 1:24,000 (1 inch = 2000 feet). Supplemental labels were added where necessary to show quarry sites, road names, and other useful landmarks.

In addition to giving directions, mineral lists, and other data for each locality, we include background information for those people with little or no previous collecting experience in Maine. Public mineral displays are also listed here, and we have compiled a checklist of Maine minerals and the towns in which they have been found.

Format of Locality Descriptions

A comprehensive inventory of Maine mineral localities is beyond the scope of this guide. Instead we have described some of the most interesting and accessible collecting sites, the locations of which are shown on the index map in Chapter 6. The sites do not include many classic mineral localities such as the tourmaline mines at Newry and Mount Mica in Paris, since they are currently closed to collecting. We have included a variety of less familiar localities that are open for collecting. The investment of time and effort at the lesser known places sometimes yields better specimens than are usually found nowadays at the famous mines. For a comprehensive listing of mineral localities, refer to volume 2 of the Mineralogy of Maine (King, 2000).

The current collecting status of most sites described here was personally field-checked by the authors. Previous printed editions of this guide included sites which are now closed to the public for mineral collecting, in most cases because they have been leased for specimen mining. Descriptions of closed localities have not been included in this online guide. If any of these sites re-open for collecting in the future, we will post locality descriptions and directions at that time. The users of this book are encouraged to submit updated information on locality status, along with recommendations for collecting sites not listed here, to the Maine Geological Survey, 93 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 (207-287-2801).

Conditions may change quickly, so mineral collectors should do some homework before starting out to the field, and develop an alternative itinerary in case the preferred locality has been closed. Listing of a site in this guide does not guarantee access to the visitor - the owners of private property should always be contacted for permission to collect minerals on their land. Courteous treatment of landowners and their property is now more important than ever, as the growing number of closed sites results in more collectors visiting those which are still open.

The words "mine" and "quarry" are often used interchangeably in discussing mineral localities. We have followed the convention of using "mine" only for sites that are chiefly underground workings, and for metal-mining operations. The description for each site includes a list of minerals which are known to have been found there. This list of "minerals observed" is based on: (1) species personally seen at the locality during field checks by the authors or their colleagues; (2) well-documented specimens in museums and private collections; and (3) carefully researched species lists in other publications, such as King's (1975) list of minerals found at the Newry mines. We have also included a few reported mineral occurrences that have not been verified. These are indicated by a question mark.

Since the second and third paper editions of this guidebook appeared, the Maine Geological Survey has published volume 1 (King and Foord, 1994) and volume 2 (King, 2000) of the Mineralogy of Maine, which describe and illustrate all of the minerals known from Maine and include photographs of many of them. The reader is referred to these volumes for in-depth coverage of Maine's minerals and related literature.

The mineral names listed here conform to the widely accepted names in the Mineral Reference Manual by Nickel and Nichols (1991). This practice has resulted in the listing of some names for common minerals that may be unfamiliar to the novice collector (e.g. "grossular" and "elbaite" for members of the garnet and tourmaline groups). In such cases, we often give the common group names in parentheses, since they are more easily recognized and may be the only names used in other publications. Confusion may also arise from the reclassification of familiar minerals based on recent analyses. Test results suggest that virtually all of the amblygonite mentioned in earlier lists of Maine minerals is actually montebrasite, yet the name amblygonite still appears in many listings for Maine localities.

Some of our locality descriptions include comments of historical or geological interest, and remarks on famous mineral discoveries. The history of mining for Maine gems and minerals is a fascinating subject. Volumes 1 and 2 of the Mineralogy of Maine (King and Foord, 1994; King, 2000) provide a wealth of information about the history of Maine mining and mineral collecting. Perham (1987) has written an outstanding book tracing the development of the mineral-rich pegmatite mines in Oxford and Androscoggin Counties. She also describes many of the best specimens produced by these mines. Other literature, including the citations in the locality descriptions, is listed in the references at the end of this guide.

How to Use the Maps

The portions of topographic maps reproduced here are identified according to the U.S. Geological Survey quadrangle map from which they were taken. The maps are at their original scale (1:24,000), and each is accompanied by scale bars graduated in feet and miles. North is toward the top of the page in all cases. The reader may need a road map to find the location and starting point for each itinerary. The DeLorme Mapping Company's Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (available in many stores) is very useful for locating roads and their names. The starting points for driving directions in our guidebook are usually located at major road junctions. If the junction lies within the boundaries of our locality map, we have marked it with a star. Otherwise, following the directions will bring you into the map area at the point shown by an arrow. Look for landmarks described in the itinerary as you proceed to the collecting site. Walking distances are often given in feet, but you can convert them to paces by assuming the average adult pace to be 3 feet. Mineral localities are arranged by town, so that maps for those towns with more than one locality can be grouped together.

If you are unfamiliar with topographic maps, you may be puzzled by the many lines on them. These are contour lines, which are used to show elevations and the shapes of hills, valleys, and other terrain features of the Earth's surface. All points along a particular contour line have the same elevation above sea level. Thus, if you follow a level path along a hillside, you are walking parallel to these imaginary lines; but in going uphill or downhill, you cross them. Every fifth contour is a heavy index contour. Many of the index contours are labelled on topographic maps, so you can count upward or downward to determine elevations of points of interest. The difference in elevation between adjacent contours, known as the contour interval, is either 10 feet or 20 feet on the maps used in this book. Contour lines are closer together on steeper slopes. Where they cross valleys, contours form a "V" pattern that points up the valley, while concentric patterns usually outline hills.

References Cited

King, V. T., 2000, Mineralogy of Maine - Volume 2: Mining history, gems, and geology: Maine Geological Survey, 524 p.

King, V. T., and Foord, E. E., 1994, Mineralogy of Maine - Volume 1: Descriptive mineralogy: Maine Geological Survey, 418 p.

Morrill, P., and others, 1958, Maine mines and minerals, Vol. 1, western Maine: privately published, 80 p.

Morrill, P., and Hinckley, W. P., 1959, Maine mines and minerals, Vol. 2, eastern Maine: privately published, 80 p.

Morrison, D. F., Acord, J. P., Acord, W. J., Aldrich, R., Hewes, G., Hewes, T., Joyner, D. L., King, V. T., Morrison, D., Perham, S. I., Tamminen, K., and Tamminen, N., 1973 (first printing), Guidebook I to mineral collecting in the Maine pegmatite belt: privately published, 22 p.

Nickel, E. H., and Nichols, M. C., 1991, Mineral reference manual: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 250 p.

Perham, J. C., 1987, Maine's treasure chest: Gems and minerals of Oxford County: Quicksilver Publications, West Paris, Maine, 269 p.

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Last updated on September 24, 2012