Grafton New Hampshire has one of the oldest, most spectacular mines in the country. Ruggles Mine was picked by Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England as one of the best of the region.
No longer in operation the mine is now a tourist attraction. Over the years 150 minerals have been discovered in the mine, Mica the dominant one. Feldspar, beryl, amethyst, rose/smoky quartz, and garnet have been found with the rare uranium minerals, such as uranophane, torbernite, and autunite.
Ruggles Mine has scenic views with tunnels, steep dumps and galleries in the granite pegmatite. The museum shows an introductory video about the mine. Visitors are encouraged to explore tunnels and underground passages although some can be filled with water. Mineral collecting is encouraged, visitors may keep any minerals they find. Picks and other tools for gathering samples may be rented for an extra fee, if you don’t bring your own.
Ruggles Mine is located on Isinglass Mountain, 3 miles northwest of Grafton, NH. The mine burrows into the mountain with pitch-dark side passages held up by pegmatite columns, with a huge, open pit mine, honeycombed at its borders.
The mine was the first commercial mica quarry in the country. Over its operation over 26,0000 pounds of mica were produced worth an estimated $14 million. Sam Ruggles ran the mine from 1770-1843. He was a Boston grocer where he lived and died. He was never a resident of New Hampshire hiring local miners to operate the mine. The mine remained in the family after his death in 1843 until bankruptcy in 1896.
In 1960 the mine was sold to the Wahlstron family intent on mining its high quality mica. Due to poor timing the market for mica declined with lower priced foreign suppliers. The mine reacted by becoming a tourist attraction open to the public starting in 1963.
Open daily June 8 – October 15
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Under 4 free
Grafton NH is a town at 870’ elevation, of 1,320 population incorporated in 1778. Historically its economic base has been small farms, small industry and mining. The towns high point is Melvin Mountain at 2,177. Grafton is 39 miles northwest of Concord NH, 40 miles east of White River Junction VT, and 173 miles northeast of Albany NY.
Grafton NH is a 6.5 hour drive of 380 miles from Rochester NY. Drive I-90 east to Albany then US 87 north to Plattsburgh to ride the ferry across to Burlington VT. Then drive US 89 southeast to White River Junction VT into Lebanon New Hampshire, onto route 4 to Ruggles Mine.
One visitor to Ruggles Mine made this comment:
“I loved this place, is like being transported back in time at the beginning of the life on Earth. I almoust (sic) expected to see dinosaurs that how it was sureal...”