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A Mile Deep Covers
2004, 6 x 9", XI+ 378 pages, 112 b/w figures, bibliography, index.


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North American History and Culture

A Mile Deep and Black as Pitch

- An Oral History of the Franklin and Sterling Hill Mines

by Carrie Papa (Click for author info)

$24.95 Softcover
ISBN 0-939923-90-4; 978-0-939923-90-8

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Click here for Table of Contents and Preface.

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DESCRIPTION:

The Franklin and Sterling Hill mines of northern New Jersey are known worldwide to geologists, mining historians, and mineral collectors for the quality, diversity, and complexity of their zinc ores and associated mineral wealth (unequalled anywhere else in the world), for the important role they played in the mining history of the United States, and for the national recognition of their corporate mining communities.

A Mile Deep and Black as Pitch: An Oral History of the Franklin and Sterling Hill Mines is a record of mining, community, and corporate life in the towns of Franklin and Ogdensburg, New Jersey, as told by thirty-four narrators whose lives have intersected with the history of the New Jersey Zinc Company and its Franklin and Sterling Hill mines. Particular attention is devoted to (a) the mines and the miners, (b) life in the company towns, (c) the demise of the mines, and (d) efforts to preserve and interpret the legacy of the mines through the creation of two museums and representation of the mines in the National Museum of Natural History's mine exhibit created in 1997.

The legacy of the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines includes the following:
- The New Jersey Zinc Company (NJZC) operated the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines from 1897 through 1954 and 1986, respectively.
- The mines are important in the history of corporate mining in the US because the zinc industry, as practiced on a corporate scale, was born here via the NJZC.
- The NJZC built and maintained company towns at Franklin and Ogdensgurg and Franklin was recognized as "The Model Mining Town of America."
- One of the first two stations in the worldwide network of seismographic stations set up by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey/ Lamont Geological Observatory was established at the Sterling Hill Mine.
- After the mines were closed, museums were established in each community to preserve and interpret the legacy of the mines and the ores that supported them.
- The minerals and legacy of both mines figured prominently in the National Museum of Natural History's mine exhibit and fluorescent mineral exhibit that opened in 1997.
- The Franklin and Sterling Hill mines are world-renowned because of their valuable, diverse, and complex mineral deposits, which included an unusually complex zinc ore, over 300 species of minerals -- more than any other single deposit known anywhere else in the world -- including more than 30 species of minerals that are found nowhere else in the world.
- Mineral collectors throughout the world know of these deposits, in part, because of both the overall mineral diversity as well as the high number of fluorescent minerals that the deposits have yielded.
- Subjects covered in the book include the ethnic, social, and educational diversity of the miners and other employees of the NJZC; work in the mines; life in the community; lore among the miners; mineral collecting; company towns and life in the towns; closing of the mines; the transition from company town to public municipality; and efforts to preserve the legacy of the mines and to develop the museums and museum exhibits.

Research for this book was partially funded by the New Jersey Historical Commission. A Mile Deep and Black as Pitch contains primary source material, photographs, and other documents that have never been published before. This oral history both chronicles an important and controversial part of American mining history and gives voice to the individual miners, many of them immigrants, who made the industry possible.