Go figure: If you drive up Old Lead Mine Road near Wurtsboro, NY, you will in fact, eventually find an old lead mine. Two lead mines, actually — though both require a fair bit of hiking uphill (and dodging of illegal ATVers) before you can mine for riches. Riches? Yep, riches. Or at least pyrite (aka “fool’s gold”), galena and all sorts of crystals of questionable value. But at least they’re glittery!
Suffice it to say, I was a lead mine virgin before this weekend. Now, after two strenuous hikes to the upper and lower Mamakating lead mines, I have amassed not only some new rocks, but all sorts of mostly useless vocabulary. Like “tailings pile.” Do you know what a tailings pile is? Thought not. But I do. Yep, I’m practically a miner. (OK, I’ll tell you, since I know you’re dying of curiosity: Tailings piles are the leftover piles of rocks after they blast open a mine. Mining companies apparently never move the piles, even decades after the mines are tapped out, allowing eccentric people like me to go and explore them).
For rock-hounds (<– ‘nuther new vocab word), tailing piles are the shipwrecks of the mountains — creepy, crumbly, hard to get to but oh-so-loaded with potential mineral wealth. Armed with a hammer, a plastic bag, and not enough water or sunscreen, Brendan and I spent the better parts of Friday and Saturday playing in the dirt, becoming amateur rock hounds, and yet again, overgrown kids. (Note: We found out about this rock hounding site from this expert. And even more info on the Mamakating Mine.)
This is Brendan’s best attempt at obeying my command to “look scared” as I snapped the photo of him pretending to fall down the mine. (Isn’t it tiny? I was expecting a massive, train tunnel size hole. Ah, presumptions. I guess, because of people like us, they close the entrance up as best they can.)
Cool air and strange smells wafted out of the mine’s entrance, which was not at all alarming.
This is the photo in which I demonstrate how to smash rocks to find glittery things inside.
Atop the tailings pile, the view is quite nice.
A small smattering of what we took home from the mine (this is legal, btw!)