On Saturday, November 25th, Dr. John Smoliga, President of the Roxbury Land Trust, led a group of 30+ hikers to examine an old quart mining site at its historic Mine Hill Preserve. The annual post-Thanksgiving walk is held in memory of Dave Beglan, a former historian and director of the Roxbury Land Trust who was instrumental in preserving this property.
Dr. Smoliga, a geologist by trade, started the walk by showing several maps of the area illustrating Connecticut’s long and complex geological history. He explained that mineral deposits were formed in the area when tectonic plates under the earth’s surface collided. These collisions produced volcanic activity, which resulted in the formation of the various mineral deposits found today at Mine Hill.
It is unknown as to when quartz mining started at Mine Hill. However, during the late 1880’s, quartz obtained from Mine Hill was transported via the Shepaug railroad to a kiln at Roxbury Falls where it was processed into a fine powder to be used in glass making, abrasives, and as an additive in paints.
During the hike, John brought the group to a previous quartz mining site, explaining the difference between clear quartz, milky quartz, and smokey quartz. He then entertained questions about the furnace complex at the Mine Hill Preserve that still attracts visitors from all over to learn about the 19th century iron mining industry, which to this day, is noted for its critical role in the Industrial Revolution.