|Pictured at right: The
Trotter Dump "Diggg" of April 29, 2006. Collectors in this photo
dig up Franklin mine rocks from the fluorescent sand.
In case you were wondering, the structure in the background is a water tower, not a mine building. However, this property was once a major hub of the Franklin mining complex.
It was a perfect day for digging!
Photos shown with Eric's permission.
|The Trotter Dump was
originally a parking area for heavy machinery, if I understand
correctly. The mining company dumped layer upon layer of mine
rock there, resulting in a mineral dump that had rock from all the
major Franklin mine areas including the Palmer Shaft.
At some point in history there was a bit of re-landscaping done, so many of the rocks became buried in sand. However, the sand layer contains many Franklin mine rocks all dispersed throughout. The sand itself is made up mostly of Franklin calcite, so it's fluorescent. (I've heard collectors wonder aloud if there was an ocean at the Trotter... )
Digging in the sand, during the once-yearly special trips graciously hosted by the property's current owners, can reveal some good specimens. They also dig trenches with heavy equipment to expose more rocks.
The usual andradite, calcite, franklinite, willemite, and zincite are found here in abundance. Some nice rhodonite comes out of here as well. In 2006, I found some pieces of hardystonite and also a small fluorapatite specimen.
Another collector found an especially nice hardystonite-- the glassy, gray-white material that has the most electric fluorescence. It also had calcite and willemite, making a nice 3-color. I'd love to get a photo of that one for this website... if you're the person that found it, please contact me!
This year we also found a couple of well-formed, dark green to almost black pyroxene crystals-- probably augite or diopside. I also found a pretty decent specimen of "black willemite" crystals in calcite.
Some people have found esperite and even margarosanite in the past. I've heard that a collector found manganaxinite one year as well. You have to get pretty lucky to find these, though. The property is big, and you never know where you might find this kind of stuff. From what I gather, the Parker minerals tend to be deeper down in the sand. However, someone did find esperite just a couple feet down in one of the trenches.
Below are lists of minerals found so far on the Trotter. The list I and II distinctions may seem a little arbitrary. They're based on my own experience only and are not complete. Species in list IV are either expected to be found based on assemblages, or else there are Trotter specimens that strongly resemble these but haven't been verified.
Above: Chris, Joe, and Lenny in the trench where Joe uncovered some decent augite or diopside crystals. There was a rock layer down in some clay. In some places there were big concrete slab pieces covering it. I broke up one with the sledge.
I found a piece of calcite-willemite rock that had some slightly stretched grains... the beginnings of mylonitization.
This trench is also where I found elongated, black willemite crystals in calcite. They were pretty nice for their small size, but I gave them to someone who didn't find anything.
Below: Everyone assembles around the sign-in tables for the 12:00 Raffle drawing. There were some nice prizes given away, including gift certificates, minerals, and books. Somebody won a UV lamp. There were prizes sponsored by numerous vendors of minerals and gear. Good fun!
Photos used with permission.
List I - Common to Uncommon
List II - Rare
List III - Very Rare
List IV - Suspected
Other Parker minerals
Other Buckwheat Dolomite minerals
Above: The orebody outcrop in the lower section of the Trotter property. This is the last known outcrop of the Franklin orebody that wasn't mined out. The "ore wall" lights up bright red and green in short-wave UV light. The mobile short-wave TripleBright is in place to illuminate the wall for nighttime. I'll try to get a photo.
In preparation for the Diggg, the excavator churned up a lot of mine dump rocks in the area in front of the wall. I'd like to have searched here, but there wasn't enough time. I kept busy on the upper portion of the property for the whole day.
may prove to be the last year they'll have the Trotter Diggg.
Jeff Winkler, the trip coordinator for the past few years, is
stepping down. We don't know if anyone is going to take his
It's a big production getting that trip ready!
I don't know what the property's future holds, but all of us are hoping it will continue to be available in some capacity for future trips.
Whatever you do, DON'T go on the Trotter property without written permission from the owner. He has been kind enough to have these digs once a year, but it is expressly forbidden to go there outside of those times. Trespassers will be prosecuted.
At any rate, if the future of the Trotter includes more field trips, you can count me in. I'll try to post any updates I can get in this department.
The couple remaining Franklin mine dumps are so significant in so many ways that it would be a major tragedy not to preserve them for future collectors, students, teachers, and tourists. In New Jersey especially there is runaway development which has irreversibly destroyed a number of landmarks and collecting sites.
We all hope the town of Franklin will fight to maintain its mineral sites which keep it on the map as a major attraction... the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World.
Thanks to the owners for having us to the Trotter on the Super Diggg trips.... and of course, thanks to the crew who manned the tables, took care of sign ups, donated prizes to the raffle, and made the trips a great time!
Finally, thanks to Eric for letting me use his Trotter '06 pictures on this website!
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