It’s an unusual real estate offer: an open pit mine located on over 200 acres.
Ruggles Mine, in Grafton, is purported to be America’s oldest mica, feldspar, and beryl mine. Founded in 1803 by Boston investor Samuel Ruggles, reports of mica mining on site date to the 1770s. Its fitting setting atop Isinglass Mountain, along with its man-made arches and caves, made it a unique tourist attraction starting in the 1960s until it closed in 2015. (The mine itself closed in the 1950s.)
A group of Grafton residents hopes to convince the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation to purchase the property and add it to the roster of state recreational sites. The mine’s name recognition, wildlife habitat, and strategic location in the Quabbin-to-Cardigan conservation initiative make it a good candidate, they argue.
In addition, the town needs the boost. “Grafton is one of the state’s poorest towns,” said Deb Clough, who spoke on behalf of Ruggles at the announcement event in Washington, NH on Tuesday, October 16. (Clough pulled out her faded Ruggles Mine tee shirt for the event.) Re-opening the mine would not only bring traffic through town, but it would also continue to expose generations to the site’s ecology, geology, and history.
“My hope is that NH youth who visit the mine will not only take pride in having such a gem in their state but also inspired to make positive productive change in how they treat their environment and pass along that spirit to others,” wishes Cheryl Senter, a part-time Grafton resident and park proponent.
NH State Parks is looking into the feasibility of such a purchase. After studying the site and holding public meetings, the state and current owner will need to agree on a price not to exceed the property’s assessed valuation.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The simplest way to help is to sign the online petition here.
You can also reach out to your State Representative and voice your support for the historic site to become a state park.
For more information, contact the Preservation Alliance or reach out to the State Parks.