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Mine Tour in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Museum Review

New Jersey is an interesting state. It lies across the river from Manhattan and borders NY state. NJ, the Flower State, is known for the ‘Jersey Shore’ which is in the southern part of the state, suburbia, malls in the middle, and parks in the north. Personally, I think Northern Jersey is one of the most beautiful areas of the State, and I’m grateful that is where we visit my family. However, northern Jersey wasn’t full of attractions, so it was up to me to find out a fun, educational tour for my kids and me. And I found a mine tour, the Sterling Hill Mine Museum, here’s my full experience and review.

Related Read: Hoboken Gravity Vault NJ

Another great option for a different and adventurous day is the Intrepid Museum, make sure you read my blog post about it.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Years ago, when I visited Bolivia in South America, I took a tour of a mine in Potosi. It had a huge impact on me, as I had an inside look at one of the most dangerous jobs – into the world of miners.

During my search online, I stumbled upon the Sterling Hill Mine Tour. It was only about thirty minutes from my parent’s house and sounded interesting. Yet questionable, since I had no idea that Jersey even had mined.

Entrance to the Museum Sterling Hill Mine Tour
Entrance to the Museum Sterling Hill Mine Tour

When we arrived I discovered you can either come here to simply walk around the grounds and do several activities with the kids like mineral collecting, rock discovery, panning, and other fun.

panning for gold, mine tour nj at the Entrance to the Museum Sterling Hill
Gold panning in NJ

Mine Tour in NJ

Plus, the actual mine tour.

Boy was surprised about our visit

Surprise number 1 – the place was packed! Granted, it was the day after the 4th of July. But I was so impressed the amount of people visiting that our tour literally had to be split up into three (fairly large) groups.

Tunnels of the Mine Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Tunnels of the Mine

Surprise number 2 – If you’re going to drive out here, make sure you come for the tour. When I read about the mine on their site. Which is amazing and very comprehensive. I didn’t fully grasp the importance of the tour.

The tour is to the museum! And you will literally miss 75% of this educational attraction by missing it.

wagoons at the mine tour - New jersey mines

Check online the tour time of the day you are planning on visiting.

Surprise number 3 – When I asked how long is the tour, I got totally worried when the lady told me it would last two hours. With a three-year-old, two hours can seem like an eternity when doing a tour.

He never once got restless and was listening as intently to what our guide talked about as some of the adults of our group.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Surprise number 4 – New Jersey can get super hot during July. When we were there, the temperature got into the high 90s outdoors. We were dying of heat. However, the tour inside the mine got down to a chilly 56 degrees.

Discover Facts About NJ Mines and Caves

What You’ll See and Learn on the Tour

1. The Gallery – The tour begins in a large room with tons of rocks, minerals, miner’s locker rooms, fossils, and tons of other things. The miner (tour guide) sets us on a treasure hunt for twenty minutes and at the end, when everyone is ‘supposed’ to be finished it’s reviewed and we also learn interesting info about the different rocks, mines, and fossils that were found in the area.

Miner’s locker room

Miner's Locker Room
Miner’s Locker room

Dinosaur Skull

dinosaur skull fossil

Periodic Table

Periodic Table of Elements
Periodic Table

Evacuation box for miners

miner evacuation box at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Evacuation Box

2. 1300 feet under – Next we head into the mine itself and go down about 1300 feet below ground.

underground mine Sterling Hill Mining Museum
The Tunnels

3. The Fluorescent Mineral rock room – some rocks glow in the dark. Bet you didn’t know that. It was a good way for the miners to know which different types of minerals they are looking for.

fluorescent minerals Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Glow in the Dark Rocks

Inside the room, everyone is given a free rock that glows when the lights go off. Along with our teeth, diamonds and lint!

4. Tunnels and the workers– with the miner’s carts and shafts, all work stations as though it was happening right now.

mining tunnels and carts
Tunnels of the Mines

Mining is one of the most dangerous, disrespected, and underrated jobs out there. When the mine was in full working order it mainly hired fresh immigrants that got off the boat at Ellis Island, with little English, few skills, and desperation.  They had jobs from blaster to rock pusher to all sorts of dangerous equipment handling.

I call this guy’s job the Mangler – because he works a huge cord that if it gets loose can mangle him to shreds within seconds

miner's job - mining life
The Mangler

This guy is actually called two fingers – even the dummy they use has 2 fingers because the person who used to have this job had to push rocks down chutes. And it was extremely common for his index finger and middle finger to get caught and ripped off.

miner at sterling hill museum, nj
Two – Fingers

5. Mining Shafts – this is where everything happened. Where all the rocks, minerals and precious metals, and stones were sent up after a day of work. This was also where the miners who got hurt would be evacuated from, and lots of other activities took place here.

mine shafts and carts - mine tour
Mine Shafts

6. The Entrance for the Miners – we entered another area of the mine. For us, the tour actually started in underground tunnels. A huge corridor-like area where it was said that miners got trapped (apparently a normal work hazard) and died.  Around mid-tour, we crossed over to the original mine and where the majority of the work when the mine was active took place. This was where they would enter to start their day six days a week.

Main Entrance to the Mine Sterling Hill Mining Museum
Main Entrance to the Mine

7. Lunch and Shopping

After a great tour with too much information to absorb, my kids needed some munchies.

I loved the Miner’s Lunchbox food stand. It was sooo cheap, that I couldn’t believe it and bought tons of goodies for my kids (since we missed lunch).

mine tour lunchbox sterling hill mine

And my oldest, who is obsessed with rocks and crystals and metals lately, spent over one hour after the tour in the rock and mining shop afterward.

Information for the Sterling Hill Mine

The mine has so many activities, tours, and educational programs that I would simply recommend taking the time to orient yourself with all that they have to offer.

Address and phone:

30 Plant Street, Ogdensburg, NJ 07439

973-209-MINE (6463)

new jersey mines Employee of the Month
Employee of the Month

What to Do with Kids in New Jersey – Mine Tour

Last Updated on June 2, 2023

24 thoughts on “Mine Tour in New Jersey: Sterling Hill Mine Museum Review

  1. Wow! I had never heard of this before – thanks so much for sharing. And good to know that even a 3-year-old will survive (and enjoy) the tour. 😉

  2. I love touring mines and caves, but sometimes the tight quarters get to me. It is amazing the conditions those people worked in daily. Great for the kids, for sure.

    1. Hey Heidi,

      yeah, I get creeped out in tight spots too. Especially so far under ground. But I think they fixed the tunnels for us now, so it didn’t feel as horrible.

  3. That looks like an awesome tour. I heard that New Jersey had some nice cave systems, great find!

    1. Hey Jessie,

      It’s just an exhibit now, I think it was more at arms length.

  4. Oh my gosh how fun– definitely need to do this next time we are in NJ for a visit to my mother in law.

  5. I never heard about this place, either! Definitely something to add to our “fall daytrip idea” list!

  6. Whoa, that looks awesome! That huge Periodic Table is enough to make my kid want to go… I see us actually venturing from Brooklyn into New Jersey to visit this place!

  7. Such an interesting tour! Our kids would love the rock section too!

  8. I don’t have a kid but I’m a kid at heart so will probably go haha

  9. I think half of these things are good for adults too! NJ is one of those places I always meant to explore more of, but haven’t yet made it out there…

    1. Hey Adam,

      After researching things to do in Jersey, I’m actually excited to visit my parents again. The state has so much to do, I was shocked. Normally everyone kind of just sticks to NYC>

  10. This looks like an absolutely fantastic place to go to and it’s so incredibly important that this part of humanities history is not forgotten about, regardless of the modern state of mining across the world and the effects it’s having on the environment.

    I went on a similar tour in the UK when I was about ten or eleven and I remember having the greatest time, I loved the idea that we were so far beneath the surface!

    1. Hey Dale,

      It is incredibly important. It’s what it’s actually all about, the educational aspect of it.

  11. I had no idea that NJ had mines! Thanks for sharing an interesting adventure in the Garden State.

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