…The Story of an Extraordinary Boulder Unearthed
at Manhan River Mine, Easthampton, Massachusetts
by Eric Greene & John Marshall
6.1" Pyromorphite on Quartz - Manhan River Lead Mine,
Loudville, Easthampton, MA; collected in 1999
At heart, all mineral collectors are field collectors. So when someone finds an extraordinary specimen, the thrill can be shared by the entire mineral collecting community. And, as anyone who has experienced it can tell you, the precise moment of making an exceptional find is forever etched in your memory… well, usually. Occasionally, when a truly great specimen is found, the finder doesn't immediately realize the significance of what has emerged from the earth. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months before the true importance of the find is realized. This is such a story.
August 15, 1999, dawned cold and rainy - not a fun day for a field collecting trip. Because of the off-and-on drizzle, only ten members of the Keene (New Hampshire) Mineral Club showed up for the scheduled trip to the Manhan River Mine. This was unusual for a Keene Mineral Club outing. The club has an unusually active field trip schedule, typically making a dozen well-attended outings each year to a variety of New England and New York localities. Some club members skipped this trip not because of the weather, but because they felt the spot was "boring," "played out" and that "no interesting finds had turned up there in more than thirty years." Fortunately (as it turned out), the been-there-done-that contingent were out-voted by those who argued that new club members should have the opportunity to visit this classic locality.
The Manhan River Mine is the largest of a group of small lead mines and prospects located near the village of Loudville in the city of Easthampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. It's extensive dumps have been a prime target for mineral collectors and micromounters for more than one hundred and fifty years. Of particular interest to collectors is the large suite of secondary lead and copper minerals that can be found - most notably, pyromorphite and wulfenite (see table 1 for a list of Loudville mineral species).
The Manhan River at Loudville
On this trip, one of the authors (E.S.G.) worked with his regular collecting partner, Dick Holmes of Charlestown, New Hampshire. Holmes and Greene have teamed up for years, finding that by working together they have a lot more fun and find more "keepers" than if they collect alone. Upon arrival, Holmes and Greene helped the other club members get started digging in the dumps along the north bank of the Manhan River. After an hour of instruction and scouting, Greene crossed the river to the south bank. Several friendly collectors had mentioned that they had found good pyromorphite and wulfenite in a spot on this side of the river (Tom Minnich and John Kelly, pers. com., 1999). Greene located a site that had been worked recently, situated almost directly across the river from the north adit. He guessed that this might be the right area. Soon the other club members followed him across the forty-foot-wide river, hopping from stone to slippery stone. By mid-morning, everyone was happily digging in their chosen spots.
The problem with dump digging is that you have no idea where you're going to find "the good stuff." If there's buried treasure, there's no treasure map - it's largely random. This is certainly the case at the Manhan River Mine. So, based on a vague tip and following collectors' intuition, Holmes and Greene began digging into their chosen area wielding nothing more sophisticated than scratchers and garden shovels. As they dug into the bottom of the shallow pit, the signs were discouraging. Previous collectors had evidently already examined all of the material, which was composed of roughly four-inch chunks of rock mixed with sand, gravel and river mud. Any promising pieces had long ago been broken up in search of micromounts by the avid collectors who frequent the site.
By noon the intermittent drizzle became continuous, and most of the other club members left for home. Holmes and Greene persevered, as they had begun turning up some interesting material. They were now finding much larger chunks of rock - many a foot or more across, and a few three to four feet in length. Most could just be lifted by one man; none were larger than two could manhandle out of the hole. Many were covered in typical Loudville fashion with quartz molds of scalenohedral calcite crystals. Others had complete or partial molds of cubic galena crystals that had been oxidized or otherwise disappeared, leaving white coatings of cerussite, moss-green patches of microscopic pyromorphite crystals and the occasional specimen with small ochre to yellow-orange wulfenite crystals studding the quartz. Because of the size of the rocks and the richness of the mineralization, it was obvious that no one had reached this level of the dump before. The high concentration of oxidized minerals also suggested that the material had come out in the earliest days of the mining operation, when the miners had to dig through the oxidized zone to get at the galena. Since mining began here in the late 1600s, this meant Greene and Homes were probably looking at "antique" material that was mined more than three hundred years ago!
View of the hole dug by Holmes & Greene
to find this extraordinary specimen
Holmes and Greene took turns digging and washing. The digger would hand up likely looking chunks to the washer, who would drop the dirt-covered pieces into a bucket of river water to soak. He would then scrub them gingerly with a hand brush, looking closely for the telltale yellow-orange of wulfenite, or the green of pyromorphite. The best pieces were trimmed, wrapped in newspaper and stowed in a five gallon bucket.
As Holmes and Greene dug down through the large rock zone, they made an interesting discovery. At the bottom of the hole, beneath four feet of picked over small chunks and another three feet of mineralized boulders, the dump material abruptly stopped. They had reached a layer of gray sand and smooth, water-polished rocks. This marked the bottom of the dump. Digging outward to the north and south, within a few feet they reached three foot high walls of the same sandy material. But when they dug to the east and west, the large rock material continued uninterrupted. The original miners had apparently dumped their waste rock into a trench or cut, about four feet wide and three feet deep, and of unknown length. At some later time, the entire area was completely buried under another four feet of dump material.
About 3 PM, Greene uncovered a four by five inch triangular plate of quartz covered with sticky clay, but showing a promising green color. He handed it up to Holmes, who gave it a careful cleaning. The tenacious clay obscured the full extent of crystallization, but it was clearly the best pyromorphite specimen of the day. The piece was wrapped, the collectors swapped places, and the digging continued.
No more than five minutes later, Holmes' shovel clanked against a large rock. He dug with a hand scratcher to reveal the outlines of a boulder approximately twelve by eighteen by ten inches. Holmes used a pry bar to extract the rock from the surrounding debris. The boulder was mostly covered with clay and dirt, but enough green peeked through to confirm that it was well covered with pyromorphite. Holmes hefted the fifty pound rock up to Greene for cleaning and evaluation. Too big to fit into the water bucket, Greene poured water on the rock and tried brushing it. Under the dirt was more green color and more of the sticky clay, which the brush wouldn't budge. Holmes clambered out of the hole and hefted the rock down to the river to clean. Even the running water wouldn't wash away the clay, so Holmes left the piece to soak. The diggers returned to work, unaware of the significance of what they had found.
About 5 PM Holmes and Greene quit digging and began carrying their finds (four full five gallon buckets plus the fifty pound boulder) out to the car. The size and weight of the boulder meant that it required a separate trip. Greene balanced it on his shoulder and waded across the knee-deep Manhan River - the first of five such crossings needed to get the day's finds safely to the far bank.
If finding the boulder had been unremarkable, it was the opposite when the collectors unloaded at Greene's home. They immediately rushed the two good pyromorphite pieces to an outside faucet for a thorough cleaning. The neighbors were no doubt bewildered by the whoops of surprise and delight with which Holmes and Greene greeted the emerging crystals. As the jet of water from the hose washed away the sticky pocket clay (possibly another mineral species that could be added to the list of species from Loudville if properly identified), the underlying pyromorphite gradually emerged. Both the small triangular piece and nearly the entire boulder were literally covered with pyromorphite crystals up to five millimeters long! The boulder was truly fabulous - generously coated with sharp, emerald-green crystals that sprouted like broccoli buds from the white quartz surface. Even then, as they exclaimed over the rich color, density of coverage, and sharpness of the crystals, they had no inkling that this would prove to be the best pyromorphite ever found at Loudville!
Close up view of 2.5mm Pyromorphite
crystals from the 1999 find
Most mineral collecting stories end with the finding of the specimen, but in this case the actual find was only the beginning. After a brief consultation, it was decided that Holmes would take the big boulder to clean while Greene would work on the rest of the material. Holmes' task was the more demanding. While cleaning the rock, he observed that the piece was covered on all sides but one with pyromorphite, and that the uncoated side was made up of quartz molds after calcite. However, between the uncoated side and the main portion of the rock were a series of deep, clay-filled cavities that penetrated nearly through the boulder. After the clay was hosed out, these were found to be covered with more of the rich green crystals. Holmes decided to cut through the quartz on the "dead" side of the boulder to open these pockets and expose additional crystallized areas. While it is not generally a preferred practice, he took the rock to a friend's shop to have the cuts made. The twelve inch diamond saw sliced easily through the quartz, and Holmes was able to pry off a number of outstanding large and small cabinet specimens. The remaining main body of the boulder, roughly the shape of a football but half again as large, was now covered on all sides with the richly colored pyromorphite crystals. Finally, he sawed this piece at one end so it would stand upright on its own.
The 14" 1999 pyromorphite specimen which is now part of
the collection of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum
The ensuing phone conversations detailing the beauty of the cleaned-up specimens settled any question about what to do the following weekend! Holmes and Greene returned to Loudville to see what else lay in their hole. Heavy rains had swollen the Manhan River to spring flood proportions, so the collectors had to take a different route into the diggings to avoid wading the rain-swollen river. This new approach followed the river's south bank. Along the bank they discovered a meandering channel, about four feet wide and three feet deep, running roughly parallel to the river. This had apparently been carved out by the river many years ago. It occurred to Greene that this channel resembled the area several hundred yards downstream where they had been digging - an area now filled with rock and buried under four feet of overburden!
Close up view of a 3mm tabular wulfenite crystal from the 1999 find
This discovery gave rise to speculation that in the early days of mining at the site, perhaps in the 1680s, the rubble-filled channel across the river from the original mine opening had been filled with material extracted from the oxidized zone. There had been a ford in the Manhan River at this exact spot, so perhaps the earliest miners had brought their waste material across the river in ox-drawn carts. And, since they had no heavy equipment with which to load the rock, the pieces had to be no larger than a size that two men could load into the back of a cart. Maybe the miners wanted to fill in the old channel to make a place to turn wagons around, or maybe they just needed more space to dispose of waste material and this was a convenient spot. In any case, the oxidized ore was useless to them, since the technology of the time could not extract the lead from pyromorphite. So, to the delight of modern-day collectors like Holmes and Greene, the so-called "green ore" was carted away and dumped.
Close up view of 2mm Pyromorphite crystals from the 1999 find
Unfortunately, the intellectual excitement of this discovery was about the only thrill the collectors had that day. Although they excavated another eight feet of the ancient channel, they found no more of the top-notch pyromorphite. Subsequent visits to the site proved equally unproductive, though Holmes and Greene completely excavated the entire length of the former channel.
The next chapter in the story unfolded five months later at the Keene Mineral Club "Brag Night" competition in early January, 2000. Still blissfully unaware of the true magnitude of their find, Holmes and Greene were delighted when their pyromorphite specimens garnered four blue ribbons at this hotly contested event: the large boulder won "Best Specimen Collected on a Club Field Trip" honors; a choice half-inch piece took the blue ribbon for "Best Thumbnail"; the triangular plate was chosen "Best of Massachusetts"; and a fourth piece was voted "Best Micromount." To top it off, when the winners in each of the dozen categories went head to head for "Best in Show" honors, the football-shaped chunk won the plaque by a landslide.
Superb 5.5" Grass Green Pyromorphite on Quartz - Manhan
River Lead Mine, Loudville, Easthampton, MA; collected in 1999
At the end of the evening, while accepting openly envious congratulations from friends, Greene was approached by Steve Reutlinger, a top-drawer cabinetmaker who specializes in mineral display cases. Reutlinger recognized the pyromorphite as an important find and felt it might be worth some "real money." He suggested Greene call John Marshall - a pyromorphite collector and authority on Loudville who had co-authored the article on the mine that appeared in 1975 in the Mineralogical Record. Reutlinger thought Marshall the person best qualified to assess the significance and value of the find.
Close up view of 3.5mm Pyromorphite crystals
from the 1999 find at Loudville
It took several months to make the arrangements to visit Marshall, and it was mid-March before Holmes and Greene set off for Westport, Massachusetts, with their prize finds. The visit to Marshall's house also meant a chance to see his superb mineral collection. Marshall started by showing his visitors the cases displaying hundreds of pyromorphite specimens from almost every known locality worldwide, each one a killer piece. They then inspected Marshall's cabinet drawers full of Loudville specimens, including outstanding wulfenites up to half an inch on edge, cerussites, quartz and more. But to Holmes' and Greene's surprise, none of Marshall's Loudville pyromorphites could rival the crystal size, color and quality of the specimens they had brought for him to evaluate. All discussions of the new Loudville material were temporarily put on hold while Marshall graciously showed the dazzled collectors the rest of his collection. Along with the pyromorphite, Marshall's collection also features outstanding galenas and fluorites, fantastic amethysts from the Bellingham, Massachusetts, diggings in the early '70s, and a fabulous array of watermelon tourmalines from the famed Newry, Maine, find in the mid '70s.
2.7" Grass Green Pyromorphite on Quartz - Manhan
River Lead Mine, Loudville, Easthampton, MA; collected in 1999
After examining these treasures, the three settled down to thoroughly inspect the football-shaped boulder and the rest of the specimens from the find. Marshall went through the material, giving his opinion on the possible value of the pieces. When it came to the large chunk, however, his eyes lit up and he reached for the telephone. In a few minutes he was talking with Bill Metropolis, assistant curator of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As Greene and Holmes listened in amazement, Marshall told Metropolis that he was then looking at "the best pyromorphite specimen ever found at Loudville, and the best ever found in New England." He finished by declaring, "Harvard has to have this piece." He authorized Metropolis use to use money from the funds his father had given to the museum to buy the specimen, and told him that Holmes and Greene would be in touch to arrange a showing. After lunch, Marshall swapped two of the new pyromorphite specimens for pieces from his collection, and the collectors drove home through a swirling late afternoon snowstorm.
Close up view of Pyromorphite crystals from the 1999 find
Several weeks later Greene took the pyromorphite boulder and a flat of the best specimens to be examined by his friend Marvin Rausch, a world-class mineral collector from Amherst, Massachusetts. Rausch proved extremely helpful in evaluating the Loudville material, comparing it to his own top-notch pyromorphite specimens from mines such as Les Farges in France and Bunker Hill in Idaho. He declared that the color was exceptional and the crystal form outstanding, but that it couldn't compete with world-class specimens due to the relatively small crystal size. He thought it would still be of major interest to New England collectors, as well as to any serious pyromorphite collector. Rausch also felt it was vital to keep some of the top specimens in Massachusetts, and to this end he acquired one of the best large cabinet specimens for his own collection.
5½" Pyromorphite on Quartz - Manhan River Lead Mine,
Loudville, Easthampton, MA; collected in 1999
The setting for the final chapter in this story was the offices of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum. In early April 2000, Holmes and Greene drove to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for their early morning appointment with curator Carl Francis and assistant curator Bill Metropolis of the renowned Harvard collection. Although both Holmes and Greene had been to Harvard to study the exhibit on previous trips, neither had met Francis or Metropolis. Carrying their heavy parcels, Holmes and Greene made their way up the three flights of stairs to the exhibit area. They headed through the dazzling displays in the main hall, passed by the New England room, walked by a case of glittering gem stones, and were soon knocking on an anonymous blue metal door just beyond the meteorites. Francis greeted the collectors warmly, and introduced them to Metropolis. He then led them into an enormous, cluttered room stuffed with a fascinating assortment of antique wooden-drawered mineral cases, utilitarian racks holding rock-filled wooden boxes that could be slid out and studied, plus a seemingly random scattering of eye-popping museum-sized mineral specimens. For dedicated collectors like Holmes and Greene, this was an awe-inspiring event; a visit to the holy of holies, the inner sanctum, the behind-the-scenes epicenter of New England mineral collecting.
Harvard Museum of Natural History complex
While the men exchanged pleasantries, Holmes opened the heavy cardboard box holding the boulder. Francis and Metropolis watched with growing anticipation as Holmes unwrapped the protective layers of bubble wrap and hefted the thirty pound specimen to the center of the battered wooden table in the middle of the room. Francis and Metropolis fell silent and sank into their seats. For several long minutes, a spell seemed to have been cast over the group. No one spoke as they marveled at the stunning beauty of the specimen, drinking in the lush emerald-green color, the sharpness of the perfectly formed crystals, the richness of the crystal coverage, and the vivid contrast with the brilliant white of the underlying quartz. Finally, Francis rose and reached for the pyromorphite specimen. He slowly swiveled it, examining every crystal-covered surface. "That's a nice specimen," he said laconically. Soon he had Holmes and Greene recounting the story of finding the boulder, their surmises on the history of the piece, and the comments they had heard from John Marshall, Marvin Rausch and others. They finished by saying that they felt it was very important that the piece be on display at Harvard, not only because of its historical and mineralogical significance, but also because Harvard is the mecca for New England collectors.
Francis made it clear that he agreed the piece belonged at Harvard, and immediately began to brainstorm on how to display it. As a curator, his main concern is with educating and informing museum visitors about the significance of the minerals they look at. More than just "pretty rocks," the specimens tell important stories. And, while he appreciated the historical and mineralogical significance of the specimen, he felt the real story was that it had been found by two amateur collectors digging with garden shovels. In an era when more and more collecting sites are being closed to collectors so they can be professionally mined with excavators, bulldozers, air-trac drills and sophisticated blasting, this is an important message. In short, Francis felt that people would be more excited by the notion that in New England someone who is willing to do a "little" digging can, with a lot of luck, find real "buried treasure." The fact that Loudville is an open locality, still accessible to public collecting, was icing on the cake. Francis proposed displaying the piece in the New England room in a free-standing hexagonal glass display case, with text to tell the story of its discovery. This would enable visitors to view all sides of the specimen and would highlight its significance in the collection.
Eric Greene & Dick Holmes at the Harvard Mineralogical
Museum in 2001 with the specimen they found in 1999
Francis' vision was a strong selling point, and by lunch time the negotiations were completed. The pyromorphite boulder was acquired by Harvard! Holmes and Greene were thrilled to know that the specimen they had found would be so prominently featured in the collection, that their names would be associated with it along with the story of the find, and that it would be used to help inspire future generations of mineral collectors to go out and dig for crystals. And, because of Harvard's stability, this meant the piece would be there in perpetuity for their grandchildren and great grandchildren to admire. To an outsider this may seem a small claim to fame, but for die-hard mineral collectors, what better memorial is there? All in all, this was not a bad outcome for a rainy day's collecting at a "played out" locality!
THE HISTORY OF MINING AT THE LOUDVILLE LEAD MINES
The first discovery of the lead vein at Loudville was made by Robert Lyman in 1678. On July 27, 1679, the plantation of Nonotuck (now Northampton) held a town meeting and voted that the town have a general interest in the lead mine "newly discovered within its limits." In 1679, Lyman reportedly traded the location of the mines to Col. Marshall Pynchon for one cow. Some work was done at the mine from 1680 to about 1697. In these early mining days, miners probably worked by hand with forged iron tools and used black powder for blasting. The current abundance of specimen material is due to the fact that in these early days, the miners hand-cobbed the ore for its galena content, throwing the then worthless secondary lead minerals on the dumps. Hence a deep hole dug in these dumps today can yield 300-year old tailings that contain excellent mineral specimens.
Anonymous half-length portrait of the famous patriot,
shown in middle-age. Ethan Allen (1738-1789) organized the
Vermont volunteer militia, the Green Mountain Boys,
whom he led to capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775.
From 1765 to 1770, the Loudville deposit was again mined for lead. Much of the work was done by a group of men led by Vermont's Ethan Allen, who had bought up the land. Some of the lead they produced was used to cast bullets for George Washington's Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. The mine then lay idle until 1809, when it was re-opened by Luther Work. In 1810, Professor Benjamin Silliman of Yale visited the property and described the vein as, "a very magnificent one, six to eight feet in diameter." He went on to say: "Wherever there is a cavity in the vein, the quartz has shot into numerous crystals, usually very regular, sometimes large, and often so beautiful and brilliant that the cavities look as if studded over with gems. Many of them are sufficiently perfect and beautiful to deserve a place in the choicest cabinets; and hundreds of specimens may be selected, among the rubbish of this mine, more interesting than a majority of those which are preserved in costly collections." At the time of Dr. Silliman's visit, the shaft was sixty feet deep, with a thirty-foot drift at that level. The vein reportedly produced 12.5 ounces of silver per ton of galena. There was a severe water problem, and two large forty-gallon buckets were constantly in use to keep the shaft dry, and to raise the ore to the surface. Later, north and south engine shafts were sunk, along with an additional shaft on the south bank of the river. Due to the continuing water problem, an adit tunnel at river level was driven toward the vein. In 1815 the adit extended 726 feet, and the shaft entering from the mouth was ninety feet deep. By 1823 the adit was 990 feet long and had cost $20,000. Work continued until about 1832 when the mine again became idle.
Map showing plan of "Loudville Lead and Copper Mine."
From: Richardson, Charles (1854): Northampton District.
The Loudville Mine (Mining Magazine Vol. 2, pp. 13-20).
Operations at the mine resumed in 1851. The adit was extended to 1147 feet, stopping just one hundred feet short of the vein. At this point in history, the property was handled in a manner that appears to have been of questionable ethics. It was sold in 1863 to Manhan Silver Lead Mining Company for $500,000, which, if a true figure, would be an incredible price to pay for an idle mining property at the time. The Manhan Company proceeded to publish "Manhan Silver Lead Mining Company - Geological, Surveys and Reports, March,1863," which seems to be a rather high pressure prospectus. This paper, consisting of three sections, opens with a short description, undoubtedly prepared by the company, the last sentence of which states, "The Manhan Silver Lead Company have, lying between the cities of Boston and New York, within one hundred miles of the seacoast, one of the richest and largest lead mines ever discovered in any country."
The second report in the paper is by Charles T. Jackson, Geologist and State Assayer, who describes the 1147 foot adit and states that only ninety feet remains to tunnel before reaching the rich vein. Jackson continues with a lengthy description of the workings and the 4000 foot lode, and forecasts that the mine is most worthy of operation. This report appears to be quite honestly written.
The last report is written by Charles R. Richardson, mining engineer. He states glowingly, "I must congratulate you on possessing one of the most promising mines I have ever seen, either in England, Wales, or America," and, "a more promising lode I never saw in my life," followed by, "I consider the mine, if properly wrought, could not be exhausted in 100 years." He ends by writing, "I beg to say that I do not know, neither have I ever met with a miner or geologist yet in this country who has ever seen any lode at all approximating to this on your estate. I have very strong doubts that such a splendid lode is at present day known in any part of the United Sates. I am positive that no such thing exists in the rich mining districts of England. I am intimately acquainted with all the chief mines of Cornwall, Devon, North Wales, and South Wales, but as a surface lode, I do not know of one equal in promise to the mine herewith described."
Close up view of Pyromorphite crystals from the 1999 find
It is not known whether Richardson was a bag of wind paid off by Manhan Silver Lead, or if he was really legitimate. If the money was available, and nothing of value was found, his days as a mining consultant would have been ruined. At this point in history (ca. 1863), all the Boston money was destined for the Upper Peninsula, Michigan copper mines of Calumet and Hecla; Leadville, Aspen, and Cripple Creek in Colorado were also starting to show rich mines. Anyone with money to invest in mining probably had no interest in a Massachusetts lead mine. The Ore Hill Zinc Mine in Warren, New Hampshire, the Madison Mine in Madison, New Hampshire, and the Chipman Silver Mine in Newbury, Massachusetts, were simply abandoned as everyone involved in mining at the time got on their horse and rode west. Loudville probably suffered the same fate. Although Manhan Silver Lead purchased some mining equipment, there are some doubts that any appreciable work was carried out, and the adit was never extended. In 1865 the Manhan Company ended in bankruptcy. This was the last commercial activity at Loudville.
CURRENT MINERAL COLLECTING STATUS
Loudville is still open for mineral collecting with no permission required. The roadway and dump are apparently on conservation land, owned by the New England Forestry Association of Groton, MA. The Forestry Association allows the land to be used for "passive recreational use," which apparently includes mineral collecting. And, as this article shows, collecting at Loudville is still excellent. Micromount collecting is always fruitful, and with perseverance and luck, excellent cabinet specimens may also be found. Good collecting is possible on both sides of the river. In summer, it is possible to cross over without getting wet. This is an excellent spot to collect with young children, because they can amuse themselves by (or in) the river if collecting grows tedious. There is also a good swimming hole located 100 yards north of the collecting site. Note that the area has some old mine shafts, which due to forest cover and heavy accumulations of leaves, present a safety hazard. Many of the nearby minor dumps (especially those downstream from the Manhan) are on private property and are posted, so stick to digging in the extensive (and most productive) dumps along the river. If visiting collectors keep the area clean and unlittered, the site may remain open for collectors to enjoy for years to come.
Dump digging at Loudville
DIRECTIONS TO THE LOUDVILLE MINES
Loudville is located in the city of Easthampton in western Massachusetts, north of Springfield. Easthampton can be reached from I-91 in Holyoke by taking Route 141 east to Easthampton. From Easthampton center, take Route 10 south to Glendale Street, approximately 0.5 miles on the right. Follow Glendale Street (which turns into Loudville Road at Pomeroy Meadow Road) for 3.0 miles to a dirt road with a metal gate on the left (south), opposite Drury Lane. Continue 0.1 miles further east to a parking area on the left. Park here and walk back to the gate, then follow the dirt track down to the river. If you cross the river on Loudville Road, you have gone too far.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Eric Greene has been an amateur field collector since his (then) young children re-kindled his own childhood interest in rock collecting in 1986. He is President of Treasure Mountain Mining, an internet mineral dealership in Greenfield, MA, which he founded in 2001. This article was originally published in Rocks & Minerals magazine in March/April, 2001. It is used here with the permission of the publisher.
John Marshall was a nationally recognized collector specializing in pyromorphite and the minerals of the Loudville Lead Mines. He was also a partner in Plumbago Mining, the company formed to collect tourmaline crystals at the Newry Mine in Maine.
TOP QUALITY SPECIMENS STILL AVAILABLE
We still have several superb specimens available from this amazing find. Please take a look in our New England Minerals Gallery for pyromorphite and wulfenite from Loudville, along with many other fine New England mineral specimens.