New Jersey: Sussex County
Sussex County, New Jersey is a mostly rural area in the extreme Northwest of the state, having some activities quite different than the rest of the state. This includes tours of the Sterling Hill mine, Franklin mine, Space Farms, and Sussex County Fair. Each date back about a hundred years or more, and make for great family visits.
The zinc mine, which closed in 1986, is a series of underground tunnels. The tour lasts a few hours and is excellent (and stroller accessible). They take you through not only the mine itself, but also a large room filled with all sorts of geological trinkets and mining equipment. It was quite entertaining for both the adults and kids, walking through lengthy tunnels carved out of stone, seeing all the mining equipment, and seeing the large collection of geological, periodical, and scientific stuff collected from around the world. Well worth the trip. You can spend half a day here. A few pictures follow:
Space Farms is still run by the Space family – currently staffed by the great-grandchildren of the founder, who founded some sort of “Indian Museum” as it was called when still politically correct to do so. The grounds are rather large, and have lots of animals . . . peacocks, bears, deer, and all sorts of others in-between. Then there are large barns of stuff collected by the man who never threw anything away. Actually, the story goes that the general store at the front of the property started accepting goods as collateral from customers during the great depression. Those who couldn’t pay would drop off whatever it was . . . tools, dolls, sleds, animal hides, and so on. They’ve also got a collection of gemstones, old cars dating to the early 1900s, and the list goes on. Plus, they let you grill on premises and know what packaged foods they sell are kosher and not, receiving a lot of Jewish groups (including many Satmar from Monroe, NY during Chol HaMoed). You can spend half a day here.
The Franklin Mine is a little over a mile away from the Sterling Hill Mine. The attraction here is taking home your own rocks from their quarry, which fluoresce. You go down a stepe hill to a pile of rocks, and pay for the right to take some rocks with you. Frankly, I did this as a child myself and remember coming home with some very nice fluorescent rocks, but the pickings aren’t so great anymore, though I will try the tactic to get my own kids to pick up rocks in our back yard and won’t even charge them. The people at the Franklin Mine are quite friendly, however! You can spend about an hour here.