On our way home from Lake George, NY in early July, we decided to take a side trip to the Herkimer Diamond Mines. They also have a resort/campground, located conveniently, right across the street. Since we were on our way home from Lake George and were continuing on back to MA that same day we did not get to experience the campground but are planning on staying there when we go for another mining trip in September, so we’ll be sure to let you know how it is!
We had never done any type of mining before and had no idea what to expect. We learned a lot on this trip:
This place is really cool! They have a nice little shaded area with tables for getting out of the sun and maybe enjoying some lunch located to the right of the main building as well as REAL bathrooms (I’m all for roughing it but in the summer heat, real bathrooms are FAR better than a sweltering port-a-potty!).
When you arrive, you go into the main building and, if you can manage to not get distracted by all the amazing rock and mineral displays they have and make it to the counter, there is an incredibly reasonable fee of $12/person age 13+, $10 ages 5-12 and under 4 free. Plus you keep everything you find! They have small 2 lb sledge hammers you can borrow, you just have to trade in your license (temporarily) as collateral.
They have other useful and HIGHLY suggested tools for sale (though you can bring your own) such as gloves, safety glasses and chisels. I’m going to tell you, we used ONLY the 2 lb sledge hammers and it wasn’t long before we were all wishing we had invested in these other tools and will be before our trip in September. Other “tools” we highly suggest after our experience: Hat, backpack, camera and TONS of water, especially if you plan on going on a hot summer day like we did. We saw people there that have definitely done this before and had chairs and umbrellas to set up!
From there you head outside with instructions on certain areas that are off limits.
We ended up having to take home much larger specimens than we would like because we didn’t have the tools to break the rock apart without breaking the diamonds and other pieces we found. We, of course, had to visit the shop after our dig and couldn’t pass up some imported goodies. Each of us chose a piece of raw fluorite:
I became attached to a small piece of Sodalite:
And we purchased some Mexican geodes which we planned to take home and crack with a hammer but decided to let them break them for us.
You can see a video of how the professionals break geodes open on our YouTube channel HERE.
And finally our mining finds:
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