New England Preservation: Ruggles Mine

Photo Courtesy of New Hampshire Preservation Alliance

By Carla Charter

GRAFTON, N.H.- Many adults in New England have fond summer memories of visiting Ruggles Mine in Grafton, New Hampshire with their families.  The mine, which sits atop Isinglass Mountain, first opened to tourists, who could mine in designated sections there, in the early 1960’s.

The historic mine, which is purported to be America’s oldest mica, beryl and feldspar mine, is now closed, but the New Hampshire Preservation Allliance hopes the mine will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.  “The Preservation Alliance feels it is important to save historic landscapes,” said Andrew Cushing Field Service Representative, New Hampshire Preservation Alliance

Reports of mica mining on the site date to the 1770’s. The current mine was originally founded in 1803 by Boston investor Samuel Ruggles. The mined mica was used to make heat resistant glass for items such as lanterns and the fronts of furnaces.  It was also eventually used to create electrical conduit in washers. “There was a manufacturing company down the hill from the mine who would take sheets of the mined mica and transform them into washers. The Mica was also ground up for paints and mortar if you wanted something to sparkle.  By the 1900’s the predominant export was feldspar used in sandpaper manufacturing.”  Beryl, Uranium, and Garnet have also been uncovered at the mine.

Among the future possibilities for the mine are the chances of it becoming a New Hampshire State Park. “The state has made site visits to the mine to consider the possibility of making Ruggles Mine into a state park. The assessments by the state are ongoing,” Cushing said.  The Grafton selectmen have submitted a letter to encourage the state to turn Ruggles Mine into a state park.  Potential private buyers have also viewed the park.  More information on the mine can be found at the alliance’s website at