|Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):||41° 27' 27'' North , 72° 30' 53'' West|
|Latitude & Longitude (decimal):||41.45750,-72.51472|
|Köppen climate type:||Cfa : Humid subtropical climate|
This 19th century prospect is near the old Smith brothers feldspar quarry (see http://www.mindat.org/loc-247029.html), but is in a separate granite pegmatite about 1000 feet south of the quarry. Both places are near the former Civilian Conservation Corps’ (CCC) Camp Filley barracks (built 1933) on Filley Road, at its intersection with Turkey Hill Road, in the Beaver Meadow District of Haddam. NOTE: The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a government make-work program during the Great Depression. CCC recruits were put to work on all manner of public works projects from roads to roadside springs, foresting tasks and campgrounds, etc. They did not work the prospect, but simply lend the name to the place in 20th century references as there are few other landmarks.
This locality, which was never a quarry and had columbite crystals so large and abundant that they were collected by hand from the outcrop at least as far back as the mid-19th century (see below) is thus the most likely candidate for the poorly-documented place where the first columbite crystal was collected by Governor Winthrop in the late 17th century. Details regarding it are found here: http://www.mindat.org/loc-234868.html. It is also just downriver from Winthrop's gold mine at Great Hill near what is now Cobalt, so would have been accessible to him at that time, before any place in the area had their current names. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Nathaniel Cook was collecting columbites here just 2 years after the catalog description of the first columbite was published in the American Journal of Science in 1844.
The prospect occurs in a narrow, 0.7 to 1.3-meter-wide, very-coarse-grained pegmatite dike that cross-cuts a much larger, barren, fine-grained pegmatite that makes up most of the outcrop. Besides the usual pegmatite minerals albite, very large tan microcline (up to 0.7 meters across), smoky quartz and abundant muscovite books over 15 cm, beryl is the most common accessory. Based on collecting trips since about 1990, beryl crystals range in quality from very corroded and opaque to gem grade and in color from nearly colorless, through pale green and yellow to deep golden honey. Pale yellow and green beryl crystals are typically embedded in the pegmatite and a re heavily fractures. Crystals are up to 2.5 to 5 cm in diameter and 15 or 18 cm long, although at one point there were multiple yellow beryl crystals there that were measured in decimeters! During attempted collecting, they crumbled apart.
Other minerals found since 1990 include well-formed garnet crystals (probably almandine based on XRF analyses of pegmatitic garnets from the district), excellent columbite-(Fe) (sometimes embedded in yellow beryl), micro-sized uraninites, and massive pale green fluorapatite.
Documented history of the locality is brief or obscure, primarily because until the camp was built, there were no local landmarks. Working backwards in time from this brief mention by Williams (circa 1945), "Near the C.C.C. Camp in Beaver Meadow, large crystals of Columbite occur with Yellow Beryl and Muscovite crystals in a pegmatite dyke", it is clear he also apparently wrote about the prospect in 1899, which is well before the CCC camp existed, but the general description of the location and the minerals fits: "Two miles South of the Court House near the Turkeyhill road Golden Beryl and Columbite are found in fine crystals."
Based on this information, the following account by Davis (1901) regarding columbite in Haddam fits the locality:
[Columbite] has been mined in the Beaver meadow district on land belonging to the Heber Brainerd estate, where it occurs in a coarse granite associated with colorless to light green transparent crystals of beryl. Many fine specimens were taken from here by Nathaniel Cook and are to be seen in the Peabody Museum and other collections. They were small as compared with crystals found in the adjoining town of Middletown, but were extremely well defined and had very brilliant faces.
Indeed, the closest home on the 1879 Middlesex county atlas is "H. Brainard".
The Haddam Historical Society has some information on quarry worker and later mineral collector and dealer Nathaniel Cook, mainly his financial account book that covers the years from about 1818 to 1850. While there are no notations in it by him regarding minerals, his son John Edwin Cook (1830-1859, he participated in the infamous John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and was caught and hung) made account notes on 3 pages (date not included), which includes the sentence, “A mineral excursion for Prof Tiliman and Dr. Romer [or Rosner?] of Prussia.” Based on notes by Nathaniel Cook on adjacent pages, John's notes were probably made in the late 1840s to mid-1850s. He left Haddam by around 1857. The "Tiliman" may mean "Silliman", who is mentioned in this account by Hunt (1852) about a Haddam columbite and beryl locality that is vaguely located, but in detail fits the above modern and historic descriptions of the prospect in detail:
Columbite. - The specimen here described is from a locality at Haddam, Connecticut, in which the mineral was recognized by myself, while visiting the place, six years since. It occurs some two miles from the famous locality of chrysoberyl, where also columbite is met with in minute crystals, and is in a huge granitic vein traversing gneiss. The vein is made up of large cleavable forms of yellowish-white feldspar and brown muscovite, with quartz and beryl. The latter mineral is sometimes found in crystals four or five inches in diameter, and a foot or two in length; these are subtranslucent and brownish or greenish-yellow, while the smaller crystals are sometimes almost transparent, of a topaz-yellow or straw color, and if they were not fissured, would constitute gems. They are frequently modified by truncations of the terminal edges and solid angles, but the edges are rounded, and do not admit, of accurate admeasurement. The columbite occurs disseminated through the vein, alike in the feldspar, mica and beryl; some of the crystals were said to have been several ounces in weight, and had been carried out by amateur collectors as specular iron; a crystal since procured from the locality by Prof. Silliman, Jr., weighs 36 ounces. The smaller crystals were abundant and often beautifully perfect, some of them are imbedded in translucent yellow beryl, and have the form represented in figure 1, p. 401 of Dana’s Mineralogy, 3d edition.
Hunt also reports the columbite specific gravity as 5.85 and with three times as much Fe as Mn, this makes it columbite-(Fe) and very typical of the region. Note that Hunt mentions the locality is 2 miles from the chrysoberyl locality, which is indeed about 2 miles north (on Walkley Hill Road). The latter locality is not far from the court house mentioned by Williams (1899) as the landmark former locality is also 2 miles away from.
Based on the all of the above, it appears that the prospect was worked by Nathaniel Cook, at least from 1846 when Hunt was there, and was also visited by Benjamin Silliman, Jr. Son John Cook may have brought him there, or to another place Nathaniel was working. It was known about by local collectors in the later 19th and early 20th centuries, but lacking a name its specific location could not be easily described until the nearby CCC camp was built in 1933. There are many 19th century columbite crystals from Haddam, most of which are simply labeled with the town name, such as the one in depicted in Dana as mentioned by Hunt. Some came from the chrysoberyl locality, but these were typically small. It appears that larger ones may be attributable to this prospect.
Shepard (1870) described and analyzed columbite-(Fe) reportedly from a pegmatite at Nathaniel Cook's house. However, in an editorial footnote to Delafontaine (1877) the editors note that "Mr. Cook informs us that there is no such locality, and that it must have come from the columbite locality, a mile distant from it."
Collecting is allowed ONLY during permit dates issued by the State of Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection to educational groups (mineral clubs, schools, etc.). See their web site link below for details.
12 valid minerals.
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Cook, John E. (1850 circa), Notes by him in the account book of his father Nathaniel Cook. Haddam Historical Society, Thankful Arnold House, Haddam, Connecticut.
Hunt, T. S. (1852), Examination of some American Minerals. American Journal Of Science: s. 2: 14: 340-1.
Shepard, Charles Upham, Sr. (1870), A new variety (species?) of Columbite. American Journal of Science: s. 2:, 50: 90.
Delafontaine, Prof. (1877), On the Hermannolite of Shepard, and on the Samarskite of North Carolina. American Journal of Science: s. 3, 13(77): 390.
Williams, Horace S. (1899), Letter to Miss Eveline Brainerd of Haddam, February 18, 1899. Brainerd Public Library, Haddam, Connecticut.
Davis, James W. (1901), The Minerals of Haddam, Conn. Mineral Collector: 8(4): 50-54.
Davis, James W. (1901), The Minerals of Haddam, Conn. Mineral Collector: 8(5): 65-70.
Williams, Horace S. (circa 1945), Article for New York Society of Mineralogists. Brainerd Public Library, Haddam, Connecticut.