Civilian Conservation Corps prospect (CCC prospect; Cook columbite prospect), Haddam, Middlesex Co., Connecticut, USA
|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:
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:
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.
This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.
Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org
|Devonian - Silurian|
358.9 - 443.8 Ma
|Paleozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks|
Age: Paleozoic (358.9 - 443.8 Ma)
Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. 
|Late Ordovician - Middle Ordovician|
443.8 - 470 Ma
|Collins Hill Formation|
Age: Ordovician (443.8 - 470 Ma)
Stratigraphic Name: Collins Hill Formation
Description: ( = Partridge Formation of New Hampshire) - Gray, rusty-weathering, medium- to coarse-grained, poorly layered schist, composed of quartz, oligoclase, muscovite, biotite, and garnet, and commonly staurolite, kyanite, or sillimanite, generally graphitic, interlayered with fine-grained two-mica gneiss, especially to the west, and with calc-silicate and amphibolite layers, also rare quartz-spessartine (coticule) layers.
Reference: Horton, J.D., C.A. San Juan, and D.B. Stoeser. The State Geologic Map Compilation (SGMC) geodatabase of the conterminous United States. doi: 10.3133/ds1052. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1052.