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Hewitt Gem Quarry (Herb's Gem Quarry; Sawmill Quarry), Haddam, Middlesex Co., Connecticut, USA

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 41° 27' 10'' North , 72° 30' 38'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 41.4527777778, -72.5105555556
Other regions containing this locality:North America


Herb Hewitt’s gem mine was a popular collecting place during the 1960s and 1970s and since 2013 has become one again. It is a group of small pegmatite quarries that boasted mineralogy and specimen quality similar to the famous Gillette Quarry across the river in Haddam Neck. Both are zoned pegmatites with cleavelandite and lithium enrichment and feature beryls with clear to pale green cores and pink overgrowths among other minerals.

Major activity apparently began around 1960 because it is mentioned briefly in Schooner (1961) but not at all in Schooner (1958). However, there was activity before then, as Williams (circa 1945) mentions that "At a Feldspar prospect on land of a Mr. Elly near Turkeyhill Road, green tourmaline in muscovite, lepidolite, smoky quartz, fine transparent crystals." Indeed, according to town records, the quarry was once owned by William Ely, and was sold to Ernest McNutt, by his daughter Alice Ely, in 1944. Ernest McNutt rented the quarry to the Hewitts for some years then sold it to them on March 28, 1960.

This is largely substantiated by Gregory (1966):

The outcropping was first worked in the early 1940's for feldspar by Mr. DeLucca who came from Maine. After selling two truck loads of feldspar to the Bon-Ami Company in Manchester, Connecticut, Mr. DeLucca had to give up the operation because of an accident. The old quarry was known as the Saw Mill Quarry. A saw mill was built here in the early 1950's to process the large trees in the area.

In August, 1961, Herbert Hewitt leased the land for mining and prospecting. He found that the dike of pegmatite extended underground quite some distance to the northeast. Mr. Hewitt and his brother have been working the quarry for the last four years, looking for strategic minerals needed for defense and the space age.


In the 1940s, apparently Mr. Ely owned it but Mr. DeLucca worked it.

To attract rockhounds to this fee collecting site, Herb Hewitt published advertisement fliers. The color ad featured a pile of multi-colored gem beryl rough, much of which was actually from the Roebling Quarry in Upper Merryall, which the Hewitts also worked.

The first technical description of it comes from Barton and Goldsmith (1968):

The Sawmill quarry … is in Haddam on the west flank of Long Hill about 300 feet east of Jail Hill Road and one-half mile north of Turkey Hill Cemetery. It is on a tract of approximately 23 acres owned by Ernest McNutt and under lease in 1963 to Howard Hewitt of Paterson, N.J. There has been small, intermittent production of gem beryl for several years prior to and during 1963.

The quarry area (fig. 32) is underlain by intercalated biotite and hornblende schists and gneisses interrupted by numerous, small pegmatite dikes and sills many of which have been prospected for gem beryl. The country rocks strike approximately north-south and schistosity and banding in the rocks range in dip from vertical to 45° E. The Sawmill Quarry is the only pegmatite on the hill which has been developed.

At the Sawmill Quarry a small sill has been opened by four small prospect pits. The sill strikes N 3° W and dips 45° to 86° E with the foliation of the enclosing rocks. It is exposed for 400 feet along strike and is about 10 feet thick. Because of its eastward dip it has not been explored to any extent downdip, where it runs beneath rising ground forming the west slope of Long Hill (also erroneously called Turkey Hill by local prospectors). The pegmatite is zoned, but poorly exposed in the rubble-strewn pits.

The pegmatite was estimated to contain 0.1 to 0.2 percent beryl. Much of it was beautiful blue, green, white, pink, and multicolored doubly terminated gem and specimen crystals. The multicolored beryl has a green core, and white prism faces grading to pink at either end. Crystals averaged about 1 by 3 inches, but were up to 10 inches long.


Taber (1971) described and economically assessed the pegmatite for the Hewitts:

The principal pegmatite body...is exposed in two pits totalling about 150 feet in length, up to 30 feet wide, and over 15 feet deep. The widest part, the north end, is split in two by a large horst or sliver of country rock occupying the middle third of the body. The pegmatite trends north-south and dips steeply eastward. Both ends are covered.

The mineralogy is complex: contained minerals are, feldspar (both plagioclase and orthoclose groups of various colors, including white, tan, green, gray, orange, pink), quartz (including smoky), muscovite, tourmaline (black and golden), beryl (green, aquamarine, yellow, colorless), red garnet, red fluorite, lepidolite, and many others not identified by the writer. Many of the beryls are large enough (over 1 inch diameter) and of gem quality, but fractured by blasting.

No commercial product in volume has been produced from this body so far and the writer has doubts if any will be. However, pegmatites are notoriously unpredictable. In general, the feldspar masses are too small and impure, muscovite books and masses are too small and scattered, and the tenor of the beryl is too low and crystals too small for hand cobbing to upgrade any of these products profitably. However, the variety of minerals and the gem qualities of beryl and tourmaline make the pit a favorite for rockhounds. Also, the pegmatite rock itself has been used as a rock garden stone and a market of a few hundred tons a year can be easily developed.


Herb Hewitt reportedly lived at the quarry during the 1960s and after he passed away in the early 1970s, his brother, Howard, took over trying to promote the quarry for a while and was in his 80s at the time. Howard never worked the quarry as Herb had. The heyday of this locality came to an end when Howard died in 1981. His widow, Emily Hewitt, inherited the land and she used the southern half of the land, #220 Turkey Hill Road, to build the Valley Evangelical Free Church. She sold the northern half, #202 Turkey Hill Road, which contains most if not all of the Hewitt Quarry, to Joseph Mazzotta of Middletown. Aerial photos from 2012 show that the site was abandoned with the pits partially filled in, but most of the dumps remain.

In 2013, James Sipperly introduced Anthony J. Albini and Ray Meyers to owner Joseph Mazzotta. Thereafter, A. J. Albini and Jim Sipperly reviewed the dumps and Joseph Mazzotta started to bulldoze the dumps under A. J. Albini's direction. Since then, several mineral club field trips have been allowed in 2014-15 under owner supervision. As a result, much new material has come to light, including amazonite, several varieties of beryl, masses of deep red to almost black chlorophane, and pockets with smoky quartz. The current owner doesn't want people collecting there (outside of some scheduled field trips) because of hunters in the area.

In 2015, several collectors found the pink, fibrous, lithium-rich muscovite variety "schernikite", first described at the Gillette quarry, in a miarolitic cavity with elbaite to 15 cm, including the "Trick or Treat Pocket" on October 31. In many ways the mineralization at Hewitt is similar to that at Gillette, which is located only 2.7 miles directly north.

Mineral List


31 valid minerals.

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References

Williams, Horace S. (circa 1945): Article for New York Society of Mineralogists. Brainerd Public Library, Haddam, Connecticut.

Stugard, Frederick, Jr. (1958): Pegmatites of the Middletown Area, Connecticut. USGS Bulletin 1042-Q.

Schooner, Richard. (1961): The Mineralogy of Connecticut.

Hewitt, Herb. (circa 1960s): Hewitt Gem Mine advertisement flyer.

Gregory, Gardiner. (1966): Gems and Minerals of Haddam, Connecticut. Gems & Minerals, No. 348., Sept. 1966.

Shelton, William. (1967): Notes on a Find at Haddam. Rocks and Minerals: 42(7): 502-503.

Barton, William R. and Carl E. Goldsmith. (1968): New England Beryllium Investigations. U. S. Bureau of Mines, Report of Investigations 7070.

Taber, Bond. (1971): Turkey Hill Road Quarries. (Private economic assessment prepared for the Hewitts).

Sloan, Edward and Bert Sloan. (1975): Mineral And Gem Trails: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut. Distributed by EDSCO.

Seaman, David (1976): "Pegmatite Minerals of the World" in: Januzzi, Ronald E. and David Seaman.(1976): Mineral Localities of Connecticut and Southeastern New York State and Pegmatite Minerals of the World. (The Mineralogical Press: Danbury, Connecticut).

Schooner, Richard (C. 1985): Mineralogy of Central Connecticut (privately published)

Weber, Marcelle H. and Earle C. Sullivan. (1995): Connecticut Mineral Locality Index. Rocks & Minerals (Connecticut Issue): 70(6): 403.

Weissman, Jeffrey G. and Anthony Nikischer. (2005): Photographic Guide to Mineral Species. 2nd edition. CD distributed by Excalibur Mineral Corporation.

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