Adirondack Rubies: Barton Mines Garnet Mine Tours, North River (NY)

Digging for treasure is something that one doesn’t seem to grow out of. No matter our age it is still exciting to unearth a precious object. Sometimes the search for treasure is much more fun than the finding of it.  

Barton Mines is one of the oldest continuous family-owned operating mines in the United States. Located in the Adirondack Park since 1878 Barton Garnet has produced garnet abrasive products. 

While on our tour we are told that not only is the garnet New York State’s official gemstone, it is the hardest garnet in the world. 

Barton Mine is located in North River (NY), about 35 minutes from Lake George, Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake. The Gore Mountain area has one of the largest deposits of this particular garnet, sometimes called the “Adirondack Ruby,” in the world. It is used in all sorts of industrial applications from sandpaper coatings to waterjet cutting abrasives. 

This particular mine ceased operation in 1984 when a water vein flooded the pits. There are eight original pits now, all under water. When the water started to fill the quarry, the mine operators tried pumping it out but finally gave up, continuing the mining operation at the still active site at Ruby Mountain.

My children can hardly hold back during the tour, the ground is glowing with red chips. We are finally handed a small bag and strainer. The rest of the members of our tour run off, reminiscent of the golden ticket owners let loose on Willy Wonka’s edible chocolate garden.
The garnets we find are fragments sprinkled on the ground, leftovers from the mining operation. Granite boulders shine with giant chunks of red and are off limits. Anything found on the ground is for the taking. Too soon our hour is up.

We are shuttled back to the office/store and watch a gem cutting demonstration and look at a collection of large gems from around the world. There is an area where we could pan for gems, but we didn’t feel the need. We found all the treasure we needed right on the ground of the old Barton Mines.

Click here a discount coupon worth $3.00 off an adult admission.

Hours are June 27-September 5, 2016: Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 5 pm and Sundays from 11 am – 5:00 pm

After Labor Day 2016: Open weekends September 10 - October 9, 2016: Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am - 5 pm and Sunday 11 am - 5 pm

2016 Season: Admission is $13.95/adults, $9.95/ children (ages 7-14),  $12.95/Seniors (60+), FREE/children (ages 0-6) and Seniors (90+)

The collected rock/gemstones are $1.00/pound. 

If you wish to return, don’t forget to ask about the free season pass that is available with every admission. This way you can return as many times as you wish to search for that elusive treasure without having to pay the entrance fee. 

© Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities™ guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time™guidebooks have easy Adirondack family hikes, Adirondack swimming holes, Lake Placid Olympic activities, Adirondack trivia, Adirondack horseback rides, Adirondack snowshoe family trails and more. Look for the Adirondack family guidebook online or bookstores/museums/sporting good stores. Diane is currently working on the next Adirondack Family Activities™ guide.


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