Replica Mine and Fluorescent Rock Room
Franklin, New Jersey
Franklin is the "Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World," and thousands of rockhounds still clamber over the heaps at the old Buckwheat Mineral Dump looking for glowing nuggets (Ken and Doug recall frustrating childhood field trips, where other kids' dads were equipped with portable fluorescent detection equipment!).
The museum tells us that "357 different mineral species" were found in the zinc deposits, and there are long glass display cases of rocks that have been identified and meticulously labeled.
While the museum's large rock collection is most interesting to mineral fans, the place has some fun elements. There's a fake 2-story deep zinc mine that exhibits historic mining equipment, with a couple of miner mannequins. There's also a display of black light items such as psychedelic posters, Halloween skulls, and cocktail umbrellas.
The museum's most authentic radiant treasure is in the Fluorescent Mineral Room. With the lights out, the wall of willemite, franklinite, larsenite, pectolite, calcite, hedyphane and other minerals glow under ultraviolet light, or give off a phosphorescent glow long after all lights are extinguished. Crushed stone "paintings" of animals and flowers are arrayed along the wall. A red and green glowing sphere of willemite and calcite looks like a gift the space aliens left behind.