Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
March 30, 2010
Now that we’ve absorbed a bit about the science behind fluorescence, let’s see how black lights and glow-in-the-dark effects add psychedelic pageantry to many leisuretime activities. Eerie day-glo exoticism is a popular feature at haunted houses, mystery spots, and classic amusement park “dark rides” (many of which have undergone klutzy re-branding, Kennywood’s “Garfield’s Nightmare” being one of the most controversial.)
One of today’s hot spots for fluorescent fun is Northwest New Jersey, where a pair of mining museums are located in close proximity, so you can easily experience a double dose of glow packed into one very dazzling day.
The borough of Franklin, New Jersey calls itself the “Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World.” It was formerly the site of the “world’s most famous zinc mines” (begging the question “Are zinc mines ever really that famous?”) But anyway…
The Franklin Mineral Museum‘s 33-foot-long “Fluorescent Mineral Room” boasts a rainbow-hued wall well-stocked with technicolor rocks. Willemite, Franklinite, Pectolite, Calcite, and all your other favorite “-ites” are here. Crushed stone murals add an artistic touch. The museum also features a replica zinc mine and three “collecting areas” (one is handicap accessible!). In order to prevent diminishing returns at the two above-ground sites, they are “frequently replenished” (like trout ponds and pumpkin patches).
Over at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in nearby Ogdensburg, there is a real defunct zinc mine and The Thomas Warren Museum of Fluorescence, which provides an in-depth learning experience with a not-unexpected “color wall” but also an array of historic ultraviolet lamps and a fanciful glowing kid-friendly display featuring castles and volcanoes, designed by a well-meaning retired art teacher. Visitors are encouraged to examine their own glaring teeth and nails under black light…”to disturbing effect.”
All too educational for you? Then experience the exploding trend of glow-in-the-dark mini golf. This growing industry is expanding rapidly with chains and franchises such as Putting Edge and the robotically gruesome Monster Mini Golf. Constant innovation is required to keep up in such a competitive arena — Shankz Black Light Mini Golf in Olympia, Washington adds 3-D glasses to the mix for the ultimate in corneal chaos, but so does the madcap Putz-N-Glo in Rapid City, South Dakota.
And don’t forget the merchandise! The Putting Edge chain of fun centers certainly hasn’t: they sell the most memorable souvenir of all…the “Our Balls Glow in the Dark” T-shirt. It’s sure to brighten up the face of anyone in a dark mood. (Post by Anne D. Bernstein)
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