Franklin - Gem Mining Capital of the WORLD!
Gem mining has been a staple of the Franklin area for years. Franklin is known world-wide as the gem mining capital of the world. You can visit numerous area gem mines and even try your hand at it. Many of the mines are open year-round and provide hours of fun and fantasy for young and young-at-heart. While many of the mines are open year round, check before going as some are open from spring through autumn.
It all began back in 1970 when mining for rubies and sapphires began in the Franklin area. Before that, mining of minerals, called Corundum, offered work for many in the area. These minerals were transported by horse and wagon to railways and from there, it were transported to larger markets. As far as gemstones go, rubies and sapphires were the predominant stones mined. It is said that Tiffany at one time showed interest in the area but two other companies beat him to the punch. In the 1890's, these two companies, US Ruby Mining Company and Americal Prospecting and Mining Company came to the area and began mining in earnest.
If you plan to spend time mining while in Franklin, there are a few things you should bring. Mine owners advise to bring a plastic bag or a plastic dish/bowl so you have something in which to place your stones. Gloves, such as medical gloves or plastic cleaning golves will help keep your hands warm if your visit is in the cooler months. A towel or a cushion may also make it a more pleasant experience for your backside! Mining is an activity best suited to tennis shoes and jeans. Your shoes may get muddy so having another pair in the car is also a good idea. Also, if you plan to stay the whole day, pack a bag lunch. And, bring your camera to ensure your day is memorialized.
Most peole who mine find something - although it may not be the motherlode of which dreams are made! As with diamonds, the "C's" of mining apply. Color, clarity and crystals are the C's of Franklin mining. While the color of the stones will vary widely, garnets are most often red, pink or reddish brown. Rubies are red and sapphires can come in almost any color. These stones generally have crystal formation with six sides. Other stones found in the Franklin area include: moonstone, quartz, adventurine.
Have fun and Good Mining!
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For a list of Franklin area mines, go here