Mining in Maine (Hedge Hog Hill Quarry)

Before making a trip to this neighborhood, it’s best to make sure you have a sturdy vehicle. Anything without four-wheel drive will have a hard time getting there. I would also make sure you have a spare tire along with the means to change a tire. A cell phone is highly recommended as well. You can always drive until the road gets rough, park to the side, and then walk. There is an open area, what looks like a gravel pit that is a good place to park. This mine may be difficult for some to locate, as it is overgrown and it is noted that few people make collecting trips to this location. That’s a good thing, because it means the area hasn’t been cleaned. The Hedge Hog Hill Quarry is located in Peru Maine in Oxford County. Few minerals have been found here, in my opinion it is a simple granite pegmatite, but still worth the trip. For one thing, the view from there is worth the trip alone. The fact that few people seem to come here is another draw. This is because you have to drive on a dirt road through the forest to get to the mine.

The minerals seen here are albite, almandine garnet, beryl, biotite, chrysoberyl, fluorapatite, microcline, muscovite, quartz, and schroll. That’s it, and on my journey I only found garnet, biotite, muscovite and quartz. So just because all those other minerals were listed, don’t count on finding them. The biggest prize in this place is the almandine garnets. Some very large almandine garnets can be found here. The open face of the mine is teeming with them, but don’t count on taking them out. It can be done, but it’s labor intensive and you’d better wear a pair of protective goggles. Not to mention, you can go through all that effort only to end up damaging the sample you’re looking for. I didn’t see any garnets worth that kind of effort, though some gem-quality samples are said to have been found in quart pockets. I found a garnet sample of this type in another mine of the grossalur garnet variety. This garnet was about the size of a golf ball and was of gem quality. I hammered around that thing for an hour without even making a tooth. The crystal rested in a quartz pocket. I left him there with a tear in my eye. The almandine crystals in the Hedge Hog Quarry are quite large. I would recommend digging through the talise piles. I can almost guarantee that you will find one of these great garnets. Simply because very few people have excavated in these mounds. This fact becomes obvious when you first arrive at the mine. In fact, I’d almost bet that the only excavation signs you’ll find are from my trip there over five years ago. I only spent four hours here, but I walked away with some great samples. My best was a whole, perfectly formed almandine garnet crystal, about the size of a golf ball. I thought I wasn’t going to do much better than that, so I left. I plan to return and spend more time on this site. Maybe I’ll take a tent with me and do a weekend.

Driving directions are as follows:

From the four-way intersection on Route 108 in western Peru, drive 3.05 miles south on Dickvale Highway. Turn left onto Mineral Springs Road and continue 0.95 miles to the intersection. Turn right onto Paradis (gravel) road and drive 1.05 miles to the abandoned shack on the left. park here. Walk up the main road from here about 150 feet to the quarry road on the right. Follow this logging road 270 feet to the fork, keep left at the fork. Continue 675 feet to the next fork, keep right. Walk 390 feet to the stone wall. Follow the path through the opening in the wall and go another 150 feet to the end of the obvious path. Continue straight up a steep incline following the trail for 360 feet to the quarry. (Maine Mineral Localities 3rd EDT. by WB Thompson, DL Joyner, RG Woodman, VT King)

These addresses make it seem very hard to find, but it really isn’t simply because there’s nothing else up here. Make sure you stay on the right path when the road forks and you won’t have any trouble finding the mine. I walked past the cabin and followed the directions until I reached the gravel pit area. I parked here, but don’t try unless you have four wheel drive. From here it is a short walk up a steep dirt road to the quarry. It’s essentially the top of a small mountain where the mine is. One side has been mined. The talice pile is located to one side and below. I shouldn’t call the area where I parked a gravel hole. It’s really just an open area that looks like a natural dirt parking lot. I assumed it was a gravel pit, because that was the only reason I could think of it being there. Perhaps it is what remains from when the mine was open and working. It would be a good idea to bring a secondary block and some bug spray. I can’t stress enough the bug spray. This is a wooded area and black flies and mosquitoes abound here. It’s also a good idea to bring a sifting screen. Especially when the main goal is to find garnet crystals scattered throughout the talise piles. You can also bring a chisel and a hammer although they are not necessary. A small shovel would be more useful. I highly recommend doing this trip. Garnet samples are worth a look, and you never know. You may get lucky and find some of the rarest minerals ever found here.

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