June- July 1999
The collecting area commonly known to most mineral collectors as “Loudville” is actually a group of several small mines in the general area of the town of Loudville, Massachusetts. The most prominent of these is the Manhan Silver-Lead Mine, and it is at this site that most collecting is done, since the remaining mines are now mostly on private property. This mine was also the largest of the group and has the most interesting mineral assemblage.
Our destination is the dump from the north adit of the Manhan mine on the banks of the Manhan River. This is the point at which the main lead-copper lode crossed the river. These dumps extend to both sides of the river and indeed, collecting can be done in the river as many fine wulfenites have been panned from the riverbed. In fact, much of the overburden from the dump was removed during the flood of 1955 making collecting easier.
The ore vein was first discovered in 1678 and worked from 1680 to 1690. It was then left idle until 1765-1770. A good deal of mining for lead was done there during the Revolutionary War. The mine was re-opened in 1809 after which it was visited and described by Dr. Benjamin Silliman of Yale. Reports then vary but work on the original adit evidently stopped in 1832. It was next worked in 1851 until 1865 when the Manhan Company, which had purchased the mine in 1863, entered bankruptcy and sold the mine to the Chester Emery Co. No work has been recorded since.
Quartz, barite, calcite, fluorite, galena, sphalerite, and chalcopyrite are considered to be the primary minerals at Loudville. The ore vein is in granite. Later oxidation of these primary minerals produced an interesting suite of secondary lead and copper minerals.
Anglesite, cerussite, pyromorphite and wulfenite are the most common of these secondaries. They are quite often found as microminerals in cavities on quartz casts from which the galena or fluorite has been dissolved away. Other minerals of interest are briefly described below:
Anglesite - PbSO4 - common, often lining quartz cavities or forming coating around dissolving galena. Occasional clear crystal, more gray or white. Fluoresces a bright golden yellow on long wave.
Cerussite - PbCO3 - wide variety of habits found here, often cream color, slightly transparent. Can be twinned. Acid test will differentiate between cerussite and anglesite.
Pyromorphite - Pb5(PO4)3C1 - common as green crystals, drusy coatings & brown masses. Often found on quartz casts in cavities left by galena. Look for wulfenite and pyromorphite together.
Wulfenite - PbMoO4 - common, found in a number of habits from platy, tabular, thick or thin, bipyramidal, yellow to orange.
Galena - PbS - found in granite.
Sphalerite - ZnS - small masses in quartz.
Barite - BaSO4 - present as primary and secondary mineral. As orthorhombic, parallel growth mass of crystals and massive; also opaque white.
Linarite - PbCu(SO4)(OH)2 - most common blue mineral, thin, translucent crystals found around outer edges of altering galena.
Brochantite - Cu(SO4)(OH)6 - relatively rare light emerald green, can be confused with malachite (differentiate with acid).
Wroewolfeite - Cu4(SO4)(OH)6.2H2O - greenish-blue blocky, equant microcrystals rare; described in 1975, Loudville is the type locality.
Hemimorphite - ZnSi2O7(OH)2.2H2O - small radiating sprays of acicular crystals, usually gray or brown; also clear, transparent orthorhombic crystals.
Leadhillite - Pb4(SO4)(CO3)2(OH)2 - clear colorless pseudohexagonal microcrystals.
Aurichalcite - (Zn,Cu)5(CO3)2(OH)2 - blue fibrous sprays. Water soluble, so if you think you have this mineral - do not wash the specimen! Cotunnite is another water soluble which was reported as found at this mine but no longer seems to be present.
Other minerals found at Loudville but not being described:
silver - possibly only in galena
plumbogummite - reported in 1981 as a yellow crust
Remember, this is an old dump, so be prepared to dig deep in order to find specimens which have not been picked over. There are old mine shafts in the area, so watch where you walk.
Dunn, P. J. (1975) - The Loudville Lead Mines. Mineralogical Record 6: 293
Marshall, J. H. - same as above
Anderson, Violet (1982) - Microminerals, Mineralogical Record 13: 44
Lincks, G. F. (1967) - Revitalizing Loudville, Massachusetts Silver Lead Mines. Rocks & Minerals 42: 578
Yedlin, N. (1957) - The Micromounter. Rocks & Minerals, 32: 261
Shelton, W. & Webster, E. (1979) - Mineral Collector’s Field Guide: The Northeast. page 63