New York State

MINING & THE MINERAL INDUSTRY IN NEW YORK:

The creation of wealth begins in the ground. Whether through mining or agriculture, nothing of value can be produced without the products of these activities. New York State has a long and rich history of both. Few people, perhaps, consider the state of New York to be a “mining” state akin to Arizona, Colorado or Nevada. However, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, New York State ranked 15th of the United States in terms of value of mineral production, not including oil and gas. The state maintained approximately this rank for most of the latter part of the twentieth century. Value of raw minerals produced in 2005 was conservatively estimated at $1.29 billion.

Mining in New York began as soon as people entered the region after the retreat of the last glacial period. Specific, widely known, sites were established to extract natural resources for many purposes. Native Americans extracted chert for projectile points, clay for pottery, and red, yellow and black iron and manganese minerals for pigments. Various types of stone were used for jewelry, decoration and tool making. Native Americans recognized salt from briny springs in Onondaga County. The modern history of mining in New York State began in the southeastern part of the state. Mining spread, with the European settlers, up the Hudson Valley and into the North Country and westward through the Mohawk Valley to western New York State. Not all portions of the state are equally endowed with mineral wealth. Consequently, many more mines were established in regions such as the Hudson Highlands and Adirondacks than in the Catskills or Southern Tier. Furthermore, since “you can only mine the ore where the ore is” certain commodities were mined only in specific parts of the state. No salt mines ever existed in the Adirondacks. No garnet was ever mined in the Southern Tier.

 

 


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The New York State Geological Survey (NYSGS) is a bureau of
the New York State Museum in the New York State Education Department.
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