Franklinite bill sent to governor

SUSSEX COUNTY. Local schoolchildren have been campaigning for Franklinite to be the official mineral of New Jersey.

| 26 May 2023 | 09:02

The state Assembly passed a bill (S1727/A3393) that designates Franklinite as the official mineral of New Jersey on Thursday, May 25.

The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Steven Oroho, R-24, was approved by the Senate in October.

It now goes to the governor’s desk for signing.

New Jersey does not have an official mineral.

Since 2015, Sussex County legislators and schoolchildren have pushed to declare Franklinite as the official mineral.

“Franklinite is as unique to New Jersey as the Pine Barrens are and was the driving force behind the state’s thriving mining industry in the 19th and 20th centuries,” said Assemblyman Parker Space (R-24), one of the bill’s prime sponsors.

“The discovery and mining of this rare ore built Franklin. Its importance can’t be overstated.”

In 1819, French geologist Pierre Berthier discovered Franklinite, a reddish-brown or black zinc ore found only in Franklin and Ogdensburg and named for Benjamin Franklin.

More than 33 million tons of zinc were mined during 250 years. It was used in products ranging from sunblock to car tires to cosmetics to brass.

More than 350 minerals were found in the area’s two mines, 19 of them found nowhere else on Earth.

According to an oral history shared in the Daily Record in 2015, driven by the demand for that rare ore, Franklin became a booming mining town for 60 years. After the ore was exhausted, the Franklin Mine shut down in 1954 and Sterling Hill Mine in Ogdensburg in 1986.

The industry and the contributions it made are highlighted by the Franklin Mineral Museum, Sterling Hill Mining Museum and Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society.

State Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-24) said Jeff Osowski of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum built momentum for the Franklinite bill, and Bill Truran helped organize support for it when he became the Sussex County Historian in 2019.

He also thanked “the students in Franklin, Ogdensburg, Hardyston and Sparta who kept writing letters to get this out of committee and onto the Assembly floor.”

“Parker and I are grateful for the community involvement from our local elected officials to our schools that has led to this recognition of the giant contributions little Sussex County has made to the state’s history and economy,” he added.