Follow This Rainbow Tunnel to the World’s Largest Collection of Fluorescent Rocks

Follow This Rainbow Tunnel to the World’s Largest Collection of Fluorescent Rocks

Inside the Rainbow Tunnel. (Jeff Glover)

Get glowing in the Sterling Hill Mining Museum

In a New Jersey mine spanning 2,670 vertical feet—more than twice as deep as the Empire State Building is tall—visitors might notice a little glow. Well, a lot of glow, actually. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is known to have the world’s largest publicly displayed collection of fluorescent rocks—ones that…

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Follow This Rainbow Tunnel to the World’s Largest Collection of Fluorescent Rocks

Inside the Rainbow Tunnel. (Jeff Glover)

Get glowing in the Sterling Hill Mining Museum

In a New Jersey mine spanning 2,670 vertical feet—more than twice as deep as the Empire State Building is tall—visitors might notice a little glow. Well, a lot of glow, actually. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum is known to have the world’s largest publicly displayed collection of fluorescent rocks—ones that beam bright neon colors under certain types of light. The museum is an old zinc mine—one of the oldest in the country, having opened in 1739 and in operation until 1986, during which time it was an important site for hauling out zinc, as well as iron and manganese. The abandoned mine was purchased in 1989 and converted to a museum in 1990, and now welcomes about 40,000 people every year. The museum itself includes both outdoor and indoor mining exhibits, rock and fossil discovery centers, an observatory, an underground mine tour and the Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence, devoted to the glowing minerals.

The fluorescence museum occupies the mine’s old mill, a structure dating to 1916. There’s about 1,800 square feet of space, with more than two dozen exhibits—some of which you can touch and experience on your own. Even the entrance is impressive; more than 100 huge fluorescent mineral specimens cover an entire wall that’s lit up by different types of ultraviolet light, displaying the glowing capabilities of each mineral type. For kids, there’s a “cave,” complete with a fluorescent volcano, a castle and some glowing wildlife. And there’s an exhibit comprised solely of fluorescent rocks and minerals from Greenland. All told, more than 700 objects are on display in the museum.

About 15 percent of minerals fluoresce under blacklight, and they generally don’t glow in the daytime. Essentially, ultraviolet light shining on these minerals is absorbed into the rock, where it reacts with chemicals in the material and excites the electrons in the mineral, thus emitting that energy as an outwardly glow. Different types of ultraviolet light—longwave and shortwave—can produce different colors from the same rock, and some rocks that have other materials inside them (called activators) may glow multiple colors.

“A mineral might pick up different activators depending on where it forms, so a specimen from Mexico might fluoresce a different color than one from Arizona, even though it’s the same mineral,” Jill Pasteris, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University, told the college’s newspaper. “On the other hand, some minerals are just good fluorescers. Calcite, for example, can glow in just about all the fluorescent colors. But, oddly enough, having too much of an activator can prevent fluorescence as well. So an overdose of a generalized activator like manganese can keep a good fluorescer like calcite from lighting up.”

Among the most impressive parts of the mine tour at Sterling Hill is the walk through the Rainbow Tunnel, which ends in an entire fluoresced room called the Rainbow Room. Much of the route is illuminated by ultraviolet light, causing a burst of glowing, neon reds and greens from the exposed zinc ore in the walls. The green color signifies a different type of zinc ore called willemite. The mineral’s color can vary wildly in the daylight—everything from the typical chunks of reddish-brown to crystallized and gem-like blues and greens—but all variations fluoresce bright neon green. When the mine was active, the ore covered the walls throughout, so anyone shining ultraviolet light would have had a similar experience to what occurs in the tunnel today.

 

 

The Stanley Hotel served as a model for the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel “The Shining”

The Stanley Hotel served as a model for the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel “The Shining”

Opened on July 4th, 1909, the Stanley Hotel is widely known for its magnificent architecture and surroundings. It is located in Estes Park, Colorado and is very close to the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

The 420-room Colonial Revival hotel has been featured as one of America’s most haunted hotels and was the main inspiration for the novel The Shining written by Stephen King.

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The Stanley Hotel served as a model for the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel “The Shining”

Opened on July 4th, 1909, the Stanley Hotel is widely known for its magnificent architecture and surroundings. It is located in Estes Park, Colorado and is very close to the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

The 420-room Colonial Revival hotel has been featured as one of America’s most haunted hotels and was the main inspiration for the novel The Shining written by Stephen King.

The Stanley Hotel  Photo Credit

 

It was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley Photo Credit

The hotel was built by the inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley who also built the Stanley Steamer. Stanley’s poor health forced him to move West because he needed the mountain fresh air to get better. Once his health was restored he purchased 160 acres from Lord Dunraven and built the first main building of the hotel.

The structure was completed in 1909 and featured running water supplied by the Black Canyon Creek, elevator, a telephone and dual electric and gas lighting. Until 1983, the hotel was closed every winter because it was not equipped with heat.

The hotel was closed during winter season  Photo Credit

 

The keys of the hotel with portraits of Stanley and his wife  Photo Credit

He built a whole complex of buildings including the main hotel, a concert hall, carriage house, and The Lodge. A hydroelectric power plant was built for the hotel which brought electricity to Estes Park for the first time.

An antique Chickering piano  Photo Credit

The whole complex is in the Colonial Revival architectural style and it was Stanley’s first choice because of its popularity in New England. Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are a lot of stories about paranormal activity on the site. There are ghost tours for visitors through which they can learn about the history of the hotel and understand the reason for the mysterious activities. Many people believe that the ghosts of the owners are still around and the sound of children playing in the halls is common. The most famous room in the hotel is the room 217. It is the room where Stephen King and his wife spent one night while they were on vacation.

The hotel inspired Stephen King to write his novel ‘The Shining’ Photo Credit

 

 

The “haunted halls” of the Stanley Hotel were the inspiration for the famous halls of the fictional Overlook Hotel in King’s novel  Photo Credit

According to Wikipedia, King had the strangest dream about his 3-year old son running through the corridors, scared and screaming being chased by a fire-hose.

When he woke up he lit a cigarette and by the time the cigarette was done he had the main bones for the novel firmly set in his mind.

Marija Georgievska