Ch. 2: Maine Pegmatites: Local Descriptions

Ch. 2: Maine Pegmatites: Local Descriptions Page of 170 Ch. 2: Maine Pegmatites: Local Descriptions Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
later, when the same students sent similar crystals for identification to Professor Silliman, of Yale.
The winter's snows setting in the night after the discovery pro-vented further exploration until the following spring, when the two students searched the bare ledge and the overlying soil and were rewarded with thirty or more crystals of tourmaline of remarkable beauty and transparency, with which were associated masses of pur­plish red to pink lepidolite and splendid crystal groups of white and of smoky quartz.
Subsequent examination indicated that the ledge was perforated with cavities in which the tourmalines and other minerals had been deposited and that the crystals that had been gathered by the students had been set free from their cavities by the disintegration of the surface of the ledge. Parts of the ledge were fairly honeycombed with small cavities and soft spots where the decomposing feldspar was crumbling away. In these cavities and decayed places other tourmalines were obtained by breaking away the edges of the cavities or removing the decomposed material.0
The finding of the first of the large pockets is described by Mr. Hamlin6 as follows:
Two years after the discovery (1822), the two younger brothers of the discoverer, Cyrus and Hannibal Hamlin, although scarcely in their teens, resolved to make a more complete exploration of the ledge. Having borrowed sonie blasting tools in the village, they proceeded to the hill and managed in a rough way to drill several holes in the ledge and blast them out. These operations, though of trivial magni­tude, were attended with unlooked-for results, for the explosions threw out, to the astonishment of the boys, large quantities of bright-colored lepidolite, broad sheets of mica, and masses of quartz crystals of a variety of hues. The last blast exposed a decayed place in the ledge, which yielded readily to the thrusts of a sharpened stick or the point of the iron drills. As the surface was removed, great numbers of minute tourmalines were discovered in the decomposed feldspar and lepidolite. The rock became softer and softer as the boys proceeded in their work of excavation, and soon they reached a large cavity of two or more bushels capacity. This hollow place, or rotten place, appeared to be filled with a substance resembling sand, loosely packed. Amongst this sand or disintegrated rock, crystals of tourmaline of extraordinary size and beauty were found scattered here and there in the soft matrix. Scratching away with renewed energy, the boys soon emptied the pocket of its contents, and found that they had obtained more than twenty crystals of various forms and hues. One of these was a magnificent tourmaline of a rich green color and a remarkable transpar­ency. It was more than 2-1/2 inches in length by nearly 2 inches in diameter, and both of its terminations were finely formed and perfect.
Several others possessed extraordinary beauty, and some of them were quite 3 inches in length and an inch in diameter. The colors of these tourmalines were quite varied, but were chiefly red and green. * * * The exact number of the crystals obtained by the boys is not known, but when collected together with the fragments of others they filled a basket of nearly two quarts capacity. Besides the tourmalines, the quantity of lepidolite, mica, and other choice minerals thrown out by the blasts or found in the sides of the cavity was so great that the boys were obliged to seek for an ox team to transport them home.
From 1822 until 1864 the locality was visited by many mineralo­gists, geologists, and mineral collectors, who excavated to some extent
Ch. 2: Maine Pegmatites: Local Descriptions Page of 170 Ch. 2: Maine Pegmatites: Local Descriptions
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