Local Natural Wonders - Day 11
Local Natural Wonders Day 11 - Mt. Apatite Park in Auburn, Maine
Mt. Apatite Park is a 325-acre wooded park located with four miles of trails that can be used for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The park, owned by the City of Auburn was named after the mineral apatite, which was found there. There is much to explore in this park, including water-filled quarries.
There is ample parking at 64 Mount Apatite Park Rd in Auburn. To access the trails, walk past the Army National Guard buildings to the wooded area. TRAIL MAP
From City of Auburn website: The park offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities not often found in municipal park settings. "Rock hounds" have known about this area for over 150 years, when the first discoveries of gem-quality tourmaline were found there. Since then, the area has experienced a great deal of mineral exploration, both commercial and amateur. Today amateurs may still search the mine tailings for apatite, tourmaline, and quartz specimens (special rules apply).
Geology from City of Auburn website: Exploration of Mount Apatite began as early as 1839 when records show that three specimens of tourmaline were added to the collection of the Maine State Geologist. Over the course of the next 100 years, some remarkable finds have added to the renown of Mt. Apatite as a great place to look for semi-precious stones and other minerals.
In the 1880s, some 1500 tourmaline crystals were removed from an exploratory mine here. These varied in length from ½” to 4”, occurring in lovely shades of pastel pink, blue, lilac, yellow and green. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City displays an exquisite green rectangular tourmaline stone weighing 11.87 carats that was cut from Mt. Apatite.
In 1902, the Maine Feldspar Company began mining feldspar at Mt. Apatite. During this early period, a massive crystal of smoky quartz of approximately 19 ½” long and 9 ½” thick was discovered. Large masses of flawless material may be seen in this specimen,which is deep amber in color. This makes up the heart of the museum display at Perham’s of West Paris.