Head Deep Underground to Check out Sterling Hill Mine’s Famous Fluorescent Rocks


Deep in a zinc mine in New Jersey, you can find rocks that glow…

Or at least, that fluoresce.

You’ll also find a museum holding a fascinating collection of these special stones.

rocks - Sterling Hill Mining Museum, NJ, USA
When an overhead black light is turned on, the flat, dull-seeming rocks turn into glowing, fluorescent objects of orange, pink and green, streaked with red.

They are on vibrant display in the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, home of the largest collection of fluorescent rocks in the world.

fluorescent rocks - Sterling Hill Mining Museum, NJ, USA

The museum was founded by brothers Richard and Robert Hauck in 1990 in the former Sterling Hill zinc mine—one of the oldest in the United States. Over 11 million tons of zinc ore were carted from the mine since its opening in 1739. When it closed in 1987, it was the last operating zinc mine in New Jersey.

mylonite fluorescence
Now, thousands of visitors enter the mine to see the hundreds of glowing rocks that look like black-light posters. Under ultraviolet light, X-rays, or electron beams, rocks, minerals, crystals and other objects are illuminated.

In 1991, the museum was placed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.


A special wing of the museum opened in 1999, called the Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence to house the luminous collection. Thomas S. Warren was an ultraviolet researcher and designer of the mineralight, a portable black-light lamp.

Visitors can see the wonderful, glowing display by taking guided tours of the mine and museum available year-round.