A Brief History of Mine Hill
Created & Written by Dr. Anthony Troha
The Ferromonte Historical Society of Mine Hill

Part I ~ Part II
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dickerson mine
Courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society
The Headframe for the Dickerson Shaft can be seen in the center of this albumen image from 1895. This mine shaft was located behind the Dickerson Mansion, which can be seen surrounded by a white picket fence on the right-hand side of the photograph.
The photographer was standing on Canfield Avenue, looking eastward,when he took this picture.
Plate 18
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dickerson mine
Courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society
The structure between the Headframe and the mansion, just to the right of center, was the Engine House, which contained the steam engine that powered the hoisting mechanism which raised and lowered the ore-carrying skips and the man-cages in the shaft. The hoisting mechanism was located in the Hoist House, the barn-like building seen to the left-of-center, directly behind the Headframe.
Plate 19
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dickerson mine
Courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society
A close-up view of the Dickerson Shaft's Headframe, Hoist House, and Engine House.
Plate 20
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A 1905 postcard image by Dover photographer John Price shows the remains of the structures at the Dickerson Shaft. The Hoist House was apparently being used as a barn, while the Headframe has been completely removed save for part of the brick foundation, with the shaft being guarded by the wooden fence on the left. To the right of the grazing horses and chickens, one can see the stone engine mounts that held the steam engine which powered the hoist mechanism. Today, it is only an empty farm field.
Plate 21
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This scene, captured in 1905, shows the Singer Sewing Machine Company's mining operation at the Dickerson Mine getting underway. Here, the headframe is being constructed over the Singer Shaft.
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A closer look shows the Dickerson Mansion, across CanfieldAvenue, peeking through the trees in the background.
Plate 22
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The Singer Sewing Machine Company opted to haul the ore to the Stanhope Furnace using oxen-drawn carts instead of the Ferro Monte Railroad. This mining operation ended in January of 1907.
dickerson mine
Courtesy of the New Jersey Historical Society
In 1917, the New Jersey Slag Products Company extended the standard-gauge portion of the Ferro Monte Railroad to the scales and re-opened the Singer Shaft. Some ore was extracted in November and December of that year, but it was permanently abandoned shortly afterwards.
Plate 23
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The Dickerson Mine also attracted college students who were studying Mine Engineering. To gain practical experience, they would work at the mine during a Summer. Here, members of the Columbia University Class of 1881 stand at the mine entrance. Similarly, students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) studied Mine Engineering at the Scrub Oaks Mine well into the Twentieth Century.
Plate 24
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The Dickerson Mine was not the only location in Mine Hill where iron was mined. There were at least 22 iron mines in Mine Hill (hence, the Township is aptly named).
The largest iron mine in New Jersey was the Scrub Oaks Mine, which was located north of Route 46.
A 1932 map of Mine Hill shows the various mines as a series of green shafts or trenches. The ore bodies are located in the filled rift zones created when the continent of North America broke away from Europe and Africa 200 million years ago.
In addition to iron mines, sand was obtained from sandpits in the Kenvil Flats and along Hurd Street for use in construction and blast furnaces.
Plate 25
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The Scrub Oaks Mine opened c. 1856, and the mine was greatly enlarged in 1918 as the image above shows. The tower at right is the headframe for the main shaft, while most of the other structures from there off to the left are for ore processing. The ore dock, used to transfer ore to railroad cars, is visible on the far left.
dickerson mine
Scrub Oaks Miners descended into the Earth on elevator-like carts called "skips". The skips were lowered by cables.
dickerson mine
Mining is a very dangerous and dirty occupation. There is no natural light in a mine, so miners wear lamps on their helmets in order to work.
Plate 26
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This aerial photograph from the 1950's illustrates how the Scrub Oaks Mine had been modernized since the complex's enlargement in the 1910's. The headframe for the main shaft is to the right of center, while the ore-processing facilities can be seen extending from the center to the far left. After processing, the material that had been separated from the iron was amassed in a large pile seen in the upper left-hand corner. Much of this sand-like material was used in the construction of the New Jersey Turnpike. By the time it closed in 1966, over 3 million tons of ore had been shipped from the Scrub Oaks Mine to the steel furnaces.
Plate 27
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Not everyone who lived in Mine Hill was employed as a miner. Many were farmers, including Hartshorn FitzRandolph, after whom Randolph Township was named in 1805. FitzRandolph was a Quaker and chose the location of his farm, which was once located on Randolph Avenue, to be close to the Friend Meetinghouse that still stands on Quaker Church Road in Randolph. FitzRandolph's house, built in the late 1700's, burnt down in 1876.
The Bassett Family had a large dairy farm in Mine Hill from the 1890's into the early Twentieth Century. Since that time, almost all of the farmland in Mine Hill has been sold and developed into residential or commercial properties. The last parcel of farmland in Mine Hill stands on the east side of Canfield Avenue,across the road from the Dickerson Mine.
Plate 28
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One hundred years ago, there were no supermarkets or malls. Instead, local "general stores", farmers, and butchers would supply residents with groceries. People who lived in Mine Hill would shop at the Mine Hill Store, owned by Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Buck. The store stood at the intersection of Randall Avenue and the Dover Turnpike (today's Route 46). The store, which also served as the Mine Hill Post Office and as a stop for the Morris County Traction Company's trolley line, was torn down in the early 1980's.
This intersection defined the center of the Village of Mine Hill, and other important structures were located in the vicinity.
Plate 29
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Schools
Two centuries ago, public schools did not exist. Parents who could afford the cost sent their children to boarding schools or hired private tutors. Poorer families educated their children at home. The first school in Mine Hill was established in the 1820's. The one-room schoolhouse was located on Randolph Avenue. In the late 1850's, a larger school, later known as School Number Two, was built along today's Route 46, a few hundred feet away from the Mine Hill Store. This building was sold and moved in 1918 to make room for a new schoolhouse.
Children living near the Dickerson Mine attended the Ferro Monte School, also known as School Number Three. It stood along Canfield Avenue across from the current site of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Station. It was used until the early Twentieth Century when students were re-assigned to the new school on Route 46 that replaced the one pictured above.
Plate 30
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The new school along modern-day Route 46 quickly proved to be too small for the growing community, so it was soon decided that two wings should be added to the wooden building and that the fa├žade should be covered in stucco.
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The Mine Hill School (later known as the Hattie Rice School) still stands along Route 46. It has not been a school since the 1980's; today, it houses businesses.
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To meet the increase in the number of pupils in the district, another school was built along Canfield Avenue in the 1950's. Today, the Canfield Avenue School has been greatly enlarged and is the sole school in Mine Hill.
Plate 31
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Churches
Local houses of worship helped in charity work and served to bind the community together, an important function in a mining town. Irish immigrants were Catholic, while most of the Welsh were Presbyterian, so religious affiliation was usually designated by ethnic origins.
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The Mine Hill Presbyterian Church was originally a wooden building that was erected in 1874. It was destroyed by fire in 1925 and was replaced in 1927 with the current stone edifice.
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Saint Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1872, replacing an earlier structure that stood on the opposite side of Route 46. The stone for the church was obtained from nearby mines by miners who belonged to the congregation.
Plate 32
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The Mine Hill Hotel
Travelers arriving in Mine Hill a century ago would have stayed at the Mine Hill Hotel, which still stands at the corner of Randolph Avenue and West Randolph Avenue. Built in 1868, the hotel served as a stagecoach stop, welcoming many immigrants when they first came to the area seeking employment and housing.
The hotel later became a tavern, where many miners would spend some time after a long day of working in the mines.
Most recently, the building has been a restaurant, but it is currently closed. Local historians would like to see the building preserved, since it was an important meeting place for those living in the area known as Irishtown.
Plate 33
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The Bridget Smith House
Built in 1855, this two-family home was typical of the housing provided to miners and their families in northern New Jersey in the Nineteenth Century. Located on Randolph Avenue, the house is the last unaltered miner's home in New Jersey. Today, it hosts the Township of Mine Hill's museum, which is operated and maintained by volunteers from The Ferromonte Historical Society of Mine Hill.
Bridget Smith, the widow of a miner, purchased the home in 1869 and raised her two children there. She passed away in 1909.
ida mcconnell
Ida McConnell and her husband, Jack, moved into the house in 1912. They never made any major modifications to the home, which allowed it to retain its Nineteenth Century character and become a teaching aid for future generations. She died in the late 1990's at the age of 103.
Plate 34
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