Art & Culture

Mining Creativity

In 1803, homesteader Sam Ruggles discovered an unlimited supply of mica – and over 150 other minerals – embedded in a mountain in Grafton, New Hampshire. For years, he kept the location of the mine a secret as he transported mica in the dark of night to Portsmouth, NH, and from there on to England, where it was used in windows for ships, woodstoves, and whale-oil lamps.

By the early 1930s, an estimated $12 million worth of mica had been removed from Ruggles Mine for use in  electrical insulation, roof shingles, and cosmetics. In 1960, the mine was purchased by the Wahlstrom family who continued to mine top-quality mica. However, cheaper sources of mica from foreign suppliers became available, and domestic demand correspondingly dropped.

Although Ruggles Mine was productive for 160 years, the Wahlstrom family decided to turn the mine into a tourist attraction in 1963, thus marking the end of mining mica and other minerals in New Hampshire.

Jerry Beck learned of Ruggles Mine when he was a teenager, riding around New Hampshire in his car. As the Founder and Artistic Director of New England’s Revolving Museum and ARTventures, Beck now envisions the mine’s dramatic open air spaces, caves, tunnels, and water-filled ponds as an ideal showcase for the work of visual, performing, and literary artists. ARTventures is currently seeking private funding to create a wildly unique and educational theme park designed and built by artists in collaboration with the public.

“Ruggles Mine is glistening with unlimited creative possibilities,” shares Beck. “The Revolving Museum has a long history of creating adventurous public art, architecture, educational programs, festivals, urban design, and creative economy projects involving collaborations between artists, youth, and community members. I’m confident we will be able to secure the funds to purchase Ruggles Mine and revitalize it into a family-friendly cultural destination that will inspire personal, social, ecological, spiritual, and economic transformation.”

ARTventures’ goal is to transform Ruggles Mine into a visionary family-friendly theme park that will feature:

  • An interactive art and science museum; public art park and archeological trail
  • Eco-Tourism Adventure Park featuring rock climbing, zip-lining and bird watching
  • The Mica Mine Motel where glittery-themed rooms will be designed by artists
  • Community Cave Film Studio and Theater. Space that will be located inside a cave
  • Live Free Eat Happy Organic Cafe serving meals from the site’s permaculture gardens
  • Look-Out Artist & Scientist Residency and Youth ARTventure Summer Camp Program

“The Ruggles Mine owners and I are thrilled to be collaborating with Jerry to make this amazing dream happen,” says Douglas Martin, Ruggles Mine representative. “Over the years, Ruggles Mine has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people who have appreciated its history, monolithic-scale, beauty, and recreational rock and mineral collecting opportunity.

To learn more, please contact Jerry Beck.