Connecticut is a good state for rockhounding. Connecticut’s Yale University has one of the best museums in America for rockhounds, the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
State Rocks, Gemstones, Minerals, Fossils, & Dinosaurs
Rockhounding Tip: Knowing state rocks, gemstones, minerals, fossils, and dinosaurs often can be very useful information for rockhounders. Ordinarily, states with significant mineral deposits, valuable gemstones, fossils, or unusual or significant rock occurrences will designate an official state mineral, rock/stone, gemstone, fossil, or dinosaur to promote interest in the state’s natural resources, history, tourism, etc. Accordingly, such state symbols often are a valuable clue as to potential worthwhile rockhounding opportunities.
State Mineral: Almandine Garnet (1977)
Connecticut designated the almandine garnet as its state mineral in 1977. Garnets occur in igneous pegmatites and granites as well as metamorphic gneiss and mica schist – all of which are common in Connecticut. The term garnet actually constitutes a group of six similar minerals, complex silicates of the same atomic structure, but differing in chemical composition. They vary in color from pale to dark tints, including the deep violet-red of the almandine garnet. Because of its hardness (7 on the Mohs scale), garnets are useful as an abrasive. Almandine is the red/red-brown garnet. The color comes from oxidized iron in the chemical makeup. The name Almandine likely comes from Alabanda in Asia Minor where ancient garnets were first cut and polished.
State Fossil: Eubrontes Giganteus (1991)
Connecticut designated Eubrontes giganteus, a large three-toed track, its official state fossil in 1991. The Connecticut Valley is one of the world's foremost dinosaur track localities. Many different types of fossil track impressions have been found in the Valley's sandstone of the early Jurassic period (about 200 million years ago). Although no skeletal remains of the specific track making dinosaur have been found, the shape, size, and stride of the Eubrontes indicate that the animal was closely related to the Western genus Dilophosarus. Two thousand Eubrontes tracks were discovered on a single layer of rock in Rocky Hill in 1966 and subsequently Dinosaur State Park was created for their preservation and interpretation.
State-specific rockhounding books (including the books listed here as well as other books), regional rockhounding site guides, and other helpful rockhounding resources are identified - by category - in the Books & Gear section of Gator Girl Rocks with a link to the Gator Girl Rocks Amazon Store where you may easily browse selected resources and securely place an order. Your order will benefit Charity Rocks!
- Kathleen H. Ryerson, Rock Hound’s Guide to Connecticut (1972).
- Allan W. Eckert, Earth Treasures Vol. 1 - Northeastern Quadrant (1985; reprint in 2000).
- James Martin Monaco & Jeannette Hathway Monaco, Fee Mining & Mineral Adventures in the Eastern U.S. (2d ed. 2010).
- Kathy J. Rygle & Stephen F. Pedersen, Northeast Treasure Hunter's Gem & Mineral Guide (4th ed. 2008).
Museums of Interest to Rockhounders
Museum of Natural History
Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut
Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History is one of the oldest and largest natural history museums in the world. The museum was founded by George Peabody, the wealthy uncle of Othniel Charles Marsh, an early paleontologist and fierce rival of Edward Drinker Cope – both participants in the notorious ‘Bone Wars.’ Marsh and Cope raided the American West shipping many dinosaur fossils to the east coast and deliberately destroying others. The museum includes the ‘Great Hall of Dinosaurs,’ which includes a juvenile Apatosaurus. In addition, the museum has the oldest collection of meteorites and tektites in the United States with thousands of specimens representing more than 400 different meteorite localities and nearly all of the various kinds of meteorites and tektites. The museum’s vertebrate paleontology collections are among the largest, most extensive, and most historically important fossil collections in the United States.
Museum of Natural History
University of Connecticut – Storrs, Connecticut
The museum includes samples of almandine garnet, the state gem, and other minerals from Connecticut and around the world.
Bruce Museum of
Arts & Science
The museum’s "The Earth's Minerals" exhibit includes a mineral gallery.
Connecticut Museum of Mining & Mineral Science
The museum – in addition to a collection of artifacts relating to the iron mining industry – has collections of minerals from throughout the state
Places to Visit - Interesting Sites To See
Rocky Hill, Connecticut
Dinosaur State Park is one of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America. Beneath the geodesic dome, there is an exceptional display of early Jurassic fossil tracks that were made about 200 million years ago. The tracks were discovered in 1966. Fossil tracks are classified and named independently from fossil animals. Dinosaur State Park's tracks are named Eubrontes. One of America's first geologists, Edward Hitchcock, invented that name and many others in his pioneering studies of Connecticut Valley tracks. No remains of the dinosaur that made Eubrontes have been found in the Valley. Most scientists, however, agree that the trackmaker was a carnivorous dinosaur similar in size and shape to Dilophosaurus. The tracks range from 10 to 16 inches in length and are spaced 3.5 to 4.5 feet apart. Eubrontes is the official Connecticut State Fossil.
Rockhounding Sites for Children & Families
Roxbury, Redding, & Colchester, Connecticut
Connecticut is well known for garnets. Garnets of several colors and varieties are found in many localities around Connecticut, including Roxbury, Redding and Colchester.
Garnets & Staurolite
Green’s Farm Garnet Mine – Southeast of Roxbury Falls, Connecticut
Commercial (fee access) business. This site, in northwest Connecticut, is a well known garnet collecting site for almandine garnets. Staurolite also occurs at this site.
State Lands - Educational Mineral Collecting Program
Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection allows mineral collecting by mineral clubs, nature centers, schools or Connecticut museums at Case Quarries (Meshomasic State Forest in Portland); Clark Hill Quarries (Meshomasic State Forest in East Hampton); and CCC Quarry (Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam).