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Although Massachusetts is a small state, there are many options for a rockhound to find interesting minerals, gemstones, or rocks. Dinosaurus bones and other different fossils can be found too. So what are the best rockhounding locations in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, you can find Roxbury puddingstone (the state’s official rock) in the area surrounding Boston, rhodonite in Plainfield. The rare Babingtonite has been found in a basalt quarry in Westfield. Other rocks and minerals such as quartzite, peridotite, granite, margarite are abundant all over the state.
Now that we know what wonders can be discovered let’s pack our backpacks and start rockhounding in Massachusets!
If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding equipment and tools you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Where to Rockhound in Massachusetts?
The Old Bay State hosts a variety of rocks and minerals all over its territory. Home of some of the rarest rocks, Massachusets is quite an attraction for rockhounds. Let’s see some of the essential locations.
Perhaps the most important location in Hampshire county is Goshen’s town, where you can find a variety of colorless beryl named goshenite. Other interesting stones that you can look for around Goshen are quartz, dark blue elbaite tourmaline, muscovite.
Another cool place to visit in Hampshire county is the town of Cummington. This is the place where, back in 1812, cummingtonite was discovered. Other rocks you can search for around this town are calcite, garnet, chalcopyrite, actinolite, or chlorite.
The only place in Massachusetts where you can find rhodonite, the state’s official gemstone, is the town of Plainfield, Hampshire county. You can also find spessartine garnet, magnetite, carbonate, hematite, or chalcopyrite.
Hampden county is one of the few places in the world where you can find Babingtonite, a black or dark green mineral. The best specimens were discovered in a basalt quarry in Westfield. This is the state’s mineral since 1971.
The old Chester Emery mines are also located in Hampden county, in the town of Chester. Apart from actinolite, almandine, chalcopyrite, corundum, magnesite, or pyrite, this is the place where margarite was found.
In Russell, collectors can find one of the most treasured minerals in Massachusetts, the Russell garnet. Rare, good specimens might bring you several thousand dollars, so it is worth searching for them.
TIP: Hampden Country is a place where you can find cool rocks. To find out what are other locations where you can find cool rocks, check out the article below:
Berkshire County is a good location for rockhounds. Apart from the rich deposits of galena, pyrite, quartzite, and crystals such as agates, yellow jasper, almandine garnets, or chalcedony, this county is famous for its marble quarries.
The quarries from Berkshire supplied marble for the Washington Capitol and Philadelphia City Hall. In case you want to visit this location, make sure you check in to the National Bridge State Park where you can see the unique natural bridge of white marble.
Another important geological resource found in Berkshire County is granite. Numerous mines and quarries extract the state’s office building and monument stone of the Commonwealth.
After discussing the main locations of interest for rockhounds, let’s see what minerals and rocks you can find here and where.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- The Crystal Bible
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
What Minerals Can you Find in Massachusetts?
Now that we spoke about the best locations to rockhound in Massachusetts, it is time to check what rocks and minerals you can find in this state. First, we will speak about minerals.
The state of Massachusetts is the home of 275 minerals. Babingtonite, one of the rarest specimens, can be found in this state and it was designated the state’s official mineral. Apart from this amazing silicate, other minerals are calcite, copper, actinolite, albite, hematite, margarite, pyrite, and many more.
The best locations where you can look for minerals are usually around the mines located in Hampden County, Bristol County, Hampshire County, Worcester County, Franklin County, or Berkshire County.
Check out the below table to see what minerals you can look after and where.
|Babingtonite||Buckland, Deerfield in Franklin county|
Holyoke, West Springfield in Hampden county
|Pyrite||Alford, Becket, Florida, Hinsdale in Berkshire county|
|Margarite||Chester, Westfield in Hampden county|
|Actinolite||Huntington in Hampshire county|
Becket, Hinsdale, New Marlborough in Berkshire county
TIP: Cleaning minerals is one of the best options on how to make them look prettier. Check out these 5 simple ideas on how to clean your rocks and minerals:
What Rocks Can You Find in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is the home of many units of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks.
The sedimentary rocks can be found all over the state and include limestone, sandstone, shale, siltstone, or bauxite. Roxbury Puddingstone, the state’s rock, is a sedimentary rock discovered in the Boston area.
Economically important, these rocks played an important role in the state’s development.
We made a table that includes the most important sedimentary rocks and where you can find them in Massachusetts.
|Sandstone||Bristol County, Duke’s County, Essex County|
|Siltstone||Essex County, Norfolk County|
|Limestone||Berkshire County, Hampden County, Hampshire County|
|Shale||Norfolk County, Berkshire County, Bristol County|
Another important category includes igneous rocks. Massachusetts is famous for its nice dark grey granite that was used for building some of the most beautiful monuments in the USA. Mined in several locations, granite was made for the building and monument stone of Commonwealth in 1983.
Other important igneous rocks are basalt, batholith, rhyolite, diorite, gabbro, or peridotite. Check the below table to see what igneous rocks can be found and where.
|Granite||Franklin County, Hampden County, Berkshire County|
|Rhyolite||Suffolk County, Essex County|
|Peridotite||Hampden County, Franklin County, Hampshire County|
|Batholith||Worcester County, Franklin County, Hampshire County|
Metamorphic rocks are found in Massachusetts and this category includes slate, limestone, mylonite, quartzite, soapstone, gneiss.
One of the interesting formations is the Shelburne Falls gneiss dome in the eastern Berkshire Hills. The area is a geological attraction and it is a great place to visit.
Check the below table to find out what metamorphic rocks you should look after, and where.
|Gneiss||Franklin County, Worcester County, Berkshire County|
|Soapstone||Worcester County, Hampden County|
|Quartzite||Worcester County, Berkshire County, Essex County|
|Limestone||Berkshire County, Worcester County, Hampden County|
Next, let’s look into where you can find garnets in Massachusetts.
TIP: Raw rocks are beautiful but tumbled rocks are even more. Find out what rocks and minerals are good for tumbling in the article below:
Where to Find Garnets in Massachusetts?
Garnets can be found in several locations within Massachusetts. However, most of the rockhounds look for a rare and valuable variety of garnet, known as “Russell Garnet”. This gemstone was discovered back in 1885 in the vicinity of Russell, Hampden county.
Most of the Russell Garnet specimens found are now exhibited in museums. But this does not stop the rockhounds to keep searching for this gemstone.
Another place where you can harvest garnets and many other minerals is the old Anson G. Betts mine in Plainfield, Hampshire county. Here you can dig for spessartine garnets, almandine garnets, or rhodochrosite.
You will have to pay a fee but it is worth every penny. Next, let’s look into where we can find garnets in Massachusetts.
Where to Find Rhodonite in Massachusetts?
Rhodonite, Massachusetts’ official gemstone, was discovered in Plainfield, Hampshire county. The mineral is usually found in the same places where black manganese minerals are spotted. It can be recognized by its pink or dark rose shades.
Plainfield is the only known location where rhodonite can be found in the state.
Where to Find Arrowheads in Massachusetts?
While rockhounding in Massachusetts you might get an interesting surprise. Some of the rocks you find might turn out to be ancient arrowheads.
Prehistoric Native Americans used to live in the area around Cape Cod and not only. They hunted using spears with sharp arrowheads made of different hard rocks. These arrowheads passed the test of time and now you can find them in many places in Massachusetts.
Where to Find Fossils in Massachusetts?
Although in Massachusetts you cannot find dinosaur bones, you can still spot vertebrate footprints captured in the sedimentary rocks. All you have to do is to head towards the Connecticut River valley.
In Dukes County, Martha’s Vineyard to be more specific, you can find mollusk shells, shark teeth, and plant fossils.
Where to Find Agates in Massachusetts?
Agates can be found in several locations in Massachusetts. The main counties where agates can be found are Hampshire, Franklin, Berkshire, Norfolk, and Plymouth.
The first place where rockhounds should look for agates is in the lower Deerfield River’s gravels. This is a well-known area among rockhounds, so you might have competition.
Another place where agates are abundant in the valley of the Hoosac River in Berkshire county. The pebbles found in the gravels formed by the river might turn up to be chalcedony or agates.
Massachusetts is a great place to visit. The Old Bay State is the home of some rare minerals that would look amazing in any private collection: Roxbury Puddingstone, cummingtonite, babingtonite, or rhodonite.
In case you’re not lucky to find one of these specimens, you can still see them in some of the state’s interesting museums. So pack your stuff and head towards Massachusetts.
TIP: Still not sure where to start? Don’t worry, check out this ultimate guide on how to start rockhounding and find out the basics of this amazing hobby: