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Hundreds Descend on Closing Ruggles Mine

  • Valley News — Maggie CassidyA line of cars stretches for more than a mile outside the Ruggles Mine in Grafton on Saturday.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2016 12:09:01 AM
Modified: 6/19/2016 12:09:00 AM

Grafton — Hundreds of visitors were turned away from Ruggles Mine on Saturday after a rare open house drew a surge of tourists to the site.

The former mica mine later served as a tourist destination. Its owners put it on the market last fall, closing it to the public and leaving its long-term fate uncertain.

News of the four-hour open house for the general public — potentially the last opportunity for the public to visit the mine — lured families from, in some cases, an hour and a half away, according to people leaving the site on Saturday after being unable to get in.

Worker Patrick Hampson, who was walking up and down the line of cars to spread word that visitors were being turned away, said the line of cars stretched more than a mile. At the top, he said, the parking lot and an overflow area were full.

He said people started showing up as soon as the open house began at 11 a.m. and estimated that more than 1,000 cars had shown up by about 12:30 p.m.

Among the visitors were Matt Hatzenbuhler, who drove about 45 minutes from Rumney, N.H., with his two sons.

He and his 10-year-old son, Liam, parked their car on the side of the road and were walking up to try to figure out what was going on as the line of cars stayed stalled in the road.

“I’m not surprised,” Hatzenbuhler said when he learned that workers were turning cars away, noting that it’s the first weekend since most schools have let out, and people were excited at a potential last opportunity to visit the mine when they previously had been “coming here for years.”

Liam agreed. “I think everyone’s just excited that it’s open,” he said, before they continued their journey up the road on foot.

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