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September-October 2009

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History and Geology of the Chateaugay Mine

Lyon Mountain, New York
with a discussion of previously unreported minerals



The Adirondack Mountains in New York State form a roughly circular dome of Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rocks that contain several magnetite orebodies, some of which have been exploited since colonial times, beginning with Benedict Arnold during America’s Revolutionary War (Schneider 1997). The village of Lyon Mountain has one of the longest histories of magnetite mining in the Adirondack Mountains and is well documented (Gooley 2004).

Ore was discovered in the region around Lyon Mountain soon after the New York State legislature deeded 269,115 hectares of Essex, Clinton, and Franklin counties to the military in 1781 (Linney 1943). The land became known as the “Old Military Track,” and ore from the district was first worked in 1798 when Zephaniah Platt built a blast furnace at Plattsburgh (Anderson and Jones 1945). Platt’s original operation was not economically successful because of the roughness of the terrain and the difficulty of moving the ore out of the region.

Edward J. Cavallerano, a geologist, is interested in the culture, geology, and history of mining communities.

Paul W. Zimmer, a retired geologist, worked as a mine engineer and geologist at the Chateaugay mine in Lyon Mountain, New York, from 1942 to 1949.

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