Ruggles Mine sold; new owners plan to reopen to the public

Joseph Su and his daughter Anwen, of Nashua, N.H., look around Ruggles Mine in Grafton, N.H., on June 15, 2016. They had come to the mine not knowing it was closed. A real estate agent overseeing the mine property was there when they arrived so they were able to see the site. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Joseph Su and his daughter Anwen, of Nashua, N.H., look around Ruggles Mine in Grafton, N.H., on June 15, 2016. They had come to the mine not knowing it was closed. A real estate agent overseeing the mine property was there when they arrived so they were able to see the site. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck/ Valley News

In this photo taken Wednesday June 8, 2016 one of many signs along New Hampshire's roads for Ruggles Mine is seen in Grafton, N.H. The mine, which has been a tourist attraction for 50 years, is now for sale. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

In this photo taken Wednesday June 8, 2016 one of many signs along New Hampshire's roads for Ruggles Mine is seen in Grafton, N.H. The mine, which has been a tourist attraction for 50 years, is now for sale. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

By DAVID BROOKS

Concord Monitor

Published: 07-24-2023 12:56 PM

Two New Hampshire residents have bought Ruggles Mine with hopes to reopen it to the public.

“We had other offers from people who were not going to reopen the mine … but we knew that was a major concern of the public,” said Chris DiPetta, former manager of ExciglowLLC, the company that was formed to buy the mine back in 2019. “I really could have taken a better offer, honestly, but the plans would have wasted all of the efforts to reopen to the public.”

The mine and the Exciglow company had been bought by Joseph Bodge, who DiPetta said has been involved with other mines, and Eric LaRoche, who has “expertise in minerals.”

They could not be reached for comment Friday. The purchase came before a scheduled foreclosure auction.

Ruggles Mine sits on a massive deposit of an igneous rock known as pegmatite which includes a variety of minerals, most notably mica, valuable because it can be cut so thin that it acts as a heat-resistant translucent shield. Boston businessman Sam Ruggles began mining mica in commercial amounts in 1803, making it the oldest such mine in the country, and the mine operated commercially for a century and a half.

In 1961, Geraldine and Arvid Wahlstrom purchased Ruggles Mine for $20,000 and transformed it into a tourist attraction. They let rockhounds chip at the walls to collect their own samples, including amethyst, feldspar, quartz, garnet and uraninite, prized by collectors of radioactive rocks.

The family sold the mine in 2019 to Exciglow, a production company formed by two men based in New York City, after local efforts to have the state buy the mine fell through. It has been largely shut since.

“From the outset, the dream of reopening Ruggles Mine to the public has been an uphill battle. The challenges were numerous, not the least of which was the pandemic striking just after acquiring it,” DiPetta said. “Joe and Eric share my passion for Ruggles, and bring substantial expertise. I’m confident they will be successful in restoring this unique cultural asset to the people of New Hampshire.”

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