| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:44

    Some families go to Disney World on vacation while others go to the beach or ski slopes. But in Rena Krause’s family, they went around the world looking for minerals. And years later, she has come full circle as an employee of the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Krause’s mother was a geologist teaching at Rutgers University, and her father collected minerals. “I grew up with rocks all my life. Our first trip was to Peru to see Machu Piccha. I picked up things along the way by osmosis,” said Krause. When Krause and her children moved to Sparta four years ago from West Orange, she was looking for a better and cleaner lifestyle in Sussex County and for some part-time work. Through a family friend, she learned about the job at Sterling Hill Mine Museum. She was able to work when her children were in school but still be home in time to take them off the bus. The Sterling Hill Mine Museum in Ogdensburg is an industrial complex formerly housing the Sterling Hill Zinc Mine which origins date back to the 1840s. It was the last operating underground mine in New Jersey and closed its doors in 1986. It was then purchased via a tax sale by the Hauck brothers who turned it into a museum/non- profit organization in 1990 that offers mine tours, exhibits and related attractions like fossil discovery. Some days Krause is a tour guide, but on Thursdays she is always the gift shop manager. And you might just find her working the snack shop. “I wear a lot of hats — a Jack of all trades. It varies depending on what they need,” she said. “We are one big happy family at the mine.” The highest concentration of zinc in the United States was found at the Sterling Mine. Zinc ore produced franklinite, willemite and zincite. But the mine is most unique for its fluorescent material. “Fluorescents are caused by the arcing of electrical components that excite properties and minerals causing the rocks to glow. This is a huge attraction,” Krause said. The museum schedules educational tours to schools throughout the year and is open to the public for a general tour at 1 p.m. every day for groups under 10 people. “We have from very young kindergartners to college-age kids that come — we gear our tour around the age group. Often in the weekends, we get all walks of life including geologists and scientists,” she said. Dealing with all age groups presents different issues. “It’s a lot of information to present, and I try and keep it age-appropriate but this week we had fourth graders who kept on asking about dynamite, guns and death,” she laughed. “It’s hard when kids don’t want to be there or don’t pay attention. But for the most part, it’s an excellent response.” Krause finds the gift shop more stressful and harder to manage: “There are times when we have seven classes — 250 children and they all have to be pushed out and on the bus at a certain time.” But then there is the occasional bright spot. “I sold a $995 amethyst to a lady the other day — it was deep in color and probably a foot tall. Too bad I am not on commission,” joked Krause. “It’s very enjoyable. I could never be behind a desk.”

    Best Taco Dip Ever
    Taco Seasoning Mix
    8 oz sour cream
    1/2 cream cheese block
    1 cup of mayonnaise
    Diced onions
    Diced tomatoes
    Sliced olives
    Shredded lettuce
    Shredded cheese
    Mix the taco mix, sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise. This is the bottom layer.
    Then layer all the other ingredients, leave the cheese as top layer.
    Serve cold with tortilla chips
    *double this recipe for a large 9x13 dish