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Albert Mines Site

Old Albert Mines Road, Hillsborough (Parish), New Brunswick, E4H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/02/09

Image of the mines and the surrounding community during the period of albertite extraction.; Albert County Museum
Albert Mines Site
This image shows the site of the former Albert Mines operations, 2008.; Province of New Brunswick
Albert Mines Site - 2008
Image of mine operations, circa 1863.; Albert County Museum
Albert Mines Site

Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/05/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Albert Mines Site is a 324 hectare defunct mine site containing outcrops of albertite (a shiny brown to black hydrocarbon rock classified as bitumen), visible ruins including mine shafts, tailings piles, manager’s house and a church. It is located in Albert Mines, Albert County.

Heritage Value

Albert Mines Site is designated a Provincial Historic Site for the outcrops of albertite mines and for being the site of the first commercial extraction of petroleum products.

Petroleum products have had a massive influence on cultural and environmental change worldwide. The petroleum industry began when Dr. Abraham Gesner, the first government geologist in British North America, developed a process for distilling kerosene from bitumen in 1846.

Gesner lost control of the albertite mine in 1852 when a provincial court ruled incorrectly that albertite was coal, not bitumen. For the next 30 years, Albert Mines produced 200,000 tons of albertite, much of it shipped to Boston and New York for the production of gas to illuminate their street lamps. Gesner was cheated out of his share of the wealth and died in poverty.

Albert Mines was the site of the first commercial extraction of petroleum products anywhere in the world. When drilling for crude oil began in the USA in the 1950’s, it too was refined mainly into kerosene. By the turn of the century, the internal combustion engine created demand for gasoline, a byproduct of kerosene. In the 1940’s, kerosene again found a market as jet fuel.

In the mid-1800’s, kerosene replaced whale oil as lantern fuel. It produced a brighter flame, less smoke and smell, could be burned in the same lamps, and was cheaper than whale oil. By 1880, the whaling industry collapsed, leading some to say that Abraham Gesner’s invention had saved the whales. Today, the ruins of mine shafts, the manager's house and a church, as well as a collection of tailings piles, remain on the site.

Source: Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport - File Number 73

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements that relate to Albert Mines Site include:
- source of the first commercial petroleum product;
- albertite, named by and used to produce kerosene by Abraham Gesner in the 1840’s;
- visible ruins of mine shafts, tailings piles, manager’s house and church.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

New Brunswick

Recognition Authority

Province of New Brunswick

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites Protection Act, s. 2(1)

Recognition Type

Historic Sites Protection Act – Historic

Recognition Date

1998/02/09

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1852/01/01 to 1852/01/01
1846/01/01 to 1846/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Science

Function - Category and Type

Current

Industry
Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site

Historic

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport - File Number: Vol VII-73

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

73

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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