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Listed on the Canadian Register:
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.
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
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.
Province of New Brunswick
Historic Sites Protection Act, s. 2(1)
Historic Sites Protection Act – Historic
1852/01/01 to 1852/01/01
1846/01/01 to 1846/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
Function - Category and Type
- Natural Resource Extraction Facility or Site
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport - File Number: Vol VII-73
Cross-Reference to Collection