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(top) a view of The Tilly Foster mine train, circa 1890 and (bottom) St. Pauls Chapel, circa 1895

Life in Tilly Foster...

The men of Tilly Foster and their families lived in a "settlement" consisting of 40 houses and a Mammoth General Store with the Americans separate from the immigrants.  The miners lived a difficult life living off of low wages and in dangerous conditions.

The mine began to experience a steady decline in the 1880's as the ore at the top of the mine was rapidly depleted. The mine owners decided to convert Tilly Foster to an open pit. This daunting and massive process took place from 1887 to 1889 and was covered by Scientific American magazine. 

On November 29, 1895 the Northwest wall of the mine gave way to an avalanche of heavy loosened rock.  Thirteen men died from the 200 tons of dislodged rocks.  At least 9 other people had died in the mine throughout its excavation.  In 1897 the mine began to be flooded by water from the Middle Branch reservoir and it was officially closed by New York State.  Today, the mine lies on private property and is completely filled in with water.

John N. Trainor Collection of Minerals

In 1935, John N. Trainor, who had a summer residence on Allview Avenue in Brewster, began collecting rocks and minerals that had been created in the cracks and fissures of the Tilly Foster Mine. Part of his collection, on loan from the New York State Museum in Albany, can be viewed at the Southeast Museum.