The Mineral Collection:
The Ben E. Clement Mineral Collection is comprised of a variety of specimens of exquisite beauty from throughout the world. Thousands of the minerals housed in the museum are from the mines of the famous Southern Illinois - Western Kentucky Fluorspar Region.
The mineral specimens range in size from a fraction of an ounce to hundreds of pounds. Each specimen is a "rare accidental find" from among regular ore bodies.
The museum also houses an extensive display of the coal plant fossil, Lepidodendron as well as samples of petrified wood.
A massive collection of fluorescent specimens, displayed beneath ultraviolet lights, showcases a variety of colors and dazzles the eye.
There are two different collections of gemstone carvings within the museum. One consists of more than 40 carvings and 80 faceted fluorite pieces in a range of colors. These were left by a German family dynasty. The other collection consists of carvings made by a local night watchman, Squire Riley, during the early years of this century.
The Clement Mineral Collection is a world-class collection that can never be duplicated. It was accumulated over a span of more than 60 years.
The Equipment Collection:
The Ben E. Clement Equipment Collection chronicles the companies, and the men, who produced the machines needed to meet the exacting demands of a global industry.
In addition to industrially manufactured equipment, the collection also contains items that were handmade by local craftsmen. Most made for specific mining needs, during the Depression.
This collection consists of fluorspar mining and milling artifacts manufactured prior to 1950. The collection preserves and displays equipment ranging in size from the flints of carbide mining lamps, to a 9-foot-wide flywheel that powered a mill, to a 12,000 pound steam engine.
The Equipment Collection also contains kerosene engines, ore buckets, push-carts on rails, early ultraviolet lights, Geiger counters, ore and stone crushers, drills, blacksmithing forges, hoists, and many personal equipment items that belonged to the local miners.
The Document Collection:
The Ben E. Clement Document Collection contains information related to the fluorite mining industry. The documents include mining blueprints, maps, contracts, written opinions, abstracts, books, articles, ledgers, ore essays, leases, stock certificates, and letters of correspondence between mine owners, suppliers, geologists, surveyors, authors, bankers, and promoters.
Receipts and checks, photographs and slides, video and audio tapes of miners, drillers, and operators are also included.
The Document Collection systematically lists the location, geology, and history of local mining operations. Where possible, the collection includes samples of the mineral specimens the mines produced, and the current status of the mines.
The Photograph Collection:
The Ben E. Clement Photograph Collection contains hundreds of pictures of mine operations from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More than a dozen of the photographs from the collection were used by the Illinois and Kentucky Geological Surveys to illustrate their public publications.
The photos in this collection provide a “glimpses into the past”. They capture not only the one-man prospect mines, which at one time dotted the local countryside, but also the giant operations of Alcoa, Inland Steel, Ozark Mahoning, and United States Steel.
Some photos reveal extraordinary architectural design, such as the wooden skyscraper of the Cullen Mine Mill while other show the ravages of winter, with swollen rivers, flooded towns, mills, and mines.
Many pictures detail the enormous effort expended in locating ore, drilling test sites, constructing head frames, sinking shafts, pulling hoists, and building mills.
This historic collection also depicts the hardships of traveling the major highways of the day; model A's, T's, and mule teams with loaded wagons are shown mired to their axles. The construction of the new roads of 1926 and 1927 is chronicled, as equipment and rock from the local mines was used for the upgrade.