Who Is Ben E. Clement?

The story of Ben E. Clement is not just a story to be told, it’s a story to behold! The only thing more incredible than this man’s history to Marion, Kentucky, and the history of mining in our region are the documents, relics, and, of course, minerals he collected along the way.

Ben, always with a keen eye and an uncanny knack for knowing just what to preserve, knew what might have some historical significance; what could provide some previously-unknown context into the ways of our ancestors.

Over his six decades of work, Ben amassed an incredible collection. Enough, as you might have guessed, to fill an entire museum! (And then some.) And that’s what you’ll find when you make your way to the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum: a collection rich in history, spanning decades of American development and showcasing some of mother nature’s greatest creations, most unique to the very ground the museum sits upon.

Jay Lininger (Founder, Publisher & Editor of Matrix: A Journal of the History of Minerals) summarized the collection quite well in the Fall 2000 issue of Matrix:

“During his career in mining, Clement recognized he was experiencing a segment of American industrial history not likely to be duplicated. As a result, he undertook a preservation effort of monumental proportions. Today we have thousands of fluorite specimens, accessory minerals, photographs, letters, records and other memorabilia collected by Mr. Clement. It is the finest legacy of physical evidence and connects us to this little-known segment of American mineral history.”

Ed Clement, son of Ben E. Clement, holding a replica of Ben’s childhood telescope.

So where, you ask, did this incredible sense of wonder and curiosity come from? It all started when Ben was just a boy of about 14 when he had a curious encounter with a sewing machine repairman. Upon learning of young Ben’s interest in astronomy, the repairman gifted him an old telescope and an astronomy book. 

That was the spark that ignited a burning love for science, and perhaps discovery, that was the first chapter in Ben’s story. What followed is a well-documented journey you’ll be able to take yourself when you visit the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum.