Amos Eaton and Stephen Van Rensselaer founded the Rensselaer School for "the application of science to the common purposes of life" in 1824. Eaton had practiced surveying as a teenager building his own compass and chain and wrote an early book on surveying. Later he studied law before becoming interested in geology and agriculture. Stephen Van Rensselaer was the seventh patroon of Rensselaerwyck a track of land comprising most of the current Rensselaer, Albany and Columbia Counties in the State of New York.
This silver mine preserves two features of bygone practice. One is the reversible waterwheel of the ore-hoist, which originally was installed in 1565 and currently dates back to 1824. The present wheel is 9 meters in diameter and reaches a depth of 700 meters.