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New Almaden - New Almaden, CA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
N 37° 10.455 W 121° 49.457
10S E 604373 N 4114849
Quick Description: Historic area of San Jose and site of the first mining in California.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 11/12/2008 2:00:30 AM
Waymark Code: WM551N
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member S5280ft
Views: 30

Long Description:
"Nestled in a canyon 11 miles south of San Jose between the Pueblo Hills and the spurs of the Santa Cruz Mountains sits the tiny village of New Almaden, the once world famous quicksilver mining community that evolved on Jose Reyes Berreyesa's Rancho San Vicente during the early 1850s. This National Historic Landmark district was California's first mining operation--started in 1845, before the major Gold Rush of 1849. Mexican settler Antonio Sunol discovered ore deposits here in the 1820s, identified as quicksilver by Mexican Army officer Andreas Castillero in 1845. Named for the famous Almaden mercury-producing mines in Spain, New Almaden attracted a world-wide interest during the Gold Rush, since mercury was the primary reduction agent of gold and silver. New Almaden became the most prominent quicksilver mine under the operation of Quicksilver Mining Company in the Western Hemisphere. Today, the New Almaden district encompasses the hacienda, homes of the mining community families along the banks of Alamitos Creek, and the Cinnabar Hills where the actual mining operation took place. Important California property laws stemmed from decades of litigation over mining ownership and interests at this site.

The Hacienda along Alamitos Creek was developed into an attractive showplace; it was the gateway to the mines that lay in the hills a half mile down the tree lined Almaden Road. The hacienda included Casa Grande (21350 Almaden Road), the manager's imposing residence, as well as neat rows of cottages owned by the company and rented to supervisory personnel for a nominal fee. Casa Grande was constructed in 1854, under the direction of the mine's general manager, Henry Halleck, who used the building until 1920 as a personal and official residence for the New Almaden Mining Company. John McLaren, of Golden Gate Park fame, assisted in designing the five acres of formally landscaped grounds around the house, which included a picturesque lagoon. A two-teacher school was built in the 1860s on a flat near Casa Grande. Enrollment came chiefly from the Hacienda along with some children from nearby ranches. One of the oldest buildings in the district is the Carson-Perham Adobe, built between 1848 and 1850 by Mexican miners, and later the home of George Carson, the mine company bookkeeper, postmaster, telegraph operator, and Wells Fargo agent. Constance Perham lived in the adobe house for many years and established a private museum there in 1949, the collections of which were purchased in 1983 by Santa Clara County.

The mine and its villages flourished under the 20-year directorship of James Randol, who took over as general manager in 1870 when S. F. Butterworth retired. Under Randol's orderly discipline the community became a mining town unlike any other in the state, somewhat resembling a beneficent feudal society. The residents' health, wealth, cultural and social lives were taken care of by company-sponsored organizations that the progressive but authoritarian Randol set up. After his retirement in 1892 the mine began to decline. Ore yield dropped off by more than half by the turn of the century. In 1912 the Quicksilver Mining Company declared bankruptcy and closed the mine. The hill camps became deserted with only a few old timers staying on in the company houses along the creek at the Hacienda. In 1974 the County of Santa Clara purchased the hills area for development as a county park. It was also the inspiration for the creation of a County Historic District Zoning Ordinance to assure preservation of the mining town. In 1997, the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum was established in Casa Grande. The museum exhibits the collection of Constance Perham, showing blacksmith workings, the history of mercury mining, and the lifestyles of mining communities at New Almaden." (visit link)

Street address:
14 mi. S of San Jose on CR G8
San Jose, CA USA

County / Borough / Parish: Santa Clara

Year listed: 1966

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event

Periods of significance: 1850-1874, 1875-1899

Historic function: Domestic, Industry/Processing/Extraction

Current function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 1: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
DougK visited New Almaden  - New Almaden, CA 4/8/2009 DougK visited it
saopaulo1 visited New Almaden  - New Almaden, CA 12/24/2008 saopaulo1 visited it

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