Bay Area Hiking


Almaden Quicksilver County Park

New Almaden and the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum

Note: the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum and the Casa Grande have been renovated. The information and pictures below are out of date. To see more recent pictures, see this page on Pioneer Day 2010.

To reach the park's main entrance, travel down Almaden Road. The New Almaden Historic District is located along Almaden Road before the park's Hacienda Entrance. Along the way, you'll pass by a number of historic houses and buildings. New Almaden is not part of the county park, but the history of the town is intimately linked with the mining history of the park. Many of the people who managed or worked for the mines lived in New Almaden. Their houses still remain. The town lines along both sides of Alamitos Creek. Bertram Road runs on the south side of Alamitos Creek. Several historical sites lie along the road, including the Hacienda Hotel site, the New Almaden Community Club, and the Hacienda Cemetery. The Hacienda Hotel was built in 1848 as a boarding house for miners. It was the first two-story hotel in California. In the 1930's, it was converted into the Cafe Del Rio, which was a popular restaurant. After 1979, it became the home of the La Foret French restaurant. Down the road past the Community Club is the Hacienda Cemetery. It has graves dating back to the 1800's. One of the oddest graves is the burial site of Bertram Barrett's arm. Bertram Barrett lost his arm as a teenager in a hunting accident in 1898. The rest of him was buried in another cemetery in San Jose's Oak Hill Cemetery in 1959.

Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger picture:

Looking up Almaden Road in New Almaden New Almaden Post Office, built in 1976. A post office has served the town since 1866 Historic Carson House, the former home of the Mining Museum and its curator, Constance Perham Historical marker at the west end of New Almaden: "Site of first mining in California"
Bulmore Park, named after mine manager Robert Bulmore, along Alamitos Creek. Also here is the site of Vichy Spring. La Foret Restaurant on Alamitos Creek, an upscale French restaurant in what was once the Hacienda Hotel. Front side of La Foret, the site of the old Hacienda Hotel, once a boarding house for single mine workers New Almaden Community Club, originally built in 1952, the site of many community events
Old mining equipment at the Community Club Upper Hacienda Cemetery: Graves are surrounded by picket fences and date back to the 1800's Grave of Bertram Barrett's arm Lower Hacienda Cemetery above Alamitos Creek

The original site of the Almaden Mining Museum was in the Carson-Perham Adobe. The house was built around 1848 and was the home of George Carson, who held a number of jobs, including postmaster and book-keeper for the mines. The house later became the home of Constance Perham and her husband Douglas. They collected mining artifacts and ran the original New Almaden Mining Museum, which opened in 1949. Constance Perham retired in 1984. Parts of her collection are currently on display in the new museum. Constance Perham died at the age of 92 on January 28, 2001. (Doug Perham founded the Perham Foundation, which ran the Foothill Electronics Museum that used to be at Foothill College, but is now at History San Jose.)

One of the most significant buildings in New Almaden is La Casa Grande. It was built in 1854 as hotel, but became the home of the mine manager. It was purchased by the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department in 1981. Today it houses the Quicksilver Mining Museum. The museum has exhibits on quicksilver mining as well as historical photographs and artifacts showing what life was like in the quicksilver mining towns. It has maps showing the huge network of mining tunnels. There were around 100 miles of tunnels. Some descended hundreds of feet below sea level.

 La Casa Grande, housing the Mining Museum
Mercury flasking exhibit, showing the process of weighing and pouring the mercury into metal flasks 
Miners' lamps, blasting equipment, mercury flasks 
 Mining tools, cinnabar ore, and diorama of mine
Mining exhibit in the museum: photograph of miners in mine tunnel, miners' ladders and mining tools
Mine entrance exhibit, mine diorama in back, buttons play sounds of mines and mining days 
Metal whale blubber pot brought from Monterey in 1845 by Andres Castillero to cook ore - the earliest mercury extraction method
Model of Gould rotary furnace used to extract mercury from ore, the most modern large-scale extraction method 
Gold amalgamation process using mercury to dissolve and extract gold from gold ores
Homelife artifacts of Chinese immigrants, including steps in making Cinnabar pottery
 Exhibit on schools for mining families. There were 3 schools in the area
Piano in restored mine manager's office. 

Pioneer Day October 9, 2004

On Saturday, October 9, 2004, the New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association, in conjunction with the County Parks Department, held their annual Pioneer Day at the Casa Grande in New Almaden. It was to celebrate the dedication of the blacksmith shop, the 150th anniversary of the Casa Grande, and the dedication of the ore cart at the entrance. Over 100 people came to enjoy a lunch at Club Almaden and tour the grounds. They listened to talks about the history of the Casa Grande and the restoration of the blacksmith shop. County Parks personnel were in attendance, including Parks Director Lisa Killough and Mounted Rangers on horseback. The building housing the blacksmith shop was orignally the carriage shop for the mine managers at the Casa Grande and was used for storage by the museum. Volunteers worked for a year on turning it into an historical recreation of a blacksmith shop. Two Eagle Scout projects involved building the doors and restoring the patio of the blacksmith shop. Two blacksmiths, Chuck Ferrier and Dwight Summers, demonstrated metal forging and shoeing horses. 

Here are some pictures from that event. Since this was a special event, not everything shown below will normally be on display.
Docent Mike Boulland giving a talk in the back lawn of Club Almaden. The Casa Grande and the attached Opry House are in the background.
The back lawn of Club Almaden. This area used to be a lagoon.
Pioneer Day group listening to music and talks at the picnic tables of Club Almaden.
More attendees, with NAQCPA tables in the background.
Blacksmith and New Almaden native Chuck Ferrier giving a demonstration of blacksmithing techniques.
 Equipment in the patio in front of the blacksmith shop.
 Tire shrinker in front of blacksmith shop. This was used to tighten metal tires on wooden wagon wheels.
 Grinding wheels and blacksmith tools in the shop.
 Forge and bellows.
Huge ceiling-mounted bellows. 
 Air from the large bellows goes to this forge. 
 Orecart at the entrance to the Casa Grande, donated by the Freitas family.

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association

The New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association is a non-profit volunteer organization that serves the park. They operate and staff the New Almaden Mining Museum. They help with restoration projects, trail maintenance, and interpretive programs. They lead guided tours of the park. They sponsor an annual Pioneer Day, which recalls the area's early mining days.

For more information, contact:

Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum
21350 Almaden Road 
New Almaden, CA 95042 
(408) 323-1107

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association
P.O. Box 124 
New Almaden, CA 95042 
(408) 268-6541

Created 3/6/2001, updated 5/22/06, 2/4/11 by Ronald Horii