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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Jose (New Almaden) in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Site of First Mining Operation in California

 
 
Site of First Mining Operation in California Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, February 17, 2018
1. Site of First Mining Operation in California Marker
Inscription. Here in Los Alamitos Creek in 1824, Luis Chabolla & Antonio Sunol first worked New Almaden ore in an arrastra & sluice.
 
Erected by New Almaden Historical Society. Sponsored by the Sabatte family. (Marker Number 3.)
 
Location. 37° 10.45′ N, 121° 49.458′ W. Marker is in San Jose (New Almaden), California, in Santa Clara County. Marker is on Almaden Way near Almaden Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Jose CA 95120, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of Reduction Works (here, next to this marker); Hard Rock Miners (a few steps from this marker); Patrick Tillman (a few steps from this marker); Site of First Mining in California (a few steps from this marker); Hacienda Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bell Tower (within shouting distance of this marker); Vichy Springs (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Hacienda Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose (New Almaden).
 
More about this marker. This marker is located on a short section of road bridging Almaden Road to Bertram
Site of First Mining Operation in California Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, February 17, 2018
2. Site of First Mining Operation in California Marker
The marker is on the left.
Road.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
Early Method for Extracting Mercury from Cinnabar. image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 9, 2018
3. Early Method for Extracting Mercury from Cinnabar.
One Whale of a Pot image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 9, 2018
4. One Whale of a Pot
The earliest processing of cinnabar ore at New Almaden Mine was crude but effective due to the richness of the ore (sometimes more than 60% mercury). In spite of loosing almost as much mercury as they collected, huge metal "whale pots,: once used for rendering whale blubber, could produce 300 pounds of mercury a day.
Small batches of mercury can be extracted by heating ore in a retort; a device similar to a moonshiner's still. When tons of mercury ore must be roasted, however, mercury extraction becomes much more difficult. Engineers at New Almaden Mines were continually challenged to devise faster, more efficient ways of coaxing mercury from cinnabar. As larger furnaces and improved condensers evolved, more mercury was recovered from each ton (roughly one cubic yard) of ore. Existing "batch process" furnaces has to be cooled periodically to remove the accumulation of roasted ore, ash, and soot.
Before the reduction process could continue, a fresh batch of ore had to be loaded, new fuel added and the furnace reheated to operating temperature -- a cumbersome, time-consuming, labor-intensive process.
There had to be a better way.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 13, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 105 times since then. Last updated on March 13, 2018, by Lane Parker of San Francisco, California. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 13, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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