San Jose in Santa Clara County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Santa Isabel Shaft
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Mine workers began to sink the Santa Isabel Shaft in 1877 to relieve the burden on the nearby Randol Shaft, which could no longer handle the abundance of underground cinnabar ore. Five years later ore was delivered to the surface for the Santa Isabel’s 2,000 foot level. In 1883, the company shipped 1,018 tons of ore from the Santa Isabel Shaft to the mine works.
The Santa Isabel Shaft had three compartments, one for hoisting ore, a second for hoisting miners and a third containing a ladderway and Cornish pump used to drain the constant seepage of water from the interconnected tunnels of the Santa Isabel, Randol and Buena Vista shafts.
Pfeffer and Meyer took over the deserted Santa Isabel mine shaft in 1894 and discovered a method to liquefy carbonic acid gas (carbon dioxide). They offered to pay the Quicksilver Mining Company 10¢ a cylinder to pursue this business and with this gas started the U.S. dry ice industry.
Photograph circa 1890. Courtesy [unclear]per Wright
Erected by New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association.
Location. 37° 11.08′ N, 121° 50.777′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker is on 95120. The marker is located in Almaden Quicksilver County Park on the Santa Isabel Trail, 0.2 miles from the intersection of the Randol Trail. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: San Jose CA 95120, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Buena Vista (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mining Operations (approx. ¼ mile away); Day Tunnel (approx. half a mile away); English Camp School (approx. half a mile away); Site of English Town ★ CCC Camp Mt. Madonna (approx. half a mile away); English Camp (approx. 0.6 miles away); Camp Mt. Madonna (approx. 0.6 miles away); The “Main Tunnel” (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose.
More about this marker. [Photo captions, top-left, bottom-left, bottom-right:]
Santa Isabel Shaft Engine Room
The engine room contained a Cornish Pump and two hoist engines. Above each hoist is a round depth indicator that allowed engine room workers to accurately place the hoist at different tunnel levels below. The granite hoist engine foundation is still visible today, with a huge tree growing where the hoist compartment was located.
Photograph c.1885 by Robert Bulmore.
Two workers are tending the Cornish pump. For many years the pump drew an average of 90,000 gallons of water per day out of the shaft and tunnels below. Mostly hidden behind the wheel is one of the two hoist engines.
Photograph c.1885 by Robert Bulmore. Courtesy the Bulmore Family.
Braced with 12”x12” redwood timbers, this tunnel extended from the Santa Isabel Shaft at 1,300 foot level. Mines used steam-driven machine drills to drill holes into the ore body. They filled the holes with sticks of dynamite in such a way that only one hole at a time blew, allowing the miners to count the number of explosions. This photograph was taken using magnesium power to make the flash.
Photograph 1886 by Doctor Smith E. Winn from “Vies of New Almaden.”
[Shaft diagram, vertical right:]
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Santa Isabel Shaft & Planilla
Connected to the tall, white Santa Isabel shaft house is a 90 x 40 foot engine house. At right angles to the engine house is a 60 x 50 foot boiler room. Behind the shaft house is a shed where up to 400 tons of coal was stored. In the left foreground is an open building called the planilla, where ore was stored by size and percentage of cinnabar.
Photograph 1886 from “Views of New Almaden.”
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 18, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 628 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on February 18, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.