Rotary Furnace Brings New Almaden into the 20th Century
In 1939, engineer H.W. Gould designed and built the first rotary furnace. The onset of World War II created a new interest in mercury because of its use in munitions. Gordon I. Gould, II, H.W.’s son, first showed a model for this continuous furnace at the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco.
The rotary furnace worked by tumbling crushed ore down a pipe heated to 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Two gases were released, sulphur and mercury. The sulphur was allowed to pass through the rest of the system, while the mercury vapors were cooled within the condenser pipes. These vapors turned into liquid mercury and dripped down the pipes into buckets. The buckets were then dumped onto a table filled with lime powder, which absorbed any water or impurities from the liquid mercury. Seventy-six pounds of mercury were the poured into an iron flask and sealed for sale.
A 100-ton rotary furnace and condensing system was installed here in 1940. The furnace proved too large and this 50-ton furnace, which worked best when processing about 35 tons of ore, replacing the first one. Gould’s furnace technology brought the New Almaden Mines into the 20th century, winning worldwide recognition for productivity. This furnace was used until 1976, when the
Erected by Santa Clara County Parks.
Location. 37° 10.475′ N, 121° 50.659′ W. Marker is in San Jose, California, in Santa Clara County. Marker can be reached from Hicks Road. Touch for map. This marker is located in Alamaden Quicksilver County Park on the Wood Road Trail, near the junction of Castillero Trail. 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. SpanishTown (approx. 0.2 miles away); The “Main Tunnel” (approx. ¼ mile away); The Yellow Kid (approx. 0.3 miles away); English Camp School (approx. 0.4 miles away); English Camp (approx. 0.4 miles away); Site of English Town ★ CCC Camp Mt. Madonna (approx. 0.4 miles away); Camp Mt. Madonna (approx. 0.4 miles away); Mining Operations (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Jose.
Also see . . . The History of New Almaden - The Neighborhoods of San Jose. (Submitted on December 19, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 19, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 385 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 19, 2011, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.