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Touching the untouchable Written and designed by patrick Ogaz

Dedication This book Is dedicated to my family and my friends who are always there for me when I need Them

Acknowledgement I would like to Acknowledge New Almaden Quicksilver mine and museum and all that work there for providing a safe place for people to learn about the history and heritage of this area. I would also like to thank Doug, John Slenter, and Kitty Monahan Dou


Ki t t


Mo han na

TABLE OF Content Foreword 6 Introduction 8 Chapter 1 11 Chaper 2 17 Chapter 3 21


FOREWoRD New Almaden Quicksilver mine and Museum. This is the location that I came to the consensus to and would dedicate my time to. New Almaden seemed to be the perfect location. New Almaden consisted of the perfect blend between a lost history and a modern appeal of being a park. New Almaden Quicksilver mine and museum consists of a very rich mining history, oddly enough the mining was not the mining many would expect it was mercury mining which in a way is a lost craft. Within this project my objective was to uncover the lost art of mercury mining and discover the true power and influence that mercury had on our world. I also had the goal in mind to show not what mercury was then but what it has evolved to be today and how useful and economically powerful it is to our world economy. The way I organized the book was to represent what mercury is in its whole entirety. I organized it into what is mercury’s history and how was it mined, then the next section is what does the location of New Almaden Quicksilver mine and museum represent then and now. Then I ordered a section that metaphorically represented what the mine means and stands for and its unique assets to put the reader into perspective and to extent the meaning of this location. Finally came my conclusion which was to be a section that wrestled with the argument of so what, and what does this blend of history and current stature have to offer to the normal person. However in order to justly pay homage to this location a sea of research topics had to be sifted through that would properly represent this location for what the normal person make see this location as and what is commonly unknown about this locations history and what it is now. With so much history buried with in each grain of dirt here it was imperative to research the mining operations that materialized here. Patrick Ogaz - 3/23/14



INTRODUCTION Mercury! If you think for

dollar enterprise: a small town tucked behind the rolla second; I would presume ing hills of the oak ladened that at the top of your head Santa Cruz mountains, New two things promptly mateAlmaden, San Jose Califorrialized; thermometers, and nia. Here lies the remains of danger. Seldomly do you ena story that can seen in evcounter a time where mercu- ery tree, hill and windy trail, ry has been conversed about and in every building and being something good. Many rock. When you enter New associate mercury with what Almaden you follow a road they know or hear on the that is meandering along the news: that it is a neurotoxin, valley until you arrive at a or that a recent study has small gem on the left side revealed that a location of of the road. Here stands a contamination in our bay wa- building named Casa Grande, ter systems has been found. a building that is now the However, let’s zoom out and home of the New Almaden look at it from another perQuicksilver Mine and musespective, one that shows the um. So what do the New Alhidden story of mercury’s maden quicksilver mine and paramount history and immuseum and mercury have pact. to do with each other? Well Let’s commence our we have to go back in time to adventure in a location that 1845, when this location was made mercury into a million- established. Lets start from

when and why this location was even named New Almaden. This location started out with the ohlone Indians who used to inhabit these mountains. The Indians would live off the land and paint themselves with red paint. It was not until later when Spanish explorer Andre Castillero determined that this red paint was harvested from a rock called Cinnabar. If you are wondering what it is cinnabar by definition is “ the chief mineral composed of the element mercury, and is a very important ore mineral.”(8) When Cinnabar was discovered here, it marked this location as extremely valuable, and as a pivotal location to mine for mercury. With that said mining for mercury commenced here;

and in homage to the largest mercury mine in the world in Almaden Spain, New Almaden got its name. New Almaden would prove to be a leading force in mercury mining, and ultimately generate a rich history to California and the Bay Area.


the beginning Its unique quality yields it

the ability of remaining liquid at room temperature, due to that it was given the nickname you hear called “Quicksilver”. Because of its unique characteristics it has proved very valuable in countless products to name a few “ switching circuits and ammunitions in mercury lamps in San Francisco Prior to the earthquake. For many uses in all different medicines like mercury chloride, mercury sulfide” (1) . Additionally, according to Royal Society Of Chemistry mercury “is used in laboratory work for making thermometers, ba-

rotoxin. While mercury had rometers, diffusion pumps and many other instruments. many uses that currently that aren’t in practice, if we explore further back mercury has a larger purpose.

"switching circuits and amummutions in mercury lamps in san francisco Prior to the earthquake” Other uses are in pesticides, dental work, batteries and catalysts.”(4) However, while mercury had a chief importance to many products, many of these forms of mercury are no longer in use do to the fact that they are very “poisonous” due to the sheer fact that mercury is a neu-

Aside from the products within 1900’S. mercury proved very helpful for the aid in one of the biggest businesses in California in the 1800’S. :gold. While many don’t know this a very large factor in gold is “mercury which amalgams gold. So being prior to the gold rush and prior to California being a state of the U.S. this mine was used by creating mercury and sent throughout the 11

"It played a large part to the gold rush and for developing california as a state in the united states getting granted in 1850�

world.” (1). However, it ultimately assisted the development of California’s gold rush when it came to California because “ Years before gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, quicksilver was being produced at the New Almaden Mine” (7). This made it easy for a gold rush to occur, but how does mercury help get gold? Well it starts when you use mercury and take quarts where gold forms and you

use mercury which attaches itself to the gold then you can drain the mercury and then later cook off the mercury for pure gold. So for most part this mercury mine aided the speed at which one could recover gold; in turn, “It played a large part to the gold rush and for developing California as a state in the united states getting granted in 1850” (3). Consequently mercury has quite a large influence on the

history of this area. Due to the awareness of mercury and its neurotoxicity mercury has remained with a poor connotation, however, mercury continues its uses in materials today. According to the National center for biotechnology cinnabar has been used in “ 40 cinnabarcontaining traditional medicines are still used today”.(5) It is amazing knowing aside



from being a neurotoxin that this material is still crucial to so many products that are still in use. Because mercury remains in numerous materials today mercury has not “died” with its usefulness, rather mercury has merely evolved in its uses.

“ 40 cinnabar-containing traditional medicines are still used today”



Evolution Evolution is the sole ba-

sis of New Almaden quicksilver mine and museum; after New Almaden ceased production of mercury in 1976 numerous things changed. However, this did not just start in 1976, in fact this change was over the course of about 10 years. The change began in the early 1970’S. when the price of mercury was unstable ranging from “ $750 a flask... And in 1973 dropped to $250 a flask, so the stock market hit”(1). As a result it proved to be very challenging on the mercury mining economy. However, more issues came to New Almaden in 1976: two crucial things happened “ the price of mercury dropped tremendously and the environmental protection agency

1973 “they decided to sell off one half of the property”(1) to Santa Clara county. However it wasn’t until “1976 when they stopped mining and the county bought the rest of the property”(1). This later Ended with the declared mercury as a hazardous material and ordered whole park being owned by all mining to cease”(2). How- Santa Clara county, however, ever, the outlawing of mercu- one goal of the passionate New Almaden community ry mining in 1976 was hard on the mine, the inconsistent was to change this location. economy took the most of the This change was created over a relatively long timeline. One toll on the mine itself. This of the leaders of this movestruggling economy started ment was Kitty Monahan in the early 1970’S., due to this New Almaden lacked the who worked hard to make funds to support itself and in sure that this park became her dream. The first part of

“ $750 a flask... and in 1973 dropped to $250 a flask, so the stock market hit”



this dream began when Casa Grande, a large building that is located at the entrance of New Almaden, went up for sale. According to Santa Clara county parks “In 1997, the Casa Grande...Was offered for sale, and the County Parks Department seized the opportunity to add the National Historic Site to Almaden Quicksilver County Park.”(6) However the community felt that Casa Grande could be utilized in order to draw attraction to New Almaden. The plan from the community was to move the existing museum “to the C asa Grande, where a new exhibit was erected by park staff and volunteers. The new museum and exhibits opened July 3, 1998.”(6) However later in about 2008 the community still saw a need to update Casa grande to further attract

people to new Almaden this resulted in a extensive building renovation from 2009-2010 this remodel expanded the museum further. This large renovation was completed in late 2010 and Casa Grande and The New Almaden quicksilver mine and museum reopened its doors in January

2011. This remodel brought a lot of modern appeal to New Almaden, some qualities that the community hoped would draw people to this once disregarded area. The community goal had a new vision for New Almaden, it was to shatter the negative relation to mercury and positive experience.

“In 1997, the Casa Grande... was offered for sale, and the County Parks Department seized the opportunity to add the National Historic Site to Almaden Quicksilver County Park.�



Mercury and paradise

what Now?

seldomly ever go together. However, when you consult Kitty Monahan she will describe her dream for New Almaden. For Kitty this dream started when she first moved to New Almaden over 30 years ago, it consisted of a reinvention of New Almaden. However, the dream of New Almaden transforming into her dream was not fully achieved until 2011. It started when New Almaden was fully purchased by Santa Clara county in 1976 and was turned into a park; beginning with baby steps and additional assistance from the New Almaden Community and residents New Almaden park began to change. The park began to change starting with the addition of trails that en-

that New Almaden was able to accomplish a remodel that would bring some much needed modern appeal to New Almaden. The remodel would allow the New Almaden quicksilver mine to relocate to Casa Grande. However, within this remodel the New Almaden community had to consist of fun activities but stay true to its history. This perfect blend is explained by Kitty Monahans mission statement to tell people about the “ history ‌ and allow people to come enjoy what I enjoyed, share it with the residents of Santa was added to pay homage to Clara county.â€?(1) One way New Almaden mining opthat New Almaden integrates erations, its objective was to the historical aspect of New bring further awareness to Almaden consists within the the general public about the rich history of New Almaden. museum. Inside Casa grande where the New Almaden However, in 2009-2010 New Quicksilver museum is Almaden was astonished housed you will find a array when they received a grant to restore Casa Grande; with of information explaining the compassed New Almaden. Furthermore a museum



history of this location. The museum has plenty of places to find information but it additionally has an educational zone that introduces people about cinnabar and the mercury mining process. However, it was also important to include activities to entice people to come to New Almaden and enjoy a Paradise, this was achieved by providing a host of activities according to Doug New Almaden consists of “hiking biking horse riding ” (2). Additionally New

Almaden consists of about “34.2 miles of hiking trails, including 23 miles of equestrian trails and 10 miles of bike trails. All trails in the park are also open to pet owners to walk their dogs on leash.”(9). However that is not the only way New Almaden is attempting to attract people according to Doug with the Remodel of Casa Grande New Almaden is able to “provide a location for weddings and parties and other events”(2). Now that New Almaden is composed of mod-

ern appeal and yet has historical value one question that has to be posed is New Almaden represent a perfect blend between history and present-day interests?



“touch the untouchable”

conclusion New Almaden mine and

museum metaphorically represents cinnabar. This Piece of cinnabar is molded and eroded by a history that creates it’s soft and rigid edges. The cinnabar additionally represents unique transition between being a rock and its hard, stiff and stable qualities. However, New Almaden

undergoes a transition in its purposes similarly to cinnabar undergoing a transition into liquid metal. This transition shows the evolution of New Almaden Quicksilver Mine and museum. This mine has changed like cinnabar from a historic “rock� into a liquid metal or the present day New Almaden Quicksil-

ver mine and Museum and providing outdoor activities like trails and parks. However, when Cinnabar undergoes its transformation it still consists of the same element of mercury. This Mercury is the unforgettable history that still remains here at New Almaden Quicksilver Mine and museum and is the



connection to its historic origin. However, the liquid mercury is the end product and represents the reinvented New Almaden. Come to New Almaden Quicksilver mine and Museum and experience a perfect blend between its historical origin and its modern amenities and activities and feel what it is like to “touch the untouchable�

New Almaden



WORKS CITed (1)Monahan, Kitty. Personal interview. 15 Feb. 2014. (2),Doug. Personal interview. 16 Feb. 2014. (3)Slenter, John.Personal interview. 19 Feb. 2014. (4)”Mercury.” - Element Information, Properties and Uses. Royal Society Of Chemistry, N.D. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. (5)”National Center for Biotechnology Information.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, N.D. Web. 28 Jan. 2014. (6)”Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum.” - Parks and Recreation. Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department, N.D. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. (7)Johnston, Andrew Scott. Mercury And The Making Of California. Boulder Colorado: University of Colorado, 2013. Print.

(8)”Minerals. Net.” Cinnabar: The Mercury Mineral Cinnabar: Information and Pictures. Minerals. Net, N.D. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. (9)”Almaden Quicksilver County Park.” - Parks and Recreation. Santa Clara County Park, N.D. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.




Ogaz currently resides in Mountain View California and attends Mountain View High School with his twin brother Christopher. Patrick loves a big challenge and is ambitious, and works very hard to reach his full potential. A few of his personal goals are to attend a good college and he hopes to be very successful Away from home Patrick hopes to be seen as someone who is accepting to all, additionally he wishes to cultivate a safe place for everyone.

Touching the untouchable Written and designed by Patrick Ogaz

Patrick ogaz