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New Almaden Mercury Mining Museum, San Jose

Categories: History Museums, Specialty Museums, Museums
Inspirock Rating:
4.5/5 based on 25 reviews on the web
New Almaden Mercury Mining Museum is located in San Jose. Plan to visit New Almaden Mercury Mining Museum and other customer-reviewed, writer-recommended San Jose attractions using our San Jose holiday planner.
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  • This is the mine manager's house that was in use right up to the closure of the mines. Lovingly restored, the two storey adobe is amazingly cool in the summer without AC. 
  • Monday was a good day to visit this museum because it wasn't crowded at all. Bridget the docent gave me a private tour that lasted over an hour. She answered all my questions as well as giving me very...  read more »
  • I have been to the Museum a few times and always enjoy it. I live in Almaden Valley and enjoy learning all the information about the area. 
  • First I would like to thank the staff for the kindness and consideration they showed us during our visit. They were wonderful in sharing their extensive knowledge of the history of New Almaden Quicksilver Mine and park. The Mining Museum is housed in a building called Casa Grande, and was built in 1854, and renovated by the county five years ago at a cost of $6 million. It sure looks great and houses many mining artifacts. Casa Grande is a three story building with the top story dedicated to offices for the park, the bottom floor houses conference room and the ground floor is where the museum and gift shop are. Some of the rooms are furnished with mostly donated or loaned period furnishing that were not from Casa Grande, but fit right in. Furniture that was here are a book case in the office area and some other pieces, but most is donated. There is even a square Steinway piano that was donated. The floor in the left side room is original, but the floor in the right side rooms is a modern replica. Beyond the gift shop on the right are the exhibits, and they are excellent. Using mining artifacts collected by Constance Perham, the museum give you a sense of what life was like for the miners. These artifacts that were used by the miners give a sense of authenticity to this museum. Realizing that the Ohlone Indians were using cinnabar, which contains mercury, Mexican Cavalry Officer Captain Andres Castillero made the first mining claim in California in 1845. Mercury being crucial to the mining of gold and silver, New Almaden soon became and important factor in the California Gold Rush. Due to it's location, New Almaden soon displaced mercury from Almaden, Spain. Mercury was also shipped to other countries, including China, because of it's location to coastal ports. New Almaden Quicksilver mine was therefore a huge money maker and important economic driver for California. The museum also has an extensive archive of unique photographs because one of the managers and doctor were photographers, and they documented underground mine work as well as everyday life of the miners and their families. This archive is available online for free. The entrance fee is FREE, but if you want to contribute $2 to support the museum, there is a mailbox where you can put in some money, but this is completely voluntary. Go see this museum, it is situated in a small valley where the company town was located. You can take a walking tour and see homes were the skilled workers lived, or visit the period cemetery. There are hiking trails that lead to mines and equipment used when the operation was active (now cleaned up and safe), and will give you a good workout. There are views that are awesome and relaxing. Casa Grande has a landscaped garden in the back with picnic benches. You can get married here, have a company meeting or just walk in and enjoy being in a building 166 years old. This is a historic place off the beaten path and worth your time to visit. So close to San Jose, this is a hidden gem.
  • After living in San Jose for 30 years, driving to New Almaden a few times, this was my first vist to the museum. What a profound lesson I learned. It is extremely well presented, full of things I did not know and filled me with more respect for the people who settled here and those who worked (and I mean worked) the mine. I knew cinibar was the ore from which mercury was derived, but now know much more about it. I even learned where the name Almaden came from. I suggest this as a wonderful trip to understand more about our wonderful spot on earth.
  • A fantastic bit of history. Took a group of teenage scouts here and they were captivated by the photos and artifacts -- actually looked up from their phones for the entire time we were here. A hidden gem of a place to visit.
  • Really interesting historic museum of mining. Tiny, but a nice location for kids to learn about California history.
  • Great guided tour and interesting facts about the history of the mine.
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