San Jose’s New Almaden Quicksilver Mine is well known and needs no introduction. But did you know that there are many other mercury or quicksilver mines in the area? Several are nearby, just south of the Guadalupe Creek, but others are surprisingly far flung, both in Santa Clara County and throughout California. My home buyer clients are sometimes concerned about purchasing real estate close to a natural or environmental hazard, so a few times this issue has come up: where are the mercury mines?
First, a disclaimer that there are oodles of unmapped mines of all kinds dotting the San Francisco Bay Area, the delta, and beyond. Approximately 31% of all mines in California are on private land. So it may not be possible to know where each and every mine is. However, mercury mines were big business during the gold rush and the civil war, so they may not have been so secretly guarded as a gold mine.
Today I went hunting for information on the location of mercury mines and found an online map of Santa Clara County with incredible details on not only quicksilver, but many other fascinating things: types of rock, miderals (copper), soil types, earthquake faults and so on. This map is not all that easy to read as it requires blowing it up to well past 100% to actually decipher the numbers and geographical markers, but for the patient, it’s a gold mine – so to speak!
To see the WHOLE MAP, please click on the following link, which is a bid pdf file:
I blew up part of it, saved it, and annotated it with just the names of the mercury mines closest to Los Gatos and Cambrian. This is not comprehensive, of course – but I often get the question of “how close are the mines” to either Los Gatos or Cambrian, hence this focus.
Related reading on mercury
Mercury Contamination from Historic Gold Mining in Califoria (pdf from USGS)
Related reading for real estate in Almaden, Cambrian, and Los Gatos:
Almaden Valley area of San Jose (on popehandy.com)
List of Los Gatos neighborhoods (Live in Los Gatos blog)
San Jose – Cambrian Park (an introduction with market stats and homes for sale also, on popehandy.com)