Quicksilver Mining


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Pioneer Day
Hacienda Mining Display Outdoor Museum
Cornish Miners
October 12, 2013

On October 12, 2013, the New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association (NAQCPA) held their 31st annual Pioneer Day celebration. This year, like last year and the year before, it was held at the Hacienda Mining Display Outdoor Museum, located on the site of the Hacienda Reduction Works. The theme of this year's Pioneer Day was the dedication of new displays at the museum and a celebration of the Cornish miners who brought their mining experience with them from Cornwall, England when they came to work in the Almaden mines. Most of them lived in English Camp.

This was the raffle table, staffed by many volunteers, including (left to right) Teri Sanislo, Martha Hanisch, and Mary Lee Baiocchi.

Shari Sullivan (left) joins the volunteers at the raffle table.

Some of the raffle items.

More raffle items.

Models of mine equipment.

Bob Meyer collects donations for lunch.

Jim Campbell shows his drawings.

Jim Campbell's pen-and-ink drawings of the New Almaden Mines.

Cub Scouts pose for pictures.

Mike Quane (left) talks to Mike Boulland (right) at the podium.

Clockwise from the left are Rich Robertson, Tere Johnson, Russell Pierce, Richard Williams, Doug Hamilton, and Jack Stotesberry, looking at a belt-driven pump. The pump was purchased from the New Almaden Mining Company in 1976 and donated to the museum in 2013. It was used to pump water from the mine shafts. Normally, visitors aren't allowed to go inside the fence around the exhibits, but today was special.

In the back of the mining display are orecarts. This one has dumped ore into a wheelbarrow.

These orecarts are being pulled by a mule, which was painted by Dennis and Mary Moran. The mule is named Maude, after the mule who worked in the Senador Mines in the 1920's.

A miner is pushing an ore cart. The miner was also painted by Dennis and Mary Moran, based on real miner Jerry Tobar. The Tobars used to own the property that the outdoor museum now sits on.

A life-size figure of Jimmie Schneider sits at the controls of the Mancha "Little Trammer" battery locomotive. Jimmie Schneider ran the Almaden mines and owned most of the workings from 1930 to 1960. He wrote a book, Quicksilver, the Complete History of the New Almaden Mines. Jimmie bought a mancha, which was used in the mines. He died in 1973.

In the tunnel of the Tobar Adit is a little tommyknocker, a dwarf-like creature that the Cornish miners believed inhabited the mines, playing pranks on the miners, but warning them of cave-ins.

This is the painted figure of Cornish miner John Drew preparing to start the rotary furnace. A crank handle leading outside the fence allows visitors to provide the power to turn the massive furnace tube, used to smelt mercury ore.

This is a close-up of miner, based on John Drew at the rotary furnace controls. John is a descendant of Cornish miners, so his figure honors them.

This visiting scout is turning the handle which cause the smelting tube of the rotary furnace to rotate.

This is a view from the right end of the rotary furnace, showing the smelting tube, the exhaust pipe, and part of the filtering and condensing system. The rotary furnace was invented in 1938 and used from 1940-1976. Crushed ore is fed into the furnace through a hopper at the top end and gradually move down the tube as it turns. Hot gases flow over the rocks and convert the cinnabar into mercury and sulfur vapors. The mercury vapor is condensed into metallic mercury and recovered. A model of a rotary furnace is in the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum in the Casa Grande. A much larger furnace is on Mine Hill in the park.

These are parts of a Cornish pump. Pumps like these were was used to pump water out of the mines, which often went below the water table and would have flooded without being out. Many of the abandoned mines now are filled with water.

This is St. Piran's flag, the flag of Cornwall, ancestral home of the Cornish miners.

Gilian Altieri leads the San Jose Ukulele Club, which provided musical entertainment.

Park interpreter John Slenter (right) talks to visitors.

Diana and Art Boudreault visit the event.

Docent Doug Bergtholdt (right) visits one of the tables, attended by Nancy Mapes and Virginia Hammerness.

NAQCPA President Kitty Monahan greets the guests, accompanied by Mike Cox. Mike was a geologist who helped secure the mine tunnels to make the area safe to become a park.

At the start of the ceremonies, an American flag was raised on a pole on a hill overlooking the site.

This is the crew raising the flag on the hill.

The Cub Scouts led the flag salute.

Gage McKinney, portraying itinerant Methodist preacher Edward Hazen, delivers an invocation to open the event and blesses the assembly.

Mike Cox talks about the history of Pioneer Day, which originally was intended as a way to get the former miners and pioneers of New Almaden together and hear their stories.

Tom Fortini (center), who used to work in the mines, talked about his experiences working and living in New Almaden.

Lunch consisted of traditional Cornish pasties, made by Dr. John Carpenido. Nancy and Becky Mapes (left and right of center) made salad to go along with them. Mary Lee Baiocchi (left), helps serve the meals. Bruce Bartlett (right) picks up a pasty, which is a baked pastry, filled with beef, potatoes, and onions.

A visitor pets Janice Frazier's easy-going horse Easy.

The Cub Scouts were showing the popcorn snacks they had for sale.

Staffing the tables are (from the left) Virginia Hammerness, Dorene Boulland, and Mike Quane.

Robin Schaut (left), manager of the County Park interpretive programs, pays a visit.

Bruce Bartlett, who led the Outdoor Display Project, talks about how the project started.

Rich Robertson talks about the new additions to the project. Rich welded the framework that holds up the new figures.

County Park staffers watching the ceremonies include Robin Schaut (left), ranger Paul Bergmeier (center), and Julie Lee (right), supervisor of the interpreters at the Casa Grande.

Steve Murphy from the California Cornish Cousins talks about his group, made of Cornishmen and their descendants or those interested in Cornwall.

Artists and docents Dennis and Mary Moran talk about how they designed and made the new figures for the exhibit.

John Drew talks about his family history. His grandfather John Drew I worked in the Almaden Mines for 40 years and was the last superintendent of the Senador Mine.

Phil Hoskins is from Cornwall and worked in a quarry in Saudi Arabia. He talks about the ingenuity of the Cornish miners and their inventions, like the steam engine and pumps.

County Parks Interpretive Supervisor Julie Lee thanks the volunteers who worked on projects in the park: the Outdoor Museum, the Community Library in New Almaden, the replacement of the fence around the Casa Grande, and the online archives.

Mike Cox introduces John Atwood, who worked as a surveyor in the mines and drew maps of the mines.

The Cornish Cousins pose for a group portrait.

Standing with John Atwood is Ed Speck, who worked with John in the County Surveyors Office.

In front of the New Almaden Post Office and next to the grounds of the Casa Grande is the Lending Library. It's a cabinet made to look like the Casa Grande, containing books that community members can borrow. It was a project of the New Almaden Community Club and NAQCPA, designed by Bruce Bartlett and built as an Eagle Scout project by Bobby O'Connell and his Boy Scout troop.

Created 12/22/12 by Ronald Horii