Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum

Welcome to Casa Grande and the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum located within Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Mining Museum at Casa Grande is open Friday-Saturday 12pm-4pm. 

    Exhibits

    Exhibit of flasker filling mercury flasks.

    The stately 1854 Casa Grande manor sets the stage for visitors to discover the significance of local mercury mining to the California gold rush, the evolution of processing cinnabar into mercury, and the lifestyles of mining communities at New Almaden.

    Exhibits invite visitors to walk back in time by viewing late 19th century photographs of the underground mine workings and mercury processing, as well as a diorama that duplicates the interior of a mine shaft. Artifacts from Cornish, Mexican, and Chinese mining families depict the diversity of people that once lived and worked together on "the hill." Casa Grande's antique-furnished parlor, library, and drawing room reflect the lifestyle of a mine manager's family.


    Gift Shop

    After visiting the Museum, our Gift Shop is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs that focus on history, geology and interpretive souvenirs. This gift store offers items related to the Almaden area and the mining experience.

     

     

    Directions

    Casa Grande and the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum are located at 21350 Almaden Road in San Jose. Casa Grande is the impressive white building with picket fencing just past the Post Office. The Club Almaden sign is still up on the large redwood tree at the entrance.

    From Highway 85 take the Almaden Expressway exit south 6.5 miles to Almaden Road. Turn right on Almaden Road and proceed 2.5 miles west to the town of New Almaden. The Casa Grande will be on your left.

    From Highway 880 take 101 south to 280 north (toward San Francisco). Exit 280 at Hwy. 87 (Guadalupe Parkway) south. Exit Hwy. 87 at Almaden Expressway south (to the right). Proceed about 8 miles to Almaden Road. Turn right on Almaden Road and proceed 2.5 miles to the town of New Almaden.

     

    History

    Mining operations in New Almaden first began in 1845 under the claim of Mexican Cavalry Officer Captain Andres Castillero. Castillero discovered that the red rock used by the local Ohlone people to paint the walls of the Santa Clara Mission was cinnabar, an ore containing mercury. The valuable mercury was needed to process silver in Mexican silver mines.

    Henry Halleck, who led the management of the mines under the direction of early mine owners Baron and Forbes, had the Casa Grande ("the big house") designed and built by architect Francis Meyers in 1854. The six-acre grounds were later landscaped by John McLaren, designer of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. For decades, this classic revival-style mansion served as the official residence and office for a succession of mine superintendents, and as a country weekend retreat for wealthy mine investors.

    The Casa Grande once boasted 27 rooms. The basement consisted of the kitchen, dumbwaiter, servant quarters, food storage, and a large vault for depositing liquid mercury, also called "quicksilver." After the closing of mine operations, the Casa Grande had a succession of private owners and served a number of purposes, including a tourist resort and recreational facility known as Club Almaden.

    In 1973, the Santa Clara County Parks & Recreation Department began purchasing the old mine properties. In 1985, the Department purchased a private collection of mining artifacts from Constance Perham, a resident of New Almaden. From 1949 to 1983, Mrs. Perham had displayed mining artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs in her private "museum" in the historic village. The Parks Department leased the museum site from 1983 to 1998, and the New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association volunteers maintained the collection and exhibits, as well as provided tours about the history of New Almaden and the Quicksilver Mines.

    In 1997, the Casa Grande once again was offered for sale, and the County Parks Department seized the opportunity to add the National Historic Site to Almaden Quicksilver County Park. The existing museum collection moved to the Casa Grande, where park staff and volunteers erected a new exhibit space. The new museum opened on July 3, 1998. After an extensive building renovation from 2009 to 2010, the newly expanded museum once again opened in January 2011.

    For additional information about Almaden Quicksilver Park, go to the Almaden Quicksilver County Park webpage.

    Online Historical Collections

    Be sure to check our online historical collections to see photos, documents, and artifacts from the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum. You can also view artifacts from Martial Cottle County Park or Joseph D. Grant County Park and can request images from us.

    Mercury Minutes Video Series

    Mercury Minutes is a seven part video series that explores New Almaden's mining history. Episodes explain how mercury is used to process gold, the communities who mined cinnabar and processed mercury, how Santa Clara County Parks cleaned up the toxic legacy mercury left behind, and how Almaden Quicksilver County Park welcomes visitors to learn about the past while exploring park trails. 

    Field Trips and Tours

    Park Interpreter showing cinnabar sample.

    For in-person or virtual school field trips at the Quicksilver Mining Museum, please schedule through our education page. 

    Learn more in our our Teaching and Activity Guide for the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum.​

    Book A Field Trip 

    For general museum tours with groups of 15 or more, please book in advance through our Custom Tour request form on our education page.

    Book A Custom Museum Tour

    For additional information, you may email park interpretive staff at [email protected] or call the museum main line at (408) 918-7770.


     

    Traveling Trunks

    Educational kits, also called  “Traveling Trunks,” are available for rent for $20/week for up to 2 weeks.  

    Almaden Quicksilver Traveling Trunk - The lesson plans, materials and teaching guide in the trunk support 4th grade social studies standards. The trunk includes identity kits that allow students to explore Almaden Quicksilver's rich history through the people who lived in the mining communities as well as understand how a local a local source of mercury was important to the success of the gold rush.

    Learn More About Traveling Trunks

     

     

    Virtual Play Like a Miner

    Play Like A Miner Activity Booklet Cover (English)

    Calling all kids! Did you know you can win prizes while learning about New Almaden’s mining history?

    Step 1: Download the Play Like a Miner Activity Booklet and complete all 9 activities in the booklet.

    Download Activity Booklet Here

    Step 2: Watch Play Like a Miner​ videos to learn secret code words. Remember to write down at least 2 code words in your activity booklet.  Watching the videos makes completing the booklet easier.

    Step 3: Fill out this submission form to win a prize!  There’s no deadline to submit your answers and claim your prize!

    For additional information about programs or teaching resources at the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum, you may email park interpretive staff at [email protected] or call the museum main line at (408) 918-7770. 


    Juega Como un Minero Virtualmente

    Play Like A Miner Activity Booklet Cover (Spanish)

     

    ¡Llamando a todos los niños! ¿Sabías que puedes ganar premios mientras aprendes sobre la historia minera de Nueva Almadén? 

    Paso 1: Descargue el folleto de actividades de Juega como un minero y complete las 9 actividades del folleto.

    Descargue el folleto de actividades 

    Paso 2: Mira videos de la serie de Juega como un minero para aprender palabras secretas en código. Recuerde anotar al menos 2 palabras clave en su folleto de actividades.  Ver los videos hace que completar el folleto sea más fácil.

    Paso 3: ¡Rellena este formulario de envío para ganar un premio!  ¡No hay fecha límite para enviar sus respuestas y reclamar su premio!

    Para obtener información adicional sobre programas o recursos de enseñanza en el Quicksiver Mining Museum (museo) de Nueva Almadén, puede enviar un correo electrónico al personal interpretativo del parque en [email protected] o llamar a la línea principal del museo al (408) 918-7770.

     

    Programs

    Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation offers a variety of programs throughout the year such as nature and history walks,  exploring the parks with your furry friend, evening programs and Jr. Ranger programs.

    Check the Parks Calendar for upcoming programs. 

    Monthly History Hikes

    Park Interpreter talks to hike participants.

    Join an Almaden Quicksilver Park Interpreter for a 3–4-mile hike in the Almaden Hills to discover how our changing values have impacted the landscape, and a once bustling mining enterprise became a County Park.  

    Offered on the last Saturday or Sunday each month.  Check the Parks Calendar for dates and registration information. 

     

    Seasonal Events

    Calligraphy during lunar new year celebration at Casa Grande.

    Explore Casa Grande's Victorian Era with costumed docents, seasonal crafts, and activities for all ages.  Usually offered in February, April or May and December. 

    Check the Parks Calendar for dates.

     

     

    Play Like A Miner

    Volunteers helps event participants pan for gold in a trough during a previous Play Like a Miner Event

    Every summer, visitors imagine a day in the life of a mercury miner and other 19th century residents of New Almaden at this fun family event featuring games, crafts, live music, demonstrations, and mining-era activities for all ages.  

    Thanks to everyone who came out to participate or volunteer at the event. We'll see you again next year in the summer of 2024. 

    Volunteer at the Museum

    Volunteers at the Mining Museum play an important role in helping to tell New Almaden's story.  

    Almaden Quicksilver museum hosts talking to visitors.

    Visitor Center Hosts provide visitor assistance in the museum, answer questions, provide park information, interpret the natural and cultural history of the park, and help with the care and upkeep of the facility. Great for those who like interacting with people, sharing their knowledge, learning, and being indoors!  *Currently Recruiting

    Interpretive Docents help Park Staff provide quality learning experiences for visitors at parks, visitor centers, historic sites and interpretive facilities. Interpretive Docent Volunteers help facilitate audience-centered experiences with an emphasis on skills needed to lead school field trip activities. 

    Archive Volunteers maintain archival and artifact collections and databases.  

    Become a Volunteer Today

    Play Like A Miner

    Every summer, visitors imagine a day in the life of a mercury miner and other 19th century residents of New Almaden at this fun family event featuring games, crafts, live music, and demonstrations, and mining-era activities for all ages.  

    This event will return the summer of 2024. Volunteers will be needed to assist with activity stations. Stay tuned for volunteer sign up information.

     

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    Panning for gems

    Interpretive Panels in Almaden Quicksilver County Park

    Interpretive Panels in Almaden Quicksilver County Park

    While hiking Almaden Quicksilver County Park's 37 miles of trails, you may discover insightful interpretive panels unveiling the park's history. Revisit the experience or explore from home by accessing the panels below.

    Visit Us!

    The Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum is open year-round except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.  There is a $2 per person suggested donation for admission to the museum.

    Dogs are not permitted on museum grounds or in the museum, with the exception of service animals.

    Fridays​​

    12:00 - 4:00pm
    Saturdays​ ​12:00 - 4:00pm
    Sundays​ 12:00 - 4:00pm
    Mondays  Closed
    ​Tuesdays - Thursdays

    ​Closed

    Accessibility

    In compliance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (‘ADA”), the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its programs, services, or activities. The Department will make reasonable modifications to policies and programs to ensure that people with disability have an equal opportunity to enjoy our programs, services, facilities, and activities. If you need assistance with an ADA request, please contact our ADA Coordinator

    Contact us

    Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum
    21350 Almaden Rd
    San JoseCA 95120
    United States

    Main Museum:(408) 918-7770

    Parks Program Coordinator-Interpretation: Lynda Will
    Public and school programs, museum tours, volunteers, donations, collections, gift shop, rentals, and facility.
    (408) 318-5332
    [email protected]

    Acting Senior Park Ranger: Marc Violette
    (408) 529-1821
    [email protected]

    Senior Park Maintenance Worker: Lincoln Schallenberger
    (408) 355-0038
    [email protected]
     

    ©2024 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.