Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum

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

Hours and Fees

Inside the Alamaden Quicksilver Mining Museum

 Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum is open-year round  except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

$2 per person suggest donation for admission to the museum.

 

As we continue to deal with changing regulations due to the pandemic, we recommend calling the museum first. 408-918-7770.

Fridays​​ 12pm - 4pm​
Saturdays​ ​12pm - 4pm
Sundays​ ​12pm - 4pm
​Mondays - Thursdays ​Closed

Exhibits

almaden quicksilver mining museum

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 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.

Be sure to check our online archives​ 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.

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 a new exhibit space was erected by park staff and volunteers. The new museum opened July 3, 1998. After an extensive building renovation from 2009-2010, 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.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of the New Almaden Quicksilver Mines, you may view a selection of historic maps, photos and documents at our on-line archive webpage​.

 

 

How to Get There

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.

Field Trips and Tours

School field trips can be scheduled through our Education webpage. Submit a school field trip through the Quicksilver Mining Museum School Program link

For groups who would like a private tour, please book in advance through our Custom Tour – At a County Park request form on our education page. For additional information, you may email park interpretive staff at [email protected] or call the museum main line at (408) 918-7770.

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

For other school field trips and interpretive program requests, please see our Custom Program request information on our education​ page or email [email protected] for more information.​

 


 

 

 

Virtual Play Like a Miner: ​

Fill out your fun Play Like a Miner Activity Booklet about mining life by downloading it here​.

Our Play Like a Miner​ videos will help you with some of the activity pages and learn secret code words:

Watch our Life as ​a Miner video to see how miners worked, then build a blanket tunnel at home!

Watch Eat Like a Miner video to learn how to make a Cornish pasty. 

Watch The GREAT Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining Competition​​​ with Park Interpreters Rachel and Victoria who compete to mine the most chocolate chips and learn how mercury mining that was important to the gold rush.

Remember to write down your code words in your activity book. Then fill them into this submission form to win a prize!  There’s no deadline to submit your answers and claim your prize!​

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

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