Welcome to Casa Grande
and the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum, part of Almaden Quicksilver
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.
Hours and Fees
The New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum is open-year round Fridays
through Tuesdays except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
The museum is closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.
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There is a suggested
donation of $2 per person for admission to the Quicksilver Mining Museum.
Informal tours are offered to groups when the museum is open and staffing
allows, however, exclusive tours must be booked in advance with a reservation
and appropriate fee. You can learn more about requesting a custom tour or
school program on our education
page. For additional
information about our programs and teaching resources, you may email park
interpretive staff at email@example.com or call the museum main line at (408)
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
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.
The museum presents visitors with an interesting
array of exhibits about the history of mercury mining and the lifestyles of
mining communities at New Almaden. A mine diorama duplicates the interior of a
mine shaft, giving visitors a feel for working underground. Other exhibits
explain the changing technology of how the liquid mercury was extracted from
mined cinnabar ore. 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.
Informal tours through
the museum are provided during open museum hours as staffing allows. Additional
programs and tours are available for a fee. Submit a tour request on our education
page or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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.