Sunday, February 6, 2011

Photos of New Almaden

San Jose State's Digital Collections department has been preserving some great photos from the 1930's taken by John C. Gordon, and I've been watching their feed of new photos in Google Reader to watch when new photos appear. They scanned a bunch of photos of the New Almaden mercury mines in their last installment, and several capture the feeling of rural life in Santa Clara County in the 1930's.

Here's two photos of old hotel buildings, both probably in the town of New Almaden near the reduction works. The Hacienda Hotel, the first photo, is most likely the current home of La Foret, New Almaden's very fine game restaurant. (They're also New Almaden's only restaurant, so if I want to get some casual food after a long hike, I usually have to head back to civilization. The Burger Pit on Blossom Hill Road is my particular favorite.) I'm not sure about the second hotel building; perhaps it was on the other side of Alamitos Creek near the current Hacienda entrance to Almaden Quicksilver County Park.

This photo shows some of the remains of the Englishtown settlement on top of the hill, and gives some hints on modeling abandoned and collapsing buildings. When the mines started in the 1840's, most of the mining was close to the surface and on the other side of Mine Hill. The initial miners were from Central and South America, and the settlement on the other side of the hill became known as Spanishtown. In the 1870's, the mines started going deeper (eventually down to about 300 feet below sea level, or 2000 feet below the summit of Mine Hill), and Cornish miners used to hard rock and deep mines took over. Their settlement was Englishtown, pictured here. If you go hiking in the park, you'll probably sit on a picnic bench under that eucalyptus.

There's lots of other great photos in the collection of San Jose in the '30's; check them out.

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