Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie Night XI: Let's Go to the New Idria Quicksilver Mine!

It's hard to be interested in San Jose history and not be caught up by the whole history of mercury mining. San Jose's New Almaden quicksilver mines were the biggest in the Americas; there's not many signs of the mining up in Almaden Quicksilver County Park, but at least it's easy to get to with a bit of hiking.

But for a raw look at mercury mining, New Idria's the place to go. The New Idria mines are a couple hours south of Gilroy, hidden away in a difficult-to-reach portion of the Coast Range. That isolation also means that some of the buildings left over from mining have survived... and that the mine tailings were never cleaned, and still spew significant amounts of mercury and other metals into the San Joaquin River.

Getting to New Idria's difficult and unpleasant, but we can enjoy the trip by tagging along with some young'uns with exceptional video and photography skills, a healthy disregard for danger and death, and a snarky sense of humor!

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