Friends of Santa Teresa Park Zoom Meeting, 8/4/22


    • Attendees: Members: Mike Boulland, Woody Collins, Steve Crockett, Joan Murphy, Joan Murphy, Ron Horii. Special guest: Mike Cox. Visiting: Jan Shriner, Don Allen, Scot Hayes, Tere Johnson, Ian McFadyen, Charles Rettner, Bruce White, Amy Mohsin, Mark Schimscheiner, Becky Judd, Jaclyn Caldwell, Carolyn Schimandle, Dave Poeschel, Cal Lantrip.
    • This was an online Zoom videoconference meeting. Mike sent out a meeting link for this Zoom meeting. 
    • This was a special meeting. Geologist Mike Cox gave a Zoom presentation about the mercury mines in the Santa Teresa Hills. Here is a copy of his Powerpoint presentation. Here are some highlights of Mike's talk:
      • Mike has been interested in New Almaden and the mercury mines since moving to California in 1974. He explored the mercury mines of New Almaden as a teenager and was later hired by the County as a professional geologist to close the mines and make Almaden Quicksilver County Park safe to open to the public.
      • Rancho Santa Teresa comprised 9,647 acres, settled in 1826 by Jose Joaquin Bernal and awarded to him in 1834 by Governor Figueroa. Jose died in 1837. His son, Bruno Bernal, ran the ranch and produced meat and leather. Over time, portions of the ranch were sold off by the Bernal Family to pay legal bills to defend their title to the land. 
      • Mining requires huge amounts of capital investment before ore can be turned into a product. It can take a decade or more to develop a mine. There are unscrupulous promoters raising money for lackluster mining ventures.
      • Mercury is a dead commodity. Due to environmental problems and restrictions, demand for it collapsed starting in the 1980s. All mines closed by 2005.
      • There were 2 mines in the Santa Teresa Hills: the Bernal Mine and the Santa Teresa Mine. 
      • The Bernal Mine was owned by Ygnacio Bernal, grandson of Rancho Santa Teresa's founder Jose Joaquin Bernal, and developed by Ygnacio's son Pedro Bernal. It was started in 1903. It had 2 shafts, 65 and 20 feet deep, and a 215-foot adit. Very little mercury ore was found, and it was not worth developing further. There was a retort built near the mine to refine the mercury ore, but it was little used. The mine was inactive since 1918.
      • On Jan. 25, 1978, a 17-year old fell 110 feet down an inclined shaft in the Bernal mine adit. He survived, though suffered head injuries. The tunnel entrance was blown up by the Sheriff's bomb squad leader. Mike Boulland was a teacher at nearby Baldwin School, and he heard and felt the explosion.
      • Pedro Bernal also mined marl, which is decomposed limestone. It was mined in an open pit, crushed, roasted, bagged, and sold as fertilizer to consumers by the Bernal Fertilizer Company. It was mined from the 1880s to 1938. Remnants of the marl mine and plant can be seen along the Mine Trail.
      • The Santa Teresa Mine was outside the park and was not on Bernal Family property. It had 3 tunnels, with a total length of 1200 feet. There was some early prospecting around 1875. The mine was incorporated in 1898. It operated from 1902 to 1908, when the parent company dissolved. It was supervised by R. B. Harper, a mine engineer from New Almaden. The mine was used to attract investors and raise capital, which was redirected to the Hillsdale Mine, on what is now Communications Hill. A 40-ton brick Huttner-Scott furnace was built on the Santa Teresa Mine prperty, but very little mercury ore was found. The mine was abandoned. The furnace was removed for its bricks, leaving only its concrete base.
      • In 2017, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board began investigating the Santa Teresa and Bernal Mines for their potential threat to water quality.
    • Ron Horii showed pictures of La Fuente, held at the Bernal Ranch on 7/30/22, after a 2-year absence. (Here are pictures of the La Fuente event and FOSTP at La Fuente.) FOSTP had a booth there. Mike Boulland and Steve Crockett manned the booth. At the booth, there was the Bernal Hacienda model, the new time capsule, newsletters, our brochure, Ron's pictures of the park, pictures of Kitty, and a sponge toss game. Visitors wrote notes to put into the time capsule. Mike gave a talk about the history of FOSTP and talked about Kitty. Scot Hayes from NAQCPA set up a display about millstones at the millstones by the barn. County Parks had an information booth and a nature booth with a live kingsnake. There were crafts and cattle-roping. Valley Water had a booth about water conservation. The County Library had storytelling and an airplane-making activity. Rob McDonnell led a walk to Santa Teresa Spring. Los Arribenos played traditional music, with dancing. Elena Robles' folklorico dancers performed Mexican folk dances, like they have for every Fandango/La Fuente event in the past. 
    • Ron also showed pictures of the work that still needs to be done at the Bernal Ranch and Santa Teresa Spring. There will be a work day on Friday, 8/5/22, starting at 9:00, meeting at the ranch house.
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       Created 8/30/22 by Ronald Horii, secretary of the Friends of Santa Teresa Park
    Funding provided by a Beautify San Jose Grant