Return to the Friends of Santa Teresa Park
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
is a dead commodity. Due to environmental problems and restrictions,
demand for it collapsed starting in the 1980s. All mines closed by
- There were 2 mines in the Santa Teresa Hills: the Bernal Mine and the Santa Teresa Mine.
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.
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
- 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.
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.