Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SearchResearch Challenge (7/12/17): Digging into the past of long-vanished towns

As you know, I like to go trail running... 

... and once upon a time, I used to run the trails in these hills.  

This is a view from one of my favorite trails, not far from 37.1832161,-121.8543355 

Near where I took this picture, there's the vestige of an old town that I've run through many times.  In fact, there were two towns near this place, both named for the commonplace languages of the people who lived there.  

I'd like to learn more about these two 19th century towns, but they're not listed as official places any more!  What do I do? 

An important SearchResearch skill to have is the ability to find information about places (and the inhabitants) of locations that no longer exist.  

Both of these towns flourished in the 19th century. There are still some ruins (I've seen them!), but not a lot of information.  Let's focus on just a couple of pieces of information about the people who lived there over 100 years ago.  

1.  What were the names of the towns?  And where did the inhabitants come from? 
2.  Did these two towns have churches?  If so, what denomination were they? 
3.  What was the most common disease / syndrome at these towns?  What would you do to cure the disease / syndrome? 
4.  (Optional / extra credit)  Can you find any pictures of these town taken at their prime? 

This requires a bit more than the average SearchResearch skills--but it's not crazy hard.  (Just slightly insane.)  Still, you should be able to do it!  Go forth and see what you find!  

Note:  I'll be traveling next week, so this is a 1-week Challenge.  (I'll answer it 1-week from today, rather than on Monday, giving you some extra time to work on the Challenge. We'll take a few days off, then come back again the following week.)  


And Search On! 


  1. I thought that this view looked familiar. :-) **

    Plugging the coordinates into Google Maps puts the spot inside Almaden Quicksilver County Park, which was the home of the New Almaden mercury mines.

    1) Two towns within the mine area (in addition to New Almaden, which is extant, were Englishtown (shown on Google Maps, BTW) and Spanishtown. The English miners came from Cornwall ... and the "Spanish" workers came from Mexico (mostly Sonora) and Chile. ( ... found searching for [almaden englishtown cornwall], since I already knew about Cornwall)

    2) [Almaden Englishtown church] =>

    Englishtown has a Methodist-Episcopal Church and Spanishtown had a Catholic Church.

    3) Mercury poisoning (aka "salivation") was a common ailment in these mining towns.
    ["mercury poisoning" treatment "new Almaden"] => "Mercury and the Making of California: Mining, Landscape, and Race, 1840–1890 By Andrew Scott Johnston"mercury+poisoning" (after searching within for just "mercury poisoning')

    Searching for a cure is more difficult. Reducing the potential dose via ventilation and/or masks is mentioned by many. But searches like ["mercury poisoning" salivation cure treatment] give mostly accounts of how mercury was used to treat other diseases, such as syphilis, at least until the well-known symptoms of mercury poisoning appeared.(For example:"mercury+poisoning"+salivation+cure+treatment")

    I'll root around some more later today for more "cure" info ... but will post what I have already now. :-)

    4) Image search on [Almaden Englishtown]

    Photo of Englishtown:
    Photo of Spanishtown was in the NPS site linked above: (In linked document.)

    Best wishes,

    -- Mike

    ** I live about a mile or so from this park. :-)

  2. part 1 of 2: (…we have a week…)
    started by using the coordinates you gave & looked @ GooMaps… made assumptions and proceeded down a 'trail'…
    ended up in some interesting spots… even if they are the wrong spots.
    southeast of Los Gatos & Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve
    also compared your photo with others that came up in image search… 'Search Google for Image' (using Chrome browser) and found this - seemed promising:
    thought this was a similar ridge line?

    nice collection of before & after photos… & background info with dates
    some of the trails you may have run and sights you may have seen…
    a Mercury News story – mercury, go figure
    church contender - " Saint Anthony Church, or the Little Church"
    "The English Camp Trail runs for 1.27 miles from the Mine Hill Trail to English Camp. It is a wide, gravel path on the southern slope of the same hill that the Mine Hill Trail runs along. Because of its southern exposure, it is a hotter and drier trail than the Mine Hill Trail. Shade is intermittent. It runs next to a wide canyon that narrows to a shady ravine near the top. Remnants of old mining roads and closed-up mine shafts can be seen along the way. The trail provides the best views of the Almaden Quicksilver Chimney. Near the top, the newly-opended Deep Gulch Trail branches off to the west and heads downhill (see below). After a long climb, it finally reaches the site of English Camp. This was originally a settlement established by Cornish miners in the 1860's. It was a town for the miners and their families, numbering about 1,000. The site included a schoolhouse, company store, mining office, Methodist church,…"
    waymarking, Almaden Quicksilver County Park - New Almaden, CA
    Englishtown, California - Ghost Towns
    historical description
    some typical mining maladies
    Cinnabar and Vermilion: Beautiful and Toxic Mineral and Pigment
    US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
    in the production of quicksilver
    images, LoC
    images, SERP for: [mine hill new almaden historical photos]
    Sierra Azul Open Space Perserve

  3. I searched your coordinates and found the map which indicated and area called Englishtown.

    I searched for Englishtown and California ghost town and found this site.

    This site told me that another name was English Camp.
    Searching english camp ghost town led me to this site:

    Looking at the picture told me that it was from another site:

    Other images in New Almaden Mines

    When I clicked on the link for Album New Almaden Mines, it took me to this site:

    One of the pictures was Casa Grande the location of the Almaden Quicksiler Mining Museum, so I searched for that to find the museum website:

    When I clicked on New Almaden Historic District, it took me to this site:

    So the answer to the questions seem to be:

    1. The towns were Englishtown or English Camp and New Almaden (although some references say that this town is still partially occupied). There is an area in New Almaden called Spanishtown which was completely abandoned and there is only a marker at Guadalupe cemetery on the Almaden Quicksilver Historic Trail.

    2. The inhabitants for Englishtown came from Cornwall, England. The town did have a Methodist Church.

    New Almaden was established by Mexicans, so I would have expected a Catholic church, but I could not find any evidence that one was built. There were also Native American workers at this mine.

    Here is what I found on the National Park Service site:

    After Randol’s retirement in 1892, the mine began to decline. By the turn of the century, most of the Mexicans, who had been so instrumental in the early development of New Almaden, had moved away. In 1912, the Quicksilver Mining Company declared bankruptcy and closed. As the 20th century moved forward, the settlements of Spanishtown, the Hacienda, and Englishtown became mostly deserted except for a few older residents staying in the company houses along the creek at the Hacienda.

    Today, visitors can experience the diverse and exciting history of New Almaden through walking tours; stopping by the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum; or by taking the Almaden Quicksilver Historic Trail at the Almaden Quicksilver County Park. Along the way are the Casa Grande, many of the buildings and structures associated with the mine, some of the historic miners’ homes, and the natural and mining landscape of the area. Artifacts from Cornish, Mexican, and Chinese mining families are on display at the Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum.

    This site also had some older pictures.

    Sorry, I don’t have time today to research the disease/syndrome, but the most logical guess is mercury poisoning.

  4. Lick|Mercury☿&Hg|Mt. Umunhum|the Borg—"Resistance is futile"
    Mr. Lick - from a previous sRs… searching for Lickroughly a contemporary of the mining activity…
    Historic Lick Observatory, | Mount Hamilton, San Jose
    English Camp

    Nature - Arctic Hg
    WaPo article on above
    melding California montane chaparral (Santa Cruz Mountains) & Arctic tundra - both with Hg issues…
    chaparral/tundra/domes — CA/Arctic/Silicon Valley contagion
    Sunset on the domes: how Silicon Valley is losing its futuristic past
    companion article
    where will fine cinema be seen in the Silicon Valley?
    … that's really a Borg cube on Mount Umunhum
    in winter
    another angle, another season

    ☆➪artist Clay Spohn - New Deal WPA Project - Los Gatos - interesting tale/good info on Spanish Town & English Camp/Town
    "The men are a band of Ohlone Indians. The red pigment on their skin is a decorative paint derived from cinnabar ore they have excavated from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The mystery illness is mercury poisoning. According to the legend, their chief is visited by a deity who instructs him to fire an arrow into the mountain, free the healing waters and wash the demonic pigment from their bodies."
    another example:
    "In the early days of the mine, this was a lawless place populated by men like the infamous bandit-poet Tiburcio Vásquez, quick draw card sharps and wasp-waisted Victorian whores. In 1870, James Butterworth Randol took over as mine manager. A no-nonsense Methodist, Randol kicked out the gamblers, prostitutes and thieves and erected a toll gate so they couldn’t get back in. In the process, he created a far more wholesome community and even enacted an early form of healthcare for the families of the mineworkers."
    Almaden, Spain SERP, — "Mercury Heritage: Almadén and Idrija", declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO
    "They are the largest mercury sites in the world and have been exploited since Roman times until the present day. This legacy has been restored and turned into a Mining Park."

    1. Good points. (Both that this mine had health care options WELL in advance of their time and that New Almaden was named for the Almaden in Spain.)

  5. 3. What was the most common disease / syndrome at these towns? What would you do to cure the disease / syndrome?
    another (prosperous) mining camp affliction & treatment - intertwined with mercury
    " • Mercury was the primary means of treatment for syphilis until the early 20th century. It was used in the form of pills, calomel, ointments and steam baths. The side effects of this toxic "treatment" included tooth loss, ulcerations, neurological damage and even death, according to the Harvard University Library."
    contagion and mercury
    seems overly harsh… even for avid fans of science… and sexist…
    In the mid–19th century, European physicians conducted experiments in “syphilization”, often on hospitalized prostitutes. “Syphilization” was the name given to repeated inoculations with syphilis matter in order to “saturate” the subject, on the theory that the larger the number of visible, or “primary,” lesions, the less likely it was that secondary syphilis would develop."
    (or that 'customers' would indulge?? counter-marketing.)

  6. 1 New Almaden and the nearby Guadalupe mine; English Camp, established by Cornish miners; Henriquita was Mexican miners Has tons of info, publications and articles

    2. Catholic-St Anthony Little Church (Historic) and Methodist-Episcopal both paid for by the New Almaden Co. (book New Almaden, Michael Bouilland 1992 Google Books)

    3 the diseases to which the miners are mostly subject are those of the chest; says elemental mercury the liquid if swallowed is not serious as it just rolls on thru our system. If it breathed the lungs soak it up causing amongst other things, bad cough difficult breathing and death too. THe article details the treatments for ingestion of the various types of mercury poisoning. Chelators seem to appear in each treatment form to get the mercury out of the system.

    However, US NAtional Library of Medicine says exposure to Mercury was very high

    4 Lots of images at Online Archive of Californis/Guide to the New Almaden Mine 1845-1973/Series X Photographs. Plus it includes in Box 117 Folder 28 Englishtown
    Several more online at LOC but all are from 1936 survey
    is a 1862 published account of the mines and a place called San Jose. About a dozen engravings

    Best of the lot is, with lots of pix, including stereo, at,_Santa_Clara_County,_California

    jon tU

  7. Why did my second last line go so screwy ?

    1. Because it's trying to right justify the line. Since that line has a LOOONG URL on it, the justification process gets a little weirded-out. I'll see if there's a way to turn it off.

  8. Hello Dr. Russell and everyone

    1 Searched [37.1832161,-121.8543355 ] to find is Almaden
    2 [almaden quicksilver county park in 1800s]

    he loves to recount the area’s history from the Native Americans to the Spanish to the miners and settlers

    [towns near almaden quicksilver county park 1800..1900]

    Top Ten Ghost Towns

    [town ruins near almaden quicksilver] on Books

    [towns before almaden quicksilver]

    [almaden park before mercury mine]

    Long before the successful mining operations of New Almaden in the 1800s, local Ohlone Indians used the area as a source of the deep red mercury-bearing rock, cinnabar.

    [Ohlone Indians almaden]

    Ohlone Indians Were First South Valley Inhabitants

    [new almaden ancient two towns]
    Legacy of the Red Ore
    Almaden Quicksilver County Park
    “...The Mexican government had a long-standing reward of $100,000 for anyone who discovered a workable mercury deposit in the New World, and Castillero had just stumbled upon the world’s fifth largest deposit of cinnabar, the scientific name for the bright red ore of mercury…”

    Also mentions EnglishTown

    [new almaden ancient englishtown spanishtown]

    New Almaden contained three separate enclaves: the Hacienda, Spanishtown, and Englishtown Shows photo of Spanishtown (1885)...Both Spanishtown and Englishtown had a mine office, school, company store, church, and doctor’s office….

    This project attempts to document the genealogy of the Derby, Stevenson, and Carson families who were involved with the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine of California 1847-1912 in the Almaden Township near San Jose

    [new almaden spanishtown imagery] in books

    New Almaden
    By Michael Boulland, Arthur L. Boudreault
    Searched “Spanishtown” found photo first church. Book shows many images. Catholic in Spanishtown. Methodist-Episcopal in Englishtown. Then Searched “Englishtown” more images.

    1. really good finds Ramón - the genealogical study & the book, "New Almaden" are terrific resources… even found a tie to an earlier sRs question about Lewis & Clark
      in the book (see SERP below*) Dan seems captivated by mercury subjects… makes me wonder if he spent his youth wheeling one of these??
      page 91 of "New Almaden" book you found - arrow points to L&C reference & blue mercury/matrix pill Abe took…
      *sRs SERP - Mercury/Lewis & Clark expedition of 1804 - 1806
      Methodist/Episcopal Church, also from New Almaden book
      …maybe Abe took one before heading to Ford's?… maybe the mercury even came from the New Almaden mines?? but clearly mercury was being sourced before the CA
      operations started - maybe it was coming from the mines in Almaden, Spain?
      ""You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." The term red pill refers to a human that is aware of the true nature of the Matrix."
      Abe & his last blue pill
      blue bottle/blue pills
      "Blue Mass" - an obscure term that I would have been unaware of without the sRs exercise…
      "The ingredients of blue mass varied, as each pharmacist prepared it himself, but they all included mercury in elemental or compound form (often as mercury chloride, also known as calomel). One recipe of the period included (for blue mass syrup):[3]

      • 33% mercury (nearly one-third, measured by weight)
      • 5% licorice
      • 25% Althaea (possibly hollyhock or marshmallow)
      • 3% glycerol
      • 34% rose honey
      Blue pills were produced by substituting milk sugar and rose oil for the glycerol and rose honey. Pills contained one grain (64.8 milligrams) of mercury." (Wiki)

      cave of gloom
      'hypochondriasis' /mercury intoxication – US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health

    2. Thanks for the links and information, Remmij! I didn't notice the connection with Lewis & Clark SRS, so thanks for mentioning it.

      I didn't know about blue mass. Searching after reading you found:

      Lincoln's Poisonous Pills Video Smithsonian Channel

    3. I hadn't thought about the mercury fixation. It really is a side-effect of living (and running) near the mines.

  9. looked at photograph attributions/citations & authors…
    Bob Dick Bulmore - church photographer, mine manager
    (son) Laurence E. Bulmore Collection
    "Bulmore then married Josephine's sister, Refugio Banales, with whom he fathered son Laurence. Refugio also predeceased him, leaving him a widower for the last 13 years of his life."
    The Bulmore House in New Almaden, California, was home to the last manager of the Quicksilver Mining Company and the last official resident of Casa Grande.
    Google books comes through… historical perspective…
    inside the mine - photos by Robert Bulmore - from the book: "Mercury and the Making of California: Mining, Landscape, and Race, 1840–1890 - By Andrew Scott Johnston"
    see pages 149 for a far off view of the Catholic Church in Spanishtown & page 174 for the Chinese Pagoda & gardens at Casa Grande
    Bulmore & the local physician are primary sources of photos from the time

    "Andrew Scott Johnston holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China."

    review with references
    Journal of Historical Geography
    Western Historical Quarterly