Alpine Quicksilver Mining Company
The Alpine Quicksilver Mining Company operated a mercury mine in the
New Idria mining district near the eastern end of San Benito County from 1910
to 1917. In 1915, the company manufactured its own bricks for a reduction
furnace and condensers used to treat quicksilver ore. Local clay was
dug from the banks of Clear Creek near the junction with San Benito River.
They used the soft-mud process of making common red brick, which were
fired in field kilns. They transported 260,000 bricks five miles up
Clear Creek to the Alpine mine where the furnace was built. Today, there is no
evidence of the field kilns and clay pit. Brick bats from the old
works now litter the creek bed.
Common brick is orange red to pale red, uniform in color, with a few pits and red and white clasts
on the surface. The clasts are rounded and up to a half inch across. Broken interior shows
a granular and pitted texture, similar to the top face. Bottom face is smooth and flat, top face is
rough and pitted with longitudinal strike marks. Sides and ends are flat and even with no visible marks.
Sand-struck, soft-mud process. Length ?, width 3 5/8, height 2 1/4.
View of the top face of an Alpine brick bat.
View of the bottom face of an Alpine brick bat.
View of the side of an Alpine brick bat.
Views of the end of two different Alpine brick bat. Note the color difference.
Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the
Alpine brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).
Averll, Charles V. Mines and Mineral Resources of San Benito County, California. California Journal of
Mines and Geology, v. 43, no. 1, 1947, p. 41-60.
Copyright © 2005 Dan Mosier
Bradley, Walter W. Quicksilver Resources of California. Califoria State Mining Bureau Bulletin 78, 1918, p. 96-98.
Dietrich, Waldemar F. The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California. California State Mining
Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928.