CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Alpine Quicksilver Mining Company

History


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.

Alpine Brick

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).
Microscopic view of the interior clay body of the
Alpine brick (50x, field of view is 1/4 inch).

References

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.

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.

Copyright 2005 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.