Tuesday, February 13, 2018


The mine is now a ghost town

It was the second busiest mercury mine in America. Mercury is very important in separating gold from whatever else from the earth mixed with the gold. When gold was discovered in California, mercury became a very important commodity.

The New Idria mercury mine was located near the small town of Panoche in San Benito County, California, southeast of Salinas.

In 1900, two, possibly three, Chamorros worked there.

One was a miner. Félix Castro, aged 33 years old, was described as being able to read, write and speak English. He had moved to the U.S. in 1890. He was single in 1900.

The second worked at the mine but as a furnace man. Manuel de León, aged 35. He, too, could read, write and speak English. The record says he immigrated to the U.S. in 1879, which would make him a mere 13 years old. Not impossible, but unusually young, unless the age and dates are just guesses, as they often were. The record days that Manuel was married, but his wife does not appear with him in the record, so we don't know who she was.

There was also a José Salas, aged 30. He was identified as coming from the Philippines, but the Marianas had been a province of the Philippines for a while under Spain, so some Chamorros were identified as being from the Philippines. Later prison records reveal that a Joe Salas, convicted for forgery, was from Guam and had been a miner in San Benito.

Location of the Mine

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