NEW IDRIA CALIFORNIA
Nothing New About It
Unoccupied Ghost Town
San Benito County
Circa 1851 to 1972
A team of tattered
prospectors crossed over the Diablo Mountain Range in 1853 and discovered a
rich deposit of cinnabar. They formed the New Idria Quicksilver Mining Company.
Although the land was remote and the terrain was difficult, Spanish settlers
had already found their way to the area surrounding New Idria many years
earlier, most of them homesteaded and set up farms and ranches on the flatter
An earlier discovery was made
in 1851 only a few miles south. Those hopefuls named their find the Aurora Mine
after they thought they had discovered silver. The silver turned out to be chromite
and the project failed.
By 1854 a town site was
forming below the New Idria Mine. Homes and businesses sprouted around the mine
buildings on the valley floor below. By 1858 the New Idria Mining Co. employed
as many as 90 employees. By 1867 the school house in New Idria opened its doors
to the town's children, and in 1869 the post office in New Idria began
operations as the town continued to show promise.
The town's remote location
attracted its share of criminal activity over the years. In the 1850's one of
California's most feared highwaymen, Joaquin Murrieta, was rumored to have
passed through town regularly. In 1873 Central California's notorious bandit
Tiburcio Vasquez murdered three people at nearby Tres Pinos and took refuge
near New Idria. In 1887 San Benito County petitioned the location of the New
Idria mines as being in their county. It was later learned that Fresno County
surrendered to the petition in order to rid the burden of prosecuting all the
criminals that were employed by the mines.
In 1896 the New Idria
Quicksilver Mining Company took over operations after purchasing the New Idria
Mining Company and continued operations up until 1920 when it filed for
bankruptcy. Mining operations resumed in 1923 under the new name of New Idria
Quicksilver Mines, Inc. The mines were visited by President Herbert Hoover in
1936. By 1948 Quicksilver Prices had dropped and the mine operations began lay
offs, although survived through the next century working skeletal crews as
small as 20 men. It was in 1972 that all
operations had finally seized never to reopen.
Today the land that comprises
the New Idria Mines and town is surrounded by both private property and BLM
lands. There are occupants living on the most Northern section of land on the
upper shelf, but the rest of the site is unoccupied. After inspecting the
interiors of some of the buildings, we had noticed signs of more recent
occupancy probably by squatters. About half of the remaining buildings appear
to have been remodeled or built post 1920's. The oldest remaining buildings are
located on the upper section of town behind the town's main street.
New Idria has been assigned
State Historic Landmark # 324And private
operations are underway to preserve and protect the ghost towns existenceIf you are interested
in this preservation please visit www.new-idria.org to assist.
View of Mine Buildings from Above
Remaining Home in the Lower Valley of Town
Original 1800's buildings located in the upper valley
Newer buildings on towns main street
Structure found in
the upper valley of town. Notice the hitching post in front.
View of Vallecitos Canyon
below the New Idria Mine