Mining in San Joaquin County

I don't usually combine the words San Joaquin County and mining in the same sentence, even though Stockton can be considered the gateway to the so-called Southern Mines of the Mother Lode during the Gold Rush. But actual mining—here in San Joaquin County? When it comes to natural resources, I think of water and soil, not minerals dug from the ground.

Downtown Tracy, Calif., ca. 1900.

Well, my thinking has just shifted. Recently, an archivist from the Montana Historical Society contacted the Museum to announce the availability of research material from the Taylor-Knapp Company, a mining firm from Philipsburg, Montana. One of Taylor-Knapp's subsidiaries happened to be Teekay Mines, of Tracy, California. (Click here for the full description.)

According to the archivist, Taylor-Knapp began exploring the Ladd Mine, an abandoned manganese mine south of Tracy, in 1950. In June 1951, Teekay Mines opened as a subsidiary of Taylor-Knapp, and went on to produce manganese dioxide. Operations ended in 1955, but liquidation of Teekay Mines wasn't complete until the 1960s.

Historical material in the Teekay Mines segment of the collection includes administrative correspondence, employment records, financial papers, production documents, and documentation covering exploration, labor, machinery and equipment, marketing, publicity, government regulation, taxes, and tests.

Discovery of Teekay Mines sent me searching official historical records from the County of San Joaquin, many of which can be found in the Museum's archives. There, in an Index to Mining Locations, I discovered a dozen other mines, most claimed during the era of World War I. Someday, I hope to find out where these mines were located and what kinds of riches they held—or their owners hoped they would yield.

In addition, there's Carnegie, also located near Tracy. Named after American businessman Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie was home of Carnegie Brick and Pottery Company, which prospered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries thanks to nearby deposits of coal and clay. Today, Carnegie is a state recreational area, and the only visible evidence of the brick works is its foundations.

Were there other mines in San Joaquin County? Perhaps some still operate. I welcome additional insights into San Joaquin County's mining history via e-mail sent to leighjohnsen@sanjoaquinhistory.org or comments attached to this blog entry.

1 comment to Mining in San Joaquin County

  • admin

    With his permission, I’m posting a comment from Bob Shellenberger, who cautions me that the following observations are “off the top of his head.”

    Hi Leigh,

    I admit that I have never thought about mining in our county either! Your blog got me to thinking.

    I am pretty sure I remember gold dredging refuse in the Mokelumne near the bridge at Clements. I guess that was the down-steam limit for finding gold.

    Carnegie is obvious. But more coal was found further up Corral Hollow canyon at Tesla in Alameda County. A road was built down the canyon into our county and on to the former town of Wickland, that was the shipping point. Wickland was later abandoned and coal was sent to Ellis to be used/shipped by R.R. (Ellis soon died as operations moved to the new town of Tracy). This coal source led to the forming of a briquette factory in Stockton. It was the first successful briquette factory in the U.S. The briquettes greatly improved the quality of the coal and became popular for home use at the time (around 1900, I think).

    A big item is (or was) natural gas. There were huge fields in the Delta, particularly Union Island and Roberts Island, but they are depleted now. One depleted field was used as storage at one time. Maybe it still is.

    Of course, there is still sand and gravel. Not a sexy subject.

    That’s from the top of my head. But mining is an interesting thought……..

    Bob Shellenberger

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