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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or comments attached to this blog entry.