The Mining Industry of Pope Valley
Quicksilver mining in the hills northwest of Pope Valley was a
big industry starting in the early 1860's. The first quicksilver
mine was discovered by accident. A fire broke out in the hills, and
Tom Newman, figuring that the animals would come running out of the
woods, took his gun and went out in hopes of killing a dear. While
crossing a burned area he noticed some cinnabar. He contacted J. M.
Hamilton and the Phoenix Mine was opened, named for the
mythological Phoenix bird that rose from the ashes.
This mine proved to be very rich and other mines in the vicinity
were discovered. The Oat Hill Mine was an active producing mine for
more than fifty years, producing more quicksilver than any other
mine in the world. George Fellows located the Aetna Springs
Quicksilver Mine in 1897 which proved rich in ore but excessive
heat in the mine prevented from being worked extensively. In 1877,
Aetna Springs Resort was built becoming a favorite watering spot
and retreat for San Francisco socialites.
Pope Valley Winery was constructed in 1897 from massive timbers
moved down from the Oat Hill Quicksilver Mine.