Photos by Tristan Savatier
New Idria is a ghost town located in a remote area of the Diablo Range of California, outside of Hollister. It was once a center for mercury (quick silver) and asbestos mining. New Idria was at its peak well before the Gold Rush in California of the 1840s and 60s. There are still high levels of mercury and asbestos polution in the area.
If you don't mind ignoring all the No Trespasing posted signs, you can visit an amazing mercury smelter with four large Gould rotary furnances. This smelter was abandoned in the 1970's. All those photos were taken in May 2004.
It is not recommended to drink the bright orange water from the streams in this area, but cattle don't have problems grazing in the nearby fields. Scary! The orange color is said to be iron oxide, not toxic mercury oxide.
Equipment used: Sony DSC F828 (8 Mega-pixel) with 4GB Microdrive.
For more information you can visit the New Idria Preservation Project (www.new-idria.org).
UPDATE: New Idria is now inaccessible! As of May 2008, approximately 31,000 acres of the Clear Creek Management Area, which includes New Idria, has been CLOSED by order of the Bureau of Land Management, with official reason stating the danger of the naturally-occurring asbestos in the soil. The road leading to New Idria is gated and locked approximately one mile from the townsite, and area is being patrolled by state officials - they will arrest or cite you for trespassing. You can find out more information at www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/hollister/clear_creek_management_... for the most up-to-date news and information.
If you are also interested by urban exploration, i.e. exploring disused buildings and factories, abandoned tunnels, etc, check out www.urban-resources.net, an excellent database of photography books and other resources on this subject.