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Harrisville was located in Arroyo Seco Canyon, 6 miles east of Livermore and one mile west of Tesla
in Alameda County, California.
Coal was discovered here in 1862 by Thomas Harris and Jenkin Richards, who opened the Cambrian mine
at the western edge of the district. Three coal seams were mined ranging from 3 feet to 6 feet in
thickness. From 1862 to 1907, ten coal mines at Harrisville had produced over 8,000 tons of coal.
The coal was transported to Livermore by wagons and sold for $4 to $6 per ton. What wasn't consumed
in Livermore was shipped by rail to other cities as far away as Sacramento.
When the Livermore coal mine opened in 1874, Thomas Harris was the mine superintendent. The
Livermore Coal Mining Company established a mining camp for the 100 miners and families on the
banks of Arroyo Seco Creek and in Harris Canyon. The camp of mostly Welsh miners was named
in honor of Thomas Harris, an experienced coal miner from Wales. The camp consisted of mine offices,
coal bunkers, a boardinghouse, Graham Hotel and store, two saloons, blacksmith shop, carpenter's shop,
livery stables, family cabins, and Harris School, attended by 30 children. The Fashion Livery Stables
in Livermore ran a daily stage to the camp. Several attempts to connect a railroad to Livermore had failed,
which in the end spelled doom for the Livermore coal mines when the muddy road prevented them from
delivering the coal.
Remnants of the Livermore coal mine, which operated from 1874 to 1876, by Tesla Road.
In 1876, the Summit coal mine was opened by Jenkin Richards. This was a horizontal underground mine that
followed the six-foot thick coal seam to the east and west for about 600 feet. The Summit coal seam was the
best quality coal in the district and was hard enough to require blasting for its removal. An estimated
220,000 tons of coal was in sight. But Richards took out a total of only 1,800 tons, making it the largest
coal mine at Harrisville.
Site of Harrisville mining camp on Tesla Road.
Site of the boardinghouse, Jenkins' Saloon, and Graham Hotel and Store at Harrisville.
Harris Canyon was the site of miner's cabins, Harris School, and a few coal mines.
In the late 1880s, William T. Coleman, who had acquired the Summit coal mine, was just beginning to
reopen the closed mine and build a new railroad to the San Joaquin River, when his borax mine at Death
Valley and mercantile business in San Francisco had failed. John Treadwell, who was quietly acquiring
the coal properties in Corral Hollow, bought the Summit mine and railroad rights from Coleman. Treadwell
also purchased the Livermore coal mine and all of the smaller mines at Harrisville. The Harrisville
miners were transferred to Treadwell's new coal mine at Tesla. Harrisville then became a suburb of the
Tesla mining camp.
Remnants of the Summit coal mine, which operated from 1876 to 1877, was the largest mine at Harrisville.
Thomas Harris left to open a coal mine in Orange County, California, where he died in 1900. Jenkin Richards
remained at Harrisville and worked as a contract miner at Tesla until his death in 1904. After the Tesla mines
shut down in 1911, Harrisville became the focus of clay mining when rich kaolin deposits were found adjacent
to the coal beds. Clay mining by the Livermore Clay and Sand Company and others continued into the late 1920s,
when local brick manufacturers were accepting their clay. Like at Tesla, mining was eventually replaced by
cattle ranching and the mines fell into disrepair.
Remnants of the Pen Daren coal mine, which operated from 1879 to 1880.
Information for this web page comes from my book Harrisville and the Livermore Coal Mines, first edition
of which is long out-of-print. Check for used copies that may be available for sale in used bookstores. Copies
may periodically be available on Amazon.com (see link below). A digital-only second edition of this book
is in the works and plans to be available in the near future.
Remnants of the Livermore Clay and Sand Mining Company quarry from the 1920s.
Clay adit that was still open on the north side of Tesla Road as late as the 1970s.
Mosier, Dan L., Harrisville and the Livermore Coal Mines, Mines Road Books, San Leandro, CA, 1978.
Email Dan L. Mosier: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2014 Dan L. Mosier