Monday, August 17, 2015

Greater East Bay: Antioch, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve


Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve  5175 Somersville Rd., off Hwy. 4, (888) 327-2757 x5, (925) 757-2620.  Daily 8am-dusk; mine tour Mar-Nov Sat-Sun.  $5/vehicle; mine tour $5, must be age 7+; $2/dog.  From 1860 to 1906, when coal mining was a booming business, this area was California’s largest coal-mining operation.  More than half the coal used in the state came from these mines.  Today, bird-watchers can view more than 100 species of birds, and hikers can walk nearly 40 miles of trails winding through wildflowers and groves of almond, black locust, eucalyptus, and pepper trees.  Historic Rose Hill Cemetery is also interesting to visit.  A tour of the Hazel-Atlas Mine takes participants 950 feet into the 57-degrees-cool silica-sand mine.  Sand was mined from the 1920s through 1940s and used to make glass.  Participants are loaned hard hats for this adventure.  Picnic facilities and campsites are available, and naturalist programs are scheduled regularly. 

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