The East Bay Regional Park District has completed an underground stairway and safety improvements at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, allowing for a new and longer underground tour of Hazel-Atlas Mine. Increased public access and safety were the goals.
“The new stairway will help improve visitor experiences and help even more school-age children tour the mines,” said Park District Board Director Colin Coffey. “The tour is a great way for children to learn about coal and silica-sand mining, as well as local mining history.”
“Black Diamond Mines serves 257 class field trips each year,” added Coffey.
The new stairway makes it possible for visitors to complete a full loop from the Hazel-Atlas Mine entrance to the Greathouse Visitor Center, an underground mine museum open to all ages. Before, visitors would have to stop after 1,000 feet and backtrack to exit the mine tour, then enter the museum through a separate entrance. Most of the funding for the $2.2 million project came from Measure WW and the District’s Major Infrastructure and Replacement Fund.
Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is a 6,069-acre park in the Mt. Diablo foothills which was once home to a rich mining industry. Millions of tons of coal, and later sand, were mined from the area from the 1860s to the late 1940s. The East Bay Regional Park District maintains and offers tours of the Hazel-Atlas Mine, which once supplied sand to the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company of Oakland. A museum and visitor center includes artifacts, old photographs and displays about the lives of local miners and the history of mining in the area.
The renovations also cleared space for a new immersive exhibit on local mining history that is expected to open this fall.
Tours are available weekends March through November for $5 with advance reservations available. Reserve tickets online at www.ebparks.org or call 1 888-327-2757. For safety reasons, tour participants must be 7 years or older. First-come, first-serve tours are also available.