The weekend of March 6 and 7 will bring cause for double celebration at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch — the Hazel-Atlas Mine will open for its 2009 season, and a great new pictorial history book about the park will debut.
The area including what is now the regional preserve was the scene of a coal-mining boom during the latter half of the 19th century. Then from the 1920s through 1940s, silica was mined there for use in foundries and glass manufacture.
A portion of the old Hazel-Atlas Sand Mine has been restored as an underground mining museum, with displays of vintage equipment and views of the old mine workings, all on a newly expanded 900-foot underground walk.
From noon to 4 p.m. March 6 and 7, visitors ages 7 and older will be able to take self-guided tours, with park staff stationed along the way to explain the features. Parents must accompany their children. It's a free, drop-in program; no registration is required. For information on the open house, call 925-757-2620 and select option 0.
After the open house, mine tours are scheduled on weekends through fall. The fee is $3 per person; for reservations and information, call 888-EBPARKS (327-2757).
The new book, appropriately titled "Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve," was authored by Traci Parent and Karen Terhune. Drawing on the preserve's extensive collection of historic photographs, the book tells the colorful and sometimes tragic tale of California's coal mining heyday. It will be on sale during the mine open house; both Traci and Karen will be available to sign copies.
Traci is the supervising naturalist at Black Diamond Mines. Her job includes maintaining Black Diamond's historic archives of artifacts, photos, oral histories, and demographic files of former coalfield residents and sand mine employees. Traci is a past president and current director of the Contra Costa Historical Society.
Karen Terhune is a member of the California Writers Club and the Contra Costa County Historical Society.
The book will be sold at the Black Diamond Mines Visitor Center, local bookstores, and Amazon.com. All author proceeds from its sale will be donated to the park in support of the ongoing preservation work at Rose Hill Cemetery.