Black Diamond Mine: Hazel Atlas Mine Tour

Saturday, March 5, 2016

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*Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve was the site of California’s most productive coal field and was a major source of glass-making and foundry sands. The Hazel-Atlas silica sand mine has been restored as a mining museum and visitor center.

*From the mid 1850s to the early 1900s, a dozen mines supplied nearly four million tons of coal to the rapidly expanding urban and industrial centers of the San Francisco Bay Area. Rising production costs and the advent of oil as an energy source eventually ended production and turned five mining communities into ghost towns. Later, from the 1920s through the late 1940s, silica-rich sand was mined by the HazelAtlas Glass Company for the production of glass products and by the Roberts Sand Company for use in the Columbia Steel foundry. The museum and visitor center in Hazel-Atlas Mine help preserve the history of these important mining operations.

*From the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s, the Hazel-Atlas Mine produced silica sand to make jars, bottles, and other glass items. Today, tour participants can take a 950-foot walk into the mine to see mine workings, ore chutes, the shifter’s office (mine boss), and ancient geological features. Because of its size and the need for safety, visitors will be taken in only on guided tours, with a limit of 15 persons per tour (minimum age seven years, parental participation is required).

Black Diamond Mine Regional Preserve.

Walk up towards Somersville Townsite and follow the signs to Hazel-Atlas Mine.

*A 950-foot section of Hazel-Atlas Mine has been restored to appear as it did when the mine was active.

*On a guided walk, visitors see mining methods, equipment, and tools typical of the 1940s.

*Plant and animal fossils (ghost shrimp) in the tunnel walls provide evidence of the area’s climate and appearance 50 million years ago.

*Sand and coal deposits-ancient geological features.

*The shifter’s office (mine boss).

*Ore chutes-mine workings.

Extended mine area:

Excavation chamber areas:

Emergency evacuation stairs to exit mine:

Exit Hazel-Atlas Mine:

*Greathouse Visitor Center is located in an underground room excavated by the silica-sand miners in the mid- 1920s. Displays interpret the area’s mining, cultural, and geologic history. General park information, maps, brochures, and souvenirs are also available. The visitor center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and some holidays from March through November. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

Follow signs to Greathouse Visitor Center:

Greathouse Visitor Center:

Displays & photographs:


*Hazel Atlas Mine Tours Brochure

This is a fun rainy day activity. Kids would love to wear the hard hat and walk around with a flashlight through the mining tunnels! Mark your calendar and take advantage of the following free admission dates:

FREE ADMISSION from Noon to 4:30 PM. Self-guided tours with volunteer docents on hand.
Must be age 7 or older

Sun: May 8, 2016
Sat: July 9, 2016
Sat: Sept. 17, 2016
Sun: Nov. 20, 2016

Weekend tours are available for the general public from March through November. Reservations are highly recommended. Weekday programs are available for organizations and school groups (minimum 10 participants). Reservations are required. Tickets for the noon and 3 p.m. first-come/firstserved mine tours can be purchased on Saturdays and Sundays from March–November at Greathouse Visitor Center.

Make reservations:
Weekend programs can be arranged with VISA or MasterCard by calling: 1-888-EBPARKS or by visiting Weekday programs can be arranged by calling 510-544-2750.

For safety reasons, children under 7 years old are not permitted on the mine tour

Wear clothing suitable for underground temperatures of 56°F. Hard hats and flashlights will be provided.

Dogs are welcome in Greathouse Visitor Center but must be on a leash. Dogs are not allowed on mine tours.

Take HWY 4 to the Somersville Road exit in Antioch. Drive south on Somersville Road (into the hills) to the parking lot at the end of the road. $5 parking fee on weekends-Holidays


  1. Absolutely fascinating! Thanks for sharing this latest blog. The history of this mine as well as the fossils found there are incredible.


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