Sunday, November 25, 2007

Diamond in the wild

Cool weather was just the ticket for a hike to burn off some of the Thanksgiving feast calories. Looking for an easy hike with lots of photo opportunities close by we settled on a trip to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch.

Once the site of five towns serving coal and sandstone mining operations the buildings and homes have vanished into the history books leaving a network of tunnels their only legacy along with a cemetery to mark the miners and their families.
A unique feature of the site if the visitor center is in a section of sandstone mine as visitors walk the dark tunnel to a center chamber. The roof is covered with the soot from bonfires lit during parties in the 1950’s.

Our hike took us to the top of a hill to view the Rose Hill Cemetery. Crumbling headstones and dozens of unmarked graves told the tale of immigrant workers who died from the hard life in the coal tunnels. Graves of families buried together showed the ravages of epidemics that swept through the mining towns before the turn of the century.

On the trail the Black Diamond Mines preserve is a beautiful sight. Soil pigmented from the ore in the ground gave us a carpet of orange as we admired the rock formations in the hills around us. Berries glistened on the trees just off the trail as fall color still paint the trees and grasslands.

I couldn’t think of a nicer way to start the final push to the New Year than with a nice quiet hike. We will be heading back to the preserve to explore more of the tunnels and sights with hikes next year for sure.


Cheri said...

Beautiful photos. Count me in next time you go!

Care said...

Me too!! Mid-March or early June, perhaps. I just get a hankerin' to join you two.

Fascinating stories, Glenn. Can you imagine the stories behind each of those gravestones? Even the soot-covered roof tells the tale of miners letting off steam in the 50's. Amazing.

My cure for the common calorie: Biking