Sunday, May 10, 2015

Going Underground

Addendum, on Sunday August 2nd, 2015:
In that I am planning a trip to Black Diamond Mines Park for my 55-Alive MeetUp group in September, I am adding the following map of the area that we will be at in the park here:
What follows, below, is from my original posting of this blog, back on May 10th. . . .

Jessica wanted to "go on an adventure" with the boys, Jamie and me for Mothers Day.  She and James chose to take us to the Black Diamond Mines Park, out to the east of my place in Martinez. We all had fun. . .

The area was the home to two coal-mining towns up until the early 1900s.  The coal-mining operations were shut down early in the century, but the particular mine that we went into was started around 1920 to find sandstone for silica to be used in mason-jars produced in Oakland by a glass-making company there. Much of California's fruit and vegetables at that time were sold by "canning" them in those mason jars.  The sandstone mines closed in 1945.  We were told by one of the docents that there is only one, if even that, underground sandstone mine left in North America, open-pit mining being the more modern method currently in use.

One of the towns was on a hillside near the mine we went into:

Somerville's cemetery is the last remaining vestige of that town.  The last burial at the cemetery was in 1954.  The clump of trees in the far distance in this photo are in the cemetery:

The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the residents of the town come back for a reunion picnic there every two or three years.

Anyway, we drove on in. . . .  a long two or three miles, it seemed to me, off the main roads.

Parking lot was filled to overflowing, this being an "Open House" day, just for Mothers Day.

We entered the portal to the mine, and dropped the boys off with James at a small "room" designed for kids under the age of seven (none under that age are permitted into the 'mine proper') to enjoy the coloring books and all kinds of "hands-on" activities for them there, while Jessica and I continued onward and downward.

"Dusty Frank" went crawling all over the fine silica flooring.

While his big brother headed right for the table with the crayons. . . .

And after donning our hard-hats, Jessica and I went on our merry way.

The stops along the way included. . . .

The boss's office, a small "room" not very far from the entrance to the mine:

A huge room where many tunnels converged,

A few mining rail-cars,

The fault-line of the Hazel-Atlas Fault (not very big, and the docent at that point in the mine told us that when it moves it is hardly noticeable underground, but there's a lot of motion above-ground):

The tunnels were huge:

Some of the side-tunnels, that we were not permitted to enter, were still pretty darned big:

Parts of the mine that we were allowed into were a bit narrower than others, but I could still comfortably walk thru them without bumping my head. . . .

In some areas there were lots of reinforcement "rock bolts" holding the walls and ceilings stable. . . .

 Jessica and I got one of the docents to take a photo of us in one section that was shored-up by timber:

After we left the Hazel-Atlas portal we walked a bit more outside to the Visitors Center, located in "the Great Room" of the Greathouse portal.

Another view of the cemetery on the hillside along the way, the group of trees in the center of this picture, just below the high hillcrest.

When we got to the Greathouse portal, Charlie was much-impressed by both the lighting and the echo in the tunnel leading to the Great Room:

Charlie loves places that have echoes, so we all did some yodeling along the way thru the tunnel, both on the way in as well as later, on the way out. . . .

The Great Room made a great place for a Visitors Center:

They had a bas-relief map of the area of the mines (several hundred miles of tunnels) just below this poster:

Some of the glass products made from the silica in the mines:

We weren't allowed in it, but the tunnel beyond the Great Room was enormous.

After we left Greathouse Portal, we moseyed back to the parking lot. . .

Where I noticed a few warnings I had missed on the way in:

But we made it safely to our cars and proceeded back to the main highway. . . .

Hmmm.  What are those little white propellers off-in-the-distance?

Back in civilization. . . .

But I am amazed by the number of windmills across the water, over in Solano County!

Got back to my neighborhood in Martinez a bit later and took Jessica to dinner at Behind The Plate Clubhouse Grill next-door to my place. The boys were overwhelmed by all of the TVs there!

Teddy: "I'll have my usual, Joe. . . ."

We don't let them watch much TV at their home, so this was just stunning to them. . . .  Tho neither CJ nor TJ follow sports very much.

Or maybe they do now. . . .

The food wasn't too bad, either. . . .

So. . . .  That's what I did with Charlie, Teddy and their daddy and MOMMY on this Mothers Day!!

1 comment:

  1. Great photos, Bob. A good Mother's Day Adventure!