Flutterby™! : goin' underground

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goin' underground

2005-10-24 15:58:14.993335+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

The weekend before last we needed to get out of town, and the opportunity presented itself. We'd seen the antique car collection in Escalon, so we turned the car east down 120. It turns out Escalon has little more than that, so Saturday morning we headed up to Oakdale and had a perfectly delightful two days hanging out on the banks of the Stanislaus and exploring things like the Oakdale Cowboy Museum.

It was early afternoon on Sunday when we decided to turn back west, and Charlene said "let's take a route we haven't done before". So we discovered route 4, went back along the levees, through the incredible tackyness that is Brentwood, and right before Pittsburg saw a sign for the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. With only a few minutes left 'til closing we wandered up the trail, saw a really cool tarantula got to the entrance of the visitor's center, then had to turn around and leave.

So yesterday we grabbed Forest[Wiki] and went again. The mines were low grade coal in very thin deposits (18"-3') from 1849 to the early 1900s, but then someone discovered the sandstone, and sand was mined for glass up until the end of WWII (when the Marshall Plan rebuilding meant that ships needed ballast coming back from Europe, and that ballast included lots of cheap high grade silica sand for glass).

But there are some remaining really cool holes in the ground, and the terrain out there is kinda nice too. We're going to have to go back without the nephew in tow so we can explore more of the landscape, but for $3 they lend you a hardhat and a helmet and take you into the silica mines. And the visitor's center is one of the tunnels in the mine.

There are miles and miles of this, closed off in the early 1980s after some accidents with carbon monoxide and too many kids caught partying underground, but parts that are open are well lit and regularly checked for safety and pretty cool. And there's another one that's quite a hike from the entrance that's open for a couple of hundred feet in that's "bring your own light" that we'll have to take the off-road tandem and go discover at some point.

[ related topics: Photography Dan's Life Nature and environment Machinery ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-25 01:03:59.602048+00 by: nkane

Great mountain biking out there too (above ground). There are some pretty good loops with several rounds of altitude change, and things can be really pretty the right time of year.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-25 03:15:46.534671+00 by: Dan Lyke

Think we're going to have to take the off-road tandem out there. And, heck, in a few weeks when I've got some time again want to meet up and shred some mud?

#Comment Re: made: 2005-10-26 23:12:26.283382+00 by: nkane

Yes. Yes I do.