Obscura Society SF: Private Tour of Rose Hill Cemetery & Black Diamond Mines Regional Park - Atlas Obscura
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Anrioch, California

Obscura Society SF: Private Tour of Rose Hill Cemetery & Black Diamond Mines Regional Park

Join tombstone expert Loren Rhoads among the headstones for stories of California’s largest coal mine and its five surrounding ghost towns

Coal was mined on the eastern side of Mount Diablo as early as 1860.  In time, five towns grew up around the mines. Nortonville, the largest, served as home to more than 1000. By the middle of the 20th century, the easy-to-reach coal had been exhausted and the area was abandoned, but for heaps of slag and a graveyard full of stories.

The Rose Hill Cemetery was almost completely obliterated by vandals and the well-meant preservation tactics of the early park rangers. In the 1990s, vandalism intensified after Antoinette May featured the cemetery in Haunted Houses of California. In the last couple of decades, the park staff has reassembled the headstones as if they were puzzles and brought the graveyard back to life.

Guiding us on our exploration will be a historian and naturalist from the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park.

Come early if you'd like to explore and picnic before our tour.


  • Date: Sunday March 23, 2-4pm,
  • Meet at the Upper Parking Lot, the highest point you can drive in the park.
  • Tour starts promptly at 2 pm. Please allow time for parking.
  • Bring water.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking and dress in layers suitable for the potentially warm weather.
  • This is a walking tour, including some steep uneven terrain, and may not be suitable for people with mobility issues.

Space is limited. Advance tickets requested - walk up tickets may not be available.