Wx4's "Off of the beaten PAST" series:

Antioch Area Coal Mines & Railroads
Circa 1897-99

  • Black Diamond R.R.
  • Pittsburg R.R.
  • Empire Coal Mine R.R.

Click here for a map
of the area today
(click on the map for an enlarged version)
In the latter half of the 19th Century, the hills south of Antioch and east of Mt. Diablo hosted several coal mines served by three small railroads, whose lines are shown in the map above (click on it for a larger view). Exact dating of the above map is tricky, but there are a couple of clues. First, the San Francisco and San Joaquin Valley R.R. line through Pittsburg and Antioch formally became part of the Santa Fe in 1899, Second, the Empire R.R. line is depicted as a "right of way", which indicates that the map was drawn sometime subsequent to the railroad's closing in 1897. The Empire Line was re-opened and expanded in 1900 under a different name (see below), so the map certainly dates before that time.

This one is one of the prizes in the Wx4 collection. As far as anyone knows, this is the only one in existence. We would love to hear from anyone who knows something about these little railroads. Wx4 eMail Address

Black Diamond Railroad
Standard guage; construction begun in 1868; length 5.9 miles; operations ceased in March, 1923. Owner Black Diamond Coal and Railroad Company also had network of 3' mine trackage in Nortonville. Mines closed in 1883.
Pittsburg Railroad Company
Standard gauge; completed 1866; at time of map official name was Pittsburg & Black Diamond Railroad; length 5.33 miles; operations ceased 1911; abandoned 1916.
Empire Railroad Company
Purportedly 26" gauge; began operations 1878; length 6,75 miles; operations mostly ceased 1897; re-organized as Antioch Railroad in 1899, but apparently operated little, if at all; re-organized as common carrier and tourist railroad (!), Mt. Diablo & San Jose Railroad in 1900; extended to Diablo (Blackhawk); total length of 22 miles; grading extended towards Livermore and Bryant's (Orinda); abandoned 1907, due to 1906 Earthquake damage.