Nortonville, California

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Coordinates: 37°57′28″N 121°52′50″W / 37.95778°N 121.88056°W / 37.95778; -121.88056

Nortonville is located in California
Location in California
Nortonville is located in the United States
Nortonville (the United States)
Coordinates: 37°57′28″N 121°52′50″W / 37.95778°N 121.88056°W / 37.95778; -121.88056
CountryUnited States
CountyContra Costa County
Elevation801 ft (244 m)

Nortonville is an unincorporated ghost town in Contra Costa County, California. It was located on Kirker Creek 5.5 miles (9 km) north-northeast of Mount Diablo,[2] at an elevation of 801 feet (244 m).


Nortonville is located on Nortonville Road just outside the city of Pittsburg in Contra Costa County. The town site is now part of the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve


Rose Hill Cemetery, near Nortonville Regional Park, CAPhoto by Heather Grimes, September 30, 2012.

Nortonville was founded by Noah Norton in 1855.[3] He, along with three partners named Cutler, Matheson and Sturgis, started the Black Diamond coal mine at Nortonville in 1860.[4] The mine was incorporated as the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company in June 1861.[5][6]

Nortonville was also the southern terminus of the six mile long Black Diamond Coal Mining Railroad (also known as the "Black Diamond Railroad"), built in 1868.[7] The railroad connected Nortonville with the San Joaquin River, at Black Diamond Landing, California, with a stop at Cornwall, California (the latter two towns are now a part of the city of Pittsburg, California).

The town was home to many Welsh miners.[3] In 1885 the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company moved all the coal miners from Nortonville to another of the Company's mines at Black Diamond, Washington Territory.[3][6] The Nortonville mine was so deep that it acted as a drain for the surrounding mines, and when the owners of the other mines refused to contribute to the cost of pumping out the water, the company simply shut down and moved its operations.[8] Currently what is left behind at Nortonville is a deserted area. The brick foundation of the mine's hoisting works, remnants of the railroad bed, and an old cemetery[3] are all that remain. The cemetery is known as the "Rose Hill Cemetery," which was named for Emma Rose, daughter of Alvinza Hayward, who was president and chief stockholder of the Black Diamond Coal Mining Company.[9] In the 1940s Mrs. Rose donated the cemetery to the county.[9]

Four other coal mining towns were established in the same mining district: Somersville, Stewartsville, West Hartley and Judsonville.[3]

A post office operated at Nortonville from 1874 to 1910, with closures in 1887 and from 1890 to 1891.[2]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Nortonville, California
  2. ^ a b Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. p. 673. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
  3. ^ a b c d e "The move of coal miners from Nortonville, California to Black Diamond, Washington Territory, 1885". Jacqueline Byer Dial, 1980.
  4. ^ "Letter from Contra Costa County," Daily Alta California, Dec. 10, 1860.
  5. ^ "Another Coal Mining Company," Daily Alta California, June 15, 1861.
  6. ^ a b "History; The Company", Retrieved 2011-02-02.
  7. ^ Third Annual Report of the Board of Railroad Commissioners of the State of California for the Years ending December 31, 1880-81-82, pages 345-348.
  8. ^ Bruce Cornwall, "Life Sketch of Pierre Barlow Cornwall," (1906), p. 67.
  9. ^ a b "Rose Hill Cemetery & The Mt. Diablo Coalfield," Diablo Watch, Spring 2005, No. 39.

External links[edit]

Here is Rose Hill Cemetery I shot with my drone in the summer of 2015