That was the rallying cry from the foothills of Mount Diablo, where five thriving communities once lived in the 1800s.
Francis Somers and James Cruikshank discovered coal in Mount Diablo on Dec. 22, 1859. The largest towns to come of mining efforts were Somersville, named for Somers, and Nortonville, just a mile apart separated by a hill. At their peak, it is estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 people occupied the area.
Nortonville, named for Noah Norton, was home to the Black Diamond Mine.
Coal was loaded onto train cars at the mine where it traveled 5 miles to New York Landing, now Pittsburg. From there, coal was sold to steamers or went on to power San Francisco. The mine closed for good in 1885 following a fire in 1874 and a fatal shaft explosion in 1876.
Somersville was settled in 1860 and boasted two hotels -- the Scammon and the Pittsburg -- a livery, a bakery, the Carbondale School and numerous societies, including a Temperance Division and Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The mines, which connected to Antioch by rail, were all but shuttered by 1904 but the area experienced a resurgence as a sand mine operation for glassware and steel molds until the late 1940s.
What little remains of these coal towns can be seen at Rose Hill Cemetery. According to newspaper reports, a fever pandemic struck the children of Somersville in 1865 and none were known to have survived.
A former resident of the mines who wrote to "The Knave" recalled the children sang a rhyme "chicken hawk, chicken hawk, carry me to Antioch." It's not likely you'll hear any ghosts singing about chicken hawks, but guided tours are available from the East Bay Regional Park District for those curious about these early pioneers.