In 1855, Governor John Bigler announced that coal had been discovered in the State of California. Various coal mines were developed in the Mount Diablo region beginning in 1861, and their production reached a peak between 1867 and 1882. The Brentwood Mine, once located along present day Concord Ave., was established in 1867 by Charles Marsh, the son of John Marsh. However, due to financial difficulties it was sold to Jack Williams, a promoter backed by the Sanford family of New York, in 1872. Williams was a native of Brentwood, Essex, England and is credited for giving Brentwood it's name.
The mine was important locally based on its brief but pivotal role in the establishment of Brentwood as a community. The mines brought laborers, mechanics teamsters, boatsmen and their families. Stores sprang up and shipping flourished. It is believed that 5,000 - 10,000 tons of coal were removed from the mine, however most was used to heat the boilers of the steam engine at the mine itself. Williams planned to expand his coal operation by building a railroad to Marsh Landing and a larger manufacturing center. A wharf extending to deep water was built, expensive mining equipment was ordered, houses were built for employees, and engineers were hired. However, the coal vein was found to be of inferior quality; too narrow and deep in the ground. Furthermore, water flowed into the mine shafts making it impossible to mine the ore. Williams eventually dropped out of sight leaving the Sanford Family to assume his debt.
The "secondary industries" of clay mining and ranching associated with the property were perhaps more important economically than coal production. The coal mine was only productive on and off for about five years, while clay was mined for eighteen and was noted as the major source for pottery and brick works in the county. The clay was layered between the layers of coal and referred to as "bone" because of its whitish color. Most of the clay was used by the Albion Pottery Company in Antioch.
Information adapted from: Historical Research on the Brentwood Coal Mine Site,
Prepared By Michael Paoli & Associates. February 1992 and
Footprints in the Sand, By Kathy Leighton