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(NOTE: This publication regarding Oregon and Washington will be presented here until the Oregon and Washington state sections of our web site are completed some day. Peggy B. Perazzo)

By N. H. Darton


“The rapid growth of cities in Oregon and Washington has caused great demand in these states for structural materials of all kinds, and although some of these materials are locally abundant and satisfactory others have to be brought from great distances. Common bricks, which form the principal component of most buildings, are made in the vicinity of all the cities, even within the city limits, and the supply of suitable loam is very great. Gravel and sand for concrete and sand for mortar are obtained in large quantities in the immediate vicinity of the cities. Cement, however, which is so extensively used in concrete, is produced at only one place in the two states, and most of that used is brought from distant points, much of it being imported from England, Germany, Belgium, and Japan. Building stones are hauled many miles, especially the kinds used for interior decorations, most of which are shipped across the continent. Highclass brick, terra cotta, lime, plaster, and many other building materials used in this

“Yet the cost of most supplies that are now brought from distant places can be reduced by utilizing the local resources of Washington and Oregon. Limestone is available in ample supply for cement manufacture; building stones, even to finest marbles, exist in some of the mountains, and extensive deposits of clay, sands, and other building materials occur at many localities near the coast.

“The investigation on which this report is based was intended mainly to ascertain the local resources of the gravel, sand and crushed rock used in concrete in Portland, Seattle, and Tacoma. Representative samples of these materials were also obtained to be tested in the St. Louis laboratories of the United States Geological Survey. considerable attention was given to the occurrence of limestone suitable for the manufacture of cement, and many localities were visited in that connection. The building stones of Washington have been treated extensively in a report by Prof. Solon Shedd, published by the State Geological Survey. The demand for building materials in the northwest is well indicated by the fact that in 1906 building operations in Seattle represented an expenditure of $11,920,438 for labor and materials and in 1907 an expenditure of $13,577,700. In Portland the amount in 1906 was $6,927,971 and in 1907 it increased to $9,446,982. The following publications give information regarding building materials available in the region treated in this report: Ann. Rept. Washington Geol. Survey, Vol. 1, 1901; Vol. 2, 1902. The latter includes a report on building stone by S. Shedd. Geol. Atlas U.S., Tacoma Folio (No. 54), by B. Willis and G. O. Smith; Ellensburg Folio (No. 86), by G. O. Smith and F. C. Calkins; Mount Stuart Folio (No. 106), by G. O. Smith; Roseburg Folio (No. 49), by J. S. ”

Building Stone - Oregon

“While a large amount of building stone is used in Portland, an exceedingly small proportion of it is obtained in the vicinity of the city. The basalt and andesite of the region have furnished material for a few buildings, but this was mostly in years past, supplies nowadays being shipped by rail and in small part by water from neighboring states. One of the materials most extensively used is the dark greenish-gray sandstone from Tenino, Wash., but various other sandstones, granite, and limestones are employed. Most of the granite has been brought from long distances. The Custom-house in Portland is built mostly of granite from the quarries in Snake River, 30 miles below Lewiston, Wash.

“The black basalt constituting the greater portion of the highland west of Portland has been utilized for a few buildings in Portland and for many walls and foundations. It is of great hardness and toughness, especially when rock free from ‘honeycomb’ is selected, and it can be obtained at moderate cost, especially as a partial product from quarries worked mainly for road metal. Its dark color and difficulty in dressing it appear to be the principal objections to its use. The gray basalt of Rocky Butte has been used to some extent in foundation work and to a small extent in building. Lately the demand for it has increased and some small quarries are being opened in the east side of the butte. The rock has a pleasing gray color, is not difficult to dress, and is of great durability. Much of it can be easily ”

Building Stone - Washington

“Practically all the building stone used in Seattle and Tacoma is brought from distant points, some of which are, however, in the state of Washington. Large bowlders in the glacial till afford material for walls and foundations, and a few private houses have been built of them. The only ‘ledge rocks’ occurring near the cities are the andesite, 2 miles south of South Seattle, and some beds of sandstone in the lower part of South Seattle. These have been used to a very small extent for foundations and do not offer any promise of being utilized extensively as building stones.”

Cement Materials in Washington - Limestone

“Limestone suitable for cement is known to occur at various localities in the State of Washington, but only the deposit in Skagit County is utilized for cement manufacture. Many of the limestone bodies occur far off the main lines of travel and some of them are not sufficiently pure for cement. Doubtless when the geology of the state is completely explored numerous additional localities will be discovered. Many of the following descriptions of known occurrences are condensed from a report by Prof. Henry Landes.

San Juan County - The principal deposits of limestone in San Juan County are on San Juan and Orcas Islands at or near tide-water level. On San Juan Island the rock has been extensively worked and burned into lime at Roche Harbor, furnishing the principal supplies for the northwest coast...It appears in two large ledges which extend north and south from Roche Harbor to Westcott Bay, a distance of about one-half mile. The width of outcrop from east to west is about 1,000 feet and the ledges rise 200 feet in the slopes. The rock is considerably shattered and mostly bare, so that it is easily quarried. The quarry, which has been in operation since 1882, produces about 300,000 barrels of lime a year....”

“The limestone of Orcas Island outcrops on several points on the northwest shore of the island near East Sound and Deer Harbor, and while the rock is a marble similar to that at Roche Harbor its area is less. It has been burned to lime to a small extent and ”

Stevens County - Extensive bodies of marble and limestone occur in Stevens County, mostly north of latitude 48. At the south the rock is in isolated masses among granites, quartzites, and other rocks, but farther north the deposits increase in extent, and near the northern edge of the county the limestone occupies a large area In the southern part of the area the rock appears in the valleys or foothills, while to the north it is in the high slopes. Much so-called marble occurs along the foothills and ridges bordering Colville Valley from about Valley Brook northward, but it is dolomite or magnesite. The deposits about Valley and Chewelah are highly magnesian, and some of them are nearly pure carbonate of magnesia.

“Some of the marble deposits in the Colville region consist of 94 to 99 per cent of carbonate of lime and but little carbonate of magnesia. One of them is worked by the Jefferson Company in quarries 15 miles northeast of Colville. The deposits are very large, and the rock varies in color from dark blue to white.

“The extensive marble deposits worked by the Crystal Marble Company about 7 miles southwest of Colville are dolomites containing over 20 per cent magnesia.

“The marbles of the Keystone Company are about 16 miles north and a little east of Colville, in the foothills of the western slope of the Pend Oreille Mountains and at the headwaters of Clugston Creek. The deposits are large and vary considerably in color, ranging from almost pure white to almost black. The marble shows but little stratification and trends almost due north and south. There is an alternation of shale, slate, limestone, and ”

“The marble deposit of the Colville Company is on the north fork of North Creek about 16 miles northeast of Colville and from 898 to 1,398 feet about the altitude of that town. Limestones, marbles, and slates alternate, but near the old mill site a drill hole 1,100 feet deep is said to have been in limestone for the ”

“Several deposits of marble occur in sec. 13, T. 38, R. 37, 2 miles or more west of Bossburg in the slopes west of Columbia River. They are from 600 to 800 feet above the river. The beds are ”

“The marble appears again in a bluff a mile north of Ryan, the next station north of Bossburg, and in similar bluffs in the opposite side of Columbia River....in most portions of the region in which these marbles occur there are extensive deposits of clay and large bodies of shale or schist suitable for cement manufacture.

“At Box Canyon, on Pend Oreille River, there are large deposits of very high grade limestone and also argillaceous limestone, both suitable for cement manufacture...the Pacific Portland Company, which has been organized to manufacture cement at this locality, plans to utilize a water power developed by damming Cedar Creek. the plant is 45 miles from Newport, on the Great Northern Railway, but the place can be reached by river ”

Skagit County - A thick mass of white crystalline limestone is included in the metamorphic series on the east side of Baker River about three-fourths mile from the junction of that stream with Skagit River. The rock lies against slate, and the beds dip to the southwest at an angle of almost 55. The outcrop is nearly one-eighth mile long and averages 160 feet wide. It extends still farther underground and will afford a very large supply....”

Whatcom County - Limestone occurs at a number of localities in the vicinity of Kendall, on the line of the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia Railway. North of the railroad at a point about 3 miles from Kendall there is a high bluff of white marble which is conspicuous for some distance. It is included in an extensive metamorphic series of slates and other rocks, which is greatly folded and crushed...Several smaller outcrops appear south of the railroad. A few miles west of the limestone and along the railroad are beds of glacial clay known to be at least 50 feet thick, and this or the slate could be used with the limestone in making cement....”

Ferry County - The principal rocks in Ferry County consist of a metamorphic series of limestones, slates, and quartzites cut by granites and other igneous rocks. The largest limestone deposit occurs a narrow belt extending north and south across the county along the west fork of the granite divide which separates Columbia and Kettle rivers from the drainage to the west. A large outcrop a few miles west of Columbia is worked for a limekiln which produces high-grade lime. The rock is of bluish color, compact, and hard....”

Snohomish County - Crystalline limestone occurs at a number of places in the eastern half of Snohomish County as a member of an extensive metamorphic series. It has been quarried at a point on the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway 3 miles east of Granite Falls; part of it has been used in the smelter at Everett and part burned into lime....”

King County - Crystalline limestones constitute a portion of the metamorphic series of King County...Outcrops are known in the vicinity of Snoqualmie Pass and at several points along the Great Northern Railway, notably in the region of Baring....”

Okanogan County - A large amount of crystalline limestone occurs in the metamorphic series in the northern portion of this county. The largest areas are west and northwest of Riverside, where some of the outcrops rise in conspicuous cliffs. One of these is on the east slope of Palmer Mountain, where the rock is light gray in color and only partly crystalline....”

Pacific County - Limestone has been reported from several localities in this county, but apparently the deposits are not of sufficiently large size to be of importance....”

Kittitas County - In western Kittitas County small lenses of limestone are included in the Peshastin formation, which outcrops on the mountain slopes 10 to 15 miles southeast of Easton, on the Northern Pacific Railway near the head of North Fork of Taneum Creek and South Fork of Manastash Creek. They are too small and too far from lines of transportation to be of value.”

Chelan County - In the high mountain ridges of southern Chelan County are areas of Peshastin formation which carry small lenses of limestone, but they are too small to be of value.”

Limestone in Oregon

“Occurrences of limestone in Oregon are widely separated, but deposits of large size are found in the southwestern and northeastern portions of the state. When geologic investigations are more widely extended doubtless many bodies of limestone will be brought to light and additional data obtained regarding deposits....”

Jackson County - Limestones occur at various localities near Goldhill station on Rogue River, and some of them have been burned for lime for local supply and also shipped to Portland...The rock is in lenses of various sizes included in schist dipping steeply to the northwest. The largest mass, about 1 1/2 miles southwest of the station, is not more than 200 yards long and 30 feet thick...Other smaller masses are in the ridge north of the station and in the slopes south of the river. A moderately large deposit appears near Rockpoint, 3 miles west of Goldhill, on the north side of Rogue River. It is cut by dikes....”

“Limestone of similar character and conditions of occurrence appears at intervals in the valley of Applegate Creek, and it has been burned for lime at one or two points. it also appears in small bodies on the foot of the ridge west of Phoenix, or about 5 miles ”

Josephine County - Limestone occurs in large deposits in the southeastern portion of Josephine County and it is in this rock that the celebrated ‘Oregon caves’ are developed. Some lime and building stone have been produced, but no data are on record as to the conditions of occurrence or composition of the deposits. Steamboat, Sucker, and Williams creeks ”

Baker County - Baker County, which is in northeastern Oregon, contains a number of large bodies of limestone, some of which have been extensively utilized for lime. One thick deposit crosses Burnt River canyon 3 miles above Huntington. The beds are several hundred feet across and upturned so that they dip to the northwest at a high angle. They are exposed in large quarries on the east side of the river and thence extend eastward for some distance across the high ridge between Burnt and Snake rivers, but they do not appear to reach the latter river. Another thick mass of similar limestone outcrops west of Conner Creek 15 miles north of Huntington. The limestone quarried near Huntington is remarkably pure, carrying less than 1 per cent of silica, alumina, and iron....”

“A body of limestone with croppings several hundred feet wide extends along the ridge south of Burnt river 6 miles southwest of Curkee and smaller masses occur a short distance south and east of the large one. Another small mass appears in the east Bank of Burnt river 3 miles below Durkee. Two small outcrops are known 2 miles northeast of Pleasant Valley and another occurs 3 miles southeast of Baker. These all appear to be small lenses.

“A large amount of limestone is included in the triassic series on Eagle creek, especially on its east branch, about 25 ”

“An outcrop of crystaline limestone of good quality occurs in the argillite half a mile north of Sumpter. It could not be traced far either way in the direction of the strike of rocks...the outcrop is 10 to 15 feet across, and a small quantity was quarried for a smelter that was in operation for a short time during 1900.

“At Winterville, 40 miles southwest of Sumpter, a stratum of ”

“In the Copper Butte mining district, 18 miles northwest of Baker City, several masses of limestone occur....one of the largest of them outcrops a mile northwest of Table Mountain, and is called the Big Lime Dike. It is at least 600 feet long and 100 feet ”

“In the Snake River Canyon below the mouth of Cedar Creek southwest of the Seven Devils, 80 miles from Baker, the older rocks appear from under the lava and among them are bluish-gray limestones of supposed triassic age. 'on the Kleinschmidt grade 2 miles west of Huntley's Ranch limestone and shale crop with northerly strike at an elevation of 3,800 feet; more limestone is found northwest of this place in lime peak gulch; finally a heavy mass of limestone crosses Snake River between Spring Gulch ”

Polk County - About 3 miles west of Dallas are extensive exposures of an impure limestone which is quarried for building stone....”

Douglas County - In the sandstones and shales of the Shasta series ('Myrtle formation') south and southeast of Roseburg are a number of lens-shaped masses of limestone...they occur at intervals along the ridge and slopes extending northeast from Umpqua River nearly to the head of the north fork of Deer Creek. The limestone is a massive gray rock, and as it has yielded satisfactory lime at several localities it is probably of good quality....”

Clackamas County - Five miles east of Monitor, a post-office in Marion County, is a ledge of impure limestone which has been traced at intervals for 12 miles.”

Wallowa County - Very extensive deposits of limestone are reported in Wallowa County. At Lostine quarries produce rock which is burned into lime....”

Photographs of Quarries

Thumbnail Dredge Raising Concrete on Willamette RiverDredge used for raising concrete gravel from bed of Willamette River at Portland, Oregon.

Gravel on Cornell Road in Northwest Part of Portland, OregonGravel on Cornell Road, in northwest part of Portland, Oregon.

Gravel and Sand on East Bank of WillametteGravel and sand on east bank of Willamette River, Portland, Oregon.

Gravel Pit in Southern Part of Tacoma, WashingtonGravel pit in Southern part of Tacoma, Washington.

Temporary Gravel and Sand Pit Near Seattle, WashingtonTemporary gravel and sand pit, with screen, washer, and bin, Boren Avenue, near Pike Street, Seattle, Washington.

Upper Quarry, Crusher and Loading Incline by Columbia RiverUpper Quarry, crusher, and loading incline, south bank of Columbia River, near St. Helens, Oregon.

Quarry Near Fishers Landing, Columbia RiverQuarry near Fishers Landing, Columbia River, Washington

Clay Pit at Russell Laning Near Vancouver, WashingtonClay pit at Russell Landing, 4 miles above Vancouver, Washington (terra-cotta clay; brick loam).

Gravel Pit , Screens, Washer and Bins, Steilacoom, WashingtonGravel pit, screens, washer, and bins, Steilacoom, Washington

Quarry Near St. Helens OregonILower Quarry Near St. Helens, Oreg. In Anoesite used for paving blocks and crushed rock.

Maps Showing Structural Material Deposits

1908 Showing Structural Materials in Portland, Oregon AreaPhotograph of 1908 map of Portland Oregon and vicinity showing distribution of structural materials. (Note: Link to this map is 488KB )

Map of Washington and Oregon Showing Limestone DepositsMap of Washington and Oregon, showing distribution of Limestone (from Structural Materials in Parts of Oregon and Washington, Bulletin 387, 1909.)

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