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From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments

California Quarries that Supplied Stone for Yolo County, the Sacramento Area, and the San Francisco Bay Area (Continued)


Rocklin Quarry, Placer County, California

In Placer County, there are the well-known Rocklin and Penryn granite quarries. The Rocklin granite quarries were first opened about 1861. The Big Gun granite quarry is located behind the Rocklin City Hall building, and you can see it today.

Big Gun Granite Quarry located behind the Rocklin City Hall in Rocklin, Placer County, California

Big Gun Granite Quarry located behind the Rocklin City Hall in Rocklin

The following quotation is from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, 1906.

“Rocklin is the principal granite-producing point in the Sacramento valley. The first quarry was opened in 1863, and the stone was used in construction work on the Southern (then Central) Pacific Railroad. Brigham & Hawes operated the same quarry later and took out stone for the State Capitol at Sacramento. This quarry, after changing hands several times, came into possession of Degan & Brady, who took out the stone for the Hibernia Bank and the Crocker Building, San Francisco, since the completion of which this quarry has been idle.* (* Historical information furnished by A. W. Grindell of Rocklin.)

“The Rocklin quarries are comparatively close together. They occur on an area probably less than a mile square, on a gently rolling plain, which borders the railway and extends from 1 to 2 miles on each side to the bottom of a bluff 200 feet or more in height, which marks the border of the upland mesa.

“In most places over the quarry area the granite occurs at the surface. In some places there is a very light soil-covering, and in others the surface is covered with huge residual boulders. The stripping is very slight over the entire area.

“In going northward through Penryn and Newcastle, the Rocklin plain becomes narrower and gradually disappears in the low rounded granite hills, which become higher and more rugged as one follows the railway north and east of the Sierras.

“The granite area is many miles in length and width, but the quarries above mentioned are the only ones in the area in Placer County that have more than local importance.

“The Rocklin stone is a biotite granite, bordering on monzonite. It contains some plagioclase and a little augite, but the prevailing feldspar is orthoclase, and biotite is in excess of muscovite. Some of the orthoclase shows a zonal structure and other portions show partial disintegration, most marked in the central portions of the crystals. In places on the weathered surfaces the biotite is partially disintegrated.

“There are fifteen quarries in operation (August, 1904), and several others idle. Most of the quarries are small, employing from 3 to 10 men. The largest quarry is working 33 men, but at times employs as many as 50. Most of the small quarries are operated by Finns, Russians, and Italians. The following is a list of the operators in August, 1904, as nearly correct as could be obtained. Some of the men speak very broken English, if any at all, and a few of the names may not be spelled correctly:

“(1) The Rocklin Granite Company, I. L. Delano, president, Builders’ Exchange, 106 Jessie street, San Francisco; (2) Adolph Penru; (3) August Martin & Co.; (4) Band Granite Company; (5) Nikolai Naykki; (6) John Pisili; (7) Holowen & Co.; (8) A. O. Wickman; (9) John Kannasta; (10) Henry Hebuck Granite Company; (11) Pete Johnson; (12) Matt Johnson; (13) Oskar Kesti; (14) John Mantyla; and (15) Janhiala Company.

“Nos. 1 (the Rocklin Granite Co.) and 14 (John Mantyla) are the largest quarries. The Allen quarry, owned by Myers, now idle, has been quite productive in the past….”

“Much of the work in the different quarries is done by hand. The larger quarries are supplied with steam drills and surfacing and polishing machines, but in the smaller quarries the drilling, surfacing, and polishing are done by hand. There are nineteen steam-power derricks, mostly at the larger quarries, and fourteen horse-power derricks used at the smaller quarries. Blasting is carried on to some extent, but most of the stone is split with wedges, or by use of plugs and feathers. Each of the quarries has a railway spur to the quarry, all connecting with the Southern Pacific Railroad at Rocklin.”

You can clearly see the Quarry Park area located behind the Rocklin City Hall using Google Maps searching for “rocklin california.”

You can also visit the “Rocklin Granite Quarries Visit Photographic Tour” on this web site if you wish to see more photographs of the Big Gun Quarry and the town of Rocklin.

Below are some old photographs of Rocklin quarries. You can learn more about the Rocklin quarries and see more photographs in the “Placer County” section of this web site:

The three photographs below are all granite quarries once located in the Rocklin area; and they are from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, 1906.

Eureka Granite Quarry at Rocklin, Placer County (from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, 1906)

Eureka Granite Quarry at Rocklin, Placer County

Matyla's Granite Quarry, Rocklin, Placer County (from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, 1906)

Matyla’s Granite Quarry, Rocklin, Placer County

Rocklin Granite Company's Quarry, Placer County (from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, 1906)

Rocklin Granite Company’s Quarry, Placer County

The following three photographs are also of granite quarries that were once located in the Rocklin area. They are all from Report XV of the State Mineralogist, Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report Biennial Period 1915-1916, Part III. The Counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yuba, California State Mining Bureau, 1919. Report XV of the State Mineralogist, Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report Biennial Period 1915-1916, Part III., 1919.

California Granite Quarry at Rocklin, Placer County, looking north (from Report XV of the State Mineralogist, Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report Biennial Period 1915-1916, Part III., 1919)

California Granite Quarry at Rocklin, Placer County, looking north

Delano Quarry, east of Rocklin, Placer County, looking southward (from Report XV of the State Mineralogist, Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report Biennial Period 1915-1916, Part III., 1919)

Delano Quarry, east of Rocklin, Placer County, looking southward

Pacific Granite Quarry, one mile southest of Rocklin, Placer County (from Report XV of the State Mineralogist, Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report Biennial Period 1915-1916, Part III., 1919)

Pacific Granite Quarry, one mile southest of Rocklin, Placer County

Granite Quarry near Rocklin, Placer County, California (colorized postcard photo)

Granite Quarry near Rocklin, Placer County (colorized postcard photo)


Penryn Granite Quarry (G. Griffith), Placer County, California

The following quotation is from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, California, State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1906.

The Griffith Quarries and Polishing Works. Sec. 35, T. 11 N., R. 7 E., M. D. M. David Griffith, Penryn, owner. This is one of the pioneer granite quarries of the State. Mr. David Griffith formerly worked in the famous slate quarries in Penrhyn,* Wales. He quarried granite at Folsom, but in 1864 he came to Penryn,* which he named after his Welsh home. Here he remained, and he and his descendants have quarried granite from that time until the present (about 1906). David Griffith, a nephew of the first quarryman, now has charge of the business. The quarry was opened about the time of the Central Pacific Railroad was being constructed in this region, and Penryn stone was used in the construction work on this line. Many Government contracts were filled in former years, and at times there have been 200 men or more employed in these quarries, although at present there is less than a score. (* Footnote: The h was dropped from the name of the California town by decree of court a few years ago.)

“The stone is a dark gray biotite granite, rather uniform in color, but varying somewhat in texture in the different quarry openings. The only variation in color is the occasional occurrence of a dark blotch where the biotite crystals have segregated into a small irregular mass in a partially glassy groundmass. Care in selection the stone avoids the occurrence of any of these blotches on the exposed faces of stone in use.”

The photographs below are from the introduction to “The Penryn Granite Quarry Visit Walks Through Griffith Granite Quarry” & the photographs of the Griffith Granite Quarry taken in 1997 and 2000. Visit these two links to view the rest of the photographs of the quarry area.

Plaque at Griffith Quarry in Penryn, Placer County, California

Plaque at Griffith Quarry in Penryn, Placer County

Display board near the Griffith Quarry Museum showing sketch of Griffith Quarry, Penryn, Placer County, California

Display board near the Griffith Quarry Museum showing sketch of Griffith Quarry at Penryn

Display board near the Griffith Quarry Museum showing sketch of Griffith Quarry, Penryn, Placer County, California

Display board near the Griffith Quarry Museum showing sketch of Griffith Quarry, Penryn, Placer County

Portion of the Penryn Quarry walk, Penry, California

Portion of the Penryn Quarry walk, Penryn

Portion of the Penryn Quarry walk, Penryn, California

Portion of the Penryn Quarry walk, Penryn

Granite rock located on the Griffith Quarry park, Penryn, Placer County, California

Granite rock located on the Griffith Quarry park, Penryn

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