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Extracts From: California - Mineral Resources of
California Bulletin 191

Extracts from: Mineral Resources of California - Bulletin 191, by H. B. Goldman, California Division of Mines and Geology, San Francisco, California, 1966. (Used with permission of the California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology from Bulletin 191.)

This extract covers the following topics:

California Stone - Dimension

"Dimension stone production is among the oldest and largest of the mineral industries of California; commercial quarries were operated as early as 1854 at Monterey and Point Reyes. Until the early 1900's the production of dimension stone, mainly for use in buildings, paving, and curbing, greatly exceeded that of crushed stone, but, since then, the dimension stone output has dwindled while production of crushed stone has increased many fold. The development of steel-frame buildings, which require comparatively little stone, and the introduction of concrete, which is much less expensive and more conveniently used than stone, combined to cause this decline.

"The term 'dimension stone' is applied to natural stone that is cut to definite size and shape and includes cut, carved, and roughhewn blocks of building stone, paving blocks, curbing, flagging, and cut and polished monumental stone.

"...Rock types quarried in 1965 were granite, light-colored volcanics, siliceous limy shales, mica schist, slate, and quartzite.

"Dimension stone is subdivided by uses into building stone, monumental stone, paving stone, curbing, and flagging. One of the principal uses of dimension stone in any form that constitutes a part of a structure. Whereas building stone formerly was a basic construction material, its present function is largely ornamental. Building stone is marketed as rubble, rough building stone, ashlar, and cut or finished stone."

Granite quarries in the Sierra Nevada Batholith-"The most productive districts have been at Raymond, Madera County; Rocklin, Placer County; and Academy, Fresno County. Smaller areas were active at Folsom, Sacramento County; Porterville, Tulare County; Nevada City, Nevada County; and Susanville, Lassen County. The quarries have been located mainly on low rounded outcrops in the foothill area where the granite was exposed at the surface, or as residual boulders. The periods of greatest activity were 1889-1895, 1903-1905, and 1920-1930.

"The principal source of granite in California has been the Raymond district in Madera County. This district...was active mainly from 1888 to 1943...Granite is quarried from a broad exfoliated dome about 700 feet in diameter. The oldest and most productive of the quarries, that of the Raymond Granite Co., was acquired in 1953 by the Cold Spring Granite Co. of Minnesota and was still active in 1965.

"Granite similar to that quarried at Raymond has been quarried in Placer County from an area that extends from Rocklin to Newcastle...Quarrying has been confined to the gently rolling plain, approximately 6 miles long and 1 to 2 miles wide, that extends from Rocklin to Penryn. In 1965, the Union Granite Co. operated a quarry near Loomis."

Another area where valued granite dimension stone has been quarried "...is in the Sierran foothills 1 mile northeast of Academy in Fresno County. In this district a dark-colored augite gabbro-diorite crops out as residual surface builders (sic) (boulders?) and as massive ledges underlying low rounded hills. Nine quarries in all have been worked in a 100-acre area. In 1964 the Raymond Granite Co. operated a quarry in this area."

"Granite...has been produced at Tulare County from three quarries in the foothills east of Porterville and Exeter."

Granite has also been quarried in San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. "known collectively as the southern California batholith."

"Most of these 'black granite' quarries are in residual boulder deposits, whereas the light-gray granite is quarried mainly from massive rock."

In San Diego County the principal dimension stone quarries are located near Lakeside, Escondido, and Vista.

Sandstone in California

"The principal uses of dimension sandstone are for building stone, flagging, and curbing.

"The principal centers of past production were located at Sites, Colusa County; Graystone, Santa Clara County; Chatsworth, Los Angeles County; and Sespe Canyon, Venturya County. The main period of sandstone production extended from 1888-1919.

"The principal source of dimension sandstone in the State has been the Upper Cretaceous sandstones near Sites in Colusa County...The stone has a blue-gray and buff color which weathers to light brown...In recent years small quantities have been quarried for use in the San Jose area of Santa Clara County."

Limestone and Marble in California

"To the petrologist, marble is a crystalline limestone, but in the stone industry and in the present discussion the term 'marble' is applied to any calcareous rock capable of taking a polish...Marble is commonly white, but the iron oxides impart colors of tan, red, or brown, whereas carbanaceous matter causes a gray to black color. Verde antique is a greenish rock composed of serpentine mixed irregularly with calcite.

"Despite its widespread occurrence in California, marble has been produced commercially in only a few localities, principally in Tuolumne, San Bernardino, and Inyo Counties...."

"In 1965, minor amounts of limestone were produced at quarries in Tulare, Santa Cruz, and Solano Counties mainly for use as rubble

"The Columbia district near Sonora, Tuolumne County, has been the principal source of marble in California...In recent years, the marble has been used as crushed stone."

Slate in California

Slate was first produced in 1880 in California. The peak production years for slate in California were in 1908 and 1906. "Small quantities of dimension slate are produced at Chili Bar and Mariposa in the Sierra Nevada."

"The productive slate quarries in California are in a slate-bearing belt that trends northwest from Calaveras to El Dorado County for approximately 65 miles, and ranges from 1 to 3 miles in width...."

Basalt in California

"In commercial usage...the term 'basalt' is applied to any of the dense, fine-grained, dark-gray or black volcanic rocks, including some that geologists refer to under the more specific names of dacite, andesite, latite, and trachyte, as well as basalt in the strict sense.

"In California, basalt has been quarried for both paving block and building stone..."

"Past production of basalt centered about a score of operations in the counties immediately north of san Francisco-Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano."

California Stone - Crushed and Broken

"Stone production is one of the oldest and most extensive mineral industries in California. In the late 1800s, dimension stone was produced in the State in much greater volume than crushed stone. During the past 50 years the output of dimension stone has dwindled, while the production of crushed stone has increased many fold. Greatly increased use of crushed stone for aggregate, especially in asphalt concrete for paving, and the marked decrease in use of dimension stone for building stone, paving blocks, or curbing is largely responsible for this trend.

Following are the principal crushed and broken stone quarries in California in 1966:


  • Union Granite Co., Rocklin, Placer County.

  • Guy F. Atkinson, Riverside, Riverside County.

  • J. B. Stringellow, Riverside, Riverside County.

  • Granite Rock Co., Watsonville, San Benito County.

  • Hansen, Silvey, and Sinnott, Felton, Santa Cruz County.


  • Blake Bros, Richmond, Contra Costa County.

  • Quarry Products, Inc., Point Richmond, Contra Costa County.

  • Sweetser Bros., Rosamond, Kern County.

  • Basalt Rock Co., McNear Point, Marin County.

  • Hutchinson Co., Greenbrae, Marin County.

  • Pacific Cement and Aggregate, Inc., Brisband, San Mateo County.

  • Guy F. Atkinson, Rincon, Santa Barbara County.

  • Rancho Guadalasca, Camarillo, Ventura County.

Basalt (and related volcanic rocks):

  • Gallagher and Burk, Inc., Oakland, Alameda County.

  • C. Goerig, Orinda, Contra Costa County.

  • Basalt Rock Co., Inc., Novato, Marin County.

  • Basalt Rock Co., Inc., Napa, Napa County.

  • Don Weaver, Jucumba, San Diego County.

  • J. M. Nelson, Cordelia, Solano County.

  • Hein Bros. Basalt Rock Co., Petaluma, Sonoma County.


  • California Rock and Gravel Co., Cool, El Dorado County.

  • El Dorado Limestone Co., Inc., Shingle Springs, El Dorado County.

  • Premier Marble Products, Lone Pine, Inyo County.

  • Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp., Natavidad, Monterey County.

  • Industrial Rock Products, Wrightwood, San Bernardino County.

  • C. K. Williams, Cushenbury, San Bernardino County.

  • Eaton and Smith, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County.

  • Marks Materials, Inc., Rockaway Beach, San Mateo County.

  • Kaiser Cement and Gypsum Corp., Los Altos, Santa Clara County.

  • Sonora Marble Aggregates, Sonora, Tuolumne County.

(Miscellaneous stone quarries are not included here)


  • Placerville Slate Products, Placerville, El Dorado County.

The Stone Industry in the Area North of San Francisco Bay

"Rock suitable for road metal, aggregate, and building stone underlies a large part of the area. By far the greater part of the road metal and aggregate has come from Pliocene volcanics...."

"Aggregate is currently produced from non-alluvial material by the Marine Gravel Company, Point Reyes State; Hein Brothers Basalt Rock Company, Petaluma; the Basalt Rock Company and Juarez Quarry, Napa; Cordelia Quarry, Cordelia; and Parish Brothers north of Benicia. The following are now producing aggregate or road metal from stream gravel: Onsrud Construction Company and J. C. Spaletta, Santa Rosa Creek; L. J. Wrobel, C. E. Palmer, and J. P. Serres, sonoma Creek; H. W. and T. F. McGill, Conn Creek; W. M. Roderick Napa River; and H. V. Smith, Sulphur Creek. Colored building stone and 'flagstones' are obtained from the following quarries in volcanic rocks near Glen Ellen: Valley of the Moon, Gerberding, Candy Rock or Nuns Canyon, Johnson, Rainbow, and Gordenker.

"The stone industry has undergone a revolutionary change since the latter part of the nineteenth century, yet stone has been and remains one of the most important mineral assets in Napa and Sonoma Counties. When city streets were surfaced with paving blocks, quarries in the area thrived and sent blocks to San Francisco, San Jose, and even Stockton. Between 1900 and 1915, with increasing production costs and the need for smoother street surfaces, the paving block industry declined in importance. Of the large number of block quarries, the few that survived are now large producers of crushed rock. These also supply aggregate used in reinforced concrete, a material which has rendered dimension stone almost obsolete. Forty years ago sandstone, hardened tuff, or banded rhyolite was invariably used in construction of culverts, retaining walls, farm buildings, and even some of the larger bridges and buildings in the area; but today the building stone industry survives only at the previously mentioned quarries near Glen Ellen."

Building Stone. Hard interbedded sandstone from the Knoxville and Chico formations have been quarried as building stone. They are exposed in the hills on both sides of Suisun and Wooden Valleys and on the eastern slopes of the Vaca Mountains. Sandstone beds range from 2 to 30 feet in thickness, are light grayish brown in color, fine grained, and usually of uniform texture and moderate strength. The massive sandstones of the Franciscan group are usually so badly crushed and weathered that they are not suitable for building purposes. Sandstones of the Martinez, Domengine, and Markley formations have low crushing strengths.

"The hardened tuffs and banded rhyolites which occur on both sides of the Miyakma Mountains have been used for local construction. Their hardness, strength, and texture vary, but carefully selected material can be quarried in large uniform blocks. This type of rock hs been used in building the northern bridge over Napa River north of the city of Napa and also the bridge over Milliken Creek. The quarrying of banded rhyolite for 'flagstones' and colored building stones near Glen Ellen began about 1937."

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