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California Journal of Mines and Geology:
Mines and Mineral Resources of Contra Costa County


California and Research in Mining and the Mineral Industries of California,
Volume 54, Number 4, October 1958.


Extracts from the above book include the following headings:


The Mount Diablo Quarries near Pacheco 1

"The Mount Diablo quarries near Pacheco were the site of the first lime-making in California after the American occupation. This began in the spring of 1851 (Logan 1947) although no records of production previous to 1903 are available. The Henry Cowell Lime Company reported lime production from 1903 until 1915, excepting 1906 and 1908. The limestone was originally hauled from the quarries on Lime Ridge 3 miles southeast of Concord to Concord where the kiln was located. Later, four standard continuous kilns were installed immediately below the quarry."

"The Sprecklels Sugar Company quarried travertine from pits located south of the Cowell quarries for many years previous to 1915. This stone was shipped to the sugar refinery at Crockett and to the Selby smelter. At the latter plant it was used as a flux for smelting gold, silver and lead ores. This property was purchased by Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company in 1916."

"The Mount Diablo Lime Marl Company produced travertine from 1924 to 1927 which was crushed for agricultural use. These operations were probably centered on Lime Ridge in section 7 where there are three discontinuous shallow pits."

"The limestone deposits are surficial (sic) masses of travertine of Quarternary age which originated from calcareous springs issuing along a fracture in the underlying sedimentary rocks of the Tejon formation (Eocene).."

"The central core of the travertine is pale blue in color, grading outward to a buff-colored stone. The weathered surface is whitish gray and the outer surface of the buff stone is frequently lined with a selvage of white chalk.The solid travertine exhibits faint banding and swirling.."

"The travertine has been mined from an innumerable series of shallow cuts, pits and benches which frequently merge from one another. Many bench-cuts range from 5 to 50 feet high and are a quarter of a mile long. The largest pit is located about a mile south of the cement mill. It has a face about 200 feet high above the water level in the pit and extends for about half a mile laterally.."

Rock Products (in Contra Costa County 1956) 2

"Since 1946 the rock products industry has ranked first in quantity and value among mineral commodities produced in Contra Costa County." Following are the types of rock products discussed in the chapter of the publication: "(1) broken and crushed stone used primarily for riprap and fill in waterfront projects; (2) crushed rock used mainly as road base; (3) sand and gravel used as bituminous and concrete aggregate; (4) specialty sands including foundry and glass; and (5) dimension stone."

The quarries mentioned are: (2) two quarries at Mt. Diablo for production of crushed stone; one quarry which produced graywacke-type sandstone at Castro Point; one quarry which produced Pliocene Moraga volcanic rocks near Orinda; two quarries which produced Tertiary sandstone at Pacheco and Walnut Creek. Antioch sand dunes provided sand from two pits. There were two sandstone beds of the Domengine formation (Eocene). Two quarries were located near Cowell and one quarry was located in Antioch.

Broken and Crushed Stone

The only location in Contra Costa County in which broken and crushed stone, used as riprap and fill, was produced was the Blake Bros. quarry in Richmond, which was the one remaining quarry in 1956.

Specialty Sand

"Significant tonnages of foundry and glass sand have been obtained from a number of localities in Contra Costa County.The bulk of production came from two localities, the Nortonville-Somersville area and the Brentwood area, with output divided about equally between them.."

"Antioch-Marchio District. About 3 miles east of Nortonville at the old Star coal mine, the Marchio Sand co., is operating a quarry in the same geologic formation.The sandstone is predominantly white.."

"Brentwood District. Near Brentwood, about 7 miles to the southeast of the Marchio quarry, the same belt of Domengine sandstone was worked for foundry and glass sand from 1920 - 1942.."

"Cowell District. The Domengine sandstone is being worked by the Silver Sand Co. near Cowell.white to buff-colored (where iron stained) sandstones."

Limestone 3

  1. Coates - small limestone quarry in Oil Canyon, 7 miles southwest of Antioch, adjoined the Harkinson deposit.

  2. The Cowell quarry owned by Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Co., 2 Market St., San Francisco, quarried "Discontinuous masses of travertine crop out over a considerable area on Lime Ridge. Stone is white, buff or pale blue in color. Used in pre-1900 era for manufacture of lime. Quarried 1908-46 for manufacture of cement." At the time of the report, the quarry was idle.

  3. Harkinson located "In Oil Canyon, 7 miles southwest of Antioch. Compact, amoirphous, bluish-gray, fossiliferous limestone. Small shipment."

  4. Hopper, L. C. leased by Mt. Diablo Lime Marle Co. - deposit and plant in September 1946.

  5. Mt. Diablo Lime Marl Co. "Produced crushed limestone for agricultural use from deposit 5 miles northeast of Walnut Creek."

  6. An unnamed mine quarried. "Fresh-water limestone lense outcrop, about half a mile long and 500 feet wide along contact between Siesta and Moraga formations of Pliocene."

  7. An unnamed mine quarried by L. R. & M. Ginochio (?), 123 Beede Way, in Antioch. "Three pits on west side of Lime Ridge. Extend from Treat Lane northwestward for mile."

Dimension Stone 4

"Sandstone was quarried from the Martinez formation (Eocene) before the turn of the century for use as building stone. In 1894 a production of 20,000 cubic feet valued at $7,500 was reported."

"Stone used in the buildings in the city of Martinez and in the Napa State Hospital was obtained from two quarries near Martine; the Franklin sandstone quarry, located 3 miles southwest of Martinez, in Franklin canyon and the Martinez quarry located three quarters of a mile southwest of that city..The stone is blue-gray; it is soft when quarried but hardens upon exposure."

"Paving blocks reportedly were produced prior to 1890 at small quarries in the hills between Concord and Clayton - about 6 miles northwest of Mt. Diablo.."

  1. Franklin (owner not determined) was "inactive" at time of report. "Sandstone quarried in 190's from Martinez formation for use as building stone."

  2. Martinez (owner not determined) was "inactive" at time of report. "Located three-fourths of a mile southwest of Martinez. Martinez sandstone used in Napa State Hospital in 1890's."

  3. McNears (owner not determined) was "inactive" at time of report. "Located on line of Southern Pacific RR between Martinez and Port Costa; sandstone used at Port Costa in 1890's."



1 California Journal of Mines and Geology: Mines and Mineral Resources of Contra Costa County, California and Research in Mining and the Mineral Industries of California, Volume 54, Number 4, October 1958. October 1958, pgs. 527-529.

2 Ibid., pgs. 545-561.

3 Ibid., pg. 572.

4 Ibid., pg. 583.



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