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Solano County

  • Solano County Building Stones (circa 1888) – Excerpts from California State Mining Bureau, Eighth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist for the year ending October 1, 1888

    Marble, Building Stones. Marbles of different kinds, some of them of rare beauty, are found in this county. In the hills near Suisun Valley is found a marble which, in the rough, bears a strong resemblance to resin. Being fine-grained and compact, it takes on a high polish, and is much esteemed for ornamental purposes. Located about four miles north of Fairfield, the county seat, is a bed of aragonite, popularly called onyx, and fully described by the State Mineralogist in the report of the year 1884. Stones suitable for structural purposes are met with in many parts of Solano, a great deal of serpentine and sandstone being quarried in the neighborhood of Benicia....”

  • Solano County Sandstone, Tuff, and Macadam (historical times through circa 1906) – Excerpts from The Structural and Industrial Materials of California, Bulletin No. 38, California, State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1906.

    Solano County Sandstone:

    “The northwest portion of Solano County is closely related in topography and geology to the southwest portion of Yolo. The sandstone croppings can be followed from Putah Creek for a distance of 12 miles to Vaca Valley .

    “The only practical exposures of sandstone beyond the surface of the croppings in Solano County have been made by two small quarries or open cuts necessitated by the opening of public roads and to supply a small local demand.”

    Solano County Tuff:

    “Tuff deposits occur in the northwest corner of Solano County. The belt has a northwest and southeast trend, crossing Putah Creek into Yolo County. The tuff is white, light of weight, and hardens on exposure to the atmosphere. It has been used for building purposes, and as firebacks.”

    Solano County Macadam Quarry/Exposures:

    “The county macadam quarry is one mile north of Vacaville. The stone is a black basalt, which crushes with an uneven fracture excellently suited to the purpose of road material. Several thousand yards have been used in county road construction. The quarrying has exposed a ledge for a length and depth of about 75 feet.

    “Other deposits and boulders of black basalt occur in Putnam Peak and in Butte and Putah creeks.

    “Shale of a grade suitable for road work occurs along the eastern line of the sandstone belt within 3 or 4 miles of Vacaville, and is in considerable demand for improvement of the county roads.”

  • Solano County Mines and Mineral Resources (circa 1913-1914) – Excerpts from Report XIV of the State Mineralogist – Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Chapters of State Mineralogist’s Report – Biennial Period 1913-1914, Part II. “The Counties of Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo,” by Walter W. Bradley, Field Assistant (field work in September, 1913), San Francisco, California, July, 1915, California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1916, pp. 173-370.

    “Solano, one of the ‘north of the bay’ counties, is surrounded by Yolo County on the north, on the east Yolo and Sacramento, and the south Sacramento and Contra Costa, and on the west by Napa. San Pablo and Suisun bays and the Sacramento River are on its south, the latter forming also a portion of its eastern boundary, while Putah Creek defines a part of the northern line. The total area of the county is 900 square miles, of which 822 square miles represents the land surface. It is about 35 miles north and south by 45 miles extreme width east and width. The main drainage system of the county is tributary to the Sacramento River, and a portion to the bays. Only the western section of the county has contributed to its mineral output, as Solano’s principal resources are agricultural. Her mineral products in the order of their production to date are: cement, stone industry, quicksilver, mineral water, lime and limestone, brick, natural gas, salt and fuller’s earth. Solano first entered the producing column in 1860 with a natural hydraulic cement from Benicia, followed in 1873 by the operation of the St. Johns quicksilver mine, which remained an important factor for seven years. By far the more important development, however, has been the most recent one, i.e., Portland cement, which began in 1900.

    “As will be noted in the table,* the total production for the county, to the end of 1913, has been $17,205,665.”

    (* The table referred to in this paragraph will not be included here – only the statistics on stone will be included.)

    Onyx Marble (in Solano County)

    (See: Healdsburg Marble Company under Magnesite.)

  • Solano, County, California, Mineral Resources & Introduction to the Solano County Area of California (circa 1915) – Excerpt from Sacramento Valley and Foothill Counties of California: An Illustrated Description of all the Counties Embraced in this Richly productive Geographical Subdivision of the Golden State, compiled and edited by Emmett Phillips and John H. Miller, Published under the direction of The Sacramento Valley Exposition, J. A. Filcher, Director-in Chief, January, 1915.

    Solano County

    “Solano County is the western gateway to the Sacramento Valley. Its southwestern extremity borders on the bay region and hence it has many miles of deep water front. Its area is 822 square miles, consisting of foothill and plain lands.

    “Solano County commands attention both as an industrial and as a farming community. Thousands of cattle, sheep and horses fatten on its foothill and marsh lands and its industrial establishments pay out fortunes each year to hundreds of happy employees. But it is as a fruit producing county, however, that Solano is probably most widely known. The first deciduous fruits to reach the markets of the United States each year invariably come from Solano County. There are several sequestered valleys which are arms of the main Sacramento Valley, where the finest of cherries, plums, peaches, apricots and pears are produced. Fortunes have been made by the fruit growers in these favored localities.

    “Equally as productive as the soil in the protected valleys is the bottom land along the Sacramento River, much of which has been reclaimed by the construction of great levees. This land is excellent for all kinds of fruit, vegetables, alfalfa, etc.

    “Extending across the county from the bottom lands on the east to the foothills on the west, is a rich alluvial plain. This plain is farmed to grain, stock raising, dairying, alfalfa, growing deciduous and citrus fruits, poultry production, etc.

    “The city of Dixon on the main line of the Southern Pacific Company in the northern part of the county, is a great dairy center and nut producing section. Some of the finest dairy herds in California are located here and the milk and butter produced are sold in the markets around San Francisco Bay. The vicinity of Dixon was formerly a grain producing center, but with the introduction of deep wells for irrigation, alfalfa succeeded grain and the dairy business followed the successful production of alfalfa. Some of the finest ranches in California for the breeding of thoroughbred cattle and sheep are also in the vicinity of Dixon.

    “In the southern part of the county on what are known as the Montezuma Hills, is produced an enormous wheat crop each year. The wheat is of a choice milling quality. The delta lands bordering the Suisun Bay region offer a green pasture all the year round for thousands of head of stock. This large area is susceptible of wonderful development.

    “Rail and deep water transportation are available to Solano County. The Southern Pacific Company crosses the county with several lines. The Oakland, Antioch and Eastern electric railway, operating between Sacramento and San Francisco, has opened new territory in the southeastern part of the county. The Sacramento Valley Electric Railroad, in course of construction, when completed will run as far north as Red Bluff, in Tehama County, connects with the Oakland and Antioch a few miles south of Dixon. The first link of this road, operating between Dixon and the main line of the Oakland and Antioch began train service in October, 1914. The county has an excellent system of improved highways and all streams are crossed by substantial bridges.

    “The manufacturing centers of the county are at Vallejo and Benicia, which are located in the southwestern part of the county. At Vallejo is the United States Government Mare Island Navy Yard, ranking second in importance of all Government yards, that of New York alone being larger. There are regularly employed 2200 skilled workmen. The improvements and equipment of the plant are valued at $12,000,000 and no battleship that has yet been planned is too great to be constructed at these yards. The great collier ‘Jupiter,’ with a carrying capacity of 12,500 tons of coal and 1,000 tons of fuel oil, was constructed here. The ‘Jupiter’ is 520 feet in length and 65 feet in width. Her net cost was $1,070,000. Early in 1914 construction was started at the yards of the fuel ship ‘Kanawha,’ and when she is completed a sister ship to be known as the ‘ Maumee’ is to be built. These boats will be 455 feet long, 56 feet wide, and will have a draft of 26 feet, 4 inches.

    “Vallejo is a pretty city with many beautiful homes. It has a large business section, two banks, paved streets, public library, good water supply, city hall, fire department, sewer system, several newspapers and ten churches.

    “Benicia is a well located manufacturing town, having many miles of deep water front. It boasts several large industrial plants.

    “The county seat of Solano County is Fairfield, which is a sister city of Suisun. A magnificent court house, which was recently completed (circa 1915), is one of the features of Fairfield . Suisun-Fairfield has two banks, good hotels, excellent transportation facilities, steam, water and electricity, large packing houses, and is the business center of a larger prosperous community.

    “An important industry of the county is the manufacture of cement. Five miles northeast of Suisun is a large plant with a capacity of 6,000 barrels daily. The quality of the product is the best, and as there is a great demand for cement in building construction and road work, the plant operates the year round.

    “Vacaville is a pretty little place in the Vaca Valley, which is one of the rich deciduous fruit sections already referred to. The gross sales of the fruit shipped from Vacaville total more than $2,500,000 annually. Cherries grown here are usually the first to reach the market.

    “Rio Vista on the Sacramento River in the southeastern portion of the county, is one of the oldest towns in the State, having been founded prior to the discovery of gold. It is the shipping point for rich farming district. It is served with excellent river transportation, a number of steamers, both passenger and freight, connecting it with San Francisco and Sacramento daily.

    “Solano County is fairly representative of the agricultural side of California. Its lands are typical, as are its climate and its industries. It has the great advantage of a river and bay frontage, cheap transportation, nearness to market, and the cooling sea breeze. There are no Winters in the usual sense of the term; the Summers are rainless. Farm work goes on the year round; stock is in the field and fields are green. Some crop is being harvested and marketed every month in the year.”

  • Solano County Mineral Industry (circa 1919) – Excerpt from California Mineral Production for 1919, Bulletin No. 88, by Walter W. Bradley, California State Mining Bureau, 1920.

    Area : 822 square miles.
    Population: 40,602 (1920 census).
    Location: Touching San Francisco Bay on the northeast.

    “Solano, while mostly valley land, produced mineral substances during the year 1919 to the total value of $1,672,084, ranking eighteenth among the counties of the state, the increase over 1918 being due to cement. Among her mineral resources are: Brick, cement, clay, fuller’s earth, limestone, mineral water, natural gas, onyx, petroleum, quicksilver, salt, and miscellaneous stone.

    “Commercial production for 1919 was as follows:

    (Headings for the information below are: Substance, Amount, and Value.)

    Stone, miscellaneous, ---, $44,156

    Other minerals,* ---, $1,627,928

    (* Includes cement, fuller’s earth, mineral water, natural gas, and quicksilver.)

    Solano County, 1916 Map, from California Mineral Production for 1919 (with County Maps), Bulletin No. 88, by Walter W. Bradley, California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco: California State Printing Office, 1920, pp. 187. Solano County , 1916 Map
  • Solano County Limestone, Travertine, and Onyx Marble Industry and Deposits (through 1947) – Excerpts from “Limestone in California,” by Clarence A. Logan, California Journal of Mines and Geology, Vol. 43, No. 3, July 1947, California Division of Mines, San Francisco, California, pp. 175-357. Used with permission, California Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey.)

    “From 1860 to the late eighties natural ‘cement rock’ was quarried from the hillsides in and bordering the town of Benicia, and the cement made from it was used in rather large amounts in San Francisco .

    “The manufacture of portland cement began in 1902 at the plant of Pacific Portland Cement Company at Cement, about 3 miles northeast of Fairfield . For a few years the supply of limestone for the plant came from travertine deposits near the plant, but as these were being used up rapidly, with increased plant capacity, it became necessary to bring limestone by rail from the company’s Mountain quarries near Cool, El Dorado County. The latter deposits supplied most of the limestone used at the plant from 1910 until 1927, when the cement plant was closed down and dismantled.

    “The major use of the travertine was in making cement; however, it was used prior to 1900 for smelter flux at Selby lead smelter, and for road metal and concrete aggregate.

    Analyses of travertine and clay from Solano County, and the Portland cement made from them
    Analyses of travertine and clay from Solano County, and the Portland cement made from them.

    Onyx Marble (in Solano County)

    “At Tolenas Springs, 6 miles north of Fairfield, spring deposits of calcium carbonate were worked on a small scale prior to 1926. The deposits have been known since early days, having been mentioned by Whitney (65), (a) Irelan (88), (b) Watts (90), (c) Crawford (96) ), (d); Laizure (27 ), (e); and G. A. Waring (15), (f). This stone is generally light colored and translucent, but some of it resembles resin before polishing, and shows close banding. While it takes a high polish and yields an attractive product, it has been found in only comparatively small pieces, and is rather cavernous so that it could be used only for small objects.

    “Similar stone has been mentioned as occurring in parts of the travertine beds which were quarried for use in portland cement.”

    (a) Josiah Dwight Whitney, Geological Survey of California, Geology, vol. 1; Report of Progress and Synopsis of the Field Work from 1860 to 1864, xxvii, 498 pp., 1865.)

    (b) William Irelan, Jr., Eighth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist for the Year Ending October 1, 1888, California Mining Bureau Report 8, 948 pp. illus., 1888.)

    (c) W. L. Watts, “Solano County,” California Mining Bureau Report 10, pp. 659-669, 1890.)

    (d) J. J. Crawford, Thirteenth Report (Third Biennial) of the State Mineralogist for the Two Years Ending September 15, 1896, California Mining Bureau Report 13, 726 pp., 1896.)

    (e) C. McK Laizure, San Francisco Field Division, “Solano County,” California Mining Bureau Report 23, pp. 203-213, 1927.)

    (f) Gerald Ashley Waring, Springs of California, U. S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 338, 410 pp., maps, 1915.)

    Natural-Cement Rock (in Solano County)

    “Natural-cement rock is argillaceous limestone, sometimes called hydraulic limestone. It was at one time widely used, both before and after the advent of portland cement, in Europe and this country. In late years (circa 1947), however, it has been produced only in limited areas where it can be cheaply mined and burned and used locally. It contains limestone, silica, iron oxide and alumina in proportions which permit burning it to cement without adding other minerals. It does not require as high temperature as portland cement and does not clinker. According to Eckel (28),* such natural material carries from 10 to 22 percent SiO2 and 4 to 16 percent Al2O3 and Fe2O3 and may carry considerable MgCO3 and 50 to 80 percent CaCO3. When the magnesium content is not too high, such natural-cement rock may be brought to the proper composition to be used for portland cement.

    (* Edwin C. Eckel, Cements, Limes, and Plasters, 3d. ed., 1928.)

    “The production of ‘natural’ or ‘ Benicia cement’ began at Benicia, Solano County, in 1859 or 1860, and continued for many years. The material was mined in the hills adjoining the town. It occurs irregularly but was reported over several miles and in considerable quantity. The cement was used in San Francisco where many brick buildings were being built at the time and was also used a good deal for making drainage and water pipes. In 1867 it was accepted for use in a sea-wall at San Francisco by the State Harbor Commissioners (Browne, J. R. 68, p. 245).* This was planned to be several miles long, and was expected to require ‘many thousand tons of cement’. The Benicia product apparently set well under water in a very short time. A total of 130,000 barrels was also used in building the city hall in San Francisco (Crawford, J. J. 94, p. 381).** Operations of the quarry in sec. 33, T. 3 N., R. 3 W., (partly in the town of Benicia) and of the cement plant, ceased by 1890 or earlier; there is no statistical record of the production.”

    (* John Ross Browne, “Report on the Mineral Resources of the States and Territories West of the Rocky Mountains,” 674 pp., California pp. 12-298, Washington, D. C., U. S. Treasury Department, 1868.)

    (**J. J. Crawford, Twelfth Report of the State Mineralogist, California Mining Bureau Report 12, 541 pp., 1894.)

  • Solano County Limestone (up through 1949) – Excerpts from Geology and Mineral Deposits of an Area North of San Francisco Bay, California: Vacaville, Antioch, Mount Vaca, Carquinez, Mare Island, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Point Reyes Quadrangles, Bulletin 149, by Charles E. Weaver, California State Division of Mines, September 1949. (Used with permission, California Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey.)

    Limestone, though not widely distributed in the area investigated, once helped to support two cement plants. The Standard Portland Cement Company used an argillaceous limestone interstratified with Cretaceous beds near Napa Junction; travertine supplied the Pacific Portland Cement Company’s plant at Cement….”

    “The deposit at Cement is on land owned by E. N. Tooby, about 5 miles northeast of Fairfield . Many years ago ‘Suisun marble’ was quarried here, and prior to 1900 the material was used for flux at the Selby smelter.* From 1902 until about 1910 it was the principal source of limestone for the cement plant. W. L. Watts** describes the deposit as resembling a stockwork, for the surrounding rock is a breccia of sandstone and shale cemented by lime and traversed in all directions by veinlets of resin, and some is delicately banded. Most of the lime was taken from what was known as the main quarry which covers about 9 acres in the NE ¼ NW ¼ sec. 8, T. 5 N. R. 1 W. A second quarry covering about 80 acres was opened later in the E ½ sec. 8. The shale used in cement manufacture occurs interstratified with Cretaceous beds and was quarried about a mile from the mill site. Until 1927 the plant continued to operate, using an increasingly larger proportion of limestone brought by rail from El Dorado County….”

    (* Page 88, footnote 70: Logan, C. A., Limestone in California: California Jour. Mines and Geology, vol. 43, p. 332, 1947.)

    (** Page 88, footnote 71: Watts, W. L., Solano County: California Min. Bur. Rept. 10, p. 670, 1890.)

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