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Photograph of Tolenas Springs

Tolenas Springs Quarry & Mineral Springs

Solano County, California

The following historical summaries of the Tolenas quarry and mineral springs area is from Limestone, Dolomite, and Shell Resources of The Coast Ranges Province, California (Bulletin 197, by Earl W. Hart, California Division of Mines and Geology, 1978 – available on the Internet Archive – Texts.  (To read the full entry from the 1978 book cited above, visit the “Tolenas Springs, Solano County, California – Tolenas Springs Quarry operated by the Tolenas Quarry Company through 1978” section of our web site.)

Summary of the Tolenas Springs Quarry

From Limestone, Dolomite, and Shell Resources of The Coast Ranges Province, California, through 1978

Tolenas Springs, the location of the California onyx marble and travertine deposits, is located 4 miles north of Fairfield on private property. 

“Travertine and calcareous onyx have been known at Tolenas Springs at least since 1878, when specimens were displayed at the Paris Exhibition. Exactly when the deposits were first worked commercially is not known, but it may have been about the same time…The deposits have been worked intermittently on a small scale as a source of ornamental stone and terrazzo materials.  The early operators are not known; but the later developers include S. Miletin (1926 and earlier?), P. Grassi and Company and L. Cardini (1928-1936), and Ray McRoberts and Paul Lahmon of Tolenas Quarry Company (since about 1960).  Total production is believed to be several thousand tons….”

“…The travertine is typically fine grained, tan or brownish, thinly banded, and somewhat porous.  The calcareous onyx is microcrystalline to finely fibrous, milky white to pale amber, translucent, semiresinous to waxy, delicately banded, and dense but commonly cavernous (vuggy).*  The onyx occurs as lenses and irregular fracture fillings in the travertine.  Both materials are somewhat fractured and are obtained in small pieces….”

(* According to the freedictionary.com, vuggy is defined as:  “A small cavity in a rock or vein, often with a mineral lining of different composition from that of the surrounding rock.”)

“Development has been sporadic and limited principally to the main deposit.  Recent (1962) workings consist of a quarry face 15 feet high and 100 to 150 feet long.  By April 1967, small amounts of onyx or travertine had also been produced from pits a quarter of a mile southwest of the main quarry (Oliver E. Bowen, personal communication, 1967).  To the west and southwest are two small old quarries, one of which is about 30-by-30 feet with a 10-foot face.  In 1962, the carbonate material was selectively mined, crushed, screened, and sold as terrazzo under the names ‘Golden Travertino’ (travertine) and ‘California Onyx’.  Reserves of the two materials are not known although the travertine appears to be more abundant than the onyx.
“Only the Tolenas Springs deposit is now active (circa 1978).  It presently is operated on a small scale, yielding travertine and onyx marble for terrazzo.”

“Ownership: Woods Estate Ranch (1962); operated by Tolenas Quarry Company, 537 Cottonwood Drive, Fairfield (1969).”

Summary of the Tolenas Springs Water & Quarry

From “Mystery of the healing waters in Tolenas

By Nancy Dingler, Friday, August 18, 2000, Historical Articles of Solano County Online Database 

“The native Patwins, who were comprised of Suisuns, Tolenas and Yolotoys, to name a few, had long ago learned of the many springs and their locations.  The water burbled as well as spouted up through the rocks, along the crests of the Suisun and Fairfield hills.  The curative powers of the waters at the Tolenas site that Judge Swan purchased were particularly well known by the natives.”

In 1859 Judge Thomas Swan opened the Tolenas Springs resort enabling people to benefit from the area’s mineral springs. 

According to this article, marble was discovered near Tolenas Springs in 1855 causing the Suisun Marble and Quarry Company to be formed to quarry the rock.  The marble was shipped by schooner to San Francisco and then on to the East Coast.  (More information about the quarry and what the marble was used for and the history of the Tolenas Soda Springs water is available in the article – see link above.)

Nancy Dingler finishes her article with:

“The quarry continued its operation for a time. The clear, textured white onyx with light yellow veins, continued to be popular for ornamental clocks, mantels, vases and tabletops, finding its way into workshops in Vermont. When the marble and onyx lost their popularity and the markets dried up, the quarry produced crushed white rock for garden patios and roofs.  In the process of producing the crushed product, a lot of blasting was done.  The results of this blasting was to kill the ‘healing waters.’  The waters stopped naturally spouting to the surface, disappearing mysteriously forever.”

For more detailed information about this quarry and the social events that were held at Tolenas Springs, see the “Tolenas Springs” section of our web site.


Present-day Photographs of the Tolenas Springs
Quarry & Mineral Springs Area

For many years I have been searching for photographs of this quarry, and recently Richard Degraffenreid sent me these great photos. Now we can all view his photos while imagining the quarrying activities, the mineral water, and the social get togethers that were held in this area. If you have any other photographs – either old or recent – I would love to include them in this section of our web site. Peggy B. Perazzo

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Closeup photo of Tolenas marble, Tolenas Springs area, Solano County, CA Closeup of Tolenas marble, Solano County, CA Tolenas Springs area, Solano County, CA

Close-up photo of a block of Tolenas Springs Marble

 

 

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