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Tuolumne County – List of Stone Quarries, Etc. *

(* Please note this list does not include sand or gravel quarries.)

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  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – the Marble Works & California Quarries (circa 1868) (Excerpt from The Natural Wealth of California...., by Titus Fey Cronise, San Francisco: H. H. Bancroft & Company, 1868, pp. 628-629.)

    “Not until within the last three or four years was the business of quarrying, or manufacturing marble, engaged in to any extent in California, nearly everything required in this line having been previously imported already made. Much of the material is still imported from abroad, the most of it from Italy, and worked here to order; though, for several years past, considerable quantities of this stone have been taken from the several quarries now open in this State.

    “The two principal works engaged in manufacturing marble are located in San Francisco, the value of their joint products amounting to about $200,000 yearly. The Pioneer Works, driven by steam, employ on an average thirty-five men – make tombstones, monuments, furniture, etc., and import most of their material. At the other yard, from twelve to fifteen hands are employed, and about the same style of articles are made.

    “The first quarry opened in the State was at Indian Diggings, El Dorado county, in 1857, since which time large quantities have been extracted. It is of the clouded variety, and is much used for memorial purposes. Near Dayton, Amador county, a quarry of white marble, slightly veined, has been opened, and considerable quantities of the stone brought to San Francisco, to be used for building purposes. Near Columbia, Tuolumne county, is another extensive formation of marble, from which large quantities of stone, some of the blocks of great size, have been broken out. In Placer county, contiguous to the line of the Central Pacific Railroad, there is a quarry of variegated black marble, considered valuable. In Solano county, and in many other parts of the State, marble of nearly every description abounds; the only reason that these deposits have not been more extensively worked, being the very limited demand for the article on this coast.”

  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California - Marble Quarry & Mill Owned and Operated by Devine & Bro. (of Sacramento, California) (The following quotation was transcribed by Dee Sardoch and posted on the Norcal email list February 3, 2007.)

    The following newspaper article is from the Stockton Daily Argus, Stockton, San Joaquin County, California, July 15-20 1861.

    “MARBLE in TUOLUMNE - We have observed recently upon our wharf, blocks of superior quality of marble, from the extensive marble quarries in Columbia. We are informed that these specimens, which have been shipped to Sacramento, are from the quarry of Messrs. DEVINE & Bro., which is a mile and a half long, and a broad rich vein. They are now erecting a mill that will run 300 saws, and turn out marble better and cheaper than can be imported, and thus stop all foreign competitors.”

  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California - Marble Quarry & Mill Owned and Operated by Devine & Bro. (of Sacramento, California) (The following quotation was transcribed by Dee Sardoch and posted on the Norcal email list May 24, 2007.)

    The following newspaper article is from the Stockton Daily Independent, Stockton, San Joaquin County, California, October 22, 1862.

    “Columbia Marble - Having seen a great deal of marble on the wharf at Stockton from the celebrated Columbia quarry, I was anxious to see it, and started from Columbia early this morning, in company with Mr. Devine, one of the proprietors, to see the quarry and the large mill erected for the purpose of sawing the rock into slabs. They have expended a large sum of money in making improvements and opening the quarry, and as they are enterprising, energetic men, hope to make their investment pay as soon as facilities for shipping to Stockton are improved. Freight is so high to Stockton that they are now barely able to compete with importers. I am informed that the ‘quality’ of this marble is almost equal to the finest Italian. When the Copperopolis railroad is completed, they will be enabled to do a large and profitable business. The quarry is inexhaustible. I saw at the mill 4 large slabs for the Broderick monument, the freight on which to San Francisco will amount to about ‘$700.’ This should not be the case. Railroads should be built where it is practicable and good wagon roads should course through our mountains and then an enterprising people would be encouraged to develop the resources [rest cut off]....”

  • Columbia (northwest of), Tuolumne County, California – the Baxter Marble Quarry (Marble)  (The following excerpt is from “Marble Produced in California” (PDF) in Rock Products:  Stone Edition, August 5, 1909, Vol. IX, No. 1, pp. 3.)
    Lobby and corridor of Bellevue Hotel, San Francisco, Cal.” “Lobby and corridor of Bellevue Hotel, San Francisco, Cal.” (1909)

    “...A number of unfinished jobs are still keeping the California quarries busy (in 1909), and there is enough new work coming up from time to time to take up the surplus output.  Indeed, there is a tendency at present to enlarge the scope of operations and seek a wider market as an outlet for this state’s production of marble, which has so far been confined almost entirely to local use.  Quarry operators have been somewhat handicapped in the past by lack of sufficient capital to exploit the business in a large way, and several promising projects are still held back on this account, but some of the local concerns are coming to a point where they can look for some recognition outside of California.

    “One of the handsomest jobs of marble work in the West is that in the Bellevue Hotel at Geary and Taylor Streets, San Francisco.*  All the marble in this handsome hotel came from the new California quarries of the Baxter Marble Company, whose offices are in the Call Building, San Francisco.  The marble is called California Pavanazzo on account of its similarity to the marble of that name found in Europe.  It is crystalline in texture and formation and takes a high polish.  There is a marble, almost black, used for the bottom base of the first part of the floor tile, which comes from the same locality.

    “These quarries are located in Tuolumne county and the marble is sometimes called by this name.

    “In 1908 Tuolumne county produced 23,000 cubic feet of marble valued at $46,000....”

    “D. F. Baxter, the president of the Baxter Marble Company, recently made a trip East and succeeded in placing some of the marble in New York.”

    (* According to “It’s The Inn Thing,” by Wendy Tanaka, April 13, 1997, on SFGate.com, the former Bellevue Hotel, located at the corner of Geary and Taylor, was renovated and reopened in 1995 as the Hotel Monaco.)

    • Columbia (northwest of), Tuolumne County, California – Baxter Marble Quarry (Marble) (Excerpt 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 I. “The Counties of Amador County, Calaveras County, Tuolumne County,” by W. B. Tucker, Field Assistant, San Francisco, California, July, 1915, California State Mining Bureau, San Francisco, California, 1916, pp. 2-172.)

      Baxter Marble Quarry is 3 miles northwest of Columbia, to the south of the north fork of the Stanislaus River. Two quarries have been opened on this property, showing a good grade of marble. Idle. D. F. Baxter, of San Francisco, owner.”

    • Sonora (northwest of), Tuolumne County, California – Baxter Marble Quarry (Marble) (Excerpt 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.)

      Baxter marble quarry was 3 miles northwest of Sonora. It has not been active during the past 30 years.”

  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Bell Marble Company Quarry (Photograph from California Mineral Production for 1919, Bulletin No. 88, by Walter W. Bradley, California State Mining Bureau, 1920)
    New quarry being opened up by the Bell Marble Company, near Columbia, Tuolumne County. New quarry being opened up by the Bell Marble Company
    • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – the Bell Marble Co. (The following information is from an advertisement in Stone: An Illustrated Magazine, Vol. XLVI, No. 3, March, 1925, Stone Publishing Co., New York, pp 172.)

      “New Companies – The Bell Marble Co., San Francisco, $20,000.”

    • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Bell Columbia Marble Quarry (Excerpt from “Mines and Mineral Resources of Tuolumne County, California,” by Clarence A. Logan, California Journal of Mines and Geology, Vol. 45, No. 1, January 1949, pp. 47-83. Used with permission, California Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey.)

      Bell Columbia marble quarry, in the town of Columbia is assessed to Equipment Sales Company, 679 Bryant Street, San Francisco. Marble was produced from 1918 to 1926 and shipped in blocks weighing 6 to 14 tons to firms in Oakland and San Francisco. The stone varies from pure white to dark blue-veined, and from fine to medium coarse crystals size. The content of silica, alumina, and iron oxide is very low for a marble and carries from 2 to 14 percent MgO. The compressive strength is from 22,000 to 24,890 pounds per square inch. This marble was used in the interiors of several large buildings in San Francisco. The quarry is 5 miles by paved highway north of the Sierra Railway station at Sonora. Electric power is available. All equipment has been removed.

      “Quarrying of marble on this land was started in December 1918 and continued at intervals for over 8 years. Although the equipment and improvements were substantial, having an assessed valuation of $38,000 the operations were hampered by lack of marble saws and a polishing plant. An effort was made to finance the erection of such a plant in Alameda County by the sale of stock, but this did not meet with success.

      “Rough blocks of marble weighing 6 to 14 tons each were broken out by jackhammers and plugs and feathers and were shipped to San Francisco and Oakland firms. The product varied from pure white to dark blue-veined, and from fine to medium-coarse crystal size. The series of analyses which follow showed very low contents of silica, alumina, and iron oxide for a marble, and a magnesia content ranging from a trace to about 16 percent. The weight is 169 pounds per cubic foot and the compressive strength is claimed to be about 50 percent greater than that of Alaska, Vermont, and Italian marbles. In 1920, the known area of marble in this deposit was claimed to be 350 by 700 feet but later operators claimed more. The depth is probably several hundred feet and much greater than it would be practicable to work. So far, the pit is about 40 feet deep (circa 1947).

      “This marble was used before 1928 in San Francisco in the interior of the 22-story Standard Oil Building, in the Golden Gate Theater, Loews Warfield Theater, and the Metropolitan Life Building.

      “The quarry is 5 miles by paved highway from the Sierra Railway at Sonora. Electric power is available. The following analyses were reported by the company as having been made in 1923 by the George A. James Company:

      “The writer took a sample across a width of 300 feet of medium-coarse crystalline light-gray marble of uniform appearance and the report of analysis made by Abbot A. Hanks, Inc., on this was as follows:”

      Insoluble, 0.40 percent
      Fe and Al oxides, 0.37 percent
      CaCO3, 94.7 percent
      MgCO3, 4.1 percent
    • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Bell Columbia Marble Quarry (AKA Bell Marble Quarry) (Marble) (Excerpt 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.)

      Bell Columbia Marble Quarry. The quarry property and equipment upon it, in the town of Columbia, were purchased several years ago by Equipment Sales Company, 679 Bryant Street, San Francisco. All equipment and machinery have been removed.”

    • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – the Bell Marble Works Quarry  (color postcard, # ICS-108204; J. A. Agency, Twaine Hart, CA; unmailed)

    • The Bell Marble Works Quarry, Columbia, Tuolumne County, California (postcard photograph) (from the back of the postcard) “More than gold was mined near Columbia State Park, California.  Marble was quarried for many fine buildings, at the Marble Quarry, less than a mile from the State Park, on Yankee Hill Road.” The Bell Marble Works Quarry, Columbia, Tuolumne County, California (postcard photograph)
    • The Bell Marble Works in Marble Quarry RV Resort: The following is an excerpt from A Guidebook to Mining In America: Volume 1: West (The Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and farther West), by John R. Park, Stonerose Publishing Co., Miami, Florida, April, 2000,” available at Stone Publishing Company. The following quotation is used with permission of the author, John R. Park.)

      Bell Marble Works in Marble Quarry RV Resort, P. O. Box 850, 11551 Yankee Hill Road, Columbia, CA 95310-0850; (209) 532-9539….”

      “The marble quarry is on private property, but is accessible via a train within, or through, the RV park. Little or no equipment remains.

      “The Bell Marble Works were established by Ed Hill in 1918, and operated until 1932. Marble for the quarry was used for the Tuolumne County Courthouse.

      “The larger Columbia Marble Quarry that supplied dimension marble for Columbia and San Francisco is (or at least was until recently) still in use, but only for crushed rock….”

  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Columbia Marble Works Quarry (Panorama postcard photograph, 37566, unmailed)
    Columbia Marble Works Quarry
  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Marble Quarry near Columbia, California 
    Postcard photograph B8432, m. l. Zercher, Topeka, Kans.; unmailed, early 1900s Marble Quarry Near Columbia
  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – the Bell Marble Works. The historic Bell Marble Works is located on the grounds of the Marble Quarry R.V. Park in Columbia. Access to the quarry is available to the public. (For further information, use the links below.) My husband and I toured the Bell Marble Works marble quarry and one of the Columbia marble quarries. Stone from the active marble quarry is now used for aggregate and other uses. It is no longer quarried for dimension stone.

    Click here for an account of our visit. At the R.V. Marble Quarry office, you can obtain the Marble Quarry RV Park Nature Trail Guide, which guides you to the quarry and provides historical information and photographs. (Guides are available at the store.)

  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Photographic Tour of one of the Bell Marble Quarry. (These photographs were taken in July 1998.)
  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California – Blue Mountain Minerals Quarry (Limestone) (active ca 1996) (From Mines and Mineral Producers Active in California (1994-1995), Special Publication 103 (Revised 1996), California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, in cooperation with California Department of Conservation, Office of Mine Reclamation. Used with permission, California Department of Conservation, California Geological Survey.)

    Mine name: Blue Mountain Minerals; Operator: Blue Mountain Minerals; Address & County: P. O. Box 1492, Columbia 95310, Tuolumne County; Phone: (209) 533-0127; Latitude: 38.07, Longitude: -120.42, and Mine location number: Map No. 881; Mineral commodity: Limestone.

  • Columbia, Tuolumne County, California - Blue Mountain Minerals Quarries (Limestone) (present-day company), 24599 Marble Quarry Road, Columbia, CA 95310; (209) 533-0127.

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