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California Stone Industry (as of 1939)

Excerpts from

The Stone Industries

by Oliver Bowles
New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1939.

Sandstone (pp. 73)

"California. - Sandstones of many varieties occur in more than 20 counties but during recent years (circa 1939) production has been confined to only a few quarries. A massive blue-gray and buff sandstone that has been used for several notable buildings in San Francisco came from a deposit extending for 8 miles in the northern part of Colusa County, but there has been no recent production. A moderately fine-grained arkose sandstone used more for breakwaters than for buildings is found west of Chatsworth, Los Angeles County. A deposit of buff sandstone was worked many years at Graystone, Santa Clara County, and provided stone for buildings at Stanford University. Brown sandstone occurs abundantly in Lespe* Canyon, Ventura County. Stone for rough construction is quarried in Santa Barbara County at times. A porous, argillaceous sandstone merging into shale is quarried near Carmel, Monterey County. An unusual feature is the presence in some of it of a high percentage of opaline silica. It is used for building patios and houses, as garden-wall rock, and for flagstones."

(* Very possibly the author meant Sespe Canyon, Ventura County.)

Granite (pp. 137)

"California. - Production of block granite in California was valued at $620,790 in 1928. About one fourth was monumental and three fourths building stone. The value of building granite has fluctuated greatly. In 1925 it reached a high point of $1,200,000 but declined to less than one sixth of that amount in 1928. A large portion is used in San Francisco and Los Angeles, therefore the demand depends to quite an extent on local conditions. Paving, curbing, and rubble production was very small in 1928 but increased greatly in 1929 and 1930. Total production in 1929 was valued at $1,560,314; in 1930, $1,047,256; in 1936, $247,967; and in 1937, $78,412.

"During recent years granites for building and monumental uses have been produced in Fresno, Imperial, Madera, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, and Tulare Counties. A high-quality, medium-grained building monumental granite, light gray speckled with brilliant black mica crystals, is produced at Raymond, Madera County. It has been used widely in San Francisco for residences, hotels, banks, and State and Federal buildings and also quite extensively for monuments and mausoleums. The granite near Rocklin, Placer County, is light gray and of fine- to medium-grained texture; it is used for buildings and monuments, chiefly the latter. At Porterville, Tulare County, near Perris, Riverside County, and also in Fresno and Plumas Counties fine-textured, dark blue hornblende diorites classed as black granites are quarried for monumental uses.

"Near Lakeside, San Diego County, a fine-grained light gray granite known as 'Silver Gray' is quarried for monumental and other ornamental work. Granite is also produced in this county at El Cajon, Escondido, Santee, and near Temecula, the latter locality providing a dark blue rock. Building and monumental granites are obtained at Corona, Riverside, and Wineville, Riverside County, and near Academy, Fresno County. Granite for levees and reclamation work is quarried at times near Andrade, Imperial County. Monumental stone is quarried at Nevada City, Nevada County, and near Chilcoot, Plumas County, that from the latter place being sold as 'Light Pearl.' A quarry at Folsom, Sacramento County, provides stone for the construction of prison buildings."

Slate (pp. 251)

(California is noted as one of the states that has been an intermittent producer of slate on a small scale.)

"California. - Between 1899 and 1915, when activity practically ceased, Eldorado (sic) County, Calif., produced considerable roofing slate, attaining a maximum of 10,000 squares a year in 1903 and 1906. Quarrying was conducted most actively near Kelsey. The slate which is of Jurassic age is bordered by a large area of diabase. The bedding is marked by numerous ribbons, which are generally within 10 of the plane of slaty cleavage, the latter being practically vertical with a N. 25 W. strike. The ribbons are not of marketable quality. A series of joints parallels the grain, which strikes N. 55 E. and dips 70 to 80 northwest. The rock is dark gray and resembles Pennsylvania slate in general appearance. A 6-mile aerial tramway was employed to carry the product to the railroad near Placerville. The Chili Bar quarry about 3 miles north of Placerville has been worked intermittently for the production of granules, and at times a similar product is produced in Tuolumne County."

Limestone (pp. 399-401)

"California. - Several geologic periods are represented by the California limestones. In the more northerly section they are of Paleozoic age. In the Coast Ranges the more important limestones are of early Jurassic (pre-Franciscan) age; and in the Sierra Nevada foothill belt limestones occur in lenses in the Calaveras (Mississippian) formation or its equivalent. At several places in the central district north and east of San Francisco Bay travertine bodies of recent age have been deposited by springs near eruptive rocks. Some of them cover fairly large areas surficially but are relatively thin.

"Few extensive limestone deposits comparable with those in many of the eastern States occur in California. Most of them are irregular, lenticular bodies of variable magnesia content. Mining or quarrying problems often are difficult, and many deposits are far from markets. Numerous comparatively small areas of shelly, compact, or crystalline limestones outcropping in many counties supply the chief raw materials for important cement and lime industries, but various igneous rocks are used more widely than limestone as sources of crushed stone. Nevertheless, crushed and pulverized limestones are utilized in many ways, including stone for concrete aggregate, road construction, railroad ballast, flux, refractories, glass and sugar manufacture, agricultural use, roofing gravel, terrazzo, chicken grit, whiting, and whiting substitute. Both the extreme northern part of California and the desert regions of the south have larger deposits of limestone than the more populous parts of the State, but owing to distance from markets and inadequate transportation facilities they have little or no commercial value.

"Lime and crushed-limestone products sold in California in 1929 were valued at over $1,100,000 and cement nearly $23,000,000. In 1937 the figures were, respectively, $2,037,540 and $17,900,739.

"Cement manufacture, centered in about a dozen localities, is an important industry. Proximity to the extensive Los Angeles markets has encouraged operation of large plants at Colton and Victorville and construction of a new mill near Amboy, all in San Bernardino County. Other large plants are near Crestmore and Oro Grande, both close to the boundary between San Bernardino and riverside Counties. Plants near Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, and at Monolith, Kern County, use local raw materials. San Juan Batista, San Benito County, is an important center. Limestones adjacent to the coast are utilized in a plant at Davenport, Santa Cruz County. Oyster shells pumped from San Francisco Bay are used for cement manufacture at Redwood City, San Mateo County. The shell deposits contain both the lime and clay necessary for a proper cement mixture. Local limestone is consumed by a plant at Cowell, Contra Costa County. Some years ago limestone was quarried for cement manufacture near Suisun, Solano County, but this source of supply proved unsatisfactory. Until 1929 cement continued to be manufactured in this locality, but the stone was shipped 85 miles from Auburn, Placer County. Limestone obtained at El Portal, Mariposa County, is shipped 63 miles to a plant at Merced, Merced County. An isolated area of limestone 12 miles long and about mile wide is quarried for a mill at San Andreas, Calaveras County.

"The most southerly lime plants of California are at Westend, Colton, and near Ludlow, San Bernardino County. Lime is made from local stone at Rincon and Felton, Santa Cruz County; and near Concord, Contra Costa County. A plant using oyster shells as raw material began operation in 1931 at Newark, Alameda County, A comparatively large deposit of limestone crossing the western end of Tuolumne County is utilized for lime manufacture at Sonora. Other lime plants are at Diamond Springs and near Auburn, El Dorado County; and at Kennett, Shasta County.

"Crushed and pulverized limestone products are obtained in quite a number of important areas. As the deposits and production centers are scattered, they are considered by counties, beginning in the southern part of the State.

"The limestones of Los Angeles County are used as fluxing stone and asphalt filler and for road stone and sugar manufacture. San Bernardino County deposits not only supply important cement and lime plants, mentioned previously, but are quarried for various crushed-stone products at Westend and Victorville. Both limestone and dolomite quarried near Monolith, Kern County, are shipped to Los Angeles markets. A dolomite deposit near Lone Pine, Inyo County, is quarried for the manufacture of alkali and other products and for use as a steel-furnace refractory. Limestone obtained near Lemoncove, Tulare County, is used principally in agriculture, for glass factories, and as a finely pulverized product for the filler trade. A dolomite deposit near Salinas, Monterey County, is worked at times for production of agricultural limestone and refractories. At Hollister in the same vicinity limestone is quarried and crushed for a variety of uses. For several years oyster shells have been pumped from San Francisco Bay and conveyed to Alviso, Santa Clara County, where they are ground for poultry grip and agricultural limestone. The latter product is prepared also near Concord, Contra Costa County; and at Sonora, Tuolumne County. An attractive red travertine quarried near Bridgeport, Mono County, is used for Terrazzo. Crushed stone, fluxing stone, whiting substitute, and limestone for chemical plants and sugar mills are obtained near Diamond Springs and Shingle Springs, El Dorado County. The only important commercial crushed-stone development in the comparatively large limestone deposits of northern California is at Kennett, Shasta County, where smelter flux and agricultural limestone are produced on occasion demands."

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