Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living



Mineral Survey of Santa Cruz County - Lime
by C. McK. Laizure

Prepared by C. McK. Laizure,
Mining Engineer of the California State Mining Bureau

The burning of lime is one of the earliest industries established in Santa Cruz County, the first lime kiln having been built in 1851 by I. E. Davis and A. P. Jordan. This afterwards became the property of Henry Cowell, and the old pot kilns may still be seen on the Cowell Ranch alongside the road from the limestone quarry to their present kilns at Rincon.

Henry Cowell Lime and Cement Company

S. H. Cowell, president; W. H. George, secretary; home office, 2 Market street, San Francisco. The Cowell quarry is two miles northwest of Santa Cruz and one mile up the canyon from the old quarry first worked by Davis and Jordan and later by Henry Cowell. Limestone outcrops in this canyon in many places. The rock is both coarsely-crystalline and fine-grained, white to bluish-white in color; the coarse-crystalline variety being the most abundant.

The limestone is quarried by hand drilling and shooting down with giant powder. It is all trucked from the quarry 1.9 miles to the kilns at Rincon station on the Southern Pacific railroad. Formerly the coarse-crystalline limestone was burned in three pot kilns near the ranch house and the dense and fine-grained variety in four 34-foot Standard continuous kilns at Rincon. In 1920 three new pot kilns were added to the Rincon plant and the ones near the ranch house abandoned. The Standard continuous kilns did not work well except on the dense fine-grained rock. This variety required a greater heat for complete calcination, and the use of the continuous kiln also necessitated selective mining of the limestone to provide a suitable feed. For these reasons they are not now used and all the limestone is now burned at the Rincon plant in three pot kilns.

Each kiln has a capacity of 1600 barrels and is provided with four draw doors and four burners. Fuel oil is used with steam atomization. It requires from 4 to 4 ½ days to burn a charge, 36 to 48 hours for cooling and 2 days to draw the burned lime. The barrels in which the lime is packed are made in a cooper shop at the Rincon plant. Twenty-five men are employed at the kilns in addition to several at the Cowell quarry.

I. X. L. Quarry

This quarry, also owned by the company, is situated 2 ½ miles northwest of Felton and one-half mile north of the Holmes Lime and Cement Company's quarry. There are three pot kilns on the property. No limestone has been quarried or burned here for the past seven years.

Holmes Lime and Cement Company

W. E. Buck president; W. J. Feary, secretary. Home office, No. 2 Pine street, San Francisco. George N. Ley, plant superintendent, Box 7, Felton, Calif. This company owns and operates a limestone quarry two miles northwest of Felton. The limestone is exposed along the strike northwestward from the base to the top of the mountains, about 1000 feet. At the present time the quarry is opened on three faces. There is considerable overburden which is hauled off in dump carts. Air-drills are used, an electric motor and compressor being installed at the workings. The limestone is trained from the quarry to the kilns and hydrating plant in 8-ton cars which are hauled back with horses. The rock is a white crystallized limestone, both coarse and fine grained.

At the plant which is situated below the quarry near the town of Felton five pot kilns are in use; one of 1000 barrels capacity and four of 500 barrels. There are also two patented continuous kilns not in use. Oil with steam atomization is used for burning. In addition to the burned lime, the plant is equipped with a Clyde hydrator having a capacity of 25 tons of hydrate per day. The hydrate is bagged by a Bates valve-bag sacker. The lime is barrelled at the kilns in barrels made on the property.

Thirty-two men are employed; twelve at the quarry and the others at the kilns and hydrating plant. The quarry is an old one and has been operated over 45 years.


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Bituminous Rock   Gold Mineral Water
Black Sand Granite Moulding Sand & Peat
Cement Iron Petroleum & Potash
Clay Lime Stone Industry
Coal Limestone   

The Mineral Survey of Santa Cruz County was printed in the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Annual Report, 1926. Reproduced by permission of the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce.


View similarly tagged articles:

Henry Cowell, kilns, limestone, mining

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