Santa Cruz County History - Making a Living

Glaze Mill #1
by Barry Brown

Photograph of CPW Glaze Mill #1
Glaze Mill #1 at the California Powder Works
Photograph from the John Carney Family Collection

The California Powder Works' Glaze Mill #1, seen above, was located near where 315 Royal Arch is today and was the second of three mills that performed the glazing process at the Powder Works. Originally located near Paradise Park's Picnic Grounds, the Mill was eventually moved south to the Lower Flat area, now known as PPMC's Section 6. It was here that coarse powder grains coming from the Corning Mill had their rough edges knocked off by being rotated in wooden or metal barrels. The powder grains were then coated with graphite which made them easier to pour, a feature which miners liked. In the book, Santa Cruz County California, 1879, W. W. Elliott stated:

The mill for glazing mining powder, invented by the Superintendent, contains cylinders, rotating upon hollow shafts, through which hot water circulates, and both dries and glazes fifteen thousand pounds of powder every twenty-four hours, never failing to turn out round grain, so polished that it runs into a drill hole like quicksilver.

Glazing was less hazardous than most of the other processes of gunpowder manufacturing. However, it could still be lethal. For example, on April 6, 1877, the Santa Cruz Local Item reported that while inspecting one of the 4x10ft. glazing barrels, J. M. Brown and his horse, tethered nearby, were blown to pieces by an explosion so strong that windows cracked and dust rose on the streets of downtown Santa Cruz.

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