California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Fresno Brick and Tile Company North Yard

View of the north brickyard of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company.
View of the north brickyard of the Fresno Brick
and Tile Company. From The Clayworker, 1904.

History


On May 4, 1901, the Fresno Brick and Tile Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $25,000, and E. Riggins as president, F.M. Miller as secretary, and F.D. Prescott, E.M. Prescott, and W.F. Beard as directors. Emmett Riggins was the manager of the first brickyard, which was established at Andrews siding on the south side of the Santa Fe railroad, 3 miles north of Fresno, California. This yard was among six brickyards that were manufacturing bricks in Fresno, then a city of 20,000, during the building boom of the early 1900s. The first bricks were handmade for use in the foundations of the brickyard plant. Machinery was ordered from the East to manufacture stiff-mud wire-cut bricks. The company had 40 acres of adobe clay which was good for making durable building bricks. The brickyard started up in May 1901.

View of the clay dump at the Fresno Brick and Tile Company north yard.
View of the clay dump at the Fresno Brick and Tile
Company north yard. From The Clayworker, 1904.

View of the boiler and engine house at the Fresno Brick and Tile Company north yard.
View of the boiler and engine house at the Fresno Brick
and Tile Company north yard. From The Clayworker, 1904.

The clay was delivered by two-wheeled scrapers at a cost of $6 per day and dumped at the plant. From the dump, the clay was fed to the pug-mill by two men by pushing it through a trap into the hopper of the mill below. The mill contained two boilers with a combined capacity of 75 horsepower. The material then went to a Raymond No. 2 stiff-mud brick machine of 30,000 capacity in 10 hours. The brick machine was powered by a 50-horsepower engine. After the clay column was cut into bricks by wires, four off-bearers with trucks wheeled the bricks to drying racks seven tiers high, with 44 bricks per tier. Drying time was only three days during the summer, but 7 days during the spring months. Canvas was placed between the racks to check the evaporation from the green bricks to prevent them from cracking in the summer heat. Because the racks were not protected from rain, the yard did not begin operations until April or May of each year.

View of the Raymond No. 2 brick machine at the Fresno Brick and Tile Company north yard.
View of the Raymond No. 2 brick machine at the Fresno Brick
and Tile Company north yard. From The Clayworker, 1904.

View of the drying sheds at the Fresno Brick and Tile Company north yard.
View of the drying sheds at the Fresno Brick and
Tile Company north yard. From The Clayworker, 1904.

When sufficiently dried, the green bricks were set in a clamp kiln, which held 400,000 to 600,000 bricks. The kiln was fitted with 35 tips for spraying the oil during burning. Oil was delivered to the tips by a supply pipe from an underground oil tank and pump, which was also connected to a steam pipe and required a 40-horsepower boiler to spray the oil. The tips entered the kiln at the arches. The quantities of both oil and steam were regulated by proper valves under the watch of the burner, who maintained proper heat throughout the kiln. The cost of a 42-gallon barrel of oil cost 61 cents, which at that price cost $1.25 per thousand to burn the brick. It required 7 days for burning a kiln. The product was described as "a bright red color of exceptional strength."

The brick was shipped by rail or hauled by teams over an oiled road, which was partly maintained by the brick company. Two grades of bricks sold for $6 and $25 per thousand. These bricks were used mostly in Fresno and surrounding towns. In 1901, the yard produced 2 million bricks and by 1905, it was producing 5 million a year.

View of the clamp kiln at the Fresno Brick and Tile Company north yard.
View of the clamp kiln at the Fresno Brick and Tile
Company north yard. From The Clayworker, 1904.

In 1905, George D. Herrold left the Craycroft-Herrold Brick Company to take the position of superintendent with the Fresno Brick and Tile Company. The brickyard was constantly busy and could not keep up with growing demand for bricks. A major problem was the location of the plant, being three miles from town, making it difficult to hire and keep workers, who preferred to live and work closer to town. This eventually forced the brick company to move its plant to a new location one mile east of Fresno (see
Fresno Brick and Tile Company East Yard). The North Yard was closed by 1911 and the site has been developed for residential units.

Fresno Brick and Tile Company North Yard Brick

Wire-cut Brick

The wire-cut brick is in shades of orange-red to red and mostly uniform in color. The sides are smooth with sharp straight edges and dull or broken corners. The sides may display stack indentations, minor pits, cracks, clumps of clay, transverse grooves, and a fine grid pattern of a belt imprint. The faces have a velour texture made from the wire-cuts. Some faces may show curved grooves and pits. One end-cut brick shows angled grooves on the ends with smooth faces and sides. No marked bricks are known from this yard. The interior contains about 5 percent subangular white to gray quartz, some stained orange, and rounded black iron oxide, all less than 1/8 inch in diameter in a compact, red, quartz-rich sandy clay body. Some spall easily. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process and face or end cut. A range of brick sizes is noted. Length ?, width 3 3/8 - 4, height 2 3/8 - 2 1/2 inches. One smaller than standard size was 3 1/8 inches in width and 2 inches in height and end-cut. To differentiate these bricks from those from the east yard, these bricks are standard or smaller in size, contain subangular quartz, lack mica in the clay body, lack repressed marks, and lack brand name marks.

View of the side of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.
View of the side of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.

View of the velour face of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.
View of the velour face of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.

View of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick.
View of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick.

Microscopic view of the interior of the Fresno Brick and <br />
Tile Company wire-cut brick showing mostly subangular white <br />
quartz and black iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior of the Fresno Brick and
Tile Company wire-cut brick showing mostly subangular white
quartz and black iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).

View of the side of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.
View of the side of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.

View of the face of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.
View of the face of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.

View of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.
View of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company wire-cut brick bat.

Microscopic view of the interior of the Fresno Brick and <br />
Tile Company wire-cut brick bat showing subangular white <br />
quartz and black iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior of the Fresno Brick and
Tile Company wire-cut brick bat showing subangular white
quartz and black iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).

View of the side of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company small end-cut brick bat.
View of the side of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company small end-cut brick bat.

View of the face of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company small end-cut brick bat.
View of the face of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company small end-cut brick bat.

View of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company small end-cut brick bat.
View of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile Company small end-cut brick bat.

Microscopic view of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile <br />
Company end-cut brick showing subangular white and orange-stained <br />
quartz and brown iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).
Microscopic view of the interior of the Fresno Brick and Tile
Company end-cut brick showing subangular white and orange-stained
quartz and brown iron oxide (50x, field of view 1/4 inch).

References

A Brick Plant Near the Raisin City, The Clayworker, v. 41, no. 3, March 1904, p. 366-368.

Bradley, W.W., Brown, G.C., Lowell, F.L., and McLauglin, R.P., Mines and Mineral Resources of Portions of California, Part 4: The Counties of Fresno, Kern, King, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, California State Mining Bureau 14th Report of the State Mineralogist, for the Biennial Period 1913-1914, 1916, p. 429-634.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 14, no. 6, 1901, p. 318.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 16, no. 4, 1902, p. 199.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 18, no. 4, 1903, p. 191.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 19, no. 4, 1903, p. 124.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 22, no. 6, 1905, p. 299.

Fresno Bee, Fresno's Yesterdays, Forty Years Ago, May 12, 1941.

Huguenin, E., and Castello, W.O., Fresno County, California State Mining Bureau 17th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1921, p. 68-73.

Report of Secretary of State, State Incorporations, Appendix to the Journal of the Senate and Assembly, v. 1, Sacramento, California, 1903, p. 43.

Copyright 2014 Dan Mosier

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