California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Kimball Brick Company
Wheeland Brick Company

History

In late 1901, Samuel Wheeland, of Collins and Wheeland saloon, San Francisco, acquired the Mountain View Brickyard on the banks of Stevens Creek south of Louise Avenue (now Evelyn Avenue), Mountain View. The main office was at 323 Montgomery St., San Francisco, and the company was known as the Kimball Brick Company, although it was also called the Wheeland Brick Company. C. Jesse Titus was president and Fred Dreischmyer was the plant manager.

Wheeland purchased new brick machinery from the Bodley brickyard, across from the railroad station in Mountain View. By November 1901, a Hoffman kiln, 160 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 13 feet high, with a 90 feet high smokestack that was 9 feet in diameter, had been erected. The kiln had a capacity of two million bricks. It was reported that by December 1903, the brickyard was shipping one carload daily. The clay pit on the east side of Stevens Creek was 600 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 30 feet deep. Another clay pit was a few hundred yards to the south along the creek.

The 1906 Earthquake toppled the brick chimney, but it was rebuilt. However, unexpected decline in the brick market following the earthquake, forced the Wheeland Brick Company to close in 1909. All evidence of the Wheeland brick plant was gone by 1930, although evidence of the old clay pits still exist.

Kimball Brick

Common brick is orange red to pale red, mostly uniform in color with occasional yellow flashing displayed on sides. Abundant visible clasts are white, gray, and red pebbles up to a 3/4 inch across. Better quality bricks will display only small white specks on the surface. Poor quality bricks that have weathered surfaces often display pits up to an inch across and expose internal clasts. Clasts are typically red chert, quartz, and metamorphic rocks, which are irregularly shaped to well-rounded. The sides are even and display no or an irregular thin lip along the top edge. The top and bottom faces are pitted. Top faces display minor longitudinal strike lines on an uneven surface. Bottom face has a flat, even surface. Edges and corners are often dull. Hand-molded, rough, sand struck, soft mud process. The quality of the Kimball bricks are better than the earlier bricks made at this site by the Mountain View Brick Company. Length 8 1/4 - 8 1/2, width 3 7/8 - 4, height 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 inches.

Kimball brick
Side view of a Kimball brick bat showing sand molded, pale red color
with slight yellow flashing and thin, irregular lip on top face edge.

Kimball brick
Bottom face of a Kimball brick bat showing smooth sanded surface with
minor pitting and slightly rounded edges.

Kimball brick
Top face of a Kimball brick bat showing an irregular, pitted surface with
longitudinal strike marks.

Kimball brick
Interior end view of a Kimball brick bat showing red, white, and gray,
irregular to rounded clasts of chert and metamorphic rocks and voids.

Kimball brick
Round chert pebbles, up to 3/4 inch across, are characteristic
of the Kimball bricks, as noted on one of the faces of this brick bat.


References

Baumgartner, Godfrey, Jr., History of Mountain View and Sugar Beets, unpublished article, no date.

Brick, November 1901, p. 227.

Kinchen, Barbara, Index card file, Mountain View Library.

Mountain View Leader, 1904.

Mountain View Register, 1903-1906.

Palo Alto Times, 1909.

San Francisco Call, Victim of Apoplexy, 24 August 1904.

San Jose Mercury News, 1901-1902.

Santa Clara County Map Book G, Miramonte Subdivision, 1893, p. 14.

Copyright 2005 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.