Home Page | Brickmakers
The Kraftile Company incorporated in 1925, with founders J. L. and C. H. Kraft, A. C. Myers,
president, E. Ridgeway and H. E. Leash, directors. The plant was built in 1926 at 800 Kraftile
Road in Niles, CA. The office was at 55 New Montgomery Street in San Francisco.
Local red clay was mined from a 100-foot trench, 35 feet deep, on the property by a bulldozer.
The clay was mixed with barium carbonate and waste tile in a dry-pan grinding mill. It was
ground to 20-mesh and the oversize was returned for regrinding. Water was added as it entered
the twin screw Hummer auger where it was mixed, blended, and extruded as a block ribbon to
an American wire cutting machine. The cut units were then passed to a 15-foot conveyor belt
from which they were hand-loaded onto cars running on 24-inch rails. The cars were hand-trammed
a short distance to carriages running on standard gauge track set normal to the narrow track.
The carriages transported the cars to the entrance of the drying tunnels where they were
transferred to narrow-gauge tracks running through the hot air dehydrator drying tunnels.
There were eight gas-fired tunnels about 75 feet long equipped with two sets of 24-inch rails.
Drying required 48 to 120 hours. These were later replaced by solar-heated driers.
Firing took place in one of the five round down-draft 25-foot
diameter kilns. Each kiln was equipped with 10 burners. Draft for the group of kilns was
provided by two square stacks about 50 feet high. Bricks remained in the kilns 12 to 15 days
to allow for pre-heating and cooling. Firing temperature was about 1,900 degrees F, maintained
by pyrometric cone and pyrometer.
This company manufactured glazed structural wall and partition units, glazed swimming-pool-
overflow gutters, patio tile, quarry tile, standard brick, Roman face brick, split pavers,
enameled brick, acid-floor brick, and acid-tank block. These products were used in hospitals,
schools, food product plants, factories, restaurants, stores, and public buildings throughout
The Kraftile plant operated five and a half days per week. The plant capacity was 1,000 tons
per month. 85 were employed in the office and plant. The plant closed in 1996 and the buildings
were razed a few years afterwards. The site has been developed for housing. Some of the bricks
salvaged from the two stacks and some of the tile were used to make the entrance gate to the
View of the Kraftile Company plant, Niles, CA.
Kraftile Company Brick
View of the side of a Kraftile split paver displaying company name and location.
View of the face of a Kraftile split paver.
View of the end of a Kraftile split paver.
Split paver is dark red, uniform in color. The face and sides are smooth. Two thin sides of
the paver has three deep longitudinal grooves running the whole length of the brick. On one
of these sides is imprinted "KRAFTILE CO NILES CALIF" in repeated fashion. Length 8,
width 3 7/8, height 1 1/4.
Daily Review, Oct., 11, 1984, p. 29.
Copyright © 2005 Dan Mosier
Davis, F.F., 1950, Mines and Mineral Resources of Alameda County, California.
California State Mining Bureau, v. 46, no. 2, p. 292-293.
Dietrich, W.F., 1928, The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California.
California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, p. 41.
Kraftile Co., no date, A Complete Line of Enameled Clay Products.
Kraftile Co., 1986, Split Pavers.
Home Page | Brickmakers
Comments or questions are welcomed.
Please send email to Dan Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org.