In May 1948, the company opened a new shale pit for red-burning clay near the town of
Altamont, northeast of Livermore. John Pedro was in charge with a crew of eight miners,
a power shovel, Cat tractor, and trucks. A railroad spur was laid to the pit and a
loading ramp was built at the railroad siding. The shale was shipped to both the
Livermore and Lincoln plants of the company. The Livermore plant installed a $10,000 pug
mill for mixing and extruding the red clay. From this clay, they made Roman decorative
brick, and these were used on building and home facings. The company also had
planned to make red face brick, drain and flue linings, and roof tiles, but it is unlikely
that these products were made at the Livermore plant before it closed.
From 1946 to 1948, William Zinszer was superintendent of the Livermore plant. He was succeeded by Charles Perry from July 1948 until the plant closed on February 28, 1949. The brick plant was razed and the abandoned property stood vacant for four decades before the plant site was finally converted into the Brickyard Shopping Center, anchored by the K-Mart store. Today, a small plaque on a brick monument, which displays some of the old Livermore bricks, stands as a reminder of the former Livermore brick plant.
GASCO firebrick made at the Livemore plant is dark salmon with smooth surfaces that show
crazing, small cracks, and minor blister pits. The salmon clay body appears to be a distinguishing
feature of the bricks made at this plant, compared to the yellow clay body made at the Stockton
plant and white clay body made at the Pittsburg plant. A grog of angular white quartz, up to
1/4 inch across, constitutes about 10 percent of the volume. On one
face is imprinted the brand name GASCO in recessed block letters that span a length of 3 5/8
inches and is 11/16 inch high. The name is on a rounded rectangular plate 6 1/8 inches long
and 7/8 inch high. Plate and name are centered on the face of the brick. Extruded, wire-cut,
stiff-mud, repressed process. Manufactured from 1937 to 1949 at the Livermore plant.
Length 8 1/4, width 4 1/2, height 2 1/2 inches.
MANTEL BRICK firebrick made at the Livermore plant is grayish white with a fine clay body
containing subangular white quartz grog, up to 1/8 inch across. The quartz constitutes about
10 percent of the volume. The surface is smooth with minor crazing. Edges are straight and
the corners are worn or broken. The face displays cured wire-cut grooves and pits up to 1/4 inch
across. The brand name is imprinted on one of the faces on two lines in recessed block letters.
The top line is MANTEL, which spans a length of 3 3/16 inches and is 1/2 inch high. The bottom
line is BRICK, which spans a length of 2 1/8 inches and is 1/2 inch high. Both names are on
a rounded rectangular name plate 7 1/8 inches long and 5/8 inch high. Extruded, wire-cut, stiff-
mud process. Manufactured from 1943 to 1949 at the Livermore plant by Gladding, McBean &
Company. Length 7 7/8 - 8 1/2, width 3 3/4 - 4, height 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 inches.
STAR firebrick is believed to be made at the Livermore plant based on processing marks on the brick.
The color is gray and mostly uniform. Strong curved wire-cut marks are displayed on the faces. The surfaces
has minor crackles and pits. The form is straight with sharp edges and corners when new. On one of the
faces is marked in recessed block letters "STAR" centered inside a shallow rounded rectangular frog, which
is the outline of the name plate. Quartz grog up to 1/4 inch across is visible on the surface. The
interior contains large subangular quartz and black iron oxide up to 1/2 inch across and about 10 percent
in volume in a white clay body. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, wire-cut,
and repressed. Thanks goes out to Evelyn Rose who found this sample in San Francisco. Length 9, width 4 1/4,
height 2 5/8 inches.
Davis, F.F., Mines and Mineral Resources of Alameda County, California,
California State Mining Bureau, v. 46, no. 2, 1950, p. 290-291.
Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 209-210.
Livermore News, Altamont Shale Mine Open, May 20, 1948.
Livermore News, July 15, 1948.
Mosier, Dan L., Brick Making in the Livermore Valley, Livermore Heritage Guild Chapters in Livermore History, Feb. 1983.
Contact Dan Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org.