California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Sacramento Clay Products Company

Sacramento Clay Products Co. letterhead
Letterhead donated by Chris and Sandra Ingram

History


In 1912, the Sacramento Clay Products Company acquired the large plant of the Silica Brick Company, which had been closed for a year because of litigations among its directors. The plant was built in 1910 at Ben Ali Siding on the Southern Pacific railroad about four miles north of Sacramento. The Silica Brick Company erected a three-story building on 39 acres of clay land for the manufacture of pressed and fire brick, fireproofing, sewer pipe, conduits, and other clay products. But these products were never made. In December 1911, the plant was served an attachment to cover the judgment of $22,400, the amount claimed by a former director, J. P. Dargitz, for payment of promissory notes.


Silica Brick Co. plant
Three-story plant of the Silica Brick Company, acquired by the Sacramento Clay Products Company in 1912.


In April 1912, the Sacramento Clay Products Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $150,000. The directors were J. P. Dargitz, H. R. Thomas, T. C. Tucker, B. F. Walton, and George W. Pierce. J. P. Dargitz was the first president, B. S. Brown was the secretary, and George H. Emery was the manager. The company office was located in the Ochsner Building in Sacramento. This company was to make, buy, and sell all kinds of tiling, terra cotta, drain tile, conduit, face brick, fire brick, and fireproofing. As many as 30 workers were employed in the plant.

Clay was shipped by rail from Lincoln, Placer County, and mixed with the clay mined near the plant. The local clay was a red-burning, yellowish brown, sandy clay and hardpan under a layer of red sandy loam, 15-20 feet thick. The mixture was tempered with water in a pug mill and formed into bricks using the stiff-mud process. The plant used a Berg brick press, two American clay machines, and one hollow tile machine. The products were dried using waste heat from the kilns. Four oil-burning, down-draft, round kilns were used to fire the products.

Sacramento Clay Products Co. brickyard
Plant of the Sacramento Clay Products Company. From Architect and Engineer, 1913.


In May 1912, the first products made were hollow-wall tile for fireproofing buildings. Among the first buildings to receive these partition tiles was the Hotel Sacramento. By the end of 1912, matte-surface face brick and fire brick were made. The first face bricks were used in a large building at O'Farrell and Powell streets in San Francisco. In 1913, red pressed bricks were produced and used in residences in Piedmont. In June 1913, the Pratt Building Material Company became a sales agent for the company.

In early 1914, a contract was made with the California Denison Block Company to manufacture Denison patent interlocking tile. By May 1914, six carloads containing 6,000 Denison interlocking tile were shipped daily to Oakland. Also, 40,000 of these tiles were used in the Forum Building in Sacramento, which became the new office for the company. In June 1914, the Denison Block Company was organized by Dana A. Cannon and others of Sacramento to succeed the California Denison Block Company. J. B. Phillips, who was superintendent of the Carquinez Brick and Tile Company, was hired to manage the Sacramento plant. These Denison blocks were used in many buildings in and around Sacramento. In 1915, the company displayed these products at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, and it was reported that the display was "well located and has attracted considerable attention."

In January 1917, the Sacramento Clay Products Company was incorporated. Dana A. Cannon, Claire Cannon, and J. B. Phillips were the directors. However, things were not going well for the company. It was announced that the plant and equipment were to be offered at a trustees' sale on June 4, 1917. In August, the property was exchanged for 997 shares of stock of the Cannon-Phillips Company. Dana A. Cannon and J. B. Phillips became the new owners of the Sacramento plant and they later operated it under the name "Cannon & Company".

Sacramento Clay Products Company Brick

Face brick is buff with smooth surfaces. Edges and corners are sharp, when not broken or chipped. The sides may display stack indentions and faint orange flash. The faces show numerous straight, short, transverse grooves and pits, probably made by a blade. On one of the faces is impressed "BEN ALI" recessed in block letters, spanning 3 3/4 inches in length and 5/8 inch in height. The other face displays many parallel rows of short dashes, which might be the conveyor belt imprint. The clay body contains 25 percent subrounded, clear quartz, 10 percent subangular, white feldspar, and 5 percent red or black iron grains, up to 1/16 inch across. The iron grains give the surface a fine speckled texture. This brick was made using the stiff-mud process, extruded, blade cut, and repressed. Length 8 1/8, width 3 3/4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Sacramento Clay Products Co. Ben Ali face brick
View of the marked face of the BEN ALI face brick. Note the straight blade cuts. Donated by Ben Rinehart.

Sacramento Clay Products Co. Ben Ali face brick
View of the side of the BEN ALI face brick.

Sacramento Clay Products Co. Ben Ali face brick
View of the side of the BEN ALI face brick with faint flash pattern shown.


References

Architect and Engineer, June 1913, p. 135.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 39, no. 1, 1911, p. 30.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 39, no. 12, 1911, p. 479.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 40, no. 4, 1912, p. 192.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 40, no. 7, 1912, p. 356.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 41, no. 5, 1912, p. 198.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 42, no. 2, 1913, p. 140.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 43, no. 1, 1913, p. 74.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 43, no. 4, 1913, p. 404.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 44, no. 8, 1914, p. 954.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 44, no. 10, 1914, p. 1086.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 44, no. 11, 1914, p. 1295.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 45, no. 6, 1914, p. 623.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 45, no. 7, 1914, p. 717.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 45, no. 9, 1914, p. 915.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 46, no. 11, 1915, p. 1064.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 50, no. 3, 1917, p. 261.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 50, no. 12, 1917, p. 1157.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 51, no. 5, 1917, p. 420.

Engineering and Mining Journal, v. 104, no. 11, 1917, p. 499.

Sacramento City Directories, 1911-1918.

Tucker, W.B., and Waring, Clarence A., The Counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yuba, California State Mining Bureau 15th Report of the State Mineralogist, part 3, 1916, p. 267-459.

Copyright 2009 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.