California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


San Luis Brick Company

History



San Luis Brick Works
View of the San Luis Brick Works. Photo by Herbert A. Franke, from Symons, 1937.

In 1907, the San Luis Brick Company built a plant at 2900 South Broad St., San Luis Obispo. Here they located a yellow loam with the right amount of sand on 10 acres of land and near two railroads, the Southern Pacific and Pacific Coast Railroad. The clay was suitable for making good common brick. They employed 20 to 25 men. This company was the only brick manufacturer in San Luis Obispo County during the time it was in operation. Up until 1915, when the plant first shut down, it had produced over 10,000,000 bricks. A. F. Fitzgerald was the president of this first operation.

During the 1907 to 1915 period, mining was done with two-horse scrapers which delivered to cars operated by a steam winch. From the cars, the clay passed to a 9-inch American clay worker, from which it passed to a Bonnet elevator, where it was screened, the fines going to the home-made pug mill, then to the American machine presser and cutter of 60,000 daily capacity, and the coarse returning to the clay worker. Field kilns were used to fire the bricks. Power was furnished by a steam engine with an auxillary gasoline engine of 20 h.p. In 1914, they installed a system similar to the Penfield, where 500 unfired brick could be handled by chain hoisting and traveling crane.

San Luis Brick Works
View of the plant and workers of the San Luis Brick Works. From Dietrich, 1928.

In 1921, the Faulstich Brothers, John and Charles, reopened the brick plant under the San Luis Brick Works. The Faulstich Brothers were contractors from Long Beach, California. John Frederick Faulstich was born on August 1, 1887 in Maryland. His younger brother, Charles Rolandes Faulstich was born on February 4, 1889 in Maryland. They wanted to produce "superior" common brick and hollow tile. New machinery and equipment were installed. Under the Faulstich Brothers, the clay was mined to a depth of 15 feet by hand shoveling into dump cars, which were hauled up an incline by a steam winch, and dumped through a hopper into a 10-foot dry pan. After screening, the fines passed to a pug mill, then to an American Clay Machinery Company's auger machine equipped with a Freize cutter. The oversize from the screen was returned to the dry pan. The brick was dried in the open without auxilliary heat for three weeks. Firing was done in open field kilns, usually with 18 arches, each kiln containing 590,000 brick. Heat was supplied by oil, with steam atomization. Firing required five days, and cooling about three weeks. The plant operated three months with 28 workers, producing 1,500,000 brick per year.

Brick and hollow tile continued to be produced from this plant with occasional periods of closures, the longest shutdown was from 1950 to 1955. The bricks were used in San Luis Obispo and shipped to nearby cities and towns. Most of the brick buildings in Pismo Beach are constructed of San Luis brick and provide good examples of their product over the range of operating years. John Faulstich died in 1946 and Charles in 1947. In 1956, the firm reorganized under the name San Luis Brick, Inc., but it was still owned by the Faulstich brothers. This company operated until at least to about 1976 before it was permanently closed. The site today has been replaced by a shopping center called "The Brickyard".

San Luis Brick

Common brick is light orange, orange, red, pale red, dark red, and brown, mostly uniform in color. The surface is smooth as expected for extruded brick, with cracks and abundant white subangular to angular white feldspar up to 1/8 inch across and minor pits up to 1/8 inch across. Some sides display transverse grooves, subtle white flash marks, and longitudinal conveyor belt imprints. Faces are rough, pitted, and display curved wire cut marks. Extruded, stiff-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 3/4, height 2 3/8 inches.

Common Brick

San Luis Brick Works wire-cut brick
View of various shades of San Luis common bricks.

San Luis Brick Works wire-cut brick
View of red and orange San Luis common brick, showing subtle flash patterns.

Rug Brick

Rug brick is red to dark red, uniform in color. Surface displays abundant angular to subangular white feldspar. Ends have 7 evenly spaced grooves. Sides have 16 evenly spaced grooves. Faces are rough, pitted, and display curved wire cut marks. Extruded, stiff-mud process. Length 8 1/4, width 3 5/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

San Luis Brick Works red rug brick
View of a San Luis red rug brick.



References

Bradley, Walter W., Huguenin, Emile, Logan, C.A., and Waring, Clarence A., The Counties of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, California State Mining Bureau 15th Report of the State Mineralogist, Part 5, 1919, p. 590-769 (679-680).

Brick and Clay Record, v. 42, no. 4, 1913, p. 242.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 44. no. 3, 1913, p. 376.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 58. no. 7, 1921, p. 589.

Brick and Clay Record, v. 58. no. 10, 1921, p. 838.

California Division of Mines and Geology, Directory of Producers, 1971.

Danaher, Hugh, pers. comm., 2005.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., The Clay Resources and the Ceramic Industry of California, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928.

Franke, Herbert A., Mines and Mineral Resources of San Luis Obispo County, California State Mining Bureau 31st Report of the State Mineralogist, 1935, p. 402-461.

Laizure, C. McK., San Luis Obispo County, California State Mining Bureau 21st Report of the State Mineralogist, 1925, p. 499-538.

McDermott, Effie, pers. comm., 2012.

Middleton, George H., written comm., 2012.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production For 1927, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 101, 1928, 311 p.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production and Directory of Mineral Producers For 1935, California Division of Mines Bulletin 112, 1937, 205 p.

Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.