California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Stockton Brick and Tile Company

History

The Stockton Brick and Tile Company began in 1921, with Ernest W. Harker as the general manager and Henry Bohlman as the superintendent. The plant, erected in 1921, was located on 3200 S. McKinley Avenue, Stockton. This company manufactured various grades of common building brick, hollow tile, and drain tile. The tile was marketed throughout the state, while the brick was sold in the Stockton area and points to the north. A Southern Pacific railroad spur was laid to the plant for shipments by rail.

In 1925, Ralph Wilcox was president, Paul Weston, secretary, and G. Birtolini, plant superintendent. In 1960, the name changed to the California Clay Products Company, with John C. Boggs as president, Ernest W. Harker as the general manager, and Marshall W. McCarty as superintendent. In 1969, the company changed its name to the General Shale Products of California. In 1972, it changed its name again to the California Clay Company. The plant was closed by 1980.

Clay was mined from a pit, several acres in extent and 50 feet deep, to the south of the plant. The clay was an orange-red burning variety which occurred in flat-lying beds with little overburden. A tractor with a carry-all scraper mined the clay, which was then stockpiled in a shed. Occasionally, some clay was shipped from Ione, Amador County.

The plant used a stiff-mud process. The clay was ground in a dry pan grinder, screened, and elevated to a pug mill, where the clay was mixed with water to form a mud which was sent to an extruder. A continuous bar of shaped mud from the extruder was wire-cut into standard brick sizes. The brick shapes were then air dried for about four days, carted to field-type kilns, where they were baked for 11 days. There were four field kilns, each having a capacity of 250,000 bricks. Hollow and drain tile shapes were fired in a coal and gas-fired Hoffman 16-section continous kiln. Each section was fired for about 24 hours. The Hoffman kiln had a capacity for 450,000 bricks. All machinery was operated by electric power. Fired products were then stockpiled in the yard. This plant produced 1,000 finished products per month, though it had a capacity of 25,000 per day. 20 to 32 men were employed at the plant.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. brickyard
View of the clay pit and brick plant of the Stockton Brick
and Tile Company. From Clark, 1955, p. 36.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. brickyard
Close up view of the Stockton Brick and Tile Company. From Laizure, 1925, p. 188.

Site of the Stockton Brick and Tile Co. brickyard
View of the site of the Stockton Brick and Tile Company,
which is currently being used as a recycling center.
The brick house is made of brick made by the Stockton Brick and Tile Company.

Stockton Brick and Tile Company Brick

Common Brick

Common, stiff-mud, extruded brick is pale orange to orange-red to red, uniform color. Some sides display white, yellow, or black flashing. Small, rounded, white specks of feldspar and quartz up to 1/8 inch can be seen on some surfaces, especially the wire-cut faces and broken interiors. White or yellow wisps of clay are characteristic. The surface is smooth with minor crazing. Some sides display transverse grooves caused by extruder and criss-cross imprints caused by either a conveyor or screen. Wire-cut faces show prominent curved cut marks. Brick is very hard and displays a conchoidal fracture where chipped or broken along edges. Length 8 1/4, width 3 7/8, height 2 3/8 inches.

Building at the Stockton Brick and Tile Co. brickyard
View of a brick building at the entrance to the Stockton Brick and Tile Company,
displaying examples of the common orange brick made by the brick company.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. brick
View of the Stockton Brick and Tile Company bricks in the brick building
at the entrance to the old brick works. Note the wire-cut face.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick
View of the wire-cut face of a Stockton Brick and Tile Company brick.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick
View of the smooth side of a Stockton Brick and Tile Company brick.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick
View of the smooth end of a Stockton Brick and Tile Company brick.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick
View of white flashing on the side of the brick.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick
View of transverse grooves in the side of the brick.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick interior
View of the broken interior of the brick. Note the white clasts
of feldspar, quartz, and minor pits.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut brick
View of yellow and black flashing with cherry red on the side of the brick.

Rug Brick

The rug brick has rug texture on two sides and is smooth on two sides. The top and bottom faces show the curved wire-cut marks similar to that seen in the common brick. There are 29 evenly spaced transverse grooves on the long side and 18 on the end. Some have slightly irregular-spacings that vary by 1/16 inch. The groove spacings are centered 1/4 inch apart and the groove is up to 1/8 inch deep. The short edge is rounded and has a 1/4 inch margin on the rug side. A stiff-mud extruded wire-cut process with a two-sided protruding die was used to make this brick. Length 8 3/8, width 4, height 2 1/2 inches.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. rug brick
View of the end of a rug-textured brick.

Block


Large block has smooth faces and wire-cut sides, showing curved wire-cut marks. The block is heavy. The interior shows a strong lamination in the longitudinal direction on the ends of the block. White or yellow wisps of clay are characteristic. The block is 8 1/4 inches long, 5 1/4 inches wide, and 4 inches high.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. block
View of a smooth face of a block.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut block
View of the wire-cut side of a block.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. wire-cut block
View of smooth end of a block. Note laminate structure in the longitudinal direction.

Soap


The soap has smooth faces with fine transverse grooves and a faint criss-cross conveyor type imprint. The sides are wire-cut, showing curved wire-cut marks. The ends are smooth with fine grooves in the longitudinal direction. The interior clay body shows a strong lamination in the longitudinal direction on the ends and in the transverse direction on the faces. White or yellow wisps of clay are characteristic. The soap is 8 1/4 inches long, 2 3/8 inches wide, and 1 3/4 inches high.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. soap
View of a smooth face of a soap.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. soap
View of the wire-cut side of a soap.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. soap
View of smooth end of a soap. Note laminate structure in the longitudinal direction.

Hollow Tile


There are at least four styles of hollow tile, which I have little information about most of them because whole specimens were not available. One in which a whole sample has survived, is orange and measures 12 inches in length, 9 inches width, and 6 inches height. The 9-inch faces are smooth and the 6-inch sides have four evenly spaced grooves in the longitudinal direction. The grooves are 1/2 inch wide and 1/32 inch deep. The tile is 1/2 inch thick and displays curved wire-cut marks.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. hollow tile
View of the 6-inch side of the hollow tile with four longitudinal grooves.

A second orange hollow tile that was reported by Richard Nelson measures 11 3/4 inches in length, 8 1/8 inches in width, and 5 1/2 inches in height. The larger face has 8 evenly spaced grooves about 3/4 inch apart with 1 inch wide margins. The smaller 5 1/2-inch sides are flat and smooth. Across the center in the longest dimension of the larger face, the tile is marked in two lines with recessed, thin, block letters in a repetitive fashion such that the words are truncated at the 8 1/8-inch sides. On the first line is STOCKTON-BRICK-&-TILE and on the second line is LOAD-BEARING-TILE.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. hollow tile
View of the larger marked face of the hollow tile with
8 longitudinal grooves. Photo courtesy of Richard Nelson.

Another style of orange hollow tile has a partition and is 6 inches in height. Length and width are unknown. The 6-inch side has 3/8-inch wide grooves, 1/16 inch deep, that are evenly spaced 3/8 inch apart in the transverse direction. This tile is 1/2 inch thick with curved wire-cut marks.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. hollow tile
View of the 6-inch side of a hollow tile with transverse grooves.

Another hollow tile is dark red and has at least one side with 1/2-inch wide grooves, 1/8 inch deep, and 3/8 inch apart in the longitudinal direction. The tile is 1/2 inch thick. No other dimensions are available.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. hollow tile
View of the grooved side of a dark red hollow tile.

There is also an orange hollow tile with a partition that is 5 1/2 inches in height with at least one smooth side. The tile is 1/2 inch thick. No other dimensions are available.

Stockton Brick and Tile Co. hollow tile
View of the 5 1/2-inch smooth side of a hollow tile.

References

Clark, William B., Mines and Mineral Resources of San Joaquin County, California Journal of Mines and Geology, v. 51, no. 1, 1955, p. 36-37.

Laizure, C.M., San Joaquin County, California State Mining Bureau 21st Report of the State Mineralogist, 1925, p. 188-189.

Stockton City Directories, 1921-1980.

Copyright 2004 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.