Friday, March 24, 2006

CPRR Hauling Bricks to Nevada


In addition to the article on the Argenta water system, Jim [D'Angelo] brought up the source of bricks (in particular firebricks) used in Nevada. He observed that early bricks came from California. By the 1870s he was finding firebricks from England – specifically R. Brown & Son, Paisley – a type made in Scotland between 1867 and 1902. He had assumed that they were shipped in over the transcontinental railroad from the east. I made the following observations, suggesting the English bricks might have been landed in San Francisco (or similar California grain ports), and shipped to Nevada from there. Here's what I said.

On bricks from England vs shipped from the US east, there is another wrinkle. In the 19th century there was a huge wheat traffic between California and England. The California grain to England was the primary haul, aboard sailing ships. On the back haul (England to California), the ships frequently came in ballast – cheap shipping for heavy materials. I know cobble stones and coal were shipped to California this way. Bricks seem another likely cargo. That would put English bricks in San Francisco at low shipping cost. And I suspect Central Pacific would much prefer to ship from California to Nevada rather than Ogden to Nevada – CP could keep all the price of shipping, and would set their freight rates accordingly.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It was Terry Jones, playing Keith Maniac (from Guatemala) who could put bricks to sleep by hypnosis."

3/24/2006 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyle mentions the wheat trade and this is correct. Brick was probably shipped as ballast but the records show that it was a postive enterprise as well. The amount of brick being shipped to the west coast, inlcuding Alaska, was enormous (see Karl Gurcke, Bricks and Brickmaking: a handbook for historical archaeologists. Un Idaho Press. 1987). The need for firebrick in Nevada was tied to the need for kilns, which diminished towards the end of the 19th c. as chemical means of extracting silver & gold were employed. Though Gurcke says that little brick came from the east coast, I am curious to know if the CPRR has shipping records for the years 1869-1900 which could clarify that.

3/28/2006 3:35 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Chris Graves"

English bricks are found in California gold camps, too. It is not unusual to find Snowball and Cowen bricks in old retorts hereabouts.

—G J Chris Graves, NewCastle, Cal.

3/28/2006 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris. Yes, anyone wanting to follow up on this from the archaeologists perspective should see the book I mentioned by Karl Gurcke. His focus is the Pacific Northwest. I would still like to see any references to shipments of brick (any kind) destined for mining towns across Nevada. I'm thinkg that newspapers are my best bet for the period 1869-1895.
Any relation to Jim Graves, IBCA?

4/02/2006 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The retort tower in Ophir, Nevada is all Cowen bricks. chris graves

4/02/2006 9:23 PM  

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