Utah's Limestone Industry, and Utah's Railroads
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This page was last updated on December 4, 2017.
(This is a work in progress; research continues.
In addition to the limestone quarries shown below, there were quarries at Topliff, on LA&SL's Boulter (later Fairfield) Branch, and west of Milford on LA&SL's Frisco Branch.
Tooele County is second only to Salt Lake County in the manufacture of lime. The U. S. Lime Division of The Flintkote Co. has a plant near Grantsville that is a consistent and substantial producer from stone quarries nearby. This firm's operations at Dolomite and Flux, northwest of Grantsville, are the biggest in the state. They furnish the limestone for Kennecott Copper Corp.'s large lime plant in Salt Lake County. U. S. Lime Division has its own crushing, screening, sizing and pulverizing facilities. It furnishes crushed limestone for use in the smelting of nonferrous metals, in sugar refining, for "sweetening up" of cement by Portland cement manufacturers, as rip rap, etc. Pulverized stone is sold for an additive in asphalt black-top road mix, as rock dust for coal mining, as a water purifier in water treatment plants, and for fluorine gas control at the Geneva Works in Utah County. The Utah Marblehead Lime Co. has a $3 million dolomite plant near Delle which furnishes "deadburned" dolomite for the open hearth furnaces at the Geneva Works. (Utah Mining Association, "Operational and Economic Review, August 1967, page 83)
According to USGS data, the limestone quarries in Tooele County are located in the East Erickson District, in the Sheeprock Mountains.
Western Pacific completed the Ellerbeck/Dolomite branches in 1918 to serve limestone quarries at Dolomite and Flux. (LeMassena, page 269) The Ellerbeck Branch connected with the WP main line at Ellerbeck, and terminated at Flux, 3.7 miles from Ellerbeck. A spur leaves the Ellerbeck Branch at Dolomite Junction and terminates at Dolomite. This spur is shown as the 'K' Line, and was built in 1917-1918.
An article in the WP Mileposts magazine stated that the dolomite (lime rock) traffic from the plant at Marblehead began in June 1958, replacing lime rock that had been shipped to U. S. Steel's Geneva plant from Illinois. The name Marblehead comes from the name of the company in Illinois, which located a deposit in Utah, and created a subsidiary company for its new operations. The reason may have been either to reduce the transportation distance and/or charges, or if there was a problem with the deposit in Illinois, such as depletion or degradation of the deposit there. The branch is apparently unused at this point in early 2006, since Geneva Steel has closed. The article in WP Mileposts mentioned a rather large deposit at the Marblehead location, and other uses, including railroad ballast. (Thom Anderson)
Along the former WP Ellerbeck Branch, there were three separate limestone quarries. From south to north their station names were Climax, Flux, and Dolomite. The quarry at Climax is now abandoned and reclaimed (mostly). The quarry at Flux is not in use, but the plant is being used to load an occasional rail car using a variety of former U. S. Steel and U. S. Army switching locomotives owned by Broken Arrow, who provides the switching service to Chemical Lime. The quarry at Dolomite is very active loading trucks and rail cars.
(history unknown, research continues)
Utah Lime was sold to U. S. Lime Company in (?); U. S. Lime was sold to to Flintkote in 1958; Flintkote was sold to Chemical Lime in (?).
Utah Lime & Stone Company was organized in April 1914 to operate quarries five miles northwest of Grantsville. The majority owners were T. R. Ellerbeck and W. L. Ellerbeck. The company was to operate lime and building stone quarries, along with clay and silica beds. They had already furnished 500,000 tons of crushed stone for use as track ballast for the Western Pacific Railroad along the south shore of Great Salt Lake. (Tooele Transcript, April 3, 1914)
Flintkote bought Utah Lime and Stone Company on June 24, 1958. (New York Times, June 25, 1958)
By 2008, this facility was operated by BCS (Better Chemical Solutions) and was the site where two Alco locmotives were stored, along with a former U. S. Army RS4-TC locomotive. The Alcos had been moved from the former U. S. Steel coal washing plant near Wellington.
U. S. Lime to Flintkote, to Chemical Lime
At Flux and Dolomite, the plants were operated by U. S. Lime Co., a division of Flintkote Company. U. S. Lime Company, along with Utah Lime and Stone Company, were the focus of Flintkote's Utah operations. The Utah Lime and Stone Company quarry is located at the railroad station known as Flux.
In 1979, Genstar Corporation acquired all of Flintkote's outstanding stock. At the end of 1985, Flintkote operated five wallboard, nine roofing, one cement and four lime plants throughout the United States (including U. S. Lime, and Utah Lime, both in Utah), as well as 44 plants in the United States engaged in producing and distributing various mineral aggregate and concrete related products.
In 1986, Imasco Limited, now known as Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited, acquired Genstar. From mid 1986 through September 2003, Flintkote was an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Imasco. Shortly after its takeover of Genstar, Imasco sold all of Flintkote's operating businesses to various third parties. In the case of the stone, gypsum, roofing and lime businesses, Imasco transferred Flintkote non-asbestos assets and liabilities for each division to separate, newly-formed subsidiary corporations (Newco Lime Co., for Flintkote's lime business). Imasco then sold these newly-formed Flintkote subsidiaries to third-party purchasers. Flintkote's lime business manufactured and distributed various lime products, including high calcium, dolomitic quicklime and hydrates. It was sold to Chemical Lime Company. (this may contradict other information that Chemical Lime bought Genstar's lime business in 1996)
In May 2004 Flintkote declared bankruptcy as a result of class action asbestos litigation by 157,000 claimants, along with 2,800 employees of Flintkote's asbestos mine in Canada.
At the location known as Dolomite, there is today  a plant operated by Chemical Lime, a member of the Lhoist Group of Belgium. In 1981, the Lhoist Group, Brussels, Belgium, and Europe's leading lime producer, made an initial investment in Chemical Lime Company. In 1989, Lhoist purchased the majority interest in CLC and in 1998 acquired full ownership. The Lhoist Group expanded into the Southeast with the acquisition of Allied Lime in 1989, and into the West with the purchase of Genstar's lime division in 1996. Chemical Lime operated plants in 15 states and another plant in British Columbia.
Chemical Lime operated a quarry and processing plant near Grantsville, at the railroad station known as Dolomite. Material mined by Chemical Lime was processed through size segregation, from powder up to one-inch rock. About 75 percent of the mined product was ready to use as-is, while the remaining portion was processed in a kiln, located in a plant adjacent to the quarry. As of March 2008, Chemical Lime, a privately held company that had been operating in Utah for 75 years, had 37 employees in the state and produced between 7,000 and 8,000 tons of lime a month, most of which is shipped via Union Pacific.
November 15, 2008
Chemical Lime closed its Grantsville lime processing plant due to "a slowdown in residential and commercial construction across the U.S and the recent decline in the steel market, combined with unprecedented increases in energy costs." The closure put 20 employees out of work. (Tooele Transcript, November 18, 2008, "Friday")
"A five mile spur track was laid from the main line to the new dolomite plant of the Utah Marblehead Lime Company near Delle." (Western Pacific Railroad 1958 annual report)
The Marblehead limestone quarry is located about 3.5 miles north of the site of the proccessing plant, where the railroad spur provided service to the plant.
According to an article in WP Mileposts magazine, published by Western Pacific Railroad, the quarry at Marblehead opened in June 1958 to ship dolomite ("Lime Rock") to U. S. Steel's plant at Geneva, Utah, replacing a source in Illinois. It was the same company in both Illinois and Utah, with the Illinois company, Marblehead Lime Company, creating a Utah subsidiary, Utah Marblehead Lime Company, to operate the Utah site.
December 28, 1956
Plans were announced by the local Tooele County chamber of commerce, for Marblehead Lime Company to build a $3 million lime mill, at a point served by Western Pacific Railroad. Actual construction of the railroad spur, the crusher and mill were to begin "within a few weeks." The site was three miles northwest of Delle station on the Western Pacific, and would employ 90 men. The product of the mill would most likely be purchased by U. S. Steel for use at its Geneva steel mill. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 28, 1956)
January 15, 1958
Work was proceeding of the new $3 million lime mill of Utah Marblehead Lime Co., affiliated with Marblehead Lime Co. of Chicago. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 15, 1958)
December 30, 1959
Directors and shareholders of both companies approved the merger of General Dynamics and Material Services Corp., which owns numerous building material companies including Marblehead Lime Co., and its subsidiary Utah Marblehead Lime Co. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 1959)
"The Utah Marblehead Lime Co. has a $3 million dolomite plant near Delle which furnishes "deadburned" dolomite for the open hearth furnaces at the Geneva Works." ("Utah's Mining Industry", Utah Mining Association, 1967, page 83)
"Utah Marblehead Lime Co. produced dead-burned dolomite at the company plant northwest of Grantsville, Tooele County." (Mineral Industry In Utah, 1968, USGS, page 750)
June 7, 1972
In a move to separte its commercial business from its government and defense contracts, General Dynamics formed a new company, General Dynamics Commercial Products Company, manage its natural resources and commercial divisions, including Marblehead Lime Company, and its Utah Marblehead Lime subsidiary. (St. Louis Post Dispatch, June 8, 1972, "yesterday")
"Utah Marblehead Lime Co., a division of General Dynamics Corp., was the leading producer of dead-burned dolomite made from dolomitic limestone mined in the Lakeside Mountains, Tooele County. The product was shipped by rail and truck to steel plants in British Columbia, Canada, California, Utah, and Washington." (Mineral Industry In Utah, 1981, Volume II, USGS, page 498)
(U. S. Steel closed its Geneva steel plant in August 1986, which might indicate that the limestone processing plant at Marblehead was also shut down at the same time. When Geneva Steel reopened the Geneva plant in August 1987, they apparently had a different source for their limestone.)
(Utah Marblehead Lime Co. also had a quarry at Wendover, Utah)
U.S. Pollution Control, Inc. (USPCI) bought the Utah Marblehead Lime processing plant with the intention of using the on-site kiln driers (furnaces) to burn hazardous waste that qualified as fuel (solvents, etc.), under an exemption that certain hazardous wastes could be burned as fuel in existing industrial furnaces and boilers without environmental approval and certification. Wastes were burned in July and September 1987, at which time Utah Department of Health issued a cease and desist order against USPCI. The federal EPA published (issued) an amendment in June 1988 that closed this loop hole in its regulations. (U.S. EPA Region VII, Denver, letter to BLM district manager, dated April 26, 1988, "Letter 19," and "Response to Letter 19")
General Dynamics sold its non-core businesses, including most of its Material Services Division, which itself included Utah Marblehead Lime Co. "In December 1993, the Company announced the sale of the lime and brick operations of its Material Service business for $46 [million] in cash. The Company expects to complete the sale in the first quarter of 1994." (General Dynamics SEC Form 10-K, March 1994) "During the first quarter of 1994, the company closed the sales of the lime, brick and a portion of the concrete pipe operations of its Material Service business for a total of $50 [million] in cash. No gains or losses were recognized on the sales. The company intends to sell the remaining product lines of the Material Service business." (General Dynamics SEC Form 10-K, March 1995)
In 1995, Chemical Lime of Arizona purchased the Marblehead plant in Tooele County from U.S. Pollution Control, Inc. The quarry itself remained under Utah Marblehead Lime Co. ownership. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Inspection Report, April 2007)
During September 1998, the rail spur between the mainline connection, and the Marblehead processing plant was seen as being filled with out-of-service and stored TTX flat cars.
In March 2007, Utah Marblehead LLC had its federal mining claims declared null and void due to a mixup of paying its annual maintenance fees, in time to meet a deadline of September 1, 2002. (United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Civil Action 05-00844)
During early 2008, the last remaining stockpiles of crushed limestone at the quarry, in the form of 8,200 tons of one-inch crushed stone, were removed and shipped by belly-dump trucks. (Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining, Inspection Report, March 2008; Carmeuse site annual report, January 2009)
The former Utah Marblehead Lime plant was demolished during early to mid 2009. A fatal accident took place during the demolition, in which one of the large steel holding tanks collapsed on a contract worker as he was preparing the structure to be toppled over. (Deseret News, May 29, 2009)
The limestone quarry is no longer in production, and the processing plant at Marblehead was reclaimed and regraded in 2009-2010, and no longer has any physical improvements. The railroad spur that served the site ends at an empty spot in the surrounding landscape. The mineral lease for the limestone quarry is still active, with Carmeuse Lime & Stone (in the name of Utah Marblehead LLC) still paying the annual lease fee to the State of Utah as late as 2016.
The crushed limestone industry is Utah County's greatest nonmetallic mineral producer. There are good commercial-grade deposits of limestone in various districts, particularly near Payson, at Pelican Point [west shore of Utah Lake] and in the Tintic district, where Chief Consolidated Mining Co. owns properties. Largest operation is the U. S. Steel Corp.'s Keigley Quarry near Payson [Santaquin], which supplies crushed limestone for the Geneva Works, to be used as a fluxing material in the making of steel. This project averages about 300,000 tons per year. The Lakeside Lime & Stone Co. has quarries and a crushing plant at Pelican Point which not only make slack and lump lime, but furnish some fluxing material to Geneva and supply the coal industry with quantities of rock dust. The crushed rock is also used for whiting, road stone and lime production. (Utah Mining Association, "Operational and Economic Review, August 1967, page 90)
In June 2001, Larson Limestone Co., the operator of the Pelican Point limestone quarry, was sold to The Murdock Group for $7 million. The following comes from The Enterprise, Volume 30, Number 49, June 18, 2001:
Pelican Point owns and operates a 90-acre limestone quarry in Lehi with an estimated 20-plus years of limestone reserves. Pelican Point extracts the limestone, crushes it into a variety of sizes ranging from giant decorative rock to fine powder, and then distributes it to construction and manufacturing companies in the Intermountain West.
Pelican Point had revenues of approximately million and cash flow of approximately $600.000 in 2000, according to The Murdock Group Holding. Pelican's customers include the U.S. Forest Service, Staker Paving and Kennecott Copper, as well as local contractors. Pelican Point has been in business for 18 years.
Current management will remain in place and continue operating the quarry. The acquisition includes the quarry property, equipment and machinery, and the operating business.
Keigley Limestone Quarry (Santaquin)
The Keigley quarry was opened in about 1942 as part of the U. S. government's Geneva steel project, to furnish limestone for the new Geneva steel plant. Production of pig iron began at the new steel plant on January 3, 1944. (Murray Eagle, January 6, 1944)
During 1988, Geneva Steel's limestone quarry at Keigley, west of Santaquin in Utah County, mined 340,000 tons of limestone. Geneva used limestone as a flux in its steel making process. (Flux helps materials mix together easier.) (Deseret News, January 29, 1989)
During 1996, Geneva Steel produced about 200,000 tons of dolomite from the Keigley quarry, located near the southeast end of Utah Lake in Utah County. The majority of the dolomite was used in the blast furnace operation at the Geneva plant while the remainder was crushed to a fine powder and marketed as "rock dust" for use to suppress coal-dust in underground coal mines.
Cricket Mountain Quarry (Delta)
The Cricket Mountain limestone quarry is located approximately 33 miles southwest of Delta, Utah.
The Cricket Mountain plant is one of the largest lime plants in the western United States. Limestone delivered from the quarry is processed in coal-fired kilns, manufacturing a full range of high calcium and dolomitic quicklime, along with crushed and pulverized limestone products. Blending facilities produce combinations of products for specific needs of different customers. The Cricket Mountain operation includes storage and shipping facilities for trucks and rail, including a balloon loading track and multiple rail car storage tracks.
Limestone rock is crushed and sized at the quarry before being delivered by truck to the Cricket Mountain plant located on Union Pacific's mainline at Bloom station, approximately seven miles due east of the quarry and 32 miles south of Delta. During 1958, after drilling a series of test bores in the mid 1950s, U. S. Steel shipped 70,000 tons of limestone to its Geneva steel plant in Utah County, as a test of an alternate source to its larger source at Keigley. (Salt Lake Tribune, January 14, 1959)
Continental Lime, Inc. purchased the quarry and opened its plant at Cricket Mountain in July 1980, initially operating with a single kiln and producing 500 tons per day. A second kiln was added in 1987, and a third kiln was added in 1992. A fourth kiln was added February 1998. ("High-Calcium Limestone Resources of Utah" by Bryce Tripp, Utah Geological Survey, Special Study 116, 2005, pages 5 and 6)
The Cricket Mountain quarry was operated by Continental Lime, Inc. In 1996 it was rated as one of the 10 largest lime plants in the United States.
Graymont Western U.S., Inc., purchased the Cricket Mountain quarry during 2000. From Graymont's web site:
Graymont is the third largest producer of lime in North America. In Canada, Graymont subsidiaries have operations from New Brunswick to British Columbia. In the United States, subsidiary companies operate in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah and Nevada while serving markets in a much wider geographic area. In addition to Graymont's lime interests, Graymont Materials, located in upstate New York and the province of Quebec, provides construction stone, sand and gravel, asphalt products and ready mix concrete for the infrastructure and general construction needs of the area.
In 2003, Graymont became a part owner of Grupo Calidra. Calidra is the largest lime producer in Mexico, with seventeen production sites in Mexico and one in Honduras. The company, like Graymont, is privately held and has more than ninety years of continuous experience in the Lime and Limestone industries. Calidra mines some of the highest quality limestone deposits in Mexico.
In 2005, the Cricket Mountain quarry and plant were reported as having a capacity of 900,000 tons per year, or about 2,500 tons per day, which translates to about 25 rail car per day.
Opened in 1903, the limestone quarry in Providence Canyon provided limestone for use by Amalgamated Sugar Company and Utah Idaho Sugar Company in the purification of beet sugar. The quarry operated between March and October of each season due to severe winter weather conditions.
The quarry was open from 1903 to 1908, but closed when a more economical source of limestone was found near Franklin, Idaho. The quarry remained closed until 1914 when it was reopened under direct management of Amalgamated Sugar. Also in 1914, the Utah Idaho Central railroad, also under Amalgamated Sugar ownership, had been completed to Providence, which shortened the wagon haul to a railroad spur by four miles. The quarry remained under direct Amalgamated management until about 1920. About 20 to 25 men worked at the quarry, and 30 to 40 wagons were used to ship the limestone to the railroad spur. In those early years prior to Amalgamated ownership, about 1,000 tons of limestone were shipped each year. After Amalgamated took control, about 2,500 tons were shipped each year, to sugar factories in Lewiston, Ogden, Burley, Rupert, and Twin Falls.
Amalgamated Sugar continued its ownership of the Providence canyon limestone quarry after the quarry was closed in about 1920. In 1926, Amalgamated leased operation of the quarry to local businessmen in Providence. That first year, 70 to 80 men worked at the quarry, and 16,000 tons were shipped. Horse-drawn wagons were used until 1935, when the teamsters (all local men) threatened to quit due to low wages. The quarry operators replaced the wagons and teamsters with five red Ford trucks, which began making the trip from the quarry to the Utah Idaho Central rail spur in an hour and fifteen minutes. Using horse-drawn wagons, a trip had taken a full day.
The use of trucks starting in 1935 was part of an overall modernization of quarry operations, which also included the use of air-operated drills to drill the holes for the blasts that loosened the limestone. The changes in 1935 included Amalgamated Sugar contracting the operation of the quarry to Frank H. Norberg, an engineering contractor company based in Denver. The Norberg company also introduced the use of mechanized shovels to load the trucks. Limestone production during this time in the 1930s was reported as 30,000 tons per year.
LeGrand Johnson Construction Company began operating the quarry in 1945, and continued until the quarry closed in 1986. The limestone was blasted free from the canyon walls and hauled by truck to a spur on Union Pacific's Cache Valley Branch. In these later years, there were eight to nine trucks on the road and 15 to 20 people working in the quarry. The Johnson company used trucks that were surplus from World War II. After the Utah Idaho Central railroad was shut down in February 1947, the trucks hauled the limestone to the site of the closed Logan sugar factory, south of Logan and located on Union Pacific's Cache Valley Branch.
In later years, during the 1960s and after, operations included larger mining-style dump trucks, larger shovels, large ripping Caterpillar tractors, and large front-end loaders. Production was reported as about 150,000 tons per year, with 11 men working at the quarry. The mined limestone was stockpiled next to the Union Pacific rail spur at the closed Logan sugar factory. Quarried limestone was loaded into open-top rail hopper cars and shipped to sugar factories in Utah, Idaho, and Oregon, and was also hauled by truck directly to the Utah Idaho Sugar Company's beet sugar factory at Garland.
The Providence Canyon quarry closed in 1986.
Dolomite -- A carbonate of calcium and magnesium. Also called Magnesia limestone. Normally colorless, but often tinted pink or brown. Uses: generally the same as limestone. There is no substitute for dolomite, however, in the making of dead-burned dolomite refractories and in preparation of basic magnesium carbonate used in heat-insulating material. Also used in manufacture of epsom salts, known as "Epsomite."
Limestone -- Sedimentary rock occurring in practically inexhaustible quantity in nearly all parts of the world, composed essentially of calcium carbonate. Uses: as a flux in smelting iron, steel, ferro alloys and some nonferrous metals; in making lime and agricultural limestone; as crushed stone for road and railroad construction, rip rap and rubble; as building stone; in pulverized form as substitute for chalk whiting in putty, paint, rubber, etc.; as terrazzo, stucco dash, concrete block facings; for sugar refining, insecticides, rock dust for use in coal mines, etc. Limestone itself is available in several different forms:
- as natural lime rock, the raw material for all lime-based products, composed almost exclusively of calcium carbonate.
- as quicklime (or calcium oxide, or burnt lime), obtained by calcining pure limestone at temperatures above 900°C. This highly reactive product is essential to many industrial processes.
- as hydrated lime (or calcium hydroxide, or slaked lime), a dry powder, resulting from the controlled slaking of quicklime with water. This reaction produces heat.
- as lime milk, a suspension of hydrated lime in water. This clean and safe product offers an economic solution because of its low cost and high alkaline content.
- as dolomite, (or dolomitic limestone), limestone that contains a certain proportion of magnesium.
- as dolime (or dolomitic lime, or burnt dolomite), obtained by calcining dolomitic limestone, with two differing products: soft-burned dolomite and hard-burned dolomite, which differ in terms of their calcining techniques.
"High-Calcium Limestone Resources of Utah" by Bryce Tripp, Utah Geological Survey, Special Study 116, 2005