(* Please note this list does not include sand or gravel quarries.)
D. A. Roberts Granite Quarry and Stone Co., located at Penryn, owned by D. A. Roberts, Colma, San Mateo County.
“Auburn of today is at once a reminiscence and a promise. It is passing through a period of transition; undergoing the same change from mining to agricultural activity that the State has already undergone. The change is coming more slowly about Auburn; the mining industry is passing into the background more slowly, the agricultural interests are more backward in being developed. Yet here, on a comparatively small scale and compactly, one may study the process of change that the State has seen.
“The spirit of the earlier days still hovers over the town. One is continually reminded of the era of gold, when the very streets yielded up their store of the precious metal, when the old Auburn River, now a noisy little brook dashing over its stony bed and babbling stories of its former glory, was a scene of busy excitement, and the rocker and long tom were as familiar as are now the bright blossoms that line its banks.
“But this activity is a thing of the past, and one is reminded of it as the odor of roses borne on the breeze conjures up visions of gardens. The spirit of the early mining is in the atmosphere, one feels it in the air he breathes, but the substance is no longer there. As you walk through the streets there is scarcely an echo of the busy mining town of early days: the mad excitement of the search for gold has passed away. Perhaps the struggling mass of humanity paused in their greedy search for a moment to gaze upon their surroundings, and the enchantment of the scene cast a spell upon them that made them forget their rockers, and their gravel, and the shining specks of wealth that glistened in their pans....”
“...The soil about Auburn is of a reddish color, owing to the large proportion of peroxide of iron, – that about Loomis and Newcastle more of a grayish, owing to the granite basis.
“Throughout the whole country from Newcastle southerly immense granite bowlders crop out, and the soil is largely mixed with the elements of the decomposed granite. Sheltered from the winds by the surrounding hills, and situated above the frost belt, the heat is sufficient to ripen the fruit early, and the granite bowlders, absorbing heat through the day and giving it out at night, secure an ideally even temperature....”
“About Penryn and Loomis the granite is being quarried, and the finest quality of building stone is produced. At the former place Mr. Griffith began to quarry the stone twenty-three years ago, and one is surprised at the apparent extravagance of a roadside drinking trough for animals carved from a solid block of granite, and the handsome store made entirely of gray and black granite near the railroad station. But granite is more plentiful than lumber, the supply is practically unlimited, and all that it costs is the labor of quarrying and dressing. From the granite quarried here the dry dock at Mare Island, the largest and handsomest on the Coast, was built, and every large city of California has buildings of granite from this county.
“As we leave this favored spot of nature it is with feelings of regret we cast a last glimpse at picturesque Auburn, at busy little Newcastle with its cornucopia of golden fruit, at sleepy Ophir with its mines, at Loomis and Penryn with their granite quarries; and then we close our eyes, and looking into the future see the whole country covered with orchards and vineyards laden with golden oranges and purple grapes, with mammoth peaches and cherries; we see the fig and the apple, the pear and the olive, the pine and the palm, interlocking their branches in this wondrous land where everything grows; we breathe the invigorating air, and feel that we, like the miners of old, have been under the spell of the country; and we hope for the time when the people will shake off their inertia, and will gather the gifts that nature has showered upon them so plenteously, and then the transition will be complete.
“F. I. Vassault.”
Penryn, Placer County, California – Granite Quarries at Penryn (circa 1891) (from transcription of Stones for Building and Decoration (pdf), by George P. Merrill, Curator for Geology in the United States National Museum, J. Wiley & Sons, 1891, pp. 180.
“As early as 1853 a granite quarry was opened in Sacramento County, and since then others have been opened and systematically worked in Penrhyn and Rocklin in Placer County. The Penrhyn works are some 28 miles east from Sacramento on the line of the Central Pacific Railroad. The first quarries were opened in 1864, and are now said to cover some 680 acres at Penrhyn and Rocklin,* the latter point being some 6 or 8 miles distant from the former in a westerly direction.
(* Footnote: Samples of stone said to be from Rocklin, and which the writer has examined, are rather quartz diorites than true granites.)
“The rock varies in color from light to dark gray, one variety, which contains both hornblende and biotite, being almost black on a polished surface. They are, as a rule, fine grained, and take a good polish. Blocks more than 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and ten feet thick have been quarried out and afterwards broken up.
“The Penrhyn stone is designated a hornblende granitite by Jackson,* who gives its mineral composition as quartz, orthoclase, plagioclase, hornblende, and biotite, with microscopic apatite and magnetite. Submitted by the above authority to the action of a carbonic acid gas solution, a sample of this stone lost 0.05 per cent in weight; by disintegration in acid fumes it lost 1.09 per cent. In this latter treatment every mica scale on the surface of the exposed fragments bleached to a pearly whiteness. The iron was dissolved out, staining the rock slightly, while the feldspar grains became a trifle duller in lustre. On being heated in a muffle to somewhat above a bright redness, the stone developed a complete network of deep-seated cracks, and after emersion in water could be readily crushed to powder in the hands.
(* Footnote: Eighth Annual Report State Mineralogist of California. 1888.)
“The Rocklin stone is described by the same authority as a fine-grained white stone, carrying abundant small scales of mica and occasional granules of pyrite. The composition is given as eesentially the same as the Penrhyn stone, but that muscovite replaces the hornblende. Submitted to the same tests as above the stone lost in the carbonic acid gas solution 0.1 per cent; and by decomposition and disintegration in the strong acid fumes 0.68 per cent. In this, as in the last case, mica scales bleached white, and the rock became slightly stained. Heated in the muffle the stone behaved like the Penrhyn granite, though not cracking quite so deeply; it, however, could be readily crushed to powder after immersion. Reports on crushing strength and ratio of absorption of these stones, and also that of a very similar granite from Mount Raymond is (sic) Fresno County are given in the table, on p. 404....”
"The Griffith Quarries and Polishing Works. Sec. 35, T. 11 N., R. 7 E., M. D. M. David Griffith, Penryn, owner. This is one of the pioneer granite quarries of the State. Mr. David Griffith formerly worked in the famous slate quarries in Penrhyn,* Wales. He quarried granite at Folsom, but in 1864 he came to Penryn,* which he named after his Welsh home. Here he remained, and he and his descendants have quarried granite from that time until the present (about 1906). David Griffith, a nephew of the first quarryman, now has charge of the business. The quarry was opened about the time of the Central Pacific Railroad was being constructed in this region, and Penryn stone was used in the construction work on this line. Many Government contracts were filled in former years, and at times there have been 200 men or more employed in these quarries, although at present there is less than a score.
(* Footnote: The h was dropped from the name of the California town by decree of court a few years ago.)
"The stone is a dark gray biotite granite, rather uniform in color, but varying somewhat in texture in the different quarry openings. The only variation in color is the occasional occurrence of a dark blotch where the biotite crystals have segregated into a small irregular mass in a partially glassy groundmass. Care in selection the stone avoids the occurrence of any of these blotches on the exposed faces of stone in use."
“Griffith’s Quarry. Penryn. Sec. 35, T. 12 N., R. 7 E., M. D. M. Coarse grained granodiorite. Quarry idle. One man works occasionally getting out tombstones from granite already quarried. Owned by David Griffith, of Penryn.” (ca 1915)
“Griffith Quarry Museum
“The museum is housed in the original office of the Penryn Granite Works. The museum contains only a few small granite finishing tools and historical photos, as well as miscellaneous non-mining artifacts. In addition, there is a trail surrounding the former quarry with numbered stops. So, if you can’t visit when the Museum is open, it is best to write ahead for a trail guide. Picnic tables are available. In spite of railings and fences, the quarry is a dangerous place for unsupervised children.
“The quarry was started by Griffith Griffith in 1864 and operated until 1918. The foundations of the San Francisco Mint…, portions of the State capitol, and other building (sic) are built of granite from the Griffith Quarry. The first successful granite polishing mill in California began operation on the site in 1874. An untitled hand-drawn map that identifies the trail stops (identified by numbered post) is necessary if you wish to take the quarry trail (and is available only when the Museum is open, or by mail). The map identifies the sites of the boiler building, the blacksmith shop, iron anchors (used with steel ropes to support the derricks), and the best overlooks and view. The reverse side contains two historic line-art illustrations of the working quarry and processing works.”
At the time the field work was done for this report in October and November, 1915, this quarry was listed as being idle.
"The granite outcrops in rounded knolls and prominences in many places along the rolling area immediately east and south of Penryn. The largest and oldest quarry opening lies about one quarter of a mile east of the town, and a few hundred feet east of the shop where the stone is cut and dressed. This opening has been, at least temporarily, abandoned and they are now quarrying stone from large residual boulders a half mile south of the town on each side of the wagon road. Some of these boulders are quite large and contain many tons of good stone. Some rest on solid granite in place and some on disintegrated rock material and occur as residual boulders lying on and in the debris of the decayed rock, of which they formed part of the mass. Some of them are firm and solid on the surface, others are exfoliating and covered with partially disintegrated concentric shells of stone. This concentric weathering is shown both in the surface of the loose boulders and on the projecting knobs of the massive granite.
"There is a small quarry opening on the east side of the town of Penryn. This is said to have been opened by a San Francisco company, but only a very small quantity of stone was removed when the quarry was abandoned.
"Besides the gray granite, Mr. Griffith quarries some very dark stone, known as 'black granite,' which is used for certain lines of work. It occurs about one mile east of Penryn. The quantity produced is small compared with that of the gray granite. This rock is classed as a gabbro in the United States Geological Survey Atlas. It differs from a typical gabbro in having considerable orthoclase feldspar along with the plagioclase, and biotite and hornblende nearly as abundant as augite.
"The stone is used largely for monuments for cemeteries and for building purposes. Both the gray and the 'black' granite dress nicely, and take a brilliant polish. The 'black' stone is a favorite for name blocks in front of ranches or fruit farms, as well as in cemetery monuments, as the letters cut in the dark polished faces are so distinct."
|This is a photograph of the Penryn Granite Workers Band circa 1890-1895. The men in the photograph are not identified; but if you know who any of them are, please contact me and we’ll fill in their names. This photograph was contributed by Diane Cox. Peggy B. Perazzo|