The Alamo Cement Company was chartered after Englishman William Loyd discovered what he believed to be a natural cement rock near San Antonio. With the help of chemist George H. Kalteyer, who confirmed that the rock's lime and clay could produce Portland cement, Loyd organized a group of investors to form the Alamo Portland and Roman Cement Company, the first Portland cement plant west of the Mississippi and one of the earliest in the United States.The original plant was powered by steam engine and ground ten barrels of cement daily. The company diversified its enterprise with lime burning and the sale of building stone and entered the sidewalk construction business to help it survive. It obtained the patent rights for the process by which sidewalk blocks were cut into sections to accommodate expansion and contraction in changing temperatures from the original inventor. In 1881 the company changed its name to Alamo Cement Company. Its principal product was known by the brand name Alamo. Kalteyer later organized the Buckeye Portland Cement Company in Ohio to produce what was known as "artificial stone" before use of the term "concrete." After Kalteyer's death in 1897, Charles Baumberger became company president and led the firm's further expansion. In 1908 the company was reorganized under the name San Antonio Portland Cement Company and, after material at its original site was exhausted, the plant was moved to a place that came to be known as Cementville. The area became Baumberger Plaza in 1944, and in 1990 the smokestack and kilns of the original plant remained on the site. The quarry became the Japanese sunken gardens at Brackenridge Park, in San Antonio. Baumberger was succeeded by his son, C. Baumberger, Jr., who served until 1968. In 1979 Robert Koch of Vigier Cement a Swiss firm, and Sandro Buzzi of Presa, Limited, in Italy purchased the firm and changed its name back to Alamo Cement Company. In 1977 the original plant site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1980 the new owners constructed a modernized plant with updated equipment. In keeping with Charles Baumberger's will, assets of his estate, including the proceeds from the sale of the company (1979), were used to set up a trust fund to provide college scholarships to San Antonio high school students. Between 1979 and 1993 the estate generated over $20 million and sent 1,802 students to college. Limestone often contains variable amounts of silica in the form of chert and/or flint, as well as varying amounts of clay, silt and sand as disseminations, nodules, or layers within the rock. The primary source of the calcite in limestone is most commonly marine organisms. These organisms secrete shells that settle out of the water column and are deposited on ocean floors as pelagic ooze or alternatively are conglomerated in a coral reef (see lysocline for information on calcite dissolution). Secondary calcite may also be deposited by supersaturated meteoric waters (groundwater that precipitates the material in caves). This produces speleothems such as stalagmites and stalactites. Another form taken by calcite is that of oolites (oolitic limestone) which can be recognized by its granular appearance. Limestone makes up about 10% of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks. Limestones may also form in both lacustrine and evaporite depositional environments. Calcite can be either dissolved by groundwater or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors including the water temperature, pH, and dissolved ion concentrations. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases. When conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together or it can fill fractures. Argillaceous limestone is a limestone containing an appreciable amount (but less than 50%) of clay.
Questions to answer:
- What year was the Alamo Portland and Roman Cement Company chartered?
- What were some of the things that the quarry was used to build in Texas?
- Looking at the old quarry buildings how were they constructed?
- Take a look around at the quarry, describe the layout and how do you think that the workers extracted the limestone.
- Travel back to end of the quarry you will find a water fall there. Estimate the height of the waterfall (which will give you the depth of the quarry) and take your picture at this location.