The following description is a continuation of the story of the Robbins Brickyard which has been presented periodically through the years. Much of the story of the Brickyard has been lost, but by pulling together each piece of information that can be found, a picture of the brick works at Robbins has been developed, from its beginning through its closure. This article developed over many years of gathering information from Scott County residents, from documents and archives, and from collecting photographs.
This article was presented in January as a paper at the Cincinnati conference of the Society for Historic Archaeology. The fact that Southern Brick Company of the bricks produced at Robbins were made at a specific time period makes them, especially Southern Brick Company street payers, a valuable time marker when an archaeologist is doing work in cities.
Introduction —The town of Robbins is located in Scott County, Tennessee and takes its name from the Southern Railroad construction superintendent who supervised the building of the railroad and tunnel here in the late Montana Shirt Company Coupon. The town was incorporated about and encompassed approximately one square mile.
Prior to the development of any clay products industry at Robbins, coal and timber were the industries which dominated the economy of Scott County. In order to provide commerce for these industries the Cincinnati and Southern Railroad came to What Is A National Company County in In the early s ADAM OTT, a railroad worker from Cincinnati, Ohio, discovered that a large four-foot-thick clay deposit was associated with a coal vein found during railroad construction in the area of Robbins, Tennessee.
Economic History — The concentration of "Common Brick" clay in this area of the Upper Cumberland Plateau is a result of a fortuitous set of geological circumstances. Brick clays are also called low-refractory fireclays or miscellaneous clays and are sufficiently plastic to be easily molded and readily burn to hard products at relatively low temperatures. The "Poplar Creek" or Glen Mary coal seam of the Briceville Formation at Robbins, like a few other lower Pennsylvania aged coal seams of the Upper Cumberland Plateau, has a large underclay and elastic shale deposit associated with it.
The four to ten foot mineral, siltstone and shale. The Glen Mary coal deposit, its occurrence with useable elastic shales, its proximity to the railroad and the local availability of wage laborers made this an ideal economic environment for brick or ceramic The Wise Company Food Storage. The vein of coal worked is the same as the one at Glenmary, showing the same thickness and about the same analysis.
This clay is also taken out, crushed, and made into fire and paving brick. The Tennessee Paving Brick Heywood Wakefield Company at the Robbins brickyard began operations using machinery taken from the other Lasley and Son clay manufacturing plants.
Although an earlier investigator was not able to ascertain whether the Tennessee Paving Brick Company ever made any bricks, recently discovered documents show that it made quite a lot. This was the same year that the community of Robbins, Tennessee was granted a town charter.
Southern Clay Manufacturing imported and applied mass production machinery and techniques to the clay products industry at Robbins. The Robbins plant then began to produce and sell SCM paving bricks, fire and chemical bricks, clay sewer pipe, various construction bricks, and square-2,6, and 9-sectioned telephone line conduit.
The plant was originally powered by steam but in this system was replaced by diesel engines. Production, which had formerly been at about 3, bricks per day rose tremendously. By at the peak of operation production figures were 80, bricks per day, or 50 tons of telephone conduit produced per day.
Paving brick was sold to northern and central markets Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Chattanooga, Tennessee but by the late s the company contracted primarily with southern markets Miami, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine, Florida. The Robbins brickyard prospered until the late s when macadam paved road construction replaced brick paving and when disastrous hurricanes in Florida ended a decade long building boom.
This construction decline spelled hardship for the Robbins plant because Southern Brick Company of its production was based on contracts with Florida developers. Shortly after this the "Great Depression" occurred and the Robbins plant suffered a slow decline in contracts as construction projects dwindled. Slowdowns and lay-offs occurred during this time including some years which saw the Yorkshire Tile Company Leeds brick plant open for only a few months at a time.
Attempts were made to save the Refrigeration Repair Service Company plant by encouraging nearby communities to pave many of their local roads with SCM bricks, all to no avail.
The last bricks produced at Robbins were made in and went to Alcoa, Tennessee. Few clay manufacturing plants survived the depression and of those that did "Only the plants favorably located to market areas or those large enough to absorb the financial crisis survived through this period.
After the plant shut down and SCM filed for bankruptcy its assets in Robbins were auctioned off and eventually purchased by a local investor and coal strip miner who logged timber and mined coal on the former SCM property. All documents and records were collected and burned and only the remains of a few buildings are evident today. Currently the site of the plant, its buildings, and materials are slowly succumbing to decay, collapse and scavenging.
The various styles of ceramic products at Southern Clay Manufacturing Company. Description of Technology and Products — The LASLEYs, as the managers of the Tennessee Paving Brick Company, were able to use their knowledge of clay product manufacturing to capitalize on the fortunate economic circumstances found at the Robbins brickyard. The Tennessee Southern Brick Company Brick Company began production by building three "beehive" kilns at the head of Brickyard Hollow.
The plant site was eventually built on the Robbins field situated about one hundred yards east of the railroad with the processing plant located about one quarter of a mile away. The availability of unskilled, low-cost labor was another resource that was capitalized on by the Tennessee Paving Brick Company. A description of the plant at the time notes that:. The company conducts a general store, and have twenty-seven dwellings for their employees.
The equipments and appliances used in manufacturing have all the latest improvements, and are of the best description, including dryers and other buildings especially adapted for the work. All the Chattanooga streets that are paved with brick, except Seventh street, were paved with the product of this company. The basic operation began with the removal of coal followed by the extraction of raw clay. Clay was extracted from the deep deposits in and around the Robbins, Tennessee area by a steam shovel mounted on a narrow-gauge railroad car and locomotive.
This railroad shovel was called a "Dinky" and for many years this steam shovel operation was run by Mr. JOHN L. BOSS of Robbins. Crushed elastic shale from the area was also used for making certain types of brick because of its bloating and refractory qualities.
This was especially true in the manufacture of "Chemical Block", which is a temperature resistant fire-brick. The method of brick manufacturing at Robbins generally followed these procedures: The clay would be taken to a processing building where it was cleaned to remove any large aplastic or rocky inclusions. It was then processed in Kennesaw Bait Company pugmill.
The pugmill "de-aired" Southern Brick Company or shale by means o. By adding water the clay was made plastic and was extruded from the pugmill through a die in the shape of a brick "like tooth-paste being squeezed from a tube". A large pond was maintained nearby for use in this step of the manufacturing process.
Once it was extruded the column of Velocity Company Review was passed through a cutting table where fine wires cut it into desired lengths. Following this the bricks were placed into brick forms and impressed with various marks or designs and then air dried. This step usually took anywhere from fifteen to forty-eight hours.
Following the drying operation the bricks were taken to be fired at one of the numerous kilns at the plant. There were 17 large "igloo" shaped kilns. Four other rectangular kilns were dispersed around the brickyard area. The kilns or ovens at the Robbins brickyard were similar to the types that had been used at the coke plant in Glenmary.
The average beehive or periodic kiln could fire a charge of 40, bricks in five to eight days. The four rectangular kilns could only accommodate up to 25, bricks at a time.
The drawback to the use of the beehive kilns that was brick color would vary in each firing as a result of varying temperatures within the kiln. This was not so important during the first decades of the twentieth century.
Various styles of brick produced at Southern Clay Manufacturing Company Many brick types were manufactured at Robbins Southern Brick Company it appears that some brick forms from different plants may have been used to make certain bricks here. For example the L. A types refer to products of the Louisville Fire Brick Works which is still in operation today. The occurrence of the L. Later these could have been replaced by locally made fire brick.
The use of the same stamp at numerous brickyards is perhaps evidence of contractors changing their brick suppliers from time to time or of brick suppliers wholesaling bricks from different sources. Because of requirements for construction bricks of consistent color the majority of the SCM Robbins plant ceramic products were "payers" by the late s. With payers, hardness is the important factor, and color becomes less critical.
As the orders for ceramic products declined in the late s and early s the Robbins plant of SCM encouraged local and regional communities to use their payers in street construction. This area was thereafter referred to as the "Brick Hill"; Oneida, Tennessee also utilized some of the payers and had approximately a mile of road built with Robbins payers but the town could not use enough to keep the Robbins plant operating for long.
John L. Various contracts to produce drain pipe or conduit for telephone cable were completed at the SCM brickyard at Robbins. At the peak of operation up to fifty tons of telephone conduit was produced per day.
Plant operations were powered by steam during the early years using locally available SCM owned coal for fuel. The Brickyard powerhouse began with three steam engines and a large boiler. This is what essentially ran the whole operation. Inside of the powerhouse the whole affair was surrounded by a catwalk overhead with "sparkling brass railings.
Originally 17 bricks could be cut at one time but as the cutter evolved up to 25 bricks could be cut and stamped at one time. As many as 80, tobrick could be made per day and shipped to either a dryer shed or dryer tunnel. These facilities were kept at a constant temperature by large steam powered fans.
Following the drying the "green" brick were shipped to several of the 21 kilns. Firing took up to twelve days and salt was added in the kiln through small viewing holes called "eyes" to make the bricks water proof and to "salt-glaze" them. Once the clay products were finished they were stored in stacks called "hakes" in the brickyard until loaded onto the railroad for shipment to respective buyers. As production expanded a railroad spur line was run through the center of the Robbins brickyard, speeding up the loading and shipping operations.
The boxcars Xyz Company Makes One Product carry between 8, to 10, bricks. This construction was just another innovation which contributed to the economic success of the company and the smooth operation of the plant. This is evident after when the shift Personal Finance Company Jacksonville Il diesel is also reflected in the fluctuating employment and production statistics.
After the plant could make overbricks per employee. However, before the conversion to diesel power production ranged from 48, bricks to 89, for every employee. At any one time the Robbins plant employed approximately workers, ranging from a high workforce of to a low of
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