The Samuel Knight Chapter

The Society for Industrial Archeology

Issue Number 25

January 18, 2008


Chapter News.. 2

About the Newsletter.. 2

Membership Renewal. 2

2008 National Conference Update. 2

Leona Heights Hike. 5

SIA Fall Tour: Ely, Nevada.. 5

SIA Events Coordinator.. 6

Notes and Tidbits.. 6

Book Reviews. 6

Contact and Membership Information.. 8


Copyright © 2008 Samuel Knight Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology.


The Newsletter is published in April, August, and December with special issues when they are needed.


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Chapter News


About the Newsletter

My apologies for this issue being late, a lot of things going on around here, and a relatively quiet time for SIA things. We’re heading into a busy time with the planning and execution of the National Conference. As always, I welcome your submissions for the Newsletter and for the web site.  Jay


Membership Renewal

Chapter membership is on a yearly basis, so it’s time to renew. Just tear off the last page of this (with any corrections, including email address) and sent it to Jay with your check for $10. I’ve switched the membership database, so if your “Member through: zzzz” information on the mailing label is not correct, please let me know. Jay


2008 National Conference Update

Things continue to progress nicely in the planning for the National Conference.

We selected a conference theme:

Change is the Constant

Whether it's the geological change that has shaped the entire Bay Area, or the constant pace of innovation and daring, nothing better describes the Bay Area and Silicon Valley than "Change is the Constant", the theme for the 2008 SIA National Conference. Change takes many forms: economic, environmental, technological and social, all of which occur at an ever increasing pace here. The challenge for Industrial Archeology is how to capture this dynamic environment, and to utilize the forces of change to further the research and public outreach that are the core of the SIA mission. Come to San José, where Change is the Constant!

A call for papers has been issued by Prof. Marco Meniketti. A printable copy is here:

We encourage papers in all areas of Industrial Archeology. As with past conferences, these can be fairly informal presentations of personal IA research. That is, if YOU have some interesting things to say, we want YOUR paper! They are an excellent vehicle for students. We are also quite interested in panel sessions or groups of related papers.

David Laws, a former semiconductor industry executive and curator of the “Fairchild at 50” exhibition and events at the Computer History Museum has agreed to present a keynote speech at the Saturday evening banquet. David has also written an illustrated book presenting many of the interesting sites around the Valley.

We have started to define the Process Tours. These still need refining, so they are a snapshot of current thinking, and are subject to change or even elimination. The web site includes more details and some pictures.

·        Extractive Industries Tour. First we’ll go to New Almaden, site of some of the oldest industry in the Bay Area, the mercury mines and smelters. There’s an excellent small museum, an interesting walk through the village and the historic homes. We’ll be touring the mining area “up the hill”. There are other historic industries, such as the Vichy Water bottling plant that closed when the mines disrupted the aquifer. You can still spot bubbles of CO2 in the creek. After lunch we’ll head towards the salt processing plants in Newark, another very old industry. If time permits we’ll stop by the nearby Ohlone shell mound for a look at the Native American life and their use of the abundant resources of the Bay.

·        Richmond Tour. We’ll be visiting the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park which has a number of sites related to the Kaiser Shipyards. We’ll also visit the Ford assembly plant designed by Albert Kahn. In getting to the S.S. Red Oak Victory, another stop, we’ll pass by the Hyundai car depot. Along the way we’ll stop at Oakland’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park which is in the middle of the busy Port of Oakland and is a wonderful blend of historic and contemporary industry.

·        Big Things and Little Things Tour. We’ll start with a visit to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), one of the largest buildings in the Bay Area (2 miles long), and the home to Nobel Prize winning pure research on the fundamental forces of nature. The research requires big things to view incredibly small things only by their remnants, think archeology on a femtosecond scale! Next we’ll head over to Moffett Field for a brief tour of the historic Naval Air Station, and a driveby of the massive Hanger 1, built to house the dirigible USS Macon. We’ll get a presentation from the NASA Ames Research Center on the history and current activities. The Center is closed to visitors, but we can drive by the massive full scale wind tunnel. We’ll end up at the Intel Museum for a well done look at both the history of Intel and therefore Silicon Valley, and a view of the state of the art in semiconductor production. (Visitors are never allowed in semiconductor fabs, we’re too dirty.)

·        Over the Hill Tour. We’ll head towards Santa Cruz. Along the way we’ll stop at the Big Trees and Roaring Camp Railroad, an old logging railroad with steam powered Shay and Heisler locomotives that travel up through the redwood forest. Next we’ll stop to see the historic roller coaster and carousel at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We’ll continue on to the University of California Santa Cruz for a look at the lime industry as exemplified by the ruins of the Henry Cowell lime works. There may be a surprise stop!

·        Valley of the Hearts Delight Tour. We’ll focus on industries in the South Bay before the high tech revolution. The tour will visit historic sites throughout the South Bay, including Alviso, once the port for San Jose. We’ll look at the remains of the canning industry including adaptive reuse of former canneries. A stop at the new Sunnyvale Historic Museum and their demonstration orchard can give a feel of what the Valley looked like before the high tech explosion. Sunnyvale is also the home of the Hendy Iron Works, now part of Northrup Grumman, which produced many of the engines for the Liberty and Victory ships built in various Bay Area shipyards.

·        Roots of High Tech Tour. Starting from the Computer History Museum’s Innovation 101 exhibit and History San José, we’ll explore where the high tech revolution started. (This is still being defined. Stay tuned.)

·        Industrial Alameda Tour. Alameda has a rich industrial history. We’ll visit some of the historic sites on the island. We’ll tour the former Naval Air Station Alameda, once a large industrial complex serving the Pacific Fleet Air Arm, and now a developing adaptive reuse area. We’ll get off the island and visit Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in the busy Port of Oakland.

·        Bay Area Automotive Heritage Tour. We’ll start with the Great Mall of the Bay Area, an innovative adaptive reuse of a former Ford assembly plant. We’ll continue on to a tour of the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. automobile/truck plant, a joint venture between GM and Toyota, and the only automobile plant left on the West Coast. We’ll continue to the former Durant/GM plant in Oakland, another adaptive reuse site. We’ll go to the Broadway Auto Row area in Oakland, still the home to numerous auto dealerships, but an area with a rich industrial history. If time permits, a stop at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park will also be made.

We’re working on tours highlighting the history of worker housing and of other industrial sites with historical significance.

If you have ideas, and more importantly contacts, at other places that should be included in these tours or even in creating other tours, please contact Jay McCauley.

We’ll be dry running some of these tours in April and May to refine them and add commentary to the travel times. We’d love to get your inputs on drafts of the tour narration and other materials, contact Jay McCauley if you’d like to help or just to try some of the tours before the Conference. All of these materials will be up on the web site before and after the conference.

Things are getting into high gear, with the next big milestone being the publishing of the conference brochure in March.

The Conference web site will be kept current. By using the RSS feed, you can be notified of changes as they occur, and don’t need to constantly check the site.

All of these activities will need volunteers to make them happen. There is some planning material on the web site. Think about what you’re interested in and how you could help!


Leona Heights Hike

Although rains threatened, they held off long enough for seven hearty souls to trek around the Leona Heights area of Oakland on Sept. 22 to view the remnants of several different mining / quarry operations in the area. Leona Heights is just north of the large former Gallagher and Burke quarry adjacent to I-580. Our first stop was the remains of the Leona Heights sulfur mine. From the 1890’s to the mid 1930’s, iron pyrite was mined here and at the nearby Alma mine. It was processed into sulfuric acid at the Stege Works of Stauffer Chemical in Richmond (and other sites). We continued up the hill to the site of the crushing plant for a rock quarry. A local junior college has turned the site into a graffiti art project.  On the way, we passed by the oldest tree in Oakland, a redwood estimated to be over 400 years old. It’s not much to look at, kind of twisted and crooked, that’s probably why it wasn’t cut during the logging boom of the 1850’s and 1860’s. We ended with a visit to a strange, large concrete structure. Best guess was that it was a loading area for rock conveyed from the crushing plant via an aerial tramway.

The tour was originally developed by Dennis Evanovsky, and has been offered by the Oakland Heritage Alliance as part of their summer hikes.


SIA Fall Tour: Ely, Nevada

(There is a longer article in the current issue of SIAN.)

Several Chapter members were part of the nearly 100 SIA members and friends who made the trek to Ely, NV for the 2007 Fall Tour sponsored by the Nevada Northern Railway.

The conference hotel was the historic Hotel Nevada, once the tallest building in Nevada. We began with a banquet on Thursday in a WPA-built former post office. Speakers gave us a sense of the history of the places we’d be visiting. Friday, we all trekked out to the Hamilton / Treasure Hill ghost town area. A highlight was some 4WD touring courtesy of the Ely Four Wheelers.  We were able to get to sites that would be essentially inaccessible to normal vehicles.

Saturday was spent at the Nevada Northern and the Quadra Corp. copper mine complex. Ely was (and is) quite isolated, so the Nevada Northern had to be pretty self sufficient, performing nearly all of the maintenance of the railroad’s rolling stock, so the shop tour was a fascinating glimpse into the operation of a steam / diesel railroad. Modern copper mining is extracting copper from very low concentrations, less than 1% copper in the ore body. The Quadra mine complex is extremely large, it’s easily visible on Google Earth.

Sunday was a special treat, the hills were dusted by an early snow fall, and early risers were treated to the process of bringing the steam powered wrecking crane to life (“hostling”). A few lucky members got to operate the crane!

On the way back to Las Vegas on Sunday, we stopped in Pioche, another mining town, and the site of the “Million Dollar Courthouse” (think massively corrupt cost overruns!), and an aerial tramway to move ore from the mine to the smelter. There were still buckets hung on the tramway!

Ely is a fantastic destination for anyone interested in railroading and western mining. It is in the middle of nowhere, but it’s well worth the trip!


SIA Events Coordinator

The SIA has hired Bode Morin to serve as Events Coordinator. Bode is now a graduate student at Michigan Tech, so can work directly with Don Durfee and Pat Martin to research and define future SIA events. He brings both excellent professional and academic credentials and direct experience in contributing to the SIA Fall Tour to Detroit. This position allows us to have events in places which don’t have a local Chapter. There are several things in the planning stages, stay tuned to SIAN and the SIA web site for upcoming events. Welcome Bode!



Notes and Tidbits


Book Reviews

These are some of the books we’ve been using in researching activities for the San José National Conference.

Pacific Gateway An Illustrated History of the Port of Oakland by Woodruff Minor, Port of Oakland, 2000, ISBN  0-9678617-0-5

Woody Minor produced this excellent history of the Port of Oakland, including the Oakland Airport for the Port. The book is not widely available, but Celia McCarthy from the Port of Oakland, who will be hosting tours of Middle Harbor Shoreline Park for the Conference, plans to have copies for sale.

(from the cover) Pacific Gateway is an illustrated history of the Port of Oakland – an integral part of the life and economy of California’s San Francisco Bay Area for more than seven decades. Renowned as a pioneer in containerized shipping and early aviation, the Port of Oakland oversees a major seaport, an international airport, and waterfront developments like Jack London Square.

The book has over 300 photographs and illustrations. It’s fascinating to match up historic photos to current locations.

Woody has hosted walking tours of some of these venues for the Oakland Heritage Alliance, notably the historic North Field Area of Oakland Airport, which we’ll drive through on some Conference Tours.

The Alameda, The Beautiful Way by Shannon E. Clark, published by the Alameda Business Association, 2006, ISBN 1-4243-1868-8

The book was commissioned by the Alameda Business Association and provides a well researched look at the history of The Alameda and the surrounding neighborhoods. The area covered is to the West of the San José Pavillion to near the Santa Clara city limits. There is a chapter discussing the industries in the area, it’s title Innovation and Industries is a perfect fit for SIA interests. The book describes several walking tours which are being considered for Sunday morning of the Conference.  One of the highlighted homes, the Pierce House at the corner of Villa and The Alameda, was designed by noted architect Julia Morgan.

Shannon is a mechanical engineering student at UCLA, which makes the book all the more impressive an achievement.

The book is available at retailers along The Alameda.

Touring Historic Willow Glen, Ten Walking Loops by the History Committee of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association, in conjunction with Preservation Action Council of San José (PAC*SJ), 2007.

(I got one by donating to PAC*SJ, we’ll have more information before the Conference.)

Willow Glen is another San José neighborhood with a rich history. This book describes ten walking tours, all quite different in emphasis. We particularly enjoyed wandering around the Palm Haven development which dates from the 1913-19 era. There is discussion of local industries on the tour. Willow Glen came into existence as a city as part of a battle over railroad right-of-way alignments (there were NIBMYs back then too!).

There may be another Sunday walk based on these tours, as they include an excellent “slice of life” about the history of middle class housing in San José.

Contact and Membership Information