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Lime Kiln Legacies: The History of the Lime Industry in Santa Cruz County
by Frank A. Perry, Robert W. Piwarzyk, Michael D. Luther, Alverda Orlando, Allan Molho, and Sierra L. Perry, with Foreword by Kenneth Jensen

253 pages, illustrated with over 170 photographs, drawings, and maps, many never before published.  It includes notes, bibliography, appendices, glossary, and an index.  $24.95

-The Story of the Cowell, Holmes, IXL and 23 other lime companies
-Walking tour of a lime manufacturing site
-Geologic History
-The life of the lime workers and more!

Lime Kiln Legacies

Buy this book and see all kinds of information at LimeKilnLegacies.com
Museum of Art link SantaCruzMAH.org/limekiln.html
Read about Robert W. Piwarzyk


Review by Hui-Lan H. Titangos, Technical Services Librarian, Santa Cruz Public Library

Lime Kiln Legacies is one of the very few published books devoted to the history of the lime industry of a given area in the United States. The lime industry is a comparatively young industry in North America, even though the mining of lime rock to make lime can be traced back to as long as 7,000 years ago in Turkey. Lime was not used for construction north of Mexico until European settlement, and lime manufacturing did not become a major industry in Santa Cruz County until the 1850's. So what is the significance of this book to today's readers?

Lime Kiln Legacies is the first complete history of the lime industry in Santa Cruz County. With the effective use of historical maps, photographs, census records and newspaper clippings, the book systematically answers a series of critical questions: Of what is lime made? How was lime made? What companies were involved? Who were the lime workers? How did it get to the market? What was the impact of geology and geography? Despite the use of technical terms and concepts in the fields of geology, geography and construction, the writers have done a terrific job, such as the use of the neutral word "limerock" to avoid confusing interchangeable terms like limestone and marble. The chapter on Lime and Geology not only clarifies three major kinds of rocks, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. It also analyzes the rocks quarried in Santa Cruz County, their geological descriptions and principal outcrops near Davenport, Bonny Doon, Felton, Wilder Ranch State Park, and on the campus and environs of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The chapter Tales Told by Kilns successfully traces the two main types, pot and continuous kilns. There are 14 known kiln sites in Santa Cruz County. This chapter provides readers with provoking suggestions as to the reasons for their particular styles of construction.

The rise and fall of the lime industry in Santa Cruz County coincides with the developing history of California. In the first half of the 1800s, only small amounts of lime began to be manufactured in Santa Cruz, primarily for the builders of missions using lime in their construction. The surge for lime production demand did not occur in Santa Cruz County until after the Gold Rush in 1848. A succession of wood buildings burned down in San Francisco between 1849 and 1851, and inadequate fire extinguishing equipment ultimately converted Californians into believers in masonry buildings. In 1884 alone, Santa Cruz County's lime production amounted to a third of the State of California's supply and three-fourths of lime in the San Francisco market. Although peaking in 1904, lime industry in the twentieth century in Santa Cruz County suffered a decline and was finally replaced by a superior newcomer, the cement industry. As a construction material, cement is not only able to make a much stronger and harder mortar, but is also able to produce concrete when mixed with water, sand and gravel. To a certain degree, Lime Kiln Legacies is a prequel to the 2006 publication, Davenport Cement Centennial: Honoring Our Past, Building the Future: the Story of the Davenport Cement Plant and the Important Part It Has Played and Continues to Play in California's History.

Lime Kiln Legacies is a history of the people involved in the lime industry in Santa Cruz County, by virtue of its frank and faithful recording of their lives and endeavors, successes and failures, births and deaths. The chapter on Lime Companies is certainly significant in the sense that it provides a comprehensive centennial history of 26 lime companies active between 1850 and 1950. But, perhaps more importantly, it retells the vivid and profound biographical stories, arranged chronologically, of the people who established, sold, merged and fiercely competed in the lime businesses. Highlights are the mixed reviews of Henry Cowell who all but succeeded in his goal of complete domination of Pacific Coast lime businesses, as well as his children's legacies to the growth of University of California, Santa Cruz High School, and the whole county of Santa Cruz today. There is little record existing for the innumerable people who quarried the rock, prepared the fuel, stoked the kiln fires and shipped the lime to the market. Unlike the owners of the lime works, who received extensive press coverage during their lifetime, lime workers remain nameless and faceless. To pay them due respect as a collective community, this book devotes a whole chapter to People and Lime, reconstructing their lives and working conditions. This was done by using photographs, census records, local histories newspapers, and special collections available at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, the University of California, and the Santa Cruz Public libraries.

Lime kiln legacies continue, even though the last lime kiln closed here in 1946. The chapter Lime and Place Names alone adds a meaningful layer to today's life in Santa Cruz County, as well as an expanded entry to Donald Thomas Clark's Santa Cruz County Place Names.

Contact Info
Hui-Lan H. Titangos
Technical Services Librarian
Santa Cruz Public Libraries
117 Union Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060-3707
TEL: (831) 420-5631
FAX: (831) 420-5601
email: titangosh@santacruzpl.org


In the late 1800s Santa Cruz County was the most important lime-producing region in California.  This book tells the story of how lime was made, the people who made it, and how the industry shaped the history of Santa Cruz from the mission period to the present.  General readers and history buffs will enjoy the book's unique perspective on Santa Cruz County's past.  It is much more than a story about lime, weaving together cultural history, and the history of transportation, labor, economics and technology.

Authors Frank A. Perry, Robert W. Piwarzyk, Michael D. Luther, Alverda Orlando, Allan Molho, and Sierra L. Perry have pooled their diverse skills to create what is probably the most comprehensive history of the lime- making region anywhere in the United States.  The foreword is by Kenneth Jensen, whose pioneering research in the 1970s laid the foundation for the present work.

"Lime Light" is an informal group with the purpose to study, understand, and teach the history of the lime industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  It is hoped that by focusing on the technical aspects of individual kiln sites, a complete story of the evolution of this industry will unfold.

Following is a Project Summary for "Lime Light" from 1994 to 2004.

IXL Lime Company: Did historical documentation of the kiln, quarry, cooperage and barrel mill sites at Fall Creek State Park.  Produced an historical brochure and installed interpretive panels at each site.  Assisted in detailed site survey and exploratory archeological investigations by State Archeologists.  Coordinated a "25th Anniversary of the Park" event with Lime Industry History and Living History presentations, and the booklet "Discover Fall Creek".

Pogonip Limekilns: Did historical documentation for the City of Santa Cruz of the limekilns and quarries in the City's Pogonip Park.  Surveyed the site and reported in the book, "The Limekilns of the Pogonip", which led to the city's Limekiln Preservation Project.

Laguna Limekilns: Did historical documentation for the City of Santa Cruz of the H. T. Holmes Lime Company kilns on Laguna Creek in Bonny Doon.  Surveyed the kilns, quarries, and tramways reported in the book "The Laguna Limekilns".

Samuel Adams' Limekilns: Did historical documentation of the kilns, cooperage, and quarries of Samuel Adams' limeworks, later Cowell's Upper Kilns.  Participated in the State Park Archeologist's Site Survey, including editing the report "Limekilns and Ranching Features of Gray Whale Ranch", later annexed to the Wilder Ranch Historical State Park.

Henry Cowell Lime & Cement Company: Did historical documentation of Cowell Ranch (now UCSC campus) limekilns, cooperage, quarries, and tramways.  Assisted in application for Federal Historic Register status with UCSC / SHPO.  Did historical documentation of Rincon (now in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park) field pot kilns and continuous patent kilns.  Assisted in display for new Center and authored a book for the 50th Anniversary of the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, which include the lime industry history of the IXL and Rincon limeworks.

H. T. Holmes Lime & Cement Company: Surveyed the continuous limekilns in Felton, California, including Thomas Bull's and Eben Bennett's pot kilns, quarries, and incline gravity tramways.

The Rockland Lime & Lumber Company: Assisted in State Park Archeologist's Site Survey of the four patent continuous limekilns and quarry at Limekiln State Park on the Big Sur coast, and the loading chute site at Rockland Landing, California.  Wrote "The History of the Rockland Lime & Lumber Company".

Coastal Voices: 100 Years of North Coast History: Assisted DRSC with archive acquisitions for this MAH Exhibit and presented a lecture at MAH on "The History of the Santa Cruz County Lime Industry".  Assisted in a spin-off project of displaying the Santa Cruz Portland Cement company history at the RMC Pacific Materials facility (the Crocker Hospital) and organizing, inventorying, and scanning historic photographs for the Davenport Oral History Project.

In addition numerous displays, slide shows, and history walk/talks, about limekilns, firebricks, and the lime industry have been presented to various groups.  Books have been distributed to local libraries, and excerpts placed on the internet.  Active on RMC display and writing MAH Journal on the history of the Santa Cruz County Lime Industry.