The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter VIII
Cement Industry

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



The growth of the Portland cement industry in Michigan from a single plant in 1896, with an output of seven thousand dollars value, to ten plants in 1912, with an annual output of more then three millions value, has caused the marl deposits in the glacial lakes of Genesee county to become of great industrial importance. Before the year 1900 options were taken upon the marl rights in several of these lakes, and in 1900 these options were taken up and the rights secured from the farm owners of the lands around and under the lakes. That year the Detroit Portland Cement Company and the Egyptian Portland Cement Company began building operations on the shores of Silver and Mud lakes. Since then their operations have increased. They first began to produce cement in 1902 and, with some exceptions caused by re-organization and litigation, have done an increasing business. The Aetna Portland Cement Company, under the management of Mr. Simmons, has been especially active and prosperous. It now has eight kilns and a daily output of about thirteen or fourteen hundred barrels. They are now installing two new kilns of great capacity, and their prospective output when these are in operation will be about eighteen hundred barrels of cement per day. the market is practically all in the state of Michigan, about fifty per cent going to Detroit. Their marl runs over ninety per cent of carbonate of lime and an analysis of this marl some time ago shows as follows:


Their marl runs over ninety per cent of carbonate of lime and an analysis of this marl some time ago shows as follows:



Alumina and iron






Carbon ioxide







The depth of this marl deposit is in some places as great as twenty-seven feet, and enough is in sight, as stated by Mr. Simmons, to assure the active operation of their plant for thirty years. the clay, sufficiently rich in combined silica, has not as yet been found in quantities in Genesee county, and at the present time it is brought from the vicinity of Corunna. The estimated possible production of one of these companies in 1900, after a careful examination by competent persons, was over twenty-eight million barrels, and the present output of the two companies must run near right hundred thousand barrels per year, with prospect of over a million next year.

The salt industry has never been a part of the activities of this county, although some attempts were made in the days of the saw-mills. The saltbearing strata underlie our county, and about fifty years ago a well was drilled by H. H. Crapo, near the present number yard of the Randall Lumber company with a view to salt-making. The use of sawdust for fuel to evaporate the brine was one of the plans of the mill men. The well was sunk fifteen hundred feet or more and brine was found, but the plan was abandoned, the brine being insufficiently rich in salt to make the manufacture of salt an alluring field. Somewhere in the boulevard between the lumberyard of the Randall company and the river, you may walk over this buried salt well.

One of the mining industries of the county if the clay mining of the Saginaw Paving Brick company, of Saginaw, which for some years has operated a clay mine down the river from the village of Flushing. The clay is called "fire clay," and it forms a stratum beneath some overlying strata of sandstone and shale. It is taken out by a power plant on an inclined tramway and shipped to Saginaw. The extent of this mining has resulted in an excavation of large dimensions, and to a depth considerably below the level of the river which runs nearby. This excavation furnishes one of the very few exposures of hard rock in the county, and the strata consists of sandstone and shales. It is said that a thin coal vein was also tapped that furnished coal sufficient to run the engine for power. The mine is on the southwest quarter of section 22, township 8 north, range 5 east.

Following are the chief physiographic characteristics of the townships of Genesee county; and some of the ways in which they have been related both to the red men and to the white settlers.



History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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