John Green, Granite Rock Company 1953-1985, Logan Quarry Superintendent 1972-1985 – Part Two
Posted by Rose Ann Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015
In a recent interview, John Green spoke at length about his time with Granite Rock Company, where he worked first as a “sample boy” at Logan Quarry and eventually worked his way up to Quarry Superintendent. He told stories which include many of the people he worked with over the years, such as Paul Mahler, Elmer Neyens, Carl Preston, Oscar Davies, Roy Goodwin, Ray Johnson, Jay Woods, Claude Mason and Skeeter Hanson, and talked about many of the changes that transformed the Quarry and the Company during his thirty-two year career. In this Rockblog entry, John talks about his work during the 1960s.
During the 1960s the region was booming with construction, and it could be tremendously busy.
“Jay Woods, who Carl Preston used to call ‘The Growler” because of his deep, deep voice, couldn’t understand why we needed overtime. He’d keep after me and say, ‘Why can’t you get done in eight hours?’ One day Roy Goodwin, who was shipping clerk, phoned me up at 2:30 PM and said, ‘We just got an order from Sondgroth Brothers (a Mountain View based paving contractor) for another thirty cars for this afternoon’. This was one of our best customers at the time, and we’d already done thirty cars for them that day. Well, my heart just sank because I knew I’d be there until at least 6 or 7 o’clock, no question about that. I told Jay to come down here and see how it was. There were guys going this way, cars going that way and trucks in between them. He looked around, and he went back and never asked me about overtime again. That took care of ‘The Growler’ for me.”
The aging quarry operations were pushed to the limit to keep up with customer demand.
“We just loaded that plant unbelievably and had three shifts running around the clock. There was an imbalance between rock and fines, so we had to run the plant 24 hours a day to get to the coarse material, we never shut it off. I’d leave at the end of the day, and see where we kept the ¾ by ¼ concrete rock. If at the end of the day there were 25 tons left we were lucky. Every morning after the plant worked all night there’d be a big pile, and every evening only 25 tons left.”
Operations at Los Gatos and Vernalis In 1965, Elmer Neyens was running the Company’s Los Gatos Sand and Gravel operation, which was where Vasona Park is now located. The gravel had been worked out, so the property was sold and the area eventually reclaimed for a park. Graniterock obtained a lease on 200 acres in the Central Valley at Vernalis, close to where Highway 5, the California Canal and Delta Canal were all being built, and the Company moved the Los Gatos plant to the new site. John came in to manage operations, but the deposit was shallow and the rock so dirty and coated with clay it was tough to meet job specifications. In addition, the business was not set up to properly support a branch that far from its other operations, so the plant was closed.
Back at Logan Quarry John worked for a while in aggregate sales, putting 50,000 miles a year on the road, but what he loved was production, and soon he was back at Logan Quarry. About this time Caterpillar loaders replaced the shovels that had been introduced by A.R. Wilson. In 1911, the first steam shovel was a Model #50 Marion, and for over fifty years steam and electric shovels were the work horses for removing rock at the face. During John’s time there, electric shovels ranged from the # 37 Marion, which had a less than one yard capacity, to the 2 ½ yard #75 shovel to the #100 4 ½ yard model. These machines were built to last forever, but just couldn’t handle enough material to meet the demand.
Another problem was their lack of flexibility - shovels were not easy to move around, and if anything went wrong, work came to a halt. So in 1969, the last of the shovels were retired to the bone yard.
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