John Green, Granite Rock Company 1953-1985, Logan Quarry Superintendent 1972-1985 - Part Three

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 the years just before the modernization of Graniterock’s Aromas quarry, when he worked as Quarry Superintendent.

In 1971, the Company sent John to the Sloan Program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. This one year program was designed to give management tools and training to corporate-sponsored executives.  John was there to prepare for the job of Quarry Superintendent, and upon his graduation Elmer Neyens retired and John took over. At this point, the old Logan plants first put in place by A.R. Wilson were about worn out, but everyone pitched in to keep things going.

“In 1975 we still had the gyratory crushers working, and at the end of the day you had to stop them, but the rock was feeding the crushers through a huge door, and the pressure was incredible. We would send guys out to the eucalyptus trees to cut poles, and you would stick a eucalyptus pole into the rock flow to build a little barrier, and then the rock would stop. This had to be done every day, so we decided we were going to do away with those babies. We bought a cone crusher and we put that in place instead of the number 8. Also in 1975 we rebuilt the 7 ½ and 8 plant. We had a lot of good guys in our shop, guys who thought about it and tried to improve things. They’d figure it all out.  Oscar Davies was a wizard in wintertime, when he’d attack those plants and rebuild them. If we broke a shaft somewhere you couldn’t just go out and buy it, you had to build it yourself. Von Mahler was our full time machinist, and he was first class, a great machinist. He did amazing things. I can remember him pouring cast iron bearings on the jaw crusher, which then had to be scraped to fit. All this had to be done at night, and they’d be there all night long.”

Bucket elevators carried rock from the primary crusher to a conveyor, but if a belt broke, rock came crashing down onto the buckets and shut down the plant. Then everything had to be dug out by hand, and when that happened, “It was just brutal, the lost time, fixing all the buckets and building new buckets. But when Oscar devised a way to put conveyor belts in to replace the bucket elevators, it was the last of that problem, done!”

“I’m lucky that when I was Superintendent we had a lot of good people. Claude Mason kept up the old hot plant with Skeeter Hanson.  Claude used to dump rail cars and run the material up into bunkers to fill them. Well, the hot plant didn’t run often, but Claude could see the steam of the hot plant stack from his house. This is what you call true devotion: Skeeter would sometimes get an order on a rainy day when there wasn’t too much business, and he’d fire up the plant.  Claude could look out of his house and see the steam, and the next thing you know he’d show up at work, though we hadn’t called him, and he’d start dumping the cars because he knew the bunkers were gonna be down. When he was done, he’d turn his time card in for three or four hours, whatever it was, and go on home. But Claude told me he had worked in the mines in West Virginia, going down rabbit holes on his back, so working out there in the dust was a piece of cake. We had guys who knew what work was all about.”

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