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a. Adobe Mill Way and Brickyard Road

Posted by weberhistory on October 10, 2010

Adobe Mill Ct. and Adobe Mill Lane named after Sam Gates' adobe mill; photo 2014.

Adobe Mill Ct. and Adobe Mill Way named after Sam Gates’ adobe mill; photo 2014.

Adobe Bricks

With the arrival of the railroad in 1869, Ogden became the greatest railroad center of the Rocky Mountain region.  With an eye on the expanding economy, Sam Gates established an Adobe Mill in 1870 on the north side of 2nd Street about three-fourths of a mile from Five Points[1].  Excellent clay for adobes was available in the sloughs by Stone’s Pond.[2] His son, George Gates, and his son-in-law, James Gardner, assisted him.  The adobe mixer or mill was located by Sam’s house at today’s intersection of 2nd Street and Century Drive.

2nd Street and Century Drive; photo 2009.

Site of Sam Gates 1870 Adobe Mill is the intersection of 2nd Street and Century Drive; photo 2009.

The adobe bricks (“dobies”) were made from marsh mud and were sun-dried. Usually the mud and water were mixed by feet, hoe or shovel.  Feet were ideal as one could sense when the mud was properly mixed with as little water as possible. After mixing the mud was placed into molds and sundried until firm enough to be stacked.

Joseph Romrell, son of George and Patience Romrell, was born in 1870.  His first job as a young boy was at the Gates adobe brick yard where he carried the bricks from the molds to the drying yard.  The next day they were topped and turned over to dry on the other side. [3]

There are several houses on 2nd Street built with adobes from the Gates Mill that are still standing in 2013.   Today’s  walls of the James Stone house at 386 West 2nd Street are thirty inches thick, built with dobies from the Gates Mill (exterior  now covered with siding).  The Peter Sherner house at 122 2nd Street is adobe (now covered with cement), and the Moroni Stone house at 226 2nd Street is the only house on 2nd Street with visible exterior adobe bricks now sealed with a protective dark red sealant.  The Moroni Stone house provides a rare view of well preserved adobe walls under the  porch that spans two sides of the house.  People who live in adobe houses with thick walls find that these walls form some of the best insulation available.[4]

James Stone house, adobe. Moroni Stone house, adobe. Peter Sherner house, rear view, adobe.

Brickyard Road named for Sam Gates' brickyard.

Brickyard Road named for Sam Gates’ brickyard.

Burnt Bricks

(a soft, orange-colored brick)

Some people wanted a more durable brick, so James Gardner built a kiln to fire the sun dried bricks into a burnt brick.  Sand and gravel were not suitable for brick making; small particles of limestone even smaller than a pea made that type of soil unsatisfactory and could cause the brick to explode when it is fired.  The marsh mud around Stone’s Pond was ideal. The burning usually took from three to four weeks.  The bricks nearest the fire and farthest into the stack became the hardest and were used on the outside walls as they were more weather resistant.  Soft bricks were better insulation and were used on the inside walls.[5]

Gardner located the kiln and brickyard about three blocks north of Sam’s cabin and the adobe mixer.  The site of the kiln is on the south side of North Street across from the house located at 371 W. North Street.  This site was close to the marsh and to Stone’s Pond.  The adobe mill and the brickyard were connected by a lane, the old Sam Gates Lane.

Site of kiln

Today’s James Gardner house at 156 2nd Street, the Mary Maxham house at 214 West 2nd Street and the George Pierce house at 140 West 2nd Street are built with burnt bricks from the Gates brickyard.

James Gardner house, burnt brick. Mary Maxham house, burnt brick. George Pierce house, burnt brick.

The Gillson granary at 150 W. 2nd rear and the Bingham granary at 317 W. 2nd are made with burnt bricks from the Gates brickyard.

Gillson granary, burnt brick. Bingham granary, burnt brick. detail of burnt bricks on the Bingham granary

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[1] Editor Milton R. Hunter, Beneath Ben Lomond’s Peak, 1944, Quality Press Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 362, 425.

[2] William W. Terry, Weber County History Is Worth Knowing, p. 120.

[3] Ibid, p. 120, 122; Nina Bowman, Joseph Romrell, p. 274.

[4] William W. Terry,  Weber County History Is Worth Knowing, p. 122.

[5] Ibid.

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