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Hecla Portland Cement and Coal Company (1901-1915)
Located on one mile of river front, Bay City, Mich.

1900 history. Added Dec., 2011.

Geological Survey of Michigan, Clays & Shales, by H. Reis, 1900


Organized April 6, 1901. Capital $5,000,000, in shares of $100. A West Virginia corporation, but with offices in Detroit and business centering around Bay City, consisting of marl lands in Ogemaw county, and coal and clay shale lands in Bay County.

The officers and directors of the company are: Julius Stroh, president; Cameron Currie, first vice president; Waldo Avery, second vice president; Edward H. Parker, treasurer; U. R. Loranger, secretary; Lem W. Bowen, Thodore D. Buhl, James N. Wright, M. Green.

Briefly the plans of the company can be outlined as follows: The manufacture of Portland cement from dry marl and class shale; the mining of coal, of which the lump will be marketed and the slack used in the manufacture of cement and the creation of powder to run the great mills; the evaporation of salt in large quantities with the exhaust steam and hot gases escaping from the rotaries; the by-products of salt and limestone to be used in the running of the large chemical plant; the erection of coke ovens, also used as an auxiliary to the plants; the operation of a standard gauge railroad to be utilized for hauling the coal to the dock of the company for lake shipment as well as the raw materials to the cement plant.

The novel features of their plans are, -- the transportation of the marl to the clay and shipping point, instead of building a factory at the marl bed; the use of waste coal and slack, and especially of Michigan coal, as well as clay and marl; the utilization of by-products and waste heat, and the employment of dry process. Ordinarily the marl being the most bulky raw material, does not pay to ship. In this case, however, we have to counter balance it a saving on shipping coal, clay and cement, while the marl comes down grade.

In the planning of the plant, marl analyses have been made by R. E. Doolittle, State Analyst, Lathbury and Spackman, and others. To the courtesy of U. R. Loranger we owe details of the company's analyses which cover a range of materials and have a scientific value in showing how analyses of such material run in the State. We append extracts from the reports of some of their experts. Beside the draining of the lakes and handling of the marl or boglime dry, another important feature of this plant is the proposed utilization of shales of the coal measures.

One mile of river front on the Saginaw river, near the mouth, and only a short distance below West Bay City, is owned by the Hecla company, where the cement plant has been erected. The erection of this plant will shortly be followed by the other mills included in the general plan of development.

The company owns about 6,000 acres of coal lands, about 800 acres of marl land, 2,000 acres of lime rock, and a mill site with nearly a mile of river front on the mouth of the Saginaw river, and is incorporated to manufacture and sell Portland cement, alkali, salt, paving and fire brick, coal, fire clay, etc. Experts who have looked over the property say that by reason of the fuel situation, with coal deposits under the company's mill site, it will possess a great advantage over those who are obliged to buy their coal in the open market and pay freight on it. The company will sell the lump coal and use its slack coal.

The four marl lakes, known as George, Edwards, Chapman and Plummer, are located on the headwaters of the Tittabawassee River, and all within the radius of five miles in the township of Edwards, Ogemaw, Michigan, Plummer being on the Hampton branch of the M. C. R. R., and the others lying two, three and four miles respectively from the same. There is a railroad already constructed and in very fair condition, extending from Plummer Lake to Edwards Lake.

1902 history. Added Dec., 2011.

The Michigan Miner, Feb. 1, 1902.


Julius Stroh, of Detroit, president of the Hecla Portland Cement & Coal Company, expects the plant to go into operation at West Bay City about the first of July. The foundations are all complete, the machinery, all of which was ordered in July last, is now arriving, and speedy headway will be made from now on. The machine building is now complete. There will be ten buildings altogether, consisting of structural steel, expanded metal and concrete construction. "We have between 4,000 and 5,000 acres of coal land in Bay County," Mr. Stroh declared. "We have struck some veins as thick as 5 feet 8 inches, but the average is considerably less than that, although te veins are all of a sufficient thickness for profitable mining. In addition to the use of a slack, we will probably consume a great deal of shale as well in connection with the manufacture of cement. The marl deposits are located in Ogemaw County. We also control about 1,000 acres of lime rock, part of which lies close to the marl beds and part where it can be brought to Bay City very cheaply."

1902 history. Added Dec., 2011.

The Michigan Miner, Aug. 2, 1902.


The Hecla Cement & Coal Co.,s Shaft Well Under Way.


The work of developing the coal property recently taken over by the Hecla Portland Cement & Coal Co., of Bay City, has been in progress for some time. Mr. Field Scott, of the Jeffrey Manufacturing Co., has charge of the entire work, which includes the sinking of the shafts and equipping the mine with modern electrical machinery, especially designed for producing clay and coal, which will be used at the cement plant in the manufacture of cement. The method of sinking the shaft is something different from anything that had been tried in this section of the country. The hoisting shaft is a three-compartment shaft, 9 feet 4 inches by 17 feet 4 inches outside dimensions, is timbered solid with white oak, and back of the oak there is a six-inch space that is filled in with cement that forms a water seal. Everything is being pushed as rapidly as possible, and the shaft has been over half-way completed. Machinery is being installed as rapidly as it is received, and everything points to an early completion of the work.

1904 history. Added Dec., 2011.

Municipal Engineering Index, Vol. XXVI, January – June, 1904

U. R. Oranger, former secretary and manager of the Hecla Portland Cement & Coal Company, Bay City, Mich., filed in the United States Court Dec. 9, a sworn petition asking the court to permit him to intervene in the foreclosure suit brought against the Hecla Company by the Detroit Trust Company. The former secretary claims that the company's troubles are the result of a deliberate attempt to wreck the company in order that the properties might be secured at less than their actual value, he and others being principal creditors.

1905 history. Added Dec., 2011.

History of Bay City, Michigan, Augustus H. Gansser, 1905.

Page 251.
The Hecla Portland Cement & Coal Company, capitalized at $5,000,000, in 1902-03 constructed its million dollar plant just south of the lighthouse with a mile of deep-water frontage on the river. Julius Stroh, the millionaire brewer of Detroit, was the main stockholder, and the little settlement nine miles from West Branch, where the marl beds are located, is named “Stroh” in his honor. The dried marl will be hauled in 50-ton dump railroad cars to the million dollar plant in Bay City. The drying plant has a capacity of 1,000 tons of marl per day. The company located four coal fields: Hecla mine No. 4 in Frankenlust township has proven a good producer, while the others – one near Kawkawlin, the second west of the city, and the third just east of Auburn – have not yet been developed. They are planned to produce 1,500 tons of coal daily, 300 tons for the use of the cement and kindred plants, the rest for shipment by water, for which huge and modern coal docks are to be constructed. The company owns its own railway to the marl beds and coal mines and employs its own rolling stock. The clay and shale used in the manufacture of Portland cement is secured in the same shafts with the coal, and the plant as now completed has a capacity of 3,000 barrels of cement daily. In 1904 the stockholders went into litigation which is still pending, and hence our most promising new industry is awaiting the slow process of untangling the status of the company's affairs by legal procedure.

1907 history. Added Dec., 2011.

State of Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, 1907.

The Hecla Company, Bay City.

The Hecla Company was organized in December, 1905, for the purpose of taking over the plant and properties of the Hecla Portland Cement & Coal Company, the plant being completely reorganized and reequipped for the handling of limestone and shale for the manufacture of a high-grade rock Portland cement, the Hecla Portland Cement & Coal Company having manufactured from marl and shale. The daily output of 1,200 barrels has been continually maintained since starting, and in the short time that the Hecla Company has had its Rock cement on the market, the uniformity of its product has been assured.

A capital of $1,000,000 is invested in the business and the doubling of the capacity of their plant has been favorably considered, the more especially as their product has already found market in the Canadian Northwest, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Their Michigan orders are also large. As the plant is connected with four railroads, by their own belt line and has docks and water transportation, their shipping facilities are most excellent.

They employ 140 men, 25 of whom are skilled laborers. Their annual pay rolls approximate $120,000. It is significant that hey do not have to put a traveling salesman on the road to find market for their product.

The factory has a storage capacity of 120,000 bbls., thus enabling it to operate during the winter months when the use of cement is restricted, and accumulate a supply which permits of prompt and quick shipments during the months when cement is in demand. The Hecla is now considered one of Michigan's permanent industrial institutions. A small cut of the plant appears in this report.

1908 history. Added Dec., 2011.

The Book of Detroiters, by Albert Nelson Marquis, 1908

Bush, John Fellows, general manager the Hecla Co.; born, Rochester, N. Y., Mar. 7, 1871; son of Daniel West and Eloise (Walbridge) Bush; education in public schools of Rochester; married, Rochester, Apr. 27, 1898, Maude Emerson. Filled position of note teller in Commercial Bank of Rochester, 1888-92; then was employed of the C. P. Ford Co., manufactures, and became promoter and organizer of water, gas and electric light companies, and had companies in various cities; went to Watkins, N. Y., 1899, as manger of electric light and gas company, and to Maccan, Nova Scotia, as coal mine operator, 1904; sold out interest in mine, 1903; went to Chicago and in 1904 became connected with the Goodman Manufacturing Co., manufactures of electric mining machinery; has been general manager of the Hecla Co., Detroit, with works and mines at Bay City, Mich., manufactures of Portland cement, since 1906. Also secretary and manager Brockport Gas Light Co., of Brockport, N. Y. Republican. Episcopalian. Mason. Club: Bay City (Bay City, Mich.). Office: 808 Penobscot Bldg. Residence 1145 Jefferson Av.

1912 - Property sold. - Added Jan., 2012.

Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record, Vol. 9 – July 6, 1912.


It is reported that the old Hecla cement plant at Bay City, the machinery of which was taken out some months ago, has been purchased and the buildings are to be converted into a chemical plant of large proportions. The names of the capitalists are not as yet divulged. The plant will be one o the largest properties and the location is one of the best for manufacturing purposes on the river, having deep water navigation and railroad connections for shipping facilities.

Related Pages/Notes

Related Pages.
History Coal Sag. Valley.
Garland, Michael
People Referenced
Avery, Waldo
Bowen, Lem W.
Buhl, Theodore D.
Bush, Daniel W.
Bush, John F.
Currie, Cameron
Doolittle, R.E.
Emerson, Maud
Green, M.
Loranger, U.R.
Parker, Edward H.
Scott, Field
Stroh, Julius
Walbridge, Eloise
Wright, James N.
Subjects Referenced
Auburn, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Brockport, NY
Brockport Gas Light Co.
Chicago, IL
Commercial Bank Rochester
C.P. Ford Co.
Detroit, MI
Detroit Trust Co.
Frankenlust Twp., MI
Goodman Manufacturing Co.
Hecla Co.
Jeffrey Manufactring Co.
Kawkawlin, MI
Lake Chapman, MI
Lake Edwards, MI
Lake George, MI
Lake Plummer, MI
Maccan, Nova Scotia
Ogemaw Co., MI
Rochester, NY
Saginaw River, MI
Tittabawassee River, MI
Watkins, NY
West Bay City, MI
West Branch, MI
West Virginia
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.