Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company - Abandoned

Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company

The Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company operated from 1904 to 1979 in Barboursville, West Virginia.

The Guyan Valley Brick Company was founded in 1904 on Peyton Street in Barboursville.8 It joined a list of other brick plants that lined the Guyandotte River, many that predated the Civil War, whose bricks went into the construction of homes and streets in the region.1 Initial equipment consisted of a steel disintegrator, two Frost nine-foot dry pans, a ten-foot pug mill and a Steele and Company auger machine of 70,000 brick capacity in ten hours.8 The brick was dried in two five-track National steam driers that held 85 cars with a capacity of 54,000 bricks. The plant was expanded to contain eight down-draft kilns, 30-feet in diameter, that held 70,000 bricks each, and six up-draft kilns 70-feet long, holding 400,000 brick.

When the new factory opened, it initially produced 75 types and colors of brick and tile.1 The company operated within a thick deposit of gray sandy shale 10 to 30 feet thick lying beneath the Morgantown sandstone.8 Near the plant was a large acreage of sandy river clay, 38 feet deep, that made for a very good grade of red building brick that was burned in up-draft kilns.

A joint stock company took over the Guyan Valley Brick Company, which was languishing in debt due to a nationwide financial panic. The new company was formed largely through the efforts of Rev. M.C. Johnson in 1909.9 The capitol stock of the new company was $25,000, of which $15,000 was paid for.

One of the company’s crowning achievements came in 1921 when brick from the plant was used for a remodeling project at the White House.2 On June 19, 1926 J.C. Alderson, manager of the Huntington Brick and Tile Company, purchased Barboursville Brick and Tile for $50,000 and became president and general manager.7 Alderson maintained a Huntington yard for the Barboursville plant at 31st Street and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

By the 1970’s, the Barboursville Clay Manufacturing Company was employing more than 50 people and was selling more than 20 million bricks per year. It closed in 1979 after an employee embezzled $1 million from the company.4

On July 23, 2003,as a result of a lawsuit settlement, the city of Barboursville agreed to acquire the 20-acre Barboursville Clay Manufacturing site for $1.525 million.2 3

An environmental study was conducted in January 2004 4 concluded that the site contained 21,000 square-feet of asbestos and petroleum in the ground while the smokestacks featured high levels of arsenic.Estimates for remediation of asbestos from the site ranged from $39,000 to $70,000. In early 2007, Barboursville received a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.5

Asbestos abatement was completed in October 2007.6 The six kiln stacks were demolished by November 15.

Sources

Submit a comment