The story of a forgotten America.

Kentucky Fire Brick Company

Kentucky Fire Brick Company is a former refractory brick factory in Haldeman, Kentucky.

The Kentucky Fire Brick Company established a fire brick plant at Haldeman in 1903. 6 The plant was acquired by the Kentucky Fire Brick Company of Portsmouth, Ohio in 1909, 1 later becoming a subsidiary of the Illinois Steel Company of Chicago, Illinois. 2

Most of the raw materials used were mined from the local Olive Hill clay bed. Other materials, such as local plastic underclays and diaspore from Missouri, were added to enhance plasticity and to increase density and resistance to high temperatures. The mouth of the mine was located 30 feet above the grinding room. 5 Clay was brought out of the mine in mule-driven cars and dumped over the tipple at the grinding shed, where the clay was mixed and dried. The kilns were located on two sides of the drying room. After burning, the bricks were stored in stock sheds where they were loaded onto railcars for shipment. The facility had a capacity of 50,000 9-inch refractory bricks per day via 14 kilns.

The town of Haldeman, developed by L.P. Haldeman, housed workers for the brickworks. 3 The Haldeman School was constructed in 1936 and 1937 by the Works Progress Administration.

The introduction of oxygen-induction furnaces caused the demand of refractory brick to wane. The original brick plant ceased operations shortly after World War II came to a close. 4 The second plant at Haldeman, which was built in 1922 by the Kentucky Fire Brick Company, operated until 1955 when it was purchased by the General Refractories Company. 4 It closed by 1958.



  1. Boy, D.C. “C&O Magazine Boosts Olive Hill.” Carter County Herald [Olive Hill] 11 Feb. 1932: n. pag. Print. Article.
  2. Doyle, J. Dixon, and George H. Hartwell. “Miscellaneous Items.” Clay Record. Vol. 35. N.p.: n.p., 1909. 35. Print.
  3. Elbon, David C. “Haldeman, Kentucky.” Kentucky Atlas & Gazetter. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. Article.
  4. Patterson, Sam H., and John W. Hosterman. “The Olive Hill Clay Bed of Crider, 1913.” Geology and Refractory Clay Deposits of the Haldeman and Wrigley Quadrangles, Kentucky. Washington: n.p., 1962. F48-F49. Print.
  5. Hoeing, J. B. “Haldeman.” Kentucky Geological Survey. Vol. 1. Frankfort: n.p., 1913. 638-39. Print.
  6. Boy, D.C. “Products of Kentucky’s Famous Olive Hill District Move Via C.&O. and P.M.” Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Magazine, Feb. 1932.


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hello this is really interesting i never knew that portsmouth, ohio was any part of it and im orginally from portsmouth ohio. its very interesting when ur in ur 30’s and u find out information like this now i just want to look more into it and if you could u email me more information on it


Whoa! Good salvaging of the brick and saving of the buildings! It’s looking good! (And nice to make domestic products – love to support our local businesses and industries.)

I live in Pamplin Va. A place that was famous for its clay smoking pipe factory. In th1800’s. I bought my place here in 1990 an old cape cod on 4 acres, part of a hundred year old 50+ acre farm. As I was clearing the land of old decayed farm buildings, I would run across some old refractory brick with Imperial Steel stamped in them with a “$” replacing the I& S . Now I know from whence they came!

I’m from there and have never seen those pictures before. The last time I saw anything of the Fire Brick Company was around 1970 and all that was left standing was the very tall smoke stack or chimney. I was thrilled to see the images and read the article on the F B C



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