Cerro Gordo County Iowa
Part of the IaGenWeb Project



Mason City Brick & Tile Company

Click on thumbnail or caption to see enlargement of photograph.
Click on 'back' button to return to this webpage.

Mason City Brick & Tile Company

With the establishment of the Mason City and Fort Dodge Railroad line in 1866, Mason City began to quicky grow as a significant retail and manufacturing center of the Midwest.

The Brick and Tile Company, the first of Mason City's industries, was established in 1866, utilitizing abundant natural deposits of limestone and clay in the area. At one time there were nine brick and tile companies in Mason City which lured many immigrants from the southern and eastern locales of Europe who were seeking employment in America. "Lehigh Row" was established to house immigrant workers on the grounds of the cement company. Northwestern's row houses for their employees was named "White Clay."

The Northwestern State Portland Cement Plant was founded in 1906, followed by the Lehigh Portland Cement Company in 1910. The Colby Car manufacturing operation opened in 1911. By 1912, Mason City was shipping the largest freight tonnage in the State of Iowa and producing more brick and tile and more Portland cement than any city in the world.

Weaver Construction Company, headquartered in Iowa Falls, Iowa, was mainly a road construction company. Among their state-wide quarries was one located approximately 3 miles north of Mason City. They supplied Mason City Ready Mix Company to make bulk cement.

Lehigh Portland Cement Company shipped 1,561 carloads in 1956. The company produced 3,000,000 barrels of cement in 1957.

In 1955, Northwestern States Portland Cement Company shipped 2,216 carloads.

Andrews Concrete Products was established in 1947. They brought in bulk cement from the local plands and made 'ready mix' which was specialized in pre-cast conrete products, such as blocks and steps. Andrews was the only local plant that produced Prestess concrete beams and joists.

Although competition was stiff, the quality of the products shipped out of Mason City assured each company a good business.

North Iowa Brick & Tile Company, Mason City

In the beginning, a steam locomotive was used to bring clay from the pits to the brick plant located in southwestern Mason City. This line was electrified in 1940 and two Differential dump motors to run the line were purchased from The Clinton & Davenport & Muscatine Railroad.

When the pits were located farther away from the factories, the rail line was not extended, meaning that the clay was double-handled with trucks transporting it from the pits to the railhead.

By 1956, the transportation of clay to the factory was done all with trucks. Consequently, the rails were removed and the rail equipment was scrapped.

Although the brick and tile industry no longer continued at Mason City, two cement factories are still in operation today.


Compiled & Submitted by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2011



Return to Cerro Gordo History Index Page

Return to Cerro Gordo Home Page


© Copyright 1996-
Cerro Gordo Co. IAGenWeb Project
All rights Reserved.