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California \ Old Mission Portland Cement Co.
Reference Data.
April 22, 1912

Corporate Ownership.
San Juan Cement Company
1907 work begun, not completed
Old Mission Portland Cement Co.
1912 - 1927 n.g. railroad in service 1916)
Pacific Portland Cement Co.
1927 - 1941 in operation until 1930
Ideal Cement Co.
1941 – mid 1970’s no railroad operations

7 Miles
Last Updated: January 4, 2018

Old Mission Portland Cement Company

By Randy Hees

T he Old Mission Portland Cement Company, with its cement plant and railroads, was originally a project of the San Juan Cement Company, and the San Juan Pacific Railway (SJPRy). Both of these companies shared board members, directors, and investors with the management of the Ocean Shore Railroad 1 (The SJPRy railroad was originally proposed as an electrified line, much like the Ocean Shore) and the Davenport Cement plant. The narrow gauge quarry railroad was originally planned to be 23 5/8” gauge.2

Construction of the SJPRy, and the San Juan Cement Company plant began in 1907. The standard gauge SJPRR opened in 1907, but work on the cement plant was suspended in November. A new company, Old Mission Portland Cement, took over the project in May 1912, restarting construction of the cement plant, including a 3’ gauge quarry railroad, by 1916. The first carloads of cement were shipped on July 18, 1918.3 On August 21, 1918, the contractor, Hunt Engineering, of Kansas City, declared the plant complete and turned it over to the cement company.

The Old Mission Portland Cement Company was notable for being in opposition to the “cement trust,” an association of cement companies and patent holders who tried to control the cement business, allotting territories and setting minimum prices.4

A 1919 report stated the Old Mission Portland Cement Company had two Marion steam shovels and two “Dinky” locomotives in service. In 1921, two new quarries were opened, each with a 1,200’ gravity tramway, delivering limestone to the narrow gauge railroad. The narrow gauge railroad was extended 1 ½ miles to serve the new quarries. 5

The cement plant and its railroads were sold to Pacific Portland Cement in 1927. In 1929, the new owners announced that they were extending the narrow gauge railroad three miles to a new quarry and a larger 20 ton Plymouth was purchased. By 1930, with the onset of the depression, the facility was closed. The standard gauge line was removed in 1938. The narrow gauge line was gone by the time that the cement plant reopened in 1941 as Ideal Cement, a division of Pacific Portland Cement. The plant was finally closed and dismantled in the 1970’s.

Revised: January 4, 2018
1. The Ocean Shore Railroad Company proposed to build a double track electrified railroad from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. The promoters also proposed, and in some cases started, real estate developments (at Salida Beach, Vallemar and Granada); a rock quarry at Rockaway Beach (Pacifica); cement plants at Davenport and San Juan Bautista; as well as additional railroads from Santa Cruz to Watsonville (the Ocean Shore and Eastern Railroad) and rumors suggested a railroad from Fresno, through Hollister and San Juan Bautista to Santa Cruz (The San Joaquin Valley Western Railroad). Many of these plans were dropped in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, which destabilized capital markets. For more information see Jack Wagner, The Last Whistle (Ocean Shore Railroad) (Berkeley, Howell-North Books, 1974), and Rick Hamman, California Central Coast Railways (Boulder Colorado, Pruett Publications, 1980).
2. Fabing reports that San Juan Cement had ten cars on hand
3. Santa Cruz Evening News, July 31, 1918
4. San Francisco Call May 22, 1913
5. Cement & Engineering News, Chicago, vol 33, no 5, May 1921, via Google

Whaley, Derek R. Old Mission Portland Cement Company Extension Railroad Santa Cruz Trains.
Clough, Charles. San Juan Bautista: The Town, the Mission & the Park Word Dancer Press, Sanger, CA, 1996, 2nd ed, 2004.
H. W. Fabing, San Juan Pacific Railway, California Central Railroad, Old Mission Portland Cement Co., Western Railroader, September 1964, Issue No 296, Vol 27, No 9. This issue includes a report by Francis Guido on equipment found during a 1937 visit.
Hamman, Rick. California Central Coast Railways. Boulder: Pruett Publishing, 1980.

Reference Material Available Online:


Collected Old Mission Portland Cement Company Photographs.
Images collected from private collections, libraries and historical societies.

California \ Old Mission Portland Cement Co.
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