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Rocks, Rails & Ranches

State building boasts granite from Capitol Quarry’s early days

GPS coordinates: (N 38° 47.372', W 121° 14.078')
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
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This is the fifth installment of a 19-part series where Gary Day will take readers on a tour of Rocklin’s historic sites. You can find the sites yourself with a handy Rocklin History Tour booklet, available at the Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road. GPS coordinates were provided by Brian Ignaut. Short stories about Rocklin’s history are at www.rocklinhistory.org/history_series.asp

 

This granite quarry is behind the city office building at 3970 Rocklin Road. To get the best view of the quarry pit, go to the second floor exterior stairwell landing of that office building. The stairs to that landing are to the immediate left of the building’s entrance.

J. D. Smith opened this quarry in September 1864 to supply granite for California’s State Capitol Building. The state had started to construct the capitol with dark-spotted Folsom granite, but changed to the lighter and spot-free Rocklin granite because of the cleaner look and because the Central Pacific Railroad offered to ship the Rocklin granite for free. The differences in the two granites are most obvious today in the contrasting blocks in the columns at the capital’s west entrance.

From 1905 until the early 1930s, this was the primary quarry of Adolf Pernu’s California Granite Company. Pernu built the granite processing sheds on the northwest quarry rim in about 1907.

From 1933 until 1977 this was the largest quarry operated by the Ruhkala family’s Union Granite Company.

This quarry operated until 2005, when it was the last of Rocklin’s 62 quarries to cease operations.

The seven acres at this site, including the quarry pit, belong to the city of Rocklin. But under recent state legislation some acreage west of the quarry rim, including the sheds, might soon be sold off for commercial development.