Wednesday Jan 11 2012
What's the story behind those big holes?
By: Gary Day, Special to the Placer Herald
Rocks, Rails and Ranches
The lake in front of Rocklin’s library fills one of four granite quarries operated in the early 20th century by the Union Granite Company under the management of Finnish immigrant Matt Ruhkala. The quarry is about 100 yards north of Ira Delano’s Rocklin Granite Company quarry, Rocklin’s largest and most financially successful 19th century quarry. After Delano’s Quarry closed in 1916, the site was Rocklin’s garbage dump in the mid-20th century. It now underpins a motel and parking lot behind the Taco Bell on the south side of Rocklin Road. State records show that both Ruhkala and Delano produced stone for buildings and monuments. After 1907 both men were producing curbing as well, possibly to repair San Francisco roads damaged in the 1906 earthquake. Ruhkala settled in the Rocklin area in 1889 to learn the granite business. His skills with stone-working tools allowed him to open his first Union Granite Company quarry in 1903. That quarry is now under the westbound lanes of Interstate 80. In 1919, while Rocklin’s granite industry was in decline, Ruhkala acquired a quarry near the site of today’s K-Mart Shopping Center and raised a family of 11 children in a home less than 100 yards from the quarry rim. That quarry is now in the path of urban development. The home was recently demolished. In 1933 Union Granite, led by Ruhkala and four of his six sons, acquired the California Granite Company’s Capitol Quarry (now known as the Big Gun Quarry), near the intersection of Pacific Street and Rocklin Road. Union Granite sold that quarry in 1977. When it closed in 2005, it was Rocklin’s longest continually operated granite processing operation. If you are interested in preserving Rocklin’s history, considering the Rocklin Area Historical Society. For more information, call 624-2355.