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Sculpin
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PostThu Nov 04, 2021 6:56 am 
Has anyone explored the quarry and ruins of the old cement plant outside Concrete?  Are there any areas currently open to the public?

According to this blog, a "no trespassing" policy was instituted in 2018 but I am not sure how much area that covers.

https://nwgeology.wordpress.com/the-fieldtrips/baker-river-limestone-and-the-town-of-concrete-washington/

Here is a direct link to the video on the blog:


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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir

Bowregard
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RichP
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PostThu Nov 04, 2021 7:25 am 
Here's an old report with some really cool photos where somebody poked around there a bit. Devil's Tower has been an attraction for people for a long time but access may be restricted due to accidents and other recent weirdness there...

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=686240

https://skagitbreaking.com/2020/02/27/arrests-made-in-four-states-of-racially-motivated-violent-extremists-who-trained-in-eastern-skagit-county/

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Bowregard
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PostThu Nov 04, 2021 9:15 am 
I have nothing to add other than to thank you for posting this information.

I have spent 60 years in Washington but until a few years ago had no awareness of what lies beyond the concrete towers. My wife and I rented a vacation home nearby and decided to go exploring one rainy day and drove up to Lake Shannon. The various structures were interesting but confusing until this post helped put the pieces together for me.

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Dick B
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PostThu Nov 04, 2021 10:19 am 
When I was in late grade school and in high school we would visit Concrete. We would camp at Baker Lake, and  played Concrete in sports. It was always quite a bus ride from South Whidbey to Concrete. I love to visit and study the history of old operations such as the Concrete cement plant. It was in full operation when we visited in the late 40s and early 50s.
Does anyone remember a cement operation on Highway 2 over Stevens Pass? I think it may have been at Baring, but too long ago for me to be sure. I just remember a coating of grey dust all along the highway. The dust may have come from some other source.

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Schroder
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PostThu Nov 04, 2021 4:25 pm 
I never explored the structures but I remember when it operated and drove through there many times before it shut down in 1968. There was cement dust coating every tree and building for a couple of miles before you reached town.

The plant on Highway 2 was in Grotto, just west of Skykomish, and it also shut down in the 60's.

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Dick B
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PostThu Nov 04, 2021 7:31 pm 
Schroder. Thanks for the info. Now I remember Grotto. Not much of a town but I remember everything was grey. Did they have a very big cement operation there, and is anything left as per Concrete?

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Schroder
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PostFri Nov 05, 2021 4:44 am 
Dick B wrote:
Schroder. Thanks for the info. Now I remember Grotto. Not much of a town but I remember everything was grey. Did they have a very big cement operation there, and is anything left as per Concrete?

I don't think it was quite as large as the one in Concrete but it existed about the same length of time. It was originally Northwest Portland Cement Co. and at the end it was Ideal Cement. They cleared the site in the '70s but the worker community is still on the other side of the highway. I recall some tramways to this one also.

Great Northern Railway cars at the Northwest Portland Cement Co., Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Great Northern Railway cars at the Northwest Portland Cement Co., Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Company. Grotto, Wash., Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Company. Grotto, Wash., Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Co. facilities at Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Co. facilities at Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Co. facilities at Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Co. facilities at Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Co. facilities at Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Northwest Portland Cement Co. facilities at Grotto, approximately 1929, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Town of Grotto on Stevens Pass Highway, approximately 1913, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580
Town of Grotto on Stevens Pass Highway, approximately 1913, Lee Pickett Photograph Collection. PH Coll 580

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contour5
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PostFri Nov 05, 2021 5:39 am 
I remember reading a series of articles about this place in the concrete Herald. It sounded like the police were having a problem with teenage partiers. I didnít realize it was the atomwaffen division Doing weapons training. Super creepy!

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Schroder
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PostFri Nov 05, 2021 9:02 am 
Here's an old photo of Concrete


Sculpin
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Sculpin
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PostFri Nov 05, 2021 1:34 pm 
The quarry near Concrete is in Chilliwack limestone.  There is even a genuine limestone cave, Jensen Cave.

Grotto is harder to figure out.  There is no limestone even listed on the Skykomish geological quadrangle.  There are small outcrops of marble associated with the chert that covers the south slopes of Mt. Baring.  My best guess is that the marble was the source of the calcium carbonate used for cement manufacturing.  If so, the tramways would have run westerly from the mill.  The outcrops are both north and south of the river.

According to Caves of Washington, there are no limestone caves in Snohomish County.

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ale_capone
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PostFri Nov 05, 2021 6:05 pm 
Cool discussion!

We explored a little in concrete ruins once when I first moved here from detroit. Kinda reminded me of home.

I never knew there was a concrete plant in grotto. I've always wondered where the grotto was?  Sculipn made me curious, and I found this. It says 'limestone, but I guess in the lime industry, marble and dolomite are also limestone.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.ess.washington.edu/content/people/student_publications_files/knowles--paul-howard/Knowles_1938b.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjM2d2U0YL0AhUWGDQIHVsVAEwQFnoECBEQAQ&usg=AOvVaw1SCXedzwWNXOAuotM61vUt

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H. Hound
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PostSat Nov 06, 2021 3:54 am 
Sculpin wrote:
If so, the tramways would have run westerly from the mill.† The outcrops are both north and south of the river.

I believe the quarry for Grotto was the one near Cement lake. Always wanted to explore that area (both the lakes and the quarry), but never got around to it.

While searching for maps, I ran across this - https://livingatlas.arcgis.com/topoexplorer/index.html just type in what you are searching for, and it will pull up the historical TOPO's available. Fun little tool.

Grotto
Grotto

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Sculpin
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PostSat Nov 06, 2021 6:57 am 
Wow!  NWHikers is awesome!  I never would have found the geology paper or the old map of Grotto.  The paper describes the material that was used in the mill as "limestone [that] has uniformly dynamically metamorphosed to a fairly high degree."  Wikipedia says "in geology, the term marble refers to metamorphosed limestone."

The old map shows three quarries up Lowe Creek, one larger one to the east and two smaller ones to the west.  The USGS map shows these areas as marble.  (It also shows marble deposits down much closer to the river.  confused.gif) The hand-drawn sketch in the paper shows that the main quarry was on the west side of Lowe Creek, where one of the quarries is marked on the old map, but the one on the east side looks much bigger on Google maps.

And of course, puzzlr and RichP have been there.   huh.gif

Here is puzzlr's image looking down into the larger east-side cement quarry from the ridge above Lowe Creek near Crosby Mountain:

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8022658&highlight=cement+lk+lake#&pid=30538710782

The image is from this TR:

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8022658&highlight=cement+lk+lake

And now, the really big question:  has anyone located the remnants of the old "well kept trail" that ascends Lowe Creek to the quarry?  dizzy.gif

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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Dusty Trale
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PostSat Nov 06, 2021 8:50 am 
A little more info on the cement plant at Grotto.

From the book, "Upper Skykomish Valley" by Warren Carlson and the Skykomish Historical Society, "A new industry. In 1926 ground was broken on 350 acres at Grotto to establish the Northwestern Portland Cement Company. With an abundance of limestone and clay in the hills nearby, as well as railroad and highway connections to bring materials and transport finished cement, the location was considered ideal. The plant operated successfully for three decades. employing upwards of 100 people throughout the period."

"Steady Employment. The Northwestern Portland Cement Plant at Grotto operated throughout the 1930's, thanks largely to the federally funded Columbia Basin Project. Construction on the Grand Coulee Dam began in 1931 and was not completed until 1941. At that time, it was the largest hydroelectric facility in the world, and remains the largest concrete structure in the United States. It contains enough concrete to build a 4-inch thick, 4-foot wide sidewalk 50,000 miles long; this is the distance twice around the earth at  the equator. The Grand Coulee Dam was a major customer of Grotto cement throughout the 1930s."

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Schroder
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PostSat Nov 06, 2021 9:00 am 
Another tidbit from the web - the retirement announcement of the plant manager at Grotto in the Monroe newspaper


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