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As It Was: Steam Locomotive Carries Limestone to Gold Hill

Limestone mined from the side of Marble Mountain in Wilderville, Ore., kept a Gold
Hill cement factory supplied with some 3.6 million tons of ore between 1917 and 1967.
The Beaver Portland Cement Co. opened in Gold Hill in 1914 as the largest single industrial operation at the time in Southern Oregon.  The plant later became the Ideal Cement Co.

For years, a steam locomotive pulled gondola cars filled with the limestone from the mountain quarry to Gold Hill, along the way crossing Wilderville farms and the Applegate and Rogue Rivers.

Later, U.S. Hwy 99, the region’s main highway until the Interstate 5 freeway opened in the 1950s, ran past the cement plant.

Old-timers recall the locomotive used to ring its bell at 10 a.m. each day as it crossed the cattle lane on the Beole Guernsey Dairy Farm near Wilderville, and again at 3 p.m. on its return to the quarry, not once snagging a cow on the catcher. 

When the flood of 1948 washed out the trestle over the Applegate River, diesel trucks took over,

replacing rail delivery of Wilderville limestone to Gold Hill.

Sources: Halvorsen, Douglass. "Safety Follows Wisdom." The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, 25 Apr. 2018, www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=116801. Accessed 9 Aug. 2019; "History of Gold Hill: People and Livelihoods." City of Gold Hill, City of Gold Hill, www.ci.goldhill.or.us/about-gold-hill/history.html.  Accessed 9 Aug. 2019; "Marble Mountain Quarry." (Oregon) State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, www.oregongeology.org/milo/archive/Mining Districts/JosephineCounty/LowerAppleGateDistrict/MarbleMtQuarryClaims/MarbleMtQuarryReports.pdf. Accessed 9 Aug. 2019; Ahlstrom, John, e-mails received by the editor, 29 Aug. 2019.