Friday, February 23, 2018

Clarkdale Cement Plant

The Clarkdale Cement Plant Story grabs onto a fault, an ancient ocean floor, a 1912 railroad, the politics of power and The Verde Valley to forever reshape  the route of US 89, too. Don Godard, Verde Valley Storyteller Emeritus, described The Clarkdale Cement Plant's origin, evolution and overall folk history on 23FEB18 at the Clemenceau Heritage Museum in Cottonwood, Arizona, not far off of old US 89A.
Godard went to work for the Phoenix Cement Plant on October 25, 1959, just in time to witness the first shipment of cement north to its fateful destination in Glen Canyon at what's now known as Page, Arizona. The Clarkdale Cement Plant was created specifically to produce cement to make concrete to continuously pour into what became Glen Canyon Dam.  The Verde Fault, uplifted The Redwall Limestone into easy surface mining exposure.  W.A. Clark's famous 1912 Clarkdale railroad provided a convenient conduit for coal to fire limestone-cooking kilns.  The  Verde Valley aquifer provided copious water and the young local men jumped at the chance to join the coveted Phoenix Cement Plant payroll. 
Don Godard remembers most everything about his days of working at The Clarkdale Cement Plant,
including the cement truck use of US89A  up & down The Switchbacks of Oak Creek Canyon. One truck left the pant every 15 minutes 24/7/365 until Glen Canyon Dam was finished.
The Salt River Pima Maricopa Tribe has invested untold millions of dollars in plant.
From the late 1950's to the mid080's, the plant was infamous for spreading alkaline cement dust onto cars, homes, fences and other personal possessions in Clarkdale.  A bypass highway as constructed to keep the cement dust from spreading farther.

 Don Godarg regaled his audience with stories that only "one who knows" can tell.

Every  speck of cement that went into the concrete that 
created Glen Canyon Dam came from Clarkdale.
A "Haul Road" from Clarkdale to Page was crated for the 24-7-365 transit of the cement trucks.
The so-called "Big Cut" on US 89 between Marble Canyon and Page owes its existence to the need to get cement from Clarkdale to Page as efficiently and quickly as possible.
The first shipments of cement from Clarkdadle undoubtedly went to pour the Glen Canyon Bridge deck.  The first pour of actual concrete into Glen Canyon Dam itself didn't take place until June 16, 1960.

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