Carnegie, named for Andrew Carnegie, was located in San Joaquin County, four miles east of Tesla, California. It was subsidiary of the Tesla coal mining operation where fire brick and architectural terra cotta were manufactured from 1903 to 1911 by the Carnegie Brick and Pottery Company. The clay was shipped by rail from Tesla, and the finished products were shipped by rail to Stockton.
The company town consisted of a hotel, school, bakery, saloon, bunkhouses, and cabins. It had a population of 350 to 400 of mostly Italian immigrants. The plant employed 200 workers during the busy season. There was also a small Chinese section along the base of the hill west of the Graner Hotel.
Carnegie consisted of a brick plant, with machinery capable of making 20,000 brick per day, and two long drying sheds and 26 kilns. A well-known landmark was a 317-foot high square brick chimney fed by six kilns.
In 1905, the terra cotta plant was added to produce the ornate terra cotta trimmings found on many of the buildings still remaining today throughout the state. Some of the finest examples include the Oakland Hotel, Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, and the Palace Hotel, Monadnock Building, Bank of Italy, and Methodist Book Concerns Building in San Francisco.
After Carnegie shut down in 1911, the plants and buildings were razed and the property eventually became a motorcycle and off-road vehicle park. In 1979, a part of Carnegie became the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area.
The old town of Carnegie has a California State Landmark No. 740 Plaque.
I love these plaques as they draw interest to long forgotten sites that
we otherwise wouldn't know about. I'm glad that the Carnegie site actually
has a state landmark monument, which the original one erected in 1961
was stolen, but resurrected in the 1990s. However, the Carnegie plaque is one that
I am all too well familiar with having studied the history of the Corral Hollow
region, in particular Tesla and Carnegie. I must admit that every time I
read the information on the Carnegie plaque, my stomach turns to knots. So,
I will take this opportunity to correct the unfortunate misinformation on
that plaque. The information on the plaque is mixed up with Tesla, another
larger town four miles west of Carnegie. The town of Carnegie did not exist
from "1895-1912". The brick plant and town wasn't established until 1902.
The plaque states "a city of 3,500". The population of Carnegie was no more
than 400. The town never could have supported 3,500 people with only two bunkhouses,
each capable of holding up to 100 single men, a 20-room hotel, and 18 homes for
families. Not even Tesla, which had a capacity of 1,200 inhabitants, could support
that many people. Carnegie did not have "45 kilns and 13 tall smokestacks", as the
plaque suggests. It actually had 26 kilns and 4 tall smokestacks and 5 short stacks.
The description of the town on the plaque is that for Tesla, not Carnegie. Carnegie
did not have a post office, bandstand, or hundreds of homes; these were at Tesla.
Instead, Carnegie had one hotel, one saloon, one company store, one bakery,
one butchershop, two schoolhouses (yes, lots of children lived in the 18 family homes),
and one railroad depot. The last line about the Tesla coal mine is correct. So,
even with the facts set straight, Carnegie still is historically an interesting
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Copyright © 2003 Dan L. Mosier