Location: Hecla Portland Cement Company, Bay City, MI
1901 - 1912.
The Hecla Portland Cement Company was located on the Lower Saginaw River, at the end of what is now Wilder Road in north Bay City.
This cement works was organized in 1901 by Julius Stroh (of Detroit's Stroh Brewery Company) and other Detroit investors. They built a large cement plant along the Saginaw River and a railroad from the cement works westward to bring coal, marl and other products into the plant.
The business plan was to mine coal from fields northwest of Bay City, sell the larger pieces on the open market and use the "slack" to heat kilns to produce Portland Cement at the plant. Cement would be shipped by barrel, and coal shipped by lake freighters (loaded from coal loading facility on site). The plant would also use excess steam and boil away brine to produce salt. The bring was pumped from underground deposits in the area.
The company identified four coal fields in the area of Wenona and Auburn, but only one ever produced fuel for the plant. The company expected to produce mine Marl from lakes which were located along Michigan Central tracks along the Tittabawaee River in Ogemaw County.
The plant, which was built along 1,000 feet of Saginaw River frontage and went into operation in mid-1902. The first coal mine was also sunk about this time.
By 1904, the company was in financial trouble and the Detroit Trust Company filed a foreclosure suit.
In 1907, the company was reorganized with new plans to use limestone and shale in the production of Portland Cement, rather than marl and shale.
By 1912, cement producing equipment had been removed from the plant and the facility was sold to unnamed investors for other industrial purposes.
The railroad connecting the plant with the Michigan Central's Wenona Yard was ultimately transferred to the MC to become its Hecla Belt Line branch.
- Geological Survey of Michigan, Clays and Shales, by H. Reis, 1902
- The Michigan Miner, 1902.
- State of Michigan, Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, 1907
- Michigan Manufacturer and Financial Record, 1912.