Concrete News

The use of cement in Fairbanks prior to 1920 was practically nonexistent in our fair city except for the small amount used in building bank vaults or other very small specialty projects. There were no cement sidewalks, basements, steps, or buildings. Everything was entirely made from wood.

Fairbanks Daily Times- May 13, 1915


During the last few days, Henry T. Ray has been busy burning limestone and testing it as to its commercial value. The limestone was brought in from Goldstream last week and after being burned in the boilers of the Northern Commercial company, was tested as to its qualities for mortar and other uses.

The lime slacked up in good shape and appears much better than that brought in from the Outside. Mr. Ray thinks that it will be suited for plastering houses and other purposes and, in the near future, will put some men to work, opening the ledge. In the near future, an attempt to manufacture cement will be made, and if it proves successful, a good sized establishment will be opened on Goldstream.

One month later, a small amount of cement was used to create the ceremonial cornerstone for the Alaska Agricultural College & School of Mines. The cement for the stone was to be made using raw materials obtained locally within Alaska. That stone was reported to be made of inferior materials and began crumbling two years later.

Fairbanks Daily Times- January 22, 1916


New Company Will Offer Fairbanks Something Never Seen Here.

With headquarters in the Whitely-Woodward company offices, the Fairbanks Cement company, a new organization, will soon enter the local field. The company will fill a place that has never been filled in this town. The cement work that is done in the States, and that has become very popular throughout the country, has never reached Fairbanks, and this company plans to bring it here.

The company will make a specialty of monuments that are imperishable, cement monuments with brass nameplates imbedded in them. Cellars, sidewalks, anything and everything in the cement line will be handled by the new company.

A quantity of tiles will also be shipped in, and the person who wants a tile bathroom in the house, or a tiled fireplace, or a tiled floor can have that desire gratified.

The work of the new company will be in charge of Fred Haggren, who has had much experience in the work in the States and is well able to give entire satisfaction. Orders will be taken at any time. The weather makes the laying of sidewalks impracticable at this time, but monument work and interior work can be attended to promptly. All orders can be left at the office of The Whitely-Woodward company

The first big cement project in Fairbanks was the building of the cement piers for the old Cushman Street bridge which was completed in 1917. For that job, the steamer “Alaska” brought in 26 tons, or 530 sacks of cement in August of 1916. Two months later, a progress report was published.

The Alaska Citizen- October 2, 1916


Fairbanks will have a bridge with golden piers. The gold will not be visible, for it will be in very minute particles. But it is there, just the same, and the bridge will therefore be worth several hundred dollars more than was estimated by the road commission when it is completed.

The fact of the matter is that the rock which is being used in the construction of the bridge piers carries gold values of $2.50 to the ton. It came from Peter Steil’s quartz property on Birch Hill. Yes, Pete knew that the gold was there, as he has had assays made of the rock, but he could get more for it from the road commission that by running it through a stamp mill at his own expense in addition to paying for mining it.

Note: The Agricultural College and School of Mines was the precursor to UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) and was launched with the placement of a cement cornerstone at the ground breaking ceremony on July 4, 1915. That stone was the first official use of a cement product produced using Tanana Valley raw materials. After the Alaska Railroad was completed, cement became a favorite product for building foundations and basements. This groundbreaking history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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