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Foothill Rails--El Dorado Lime & Mineral Co
El Dorado Lime & Mineral Co
Brief History

    Started as a narrow guage feeder line for the Central Pacific's Placerville branch, the El Dorado Lime & Mineral Co, was approximately a mile long serving a limestone mine. At some point, the original alignment of the line was abandoned with a new line being built from a new location. Later on, Southern Pacific standard guaged this second line and operated it untill the mid 1980's with the rail removed shortly thereafter. Currently both right-of-ways are now roads, one still entering the mine property, the other provides the main street for another of the foothills gated communities and access can prove difficult.

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Maps

The above maps show the location of the mine just south of Shingle Springs. Upon the maps, the mine is located in the upper left
corner. Both roads that were once railroad lines are also clearly seen here. Note, some modern maps name this area as Sprekelsville.

The Mine

    The El Dorado Limestone mine was an underground operation, three miles southwest of Shingle Springs. From it was produced high-calcium (97 percent plus) limestone for various uses including the manufacture of lime, steel and glass, beet-sugar refining and construction materials. Prior to the opening of the mine by the El Dorado Lime and Minerals company in 1918, limestone was quarried just north of the mine and burned in nearby stone lime kilns for building purposes. In 1931, the El Dorado Limestone Company was formed and operated the mine until it closed. The deposit consists of two lenses of limestone, one averaging sixty feet in width, the other forty feet. The main working entry is a 1000 foot, three compartment vertical shaft near the east wall of the east lens. Crosscuts extend from the shaft to the west lens. The deepest workings were at the 800 foot level. Because the material is solid, no timbering is required. In the 1970s mining ceased and the shaft was allowed to flood with water. The crushing equipment on the surface continued to be used for several years, the limestone coming from the Gallo Glass mining operations at Marble Valley, to the west.

1.
2.
3.
1. Current day aerial of the now shut down mine.
2. Aerial image of quarry taken 6-16-71. (courtesy Bill Calmes)
3. Undated aerial of quarry from about 10,000 feet. (courtesy Bill Calmes)
4. 5. 6. 7.
4.-5. Closeup of the office/freighthouse. There is still a standard guage car scale in the ground in front.
6. A rear view of the office. Besides a few homes that may have been related to the quarry, this is the only structure still standing on the site.
7. Eastward view of the mine surface area itself.
8. 9.
8. At the north end remains one of a handful of explosives bunkers that can still be found.
9. This view faces south covering the quarry area. There is very little to see but disturbed ground and waste rock piles.

Limestone And The First Railroad

    The original narrow gauge line interchanged with the Placerville Branch at Limestone. Here there was a spur, lime kiln, warehouse, and more. Located where Shingle Lime Mine Road turns due west away from the standard gauge, the road itself was once the right of way. This route can be very steep in places but two shay locomotives were employed to bring the loads up the the hill.

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1. Aerial showing entire line (road) from Limestone to the mine.
2. Closeup aerial of Limestone.
3. Railroad map of Limestone showing line and building locations. (courtesy Andrew Brandon)
4. 5. 6. 7.
4.-5. East and West views of Limestone siding on the Placerville Branch.
6. The impression of the siding still exists here.
7. Looking toward the mine, this image was taken from approximately where the oil tank and warehouse stood according to the Limestone map.
8. 9. 10.
8.-10. The lime kiln is the only building left at Limestone. Second image is the keystone with the letter 'A' chisled upon it.
The third image takes a look inside the kiln itself. There was a small trestle leading to the top of the kiln at its rear.
11. 12. 13. 14.
11.-14. Views along the right of way, now the main truck road into the area. The last two images are taken where the kiln spur takes off from the main.
15. 16. 17.
15. Just before reaching the mine, the road splits around a hill. It is unclear which branch was the original right of way.
I theorize both were railroad and it operated as a big loop such as in some modern mines. This is purely speculation.

Bullard And The Second Railroad

    In later years of the operation, the original line was abandoned to become a paved road, Shingle Lime Mine Road. A new line with a much more flat profile was built northward from Bullard on the Placerville Branch. It is unclear what year this took place and also whether this line was also narrow gauge. At some point though, the Southern Pacific Railroad took over this line and did the switching for the mine. Sometime after the closing of the mine, much of this second railroad became the road Amber Fields Drive.

1. 2.
1. Railroad map of Bullard showing the siding and the second El Dorado Lime & Mineral line. (courtesy Alex Wilde)
2. Modern day aerial of Bullard. The mine line can just be made out heading north off the siding.
1. 2. 3. 4.
5. 6. 7. 8.
1.-2. East and west views of the lead switch at Bullard,CA 2007.
3.-5. Along Amber Fields Drive which was once the right of way and is now in a gated community.
6. The end of the street where the line entered the quarry property.
7. Another view of the right of way looking north approaching the quarry itself. Opposite the trucks, just around the bend, sits the office/freighthouse.
Waste piles are also visible. There were also two or three staging tracks between here and the quarry.
8. A view looking north at the office and quarry site. This building is quite visible in aerial images.


Locomotive Roster

Number Type Builder Bldr.# Built History & Notes Dispositon
#1 Shay 2tr Lima #1785 1906 lease from US Bureau of Reclamation,
ex Standard Lmbr (S.Fork Mill),
nee Union Construction #1
(Stanislaus Ry)
scrapped
#2 Shay 2tr Lima #1823 1907 lease from Bureau of Reclamation,
ex Cazadero Lmbr #1,
nee DH McEwen Lmbr #1
scrapped
No# DL-2 Plymouth #1565 1930 deliv as 36" gauge, later standard gauged
No# DLH Plymouth #3524 1930 ex HT Neal Machinery,
nee Stone & Webster Engineering Corp
retired 1970
No# ML3 Plymouth #4156 1941 ex A Teichert & Sons,
ex USATC #7689,
nee Quartermaster Corps #2038
to private owner, Folsom,CA
to Olney Land & Cattle as display, Maxwell,CA


See also my Placerville Branch page.


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