Bookmark and Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

UVALDE COUNTY LIMESTONE ROCK ASPHALT

UVALDE COUNTY LIMESTONE ROCK ASPHALT. The only limestone rock asphalt found to date in Texas in sufficient quantity and of marketable quality is located on 75,000 to 100,000 acres in the southwest portion of Uvalde County and the southeast portion of Kinney County. It is an area of sedimentary limestone, quite porous, and every interstice is filled with bitumen. The strata are ten or twelve feet to forty or fifty feet in thickness. Natural erosion has brought to view most of the locations yet found, and it could not be said just what size the deposit may be, or if it is a continuous mass under the surface. Its depth has not been proven below an approximately 200 feet. The bitumen content varies from 1 percent, or less, to 20 percent in one known location. Commercial applicators of rock asphalt generally require bitumen contents of between 5 and 12 percent. The first production in this locality was during the years of 1885 to 1895, by the Lathe Carbon Company, for the purpose of extracting the bitumen from the stone and to recover the ichthyol from the bitumen. The operation was of short duration at the site of present Blewett. About 1898 the contracting firm of Parker-Washington from San Antonio surfaced several blocks of Market Street near the St. Mary's Street intersection with material from the area, very crudely handled, which nonetheless made a smooth and impervious surface for approximately twelve years. The street was torn out when the road was widened and otherwise improved. The first production of limestone rock asphalt for street and road surfacing was at the Blewett location in 1912. From 1920 to 1935 there was a total of six firms engaged in this work, but not all at the same time. Peak production during this period often resulted in the recovery of 1,250,000 tons of rock asphalt; production during the 1930s averaged 125,000 tons per year. Many millions of tons have been produced and used by cities of Texas and the Texas Department of Transportation. Majority owners of an asphalt rock estate in the Smyth Ranch, a 30,000-acre tract wholly within the Uvalde County Limestone Rock Asphalt region, and R. L. White, former employee of the Uvalde Rock Asphalt Company and later principal owner of Whites Uvalde Mines, were adversarial parties to a legal dispute that reached the Texas Supreme Court in 1947. In 1970 there were two firms in operation-Uvalde Rock Asphalt Company (continuous since 1912) and White's Uvalde Mines (since 1923). Their combined production during the late 1960s was one and three-quarter million tons or more yearly. In the early 1980s White's Uvalde Mines bought controlling interest in the Uvalde Rock Asphalt Company. Subsequently, White's was sold by its parent company, R. L. White, to Vulcan Materials of Birmingham, Alabama, in 1987. See also ASPHALT BELT RAILWAY; BLEWETT, TEXAS; DABNEY, TEXAS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

White v. Smyth, 214 S.W. 2d 953. WPA Writers' Program, Texas: A Guide (New York: Hastings House, 1940; rev. ed. 1969).

John H. White

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

John H. White, "UVALDE COUNTY LIMESTONE ROCK ASPHALT," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/gpu01), accessed July 28, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.