October 2016


Cowell Historical Society on Facebook–Check for Updates

Cowell Historical Society

Cowell Historical Society on Facebook

Photographs of the Construction of Cowell(Glass Negatives)

Lucia Barrett used to live in the Town of Cowell. Just before the town was destroyed,she was able to salvage some old documents and some glass negatives. Her son,Duke Barrett,offered me the opportunity to use the negatives and documents as a memory to his mother.

Here is an example of one of the negatives:

Glass negative

Glass negative

And here is how the picture turned out:

Construction Photograph

Construction Photograph

The Cowell Historical Society is very pleased to present the Lucia Barrett Collection of documents and photographs. The documents are dated between 1911 and 1930,and the photographs are of the construction of the Cowell Portland Cement plant. I also have the negatives posted for those who are interested.

Lucia Barrett Collection

Concord’s Bicentennial Calendar

I found a great picture on Claycord,taken from Concord’s Bicentennial Calendar.
Bicentennial Calendar
Fellow Claycordian,Livesteam scanned all of the pictues,and sent them to me,so I posted them here:

Walnut Country?

Everyone knows this area as “The Crossings”,but you would never know it from the signs.

Walnut Country

Walnut Country Sign - Taken from the Cowell HOA website

The “Walnut Country”name dates back many years,but has no relevance to anything currently in this area. It’s not like there was a famous walnut orchard before this community was built. And nothing edible ever fell off of the smokestack. Even the HOA is known as the Cowell Homeowners Association. So,how did we get stuck with Walnut Country?

The bad news is that our entrance signs need to be repaired or replaced. The good news is that we have an opportunity to revisit the way we are portrayed to people entering or passing our neighborhood. At last month’s community meeting,there seemed to be overwhelming support for a new sign that featured a bold “The Crossings”with a smaller “Walnut Country”underneath. I like that idea,a lot,and told the Board of Directors so.
If you have an idea about what you’d like to see in an entrance sign,let the board know before they have to commit to a design.

Memorial Dedication Ceremony!

On Saturday,August 29,2009,The Cowell Homeowners Association Board of Directors hosted a ceremony to dedicate the Smokestack Memorial. In spite of the extreme heat,it was a great event,and many Crossings residents turned out,as well as several people who had lived in the Town of Cowell.
Smokestack Memorial Dedication Ceremony
Mark Weinmann was the Master of Ceremonies. Mayor Hoffmeister cut the ceremonial ribbon,and councilmen Bjerke and Shinn were also on hand to represent Concord.

Texas Back 40 did the catering,and everyone ate very well. For the kids,they had bounce-houses,sno-cones,and face painting. The Walnut Country Swim Team and our Pre-school had booths set up. CCWD was on hand to share tips on saving water without violating the CCRs regarding lawn care. Concord police had information on neighborhood watches and preventing crime. The Crossing’s own Cub Scout Pack,Pack 445,brought some of their pinewood derby cars and did a little recruiting.

I was lucky enough to share a booth with the Concord Historical Society and several former residents of the Town of Cowell.
Memorial Plaque

For more pictures,go to

Cowell Lime Works–Historic District

Cowell Lime Works

Sally Morgan

Sally Morgan

A couple of weeks ago,I got an E-Mail from Sally Morgan asking if I knew about the Cowell Lime Works Historic District at UC Santa Cruz.  When I admitted that I hadn’t heard of it,she invited Mrs. Cowellian and me to come and take a tour. Yesterday,she graciously gave us the grand tour,allowing us to take pictures and ask questions. I’d like to thank my wife for taking all of the pictures. I’ve posted the pictures and information on the Cowell Historical Society

The Cowell Ranch,along with the Cowell Lime Works,is a fascinating place,since working with limestone sets the stage for the creation of the Cowell Portland Cement Plant,and the Town of Cowell. Henry Cowell made his fortune at the Lime Works,and his heirs increased it with the Cowell Portland Cement Factory.

I know a lot of people are unhappy that we were not able to save the smokestack,but here is an outstanding opportunity to actually save some history. Sally and the Cowell Lime Works Historic District are making a difference in preserving some real California history. If you want to visit,the only cost is $6.00 to park on campus. If you’d like to help,drop them a line at

Smokestack Memorial!

The Smokestack demolition occurred very quickly,but the work on the memorial has been progressing at a much slower speed. Mr. Larkins has been sending me memorial pictures all summer,and I finally published them on Cowell Historical Society site:

Here is a picture of Jim Kikker and Tillie Larkins getting their souvenir bricks from Mark Weinmann.

Bill &Tillie Larkins geeting a brick from Mark Weinmann

Get them before they’re gone!

Last weekend’s distribution of Smokestack bricks was only for Crossings residents.  There are still a few bricks left over,and they will be available to anyone who wants them,on a first-come,first-served basis,this weekend.  If you want a brick,show up at the Crossings Business Office on Saturday,August 15th,between 9:00 and 11:00 am.

Read all about it at The Cowell Smokestack Project – Official Home.

Get your Brick!–I got mine

Crossings Residents can pick up a brick at the Business Office on Saturday,August 8,between 9 and noon.

Smokestack CertificateIf there are still bricks available,non-residents can pick up bricks next weekend.    Read all about it at The Cowell Smokestack Project – Official Home

Finally! It’s Brick Time

Brick from Cowell Smokestack

Brick from Cowell Smokestack

The Cowell Homeowners Association is ready to distribute bricks from the Smokestack.  Get all the details at The Cowell Smokestack Project –Official Home

Amazing Aerial Artistry

Before the Cowell Smokestack was demolished,the Cowell Homeowners Association Board of Directors commissioned Gary Augistino of In-Flight Camera to take aerial photographs of the Smokestack,as well as the entire Crossings. Here is one of the close-ups of the smokestack:

 Cowell Smokestack

Photo courtesy of Mark Weinmann.

Click on the picture to see it full size,but be aware that it is a huge file to download.

To see more of these amazing photos,go to

Monument being developed

Bill Larkins has provided a picture of the new monument being built:

Smokestack Memorial

The rebar on the bottom is for the new concrete floor,and the wooden forms around the top are for the top surface of the memorial.  The next big task will be landscaping.

Story Time

The Official Cowell Smokestack Project blog is posting smokestack stories this week. Check them out here:

Monument in the Making

The demolition is complete for all intents and purposes. What remains will become the monument.
You can see that the floor has been filled in and tamped down. A floor of bricks will be laid and a pedestal with a plaque will be included.

The gravel roadbed will be removed and the landscaping will be upgraded.

Not much left

Thank you to Mr. Bill Larkins,who took all of today’s pictures.
Day 10The smokestack is down to just a few feet,the bricks are gone,and according to Mr. Larkins,rumor has it that the demolition crew will be gone after tomorrow,leaving only enough of the stack to craft the memorial.

No official decision has been made regarding distribution of the bricks,so I’d advise keeping an eye on the official smokestack site,Cowell Smokestack Project –Official Home if you’re interested in getting yourself a piece of history.


Day 9Today was a clean-up day. The Smokestack doesn’t seem much shorter,but the site is much cleaner. Much of the rebar has been cut away,and trucks have hauled off a lot of the debris and rubble.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Bill Larkins

Out of Sight!

The Smokestack is no longer visible from the Crossings Business Office where I have been taking all of these daily shots.
Day 8The rubble stands taller than what’s left of the stack. Click the picture to see more.

It’s Gone! (The Crane,not the Smokestack)

The crane,along with its pulverizer,is gone.Day 7

Each day,I’ve tried to get a shot from approximately the same position,and have used the crane as a visual reference. It’s really hard to get a visual reference without the crane towering over the Smokestack,but the Stack is starting to dip below the trees.

Without the crane,there is a lot more parking available,but it’s all being taken due to the swim meet. At least,the Smokestack is no longer tall enough to threaten the swimmers if it falls.

The Crane is Done

According to Bill Larkins,the Crane Crew finished their part of the job about 2:30 this afternoon. The yellow tape and barricade signs are gone.

Day 6

I expect tomorrow will be spent taking the crane apart,and getting it out of the area.

Going,going,. . .

The second week of demolition has started,and the smokestack is barely visible above the trees.

Day 5

First Week in Review

It’s been a busy week:

Thanks to Bill Senkus,who took these shots,arranged them,and sent them to me.

Day 4

It’s the end of the first week,and you can’t even see the smokestack from Ygnacio Valley Road,anymore!

End of the first week

Day 3

The Smokestack is going quickly.
Day 3 of Demolition

Day 2

Day 2 has left a very jagged edge.

Day 1

Day 1 is over.
Day 1