Keystone Lime Company's Plant


Keystone Lime Company's Plant

One of the Greatest of its Kind in All the Southern States


31st Anniversary Edition
of the
Columbiana Sentinel
September 7, 1905

Copied by Bobby Joe Seales

Copies of this edition of The Sentinel can be had by calling at this office. We have mailed a large number aside from our regular list, and the number on hand is limited. If you desire to send any copies to distant friends you would better place your order early. Price. 5 cents per copy. No other paper in Columbiana ever attempted such an edition as The Sentinel offers in this.

INSERT: A complete copy of this 31st Anniversary Edition of the Columbiana Sentinel, dated September 7, 1905, was recently presented to the Shelby County Museum and Archives by Bobby Joe and Diane Seales.

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The manufacture of lime is one of the greatest industries in this section of the South, and there is no doubt but that Shelby county ranks first in manufacturing this product.

At Keystone, on the line of the Louisville and Nashville railroad, in the northern part of this county, is located one of the largest lime producing plants in the South. Here the Keystone Lime Works have one of the most complete, up to date manufactories with all the latest modern appliances for quarrying stone and burning lime. In 1899, Mr. Robt. E. Bowdon purchased what is now known as the Keystone Lime Works, and at that time the plant was in its most primitive state and the output but 80 per day. A recent visit to the plant shows a wonderful improvement - a revelation so to speak. The works have now a capacity of 1,000 barrels per day, and the entire output for this year has been sold. They have just put in a complete system of waterworks, and will install an electric light plant this summer. This will furnish power for the operation of certain machinery, will light every department of the plant with arc and incandescent, and furnish lights to the dwellings of those people who are willing to pay a reasonable fee per month. There are 155 employees on the payroll of the company at the present time, and there will be more at no distant day as the company is soon to begin the erection of six additional kilns, fifteen fine steel kilns in all with a capacity of 1,500 barrels per day, and, as we have said, will furnish employment to from 75 to 100 more men. The increasing demand for Keystone Lime necessitates enlarging the plant to meet this demand.

At Keystone has grown up quite a village, and that the company is interested in the moral welfare of the employees is shown in the fact that two churches for the Negro employees have been built, and the contract has been let to build a pretty, commodious house of worship for the white people. Although without any police protection the best of order prevails - the company will not employ anyone who is inclined to be a peace disturber, but, instead, prides itself on having the most congenial lot of employees in this district - they are under perfect control, and are law-abiding and peaceable citizens. Keystone is connected with the outside world by long distance phone and has a private telephone line to Siluria, Saginaw, and Maylene.

Close application to business and a careful and thorough study of the different methods adopted in manufacturing lime has made Superintendent R.E. Bowdon a past master in his profession. The kilns of the Keystone are the continuous burning kind and are equipped with an automatic dump thus minimizing the cost and labor to manipulate them. A great improvement inaugurated by Mr. Bowdon is a cooperage for the manufacture of barrels, which represents an outlay of $5,000, and is the most complete of any plant of the kind in the South. The barrels are made by machinery - beginning with the log and ending with one of the best and prettiest barrels ever put upon the market.

There is an inexhaustible supply of the finest limestone to be found anywhere in the South, and that it is almost pure the analysis shows 99.65 per cent. The quarry is only about 500 feet from the kilns, and the stone is quarried with steam and electric appliances and is drawn to the kilns by cable with steam power.

When the company which controls the Keystone Lime Works was organized some two or three years ago it was capitalized at $55,000 for the purpose of making the improvements necessary to the more rapid manufacture of the lime which had so rapidly grown into popular favor, and its entire output is now taken by the Portland Cement Co., of Charleston, S.C..

A few weeks ago the large store and commissary of this company was destroyed by fire, together with a large stock of goods. A new and much larger store is now being built and when completed will be filled with a stock of goods which will not only supply the employees of the company, but will cater to the patronage of the surrounding country as well.

The great success to which the Keystone Lime Company has attained is largely due to the personal efforts and practical experience of R.E. Bowdon, superintendent of the works, and in whom his Company has the utmost confidence as to his management judgment and ability, and upon whom the success of the plant largely depends. Mr. Bowdon is a young man in years, being not yet out of his twenties, and his career as a manufacturer of lime is phenomenally successful. It has been but a few years since he was a clerk in a commissary at a small salary; today he is superintendent and owns a good-sized block of stock in one of the most successful and best known enterprises in the South. He is unceasing in his efforts to build up the business, is a worker himself and demands from every employee value received for the wage paid. He is unusually successful in the management of the employees of the company, and that he is just and fair in his treatment of them is evidenced in the fact that he has never had any friction or trouble with his men. He is an enthusiast in his business, and takes delight in having everything pertaining to the works in first class condition and order. He has a pardonable pride in his success and has every right to have for it has come to him through hard labor and square dealing with his fellow men.

The Keystone Lime Company is a credit not only to Shelby county but to the whole South as well. It is a great enterprise, and its success is due to Mr. Bowdon's efforts.

(Note: Keystone is now located within the City of Pelham, Alabama.)