Concrete and Cement

Concrete and cement processing significantly shaped the area along the Cache la Poudre River because many of the materials required to make both concrete and cement came from sites near the river. Gravel quarries near the banks of the river provided rock for concrete but also created gaping holes. Cement, the binding agent that holds the rock and sand mixture in concrete together, was manufactured at the Ideal Cement plant two miles north of the river. Concrete manufacturers used water from the Cache la Poudre River create concrete so that it could be poured. Today, concrete paves roads and trails that follow or cross the river, and dams and diversion structures made of concrete move water up and out of the Cache la Poudre River.

Ideal Cement

Denver businessman, Charles Boettcher, built a cement plant in 1927 near Laporte. The Ideal Cement Plant sat just south of Curtis Lake along the Larimer County Canal and mined limestone from quarries north of the plant to create their product. In a 1928 Rock Products Cement and Engineering News article, the company explained that the plant used the dry process, rather than the more common wet process, to manufacture cement because water was “scarce and costly and badly needed for irrigation in the fertile Poudre River valley farmlands.”1 While the dry process required little to no water, the plant still needed large quantities of water for other operations, and the company installed water mains and plumbing. News articles and company histories do not reveal which company supplied water to Ideal Cement initially. However, when the plant (now owned by Holcim, Inc.) ceased to operate in 2003, the company held 885 shares of Colorado Big-Thompson water, which it sold to the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District for $9.1 million in 2005.2

  1. Paul C. Van Zandt, “Colorado Portland Cement Company New Dry Process Plant, Boettcher, Colo., Proof That a Dry Plant Can Be Built to Have All the Advantages of the Wet-Process Plant,” Rock Products Cement and Engineering News June 23, 1928, in LC – Businesses – C, Vertical Files, Fort Collins Museum Local History Archive.
  2. “Many Are Injured When 200 Cases of Dynamite Explode Northwest of City,” The Coloradoan, January 30, 1939, in LC – Businesses – C, Vertical Files, Fort Collins Museum Local History Archive; William Lychack, Cement and the Foundations of a Company: the Holnam Cement Plants, Their Histories, and People (Holnam, 1996), 60-67; “Old Cement Plant Sold,” Denver Business Journal, September 19, 2005, http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2005/09/19/daily6.html; Kevin Duggan, “Cement Plant Closure Opens Door to Uncertain Future,” The Coloradoan, February 20, 2005, http://www.aggregateresearch.com/articles/5827/Cement-plant-closure-opens-door-to-uncertain-future.aspx.

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