The Oakes Brickworks Historical Marker - Iowa City, Iowa

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Sits just in front of the Historic Oakes-Wood House in Iowa City. The opposite side gives information on the house. This side reads:

Some 19th Century pioneers were lured West by tales of gold. Nicolas Oakes came for the clay. Hearing of Iowa's excellent clay banks, the brickmaker and his wife, Mary, moved here in 1855 from eastern Ohio. Thy bought 30 acres of land as a site for what became the largest and longest-running brickworks of the four that operated in Iowa City. From this clay came the bricks for the Oakes' home here at 1142 E. Court St., know today as the Grant Wood House.

The first brick were assembled by hand in forming and drying sheds that lined the south side of Court Street. They were then fired in beehive kilns. Later bricks were formed with an extruder, a machine driven by coal-fired steam boilers. An extruder could turn out bricks that were denser and more uniform then those made by hand - and more quickly. At its peak, the Oakes brickworks made 800,000 bricks and 500,000 drainage tiles per year.

Over the approximately 60 years the Oakes, and then his sons, operated the brickworks, the countless tons of clay dug by hand and hauled by horse cart carved out an immense bowl. The area was graded eventually, and is now Ed Shrader Field, north of Longfellow School.

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  • Uploaded on May 3, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by KingHawkFan

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