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Thread: Victorville Cement Plant

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    North of Adelaide South Australia

    Default Victorville Cement Plant

    Hi RUN8 Fans

    Back in early March I mentioned that I had been researching the Cemex Victorville cement plant and Black Mountain/ White Mountain quarry's, and that I planned to share that information here. The purpose of the this thread/post is to provide an insight into some history of the Victorville cement plant, the operations of the quarry's and the clinker plant and and how cement is made etc. The information is mostly links ( A lot of Links) with a bit of a description about the link. I have also done some editing of Google Satellite images and have added these to my Imgur account and will give direct links to the images which are 1920X1080 in size, and depending on your browser you may have to click the Satellite images to enlarge. I have compiled and sorted the information in to the following category's -

    Black Mountain/White Mountain Operations
    Victorville Cement Plant Operations

    The category's have had to be split into separate posts due to character count.
    The section about "Victorville Cement Plant Operations" is still a work in progress.


    The Victorville cement plant produces Type II/V Portland Cement and has changed ownership several times and been thru several upgrades. Along with the Victorville cement plant current owners Cemex owns and operates the Mojave Northern Railroad and two neighboring quarry properties (referred to as the White Mountain and Black Mountain quarries) 14 miles northeast of Victorville. The Black Mountain quarry and Clinker Production Plant supplies clinker and limestone to the cement plant in Victorville, and the White Mountain quarry is supplying aggregate for distribution at Cemex's Los Angeles Terminal. I have decided to concentrate more on the history of the plant under the current ownership by Cemex, as this will probably be of more interest for the RUN8 community, but have included some brief history of the plant leading up to the purchase of the plant by Cemex.


    Founded by Carl Leonardt, Construction of the Southwestern Portland Victorville cement plant begins in August 1915 and to include a small company-built railroad named Mojave Northern Railroad to haul limestone from a quarry at Quartzite Mountain 5.6 miles northeast to the cement plant, the land area for the quarry was 250 acres in size.

    Satellite image giving an overview location of Victorville cement plant and Black Mountain/ White Mountain quarry's including the original Quartzite Mountain quarry. link showing coordinates of Quartzite Mountain quarry and brief mention of Southwestern Portland Cement Company.

    During the 1940's-1950's the Quartzite Mountain quarry was closed and limestone mining at the Reserve (White Mountain) quarry and Black Mountain quarry begins including expansion of the Victorville cement plant and lengthening of the Mojave Railway line at various stages. During the 1960's construction of the clinker plant at Black Mountain begins approximately 1965, and then in 1969 Southdown INC. purchases Southwestern Portland Cement Co. The Black Mountain Clinker Plant becomes fully operational during the 1970's, but the the reserve( White Mountain) quarry is closed due to excessive contamination of the limestone with excessive magnesium, silica, and alkalis. Much of the quarry was back filled with mine waste from the adjacent Black Mountain quarry.

    2000 Cemex purchases Southdown INC.

    2001 Expansion upgrades at Victorville and Black Mountain plants.

    2003-2005 Satellite image shows the Leon Track Loop installed after June 2003 and operational at
    December 2005, so possibly installed during 2004 .

    2012 Cemex partnered with Foundation Windpower, and four wind turbines are built - two are at the company’s Victorville Cement plant located in the Leon track loop and the other two turbines are at the Black Mountain Quarry area.

    2013-2014 Cemex constructed a 150,000 square-foot enclosed Alternative Fuels Storage Hall at Black Mountain to accommodate the storage of alternative fuels used to reduce the usage of fossil fuel within the facility’s existing kilns.

    Link to PDF File is 10MB size and is related to Material Recovery Facility and showing diagrams etc of Alternative Fuels Storage Hall.

    2016 Cemex celebrated 100 years of cement production for the Victorville Plant.

    CEMEX USA's Victorville Cement Plant: 100 Year Anniversary Video.

    2017 Cemex announced plans to build a rail-served distribution terminal in Los Angeles and a new aggregate-loading system at its Re- Opened White Mountain quarry.The new terminal in Bell, California, about seven miles south of downtown Los Angeles, is designed to receive aggregate transported by rail from the White Mountain quarry.

    2019 Cemex unveiled a new ( KLW SE32C) low-emission locomotive that was developed by Knoxville Locomotive Works and is equipped with an MTU-4000 Series engine. The new locomotive is the first of two locomotives planned to replace Cemex locomotives fleet and can provide more than 3,200 horsepower.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    North of Adelaide South Australia


    Black Mountain / White Mountain Operations

    Black Mountain

    Satellite image showing Cemex facility's at Black Mountain / White Mountain

    The most common way to manufacture Portland cement is through a dry method. This involves the quarry of the principal raw materials, mainly limestone (Calcium), Alumina (Shale) Silica (Sandstone) Iron clay, and other materials. After quarrying the rock is crushed in several stages until it is reduced to 3 inches or smaller. The crushed rock is combined with other ingredients such as the alumina, iron ore and fly ash and ground down to a powder mix, and fed in to a kiln that heats all the ingredients to about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit in huge cylindrical steel rotary kilns lined with special firebricks. As the material moves through the kilns, certain elements are driven off in the form of gases. The remaining elements unite to form a new substance called clinker. Clinker comes out of the kiln as grey balls, about the size of marbles. The clinker is discharged red-hot from the lower end of the kiln and generally is brought down to handling temperature in various types of coolers. After the clinker is cooled and most commonly, cement plants then grind it and mix it with small amounts of gypsum and limestone and in the example of Victorville operations the Clinker and limestone is loaded into hoppers at Black Mountain and Mojave Northern Railroad transports it to the Victorville Plant where the clinker is grind and mixed with the gypsum and limestone and then bulk shipped or bagged as cement.

    This 2016 video titled CEMEX USA's Victorville Cement Plant: A Century of Thanks is actually video footage of the Black Mountain Clinker Plant etc.

    Video Highlights:

    00:10 – Wind Turbines on hill installed by Foundation Windpower
    00:16 - Control Room
    00:42 - Black Mountain Quarry
    00:47 - Clinker storage/Loader
    00.48 - Closing over view of plant in which you can see the alternative fuel storage hall has been built and coal is still being used.

    The next couple of pictures show Union Pacific locomotives unloading coal at Black Mountain and returning to Victorville with empty coal hoppers and a length of full Hoppers (Ortner Hoppers) carrying clinker.

    The transition to wind power and alternative fuels has been a slow but progressive process for Cemex with the consumption of coal slowly decreasing.

    This next video titled Victorville Cement Train is footage of SWPC 415 (EMD SD40-2) on different occasions heading up to Black Mountain and returning to Victorville

    Video Highlights:

    00:00 - 00:38 - Heading to Black Mountain hauling two pressure differential covered hoppers and Union Pacific coal hoppers.
    01:42 - 02:08 - Railway bridge over I-15 Interstate Highway
    03:13 - 04:15 - Stoddard Wells Rd grade crossing
    04:16 - 05:42 - Bell Mountain Wash railway bridge ( Before Mojave River railway bridge approaching Victorville )

    White Mountain

    With the Re-Opened White Mountain Quarry the aggregate from this quarry is the back fill from the black Mountain quarry mentioned in the history section. The next pictures are from a Cemex employee's twitter account and show the White Mountain aggregate rail loading plant.

    Larger pictures -

    The hoppers at the loader belong to The Western Rail Road (reporting mark WRRC) which is a 1.9-mile (3.1 km) shortline railroad owned by Cemex that connects a Cemex quarry and cement plant at Dittlinger, Texas (just south of New Braunfels), to the Austin Subdivision of the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). The hoppers appear to be FreightCar America VersaFlood™ hybrid steel and aluminum aggregate hoppers.

    Video titled Rail Loadout system showing the White Mountain aggregate rail loading plant including the new locomotive and hoppers.

    Video titled Southern California Railfanning and at 13:17- 17:09 min, shows BNSF locomotives returning from White Mountain and heading towards Victorville with a loaded aggregate train.

    This last link has photos of the clinker plant and loader and also cement plant, locomotives etc at Victorville.

    Thats it for now Run8 fans, as I said at the beginning of this thread, the section on Victorville Cement Plant Operations is a work in progress and will look at how we could apply some extra operations for the cement plant and clinker plant within RUN8.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Yamba, NSW, Australia


    That's worthy of a university thesis, James!
    Well put together and interesting.

    You know, it highlights the fact that we know very little about the history of industries, and what gave rise to them being established, which the railways/railroads serve.
    To us they are just "there" and always have been.

    I grew up in a small north coast town (NSW) which was a centre for the dairy and timber industries.
    (Back in the 1950s - 1960s there were about 13 timber mills in the district. None now.)

    There was also (and still is) an engineering company which manufactures specialised timber-milling equipment.
    But unless you grew up in the town you wouldn't have the faintest idea about the company's background yet they relied heavily on the railway back then.
    IBM XT i386; 512Kb RAM; 5.25" FDD; 1.4Mb FDD; 5Mb HDD; VGA 256-colour graphics card; AdLib soundcard; DR DOS 6.0; Windows 3.0

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    North of Adelaide South Australia


    Originally Posted by seagoon

    You know, it highlights the fact that we know very little about the history of industries, and what gave rise to them being established, which the railways/railroads serve.
    To us they are just "there" and always have been.
    Thanks Bruce!

    Yes it's amazing how we spend so much time in Run8 fussing over prototypical operation of the railroads when we are switching these industries etc, and yet we may have absolutely no clue as to how and why these industry's were established. Interestingly the study of the Victorville Cement Plant came about from my researching Union Pacific coal trains and as I learn more about the history of these industry's in RUN8 and their relationship with the railroads, the more enjoyable my operating sessions become with a bit more sense of purpose with what I'm doing in the simulator.

    It's interesting the example you give of the industries that used to be in your area. I live on the outer edges of the Clare Valley in South Australia which is a wine and wheat producing region, and a lot of these well established businesses and farms etc were possible because the railways once existed and were the main means of transporting their produce. The branch lines are gone and are now used as walking trails and now I have to drive about 40km to find a container terminal which is basically established out in the middle of no where, served once a day by an american hot shot Chicago Freight Car Leasing train.

    How times have changed.

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