Re: Shipping Bricks


A couple observations from the Chicago area in the fifties, sixties, and seventies:

Dad was a carpenter, so I had early exposure to construction sites, and keenly watched what was going on in the neighborhood, which was just finishing building out.

In the fifties and sixties, common brick (the soft brick with no holes) was delivered to the job site by dump truck, and just dumped on the ground. Broken or chipped brick were either cut for smaller pieces, or used on the interior of walls, where they would be covered. I have no idea how it was shipped; I think all the brick in use in Chicago at that time was produced locally, and may have been shipped from the brick plant in dump trucks.

Face brick, the hard brick with shrinkage holes, was valuable enough that it rated special handling. It was delivered on flatbed trucks, offloaded by hand with a brick tongs, and stacked. It was stacked again on a brick barrow for movement around the job site. This is theĀ  brick was loaded in boxcars by hand, unloaded and stacked at the retail brick yard by hand, then loaded once again by hand for delivery.

By the seventies local brick production had ended, and with it the availability of the distinctive "Chicago pink" common brick. As older neighborhoods were demolished, a business in used brick arose. It is my understanding that the "Chicago pink" was much in demand as an architectural wall covering in California. Used brick was salvaged on the demolition site by day labor being paid by the brick, and initially stacked and loaded by hand, using the traditional methods. I had some photos published in RMC in the early eighties of used brick being loaded into boxcars spotted on a team track using the old, labor intensive brick tongs.

By this time new brick was being shipped bundled such that it could be unloaded by a forklift, and 'self unloader' delivery trucks were becoming common. It wasn't long before consolidation in the used brick business prompted the adoption of the same methods; pallets and cardboard wrappers would be dropped on the demolition site to be filled, then a self loading truck would return to pick up the filled pallets. That allowed all the downstream handling to be mechanized, also.

Dennis Storzek

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