National Gypsum's New Savannah Plant – 1939
Excerpts from Pit and Quarry, W. E. Trauffer, August 1939
Editor's note: At the time the Savannah Plant was built, it was the gem among gypsum wallboard plants throughout the country. The company could locate the plant in Savannah because it had acquired the Dingwall and Cheticamp quarries on the northern island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The gypsum would be sent to Savannah by steamers. Equipment for the plant was from a facility the company had purchased in Oakville, NY. Much of the equipment was dismantled and put into the new plant.
The business development of the Southeast, which has been a distinctly encouraging note in the industrial picture for a number of years, was given an added impetus early in 1939 by the completion of two complete gypsum processing and board plants. The largest one, with which this article is concerned, is the new plant of the National Gypsum Co. at Savannah Ga., which was formally opened on May 22, 1939.
Raw gypsum rock, brought down by boat from the company's quarries at Cheticamp, Walton, or Dingwall in Nova Scotia, is used, making available for the first time in this territory, gypsum products without the former prohibitive freight charges. The plant will divide the southeastern territory formerly served by the company's plants at Fort Dodge, Ia., Clarence Center, N.Y., and Rotan, Tex. It is another step in the company's program of decentralization of production and will increase its facilities to serve market areas.
The products of this plant include a complete line of gypsum board, lath and sheeting, grain board, foil board and foil lath. All kinds of prepared and hard-wall plasters, cement plasters, gauging and molding plasters, cement rock and agricultural land plaster are also made.
A complete line of metal lath, finishing lime, fiber insulating board, etc., made at others of the company's plants, are carried in stock so that complete mixed carloads can be shipped direct. The plant has a capacity of 250,000 square feet of board and 350 tons of plaster in a 24-hr. day and a care of cement rock can be loaded every hour.
The plant site, which comprises 50 acres acquired from the Savannah & Atlanta Railroad Co., has a water frontage of 700 feet on the west side of the Savannah River five miles northwest of downtown Savannah and about 22 miles from the ocean. To make it possible for ocean-going vessels to unload at its dock, the company dredged over 85,000 tons of silt from the harbor line to the channel line. There is now 27 feet of water at low tide, enough to accommodate the largest steamers. The dock is 400 feet long and is built of sheet-steel piles and concrete. The largest boat unloaded to date carried a net cargo of 7000 tons of rock and made the trip from Nova Scotia in eight days.
Unloading of the boats is done at the rate of 400 tons per hour by a traveling electrically-operated unloading tower or crane which travels the full length of the dock on a 25-foot gage track. This tower is of the T type with a boom track extending 60 feet on each side. The boom on the water side can be raised to clear the ship superstructure when the tower is being moved. A clamshell bucket, traveling on this boom, picks up the gypsum rock in the hold of the ship and deposits it in a hopper on the crane, from which it is taken by conveyor system.