Industry: Alpena, MI - Alpena Portland Cement

Alpena Portland Cement Company built a new plant on the shore of Alpena bay in 1900. This plant was about 1/2 mile northeast of the present-day LaFarge cement plant and predated it by about three years. This was a separate operation from the current LaFarge/Holcim plant  

In conjunction with the Detroit & Mackinac railway, the plant had a 7 mile long railroad branch to a quarry near the Presque Isle boundary (now known as Little Lake). The branch was built around 1900. [MRL]  

After the Huron Portland Cement plant was built, the Alpena Portland plant had difficulty competing and closed in 1909. It was sold to the Michigan Alkali Company.

Alpena Cement Plants

Photo info: An overhead map of the two cement plants at Alpena, around 1913. The Alpena Portland Cement plant is on the right and the Huron Portland Cement plant on the left. At the far right, the APC branch to Rockland heads north. [NHMC]


Herman Besser teamed up with Alpena’s great lumber barons Frank W. Fletcher, William B. Comstock, George J. Robinson, William H. Monaghan and Michael O’Brian to capitalize on another great natural resource of the area: limestone. On 3 August 1899 the Alpena Portland Cement Company was organized for, “Mining, manufacturing and dealing in Portland cement and other kindred mineral products.” Capital stock was set at $300,000 with 30,000 shares at a par value of $10 each.

Time Line

1901. F.W. Gilcrhrist is head of this works. [DFP-1901-1027]


The following sources are utilized in this website. [SOURCE-YEAR-MMDD-PG]:

  • [AAB| = All Aboard!, by Willis Dunbar, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids ©1969.
  • [AAN] = Alpena Argus newspaper.
  • [AARQJ] = American Association of Railroads Quiz Jr. pamphlet. © 1956
  • [AATHA] = Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association newsletter "The Double A"
  • [AB] = Information provided at Michigan History Conference from Andrew Bailey, Port Huron, MI

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