Sandy Ridge was founded as brickyard town mainly because of the abundant quantity and quality of the clay. The current Sandy Ridge was originaly made up of Powelton, Retort and Sandy Ridge. During it's boom era in the early to mid 1900's, there were 2 brickyards, 3 post offices, 3 general stores, school, a shoe store, a movie theatre, and a skate rink. During it's prime, the Sandy Ridge Brickyard, was producing the most bricks in the country; second only to Star Works of Pittsburgh. Most of the early houses in town were "company houses" which is why most had similar appearances.
In 1879, W.J. Jackson leased a track of land in the area known as Powellton which he continued a coal mining operation. The mine extended into the mountain 1.25 miles which yielded 4400 tons of coal monthly. Mr jackson employed 75-80 men at his year round mine. Also he began manufacturing brick. The "excellant" quality clay was mined about a mile away and was taken to the brick yard by tram. At this time, there were 48 tenements in Powelton. At that time, the village contained the company store, school and church.
Sandy Ridge Schoolhouse around 1948.
Sandy Ridge School students approx 1950.
Established in 1866, the Sandy Ridge brick works were established under the name of William R Miller. At the time, it was the most extensive enterprise of its kind, possibly in America. At the beginning of the operation, the daily brick yield was 4000 bricks daily. In August 1881, the 10 kilns were changed to the down draft pattern which yielded 25,000 brick daily and 7,500,000 for the year. This was to be the most of any brick yard in the country second only to Star Works of Pittsburgh. In "Sandy Ridge" at the time, there were 36 tenant houses for the workman. There was also a school, but no church. For worship, residents had to attend the Methodist Episcopal church in neighboring Powelton. Below is an artist rendition of the Sandy Ridge Brickyard.
Retort Brick Yard workers