Column: The Claycord Online Museum – The Cowell Smokestack 1936 – 2009

June 19, 2017 16:00 pm · 16 comments

Eight years ago today, the Cowell Smokestack, which was located in the crossings neighborhood in Concord, was demolished.

Click on the slideshow above to view many photos from the demolition, as well as photos from a long, long time ago when the smokestack was in its prime.

Thanks to Ron Stewart for sharing the aerial photo of the Crossings with us. It was taken in the mid-70s.

If you look close, you can see Ygnacio Valley Rd. on the right hand side, and Cowell Rd. at the bottom. The smokestack is there, too.

ABOUT THE CLAYCORD ONLINE MUSEUM: The Claycord Online Museum is made up of historical photos, documents & anything else that has to do with the history of our area.

If you have any old photos or items that you’d like to place in the Claycord Online Museum, just scan or take a photo of them, and send them to the following address: It doesn’t matter what it is, even if it’s just an old photo of your house, a scan of an old advertisement or an artifact that you’d like us to see, send it in and we’ll put it online!

Click on the tag below titled “Claycord Online Museum” to view other items!

THE ANIMAL June 19, 2017 at 4:43 PM

IN the early ’70s some friends and I had some old couches and chairs
in it, it was our party spot…………………………

Mimi (original) June 19, 2017 at 5:02 PM

I really hate that the smokestack is gone. It was such a landmark for so many people. I understand that it had been deteriorating, but it was very cool to be able to see it when flying over the area.

Missy June 19, 2017 at 5:05 PM

There’s my house!!

Cowellian June 19, 2017 at 5:21 PM

I liked seeing it as I crested the Benicia Bridge, knowing I was almost home.

Jojo Potato June 19, 2017 at 5:42 PM

After the plant shut down, the buildings where used for various purposes. One was a cabinet shop where my father had two student desks made, one for myself and one for my brother. They were very well made and both now in service at our grand kids locations. One distinguishing feature is that the front panel was cut out of one piece so the drawer fronts all make up a very nice unit. I do remember going out there with my dad and looking around the buildings and into the bottom of the stack. Did you know that now we import cement from China through the port of Redwood City? Very dusty area over there.

FluffyMcDuffy June 19, 2017 at 6:18 PM
ConcordKate June 19, 2017 at 6:53 PM

That round building in the bottom of the photo – is that the Dr. Or Dentist offices still on Cowell?

Cowellian June 19, 2017 at 7:20 PM

That’s awesome! Thanks for posting that.

ClayDen June 19, 2017 at 7:25 PM

I miss the smokestack too. When we bought our first house in Concord in 1975, we looked in the Crossings. However, we decided it was too far out, so we bought near Oak Grove and Treat. A year and a half later we bought our house in Clayton. I figure I have now driven over 150,000 miles on Ygnacio Valley Road.

Anoonoo June 19, 2017 at 9:26 PM

#6: nice aerials. Nice to know someone has some sense of history.

Frambley1 June 20, 2017 at 8:44 AM

When I was a kid it used to chime at noon and at 6pm. Us kids knew when to go home for lunch and dinner. Also, my friends’ Dad used to play Xmas songs in it around Xmas time.

The Professor June 20, 2017 at 9:31 AM

When I was a kid, one of my friend’s father convinced me that it was not a smokestack, but a storage silo for jelly beans. DOH!

Also, many kids at school called it the “CC Boner”. My sister and I still refer to it by that, even though it’s long gone.

Mr. Pink June 20, 2017 at 9:37 AM

@ConcordKate, yes it is. I noticed that too. So strange to see the area pre-houses, etc.

Kaski Lime June 20, 2017 at 9:44 AM

If you turn off the oddly sentimental music and watch the slide show, you can imagine you’re watching the Cowell Witch Project.

Kirkwood June 20, 2017 at 11:01 AM

The stack was a known landmark used by pilots contacting the tower when approaching the airport from the valley.

Kirkwood June 20, 2017 at 11:28 AM

The water tank at the top of the pic still exists near Treat. The Ygnacio Valley road extension was build around 1956-57, Treat Lane ran from Clayton Rd. to Oak Grove and later extended to N. Main.
Back in the early 70’s I flew model airplanes in the grasslands between the stack and Newhall.

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