Lehigh Portland Cement Company History in Iola

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The Lehigh Portland Cement Company operated in Iola, Kansas until 1970. Here are a few images of the plant over the years:

Lehigh Portland Cement Company - Postcard
Postcard showing the Lehigh Portland Cement Company plant.
Lehigh Portland Cement Company - Quarry Postcard
Postcard showing the Lehigh Portland Cement Company quarry and plant. Today, the quarry forms a lake.
Lehigh Portland Cement Company - Quarry View
This undated photo shows the Lehigh Portland Cement Company quarry and plant in the distance.

In the Brief History of Allen County, Kansas, an entry states that:

In 1900 the Iola Portland Cement Company was built. It was the largest cement plant in the United States. It hired 900 men at it peak and created its own town for its employees. In 1917 the plant was sold to Lehigh Portland Cement Company and provided Iola’s largest industrial payroll until it ceased in 1970. Part of the Lehigh grounds is now occupied by the Gates Rubber Company. Most of the houses have been either moved or torn down. The lake that was formed by the former Lehigh quarry is now used as a recreational center by the Iola Elks Club. Other buildings now are occupied by D & K Vaults, which makes concrete vaults, and T & E Company, which makes industrial pallets.

Today, the former quarry and the surrounding property is owned by Iola Industries:

In 1971, The Leigheigh Portland Cement company closed. It was, at one time, the most dependable employer in Iola. Iola Industries, Inc. purchased all of the buildings, land, and equipment from Leighigh. All of the equipment was sold at an auction.Iola Industries sold some of the buildings  to the company to Allen County for use, as a warehouse and shop. Through the years since Iola Industries purchased the Leighigh property, there have been several industries located at the original Leighigh site.

In 1974, Gates Rubber Company purchased 97 acres on which they would build their plant in Iola. This was a blessing for Iola after the loss of Leighigh and Pet Milk.

Two of these still operate from the buildings they leased and later purchased. They are T&E Co., the pallet manufacturer, and D of K Vaults, Inc. The quarry, which is now a lake, is leased to the Iola Elks Lodge for recreational purposes. Also, the City of Iola has contracted for access to the lake water for emergency use.

Iola Industries has granted an easement to the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. for Thrive Allen County to build the Lehigh Portland Trails on the property, via a Healthy Living grant from the Kansas Health FoundationGrant to Fund Lehigh Portland Rail Trail Development

The trail’s name pays homage to Allen County’s industrial past and specifically to the Lehigh Portland Cement Company.