February 28, 2013
I admit it, I didn’t know diddly squat about the aggregates industry before I began working for Aggregates Manager magazine in 2004. Needless to say, I threw myself into learning about the industry right away, and what better way to do that than to make a visit to a quarry and see it in action.
I set up a visit to TXI’s Mill Creek Quarry in Oklahoma, which was only a three-hour drive from Dallas, and asked my little sister to accompany me. You might think I asked her to come along just so I’d have company on the three-hour drive, but…au contraire, mon ami. My little sister had been driving a rock truck for years and was going along as my backup. I didn’t want to appear completely ignorant of the industry and thought she could help.
We arrived at the quarry in the early afternoon and met Harold “Papa” Watson, the plant manager. He took us around the entire operation, explaining everything along the way. We got shots of the quarry and processing plant, as well as the control tower and railcars being loaded. Then he told us that the quarry would be in operation all night and invited us to stay to take some nighttime shots. While we waited for darkness to fall and the night crew to get into full swing, we were treated to dinner with “Papa.”
It turned out to be a great visit and a great way to begin learning about the industry. That quarry became my first plant profile for the magazine and will always be one of my favorite visits. “Papa” Watson was a great first-time tour guide and taught me quite a bit. I can still picture his quarry-weathered, smiling face and hear his jovial laughter. He has retired since then and is, hopefully, enjoying a well-deserved life after aggregates.
“Papa,” wherever you are, if you read this…thanks for everything.