Autocar Mondays – Colonial Sand & Stone

Today we take a break from ATHS York coverage for some truly unique pieces of trucking history. Behold, Autocars from one of the greatest construction and material firms in the history of the United States if not the world, Colonial Sand & Stone.

Colonial Sand & Stone Autocar

Colonial played a vital role in the construction of some of the most iconic pieces of the NYC skyline (Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Empire State Building, the Yankee Stadium, George Washington Bridge) yet surprisingly little remains of this industry titan. There appears to be no books by past employees, no photo journals, no biographies, simply nothing. I guess when you think about it the Empire State Building isn’t a bad legacy but who really knows that off the top of their head? But I digress.

Colonial Sand and Stone

Receiving a tip that a downstate business had a collection of former Colonial rigs Ryan began to narrow down the possible locations one by one. Using Google Maps and a bit of luck he found his potential address and a phone number. Calling the number an elderly gentleman answered the phone and confirmed the detective work. When Ryan asked if he could stop by to photograph some of the trucks the answer was clear. “Where have you been?? I’ve been waiting for someone to do this for a long time!!”

Autocar Dump Truck

Apparently the current owner understands the value of these trucks and is not perplexed that others would like to take some photos. How refreshing! Much better than the usual response of “you want to take a photo of that?!”

Autocar Truck Colonial Sand and Stone

As Ryan tells us.

I knew at that point the Powerball isn’t something I’d ever win, but I just won something special.  So I drove down, met the gentleman and found 4 Colonial Autocars.  Some ready to be fired up, some ready to be doctored back to life.  As I opened the door of these triple frame, double nut spoke beasts, I could see the original paint from Colonial on the inside.  I just touched history.

Colonial Sand and Stone

A truly unique find and well worth the effort. Once again Ryan has outdone himself! If anyone out there has any information to add about these trucks or Colonial please leave a comment below or send me an email.


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44 Responses to Autocar Mondays – Colonial Sand & Stone

  1. Richard M. Gaskill says:

    Generoso Pope arrived in America at age 15 in 1906 with $10 in his pocket and got his first job carrying drinking water to construction workers for $3 per week. He rose to construction supervisor and, eventually, owner of Colonial Sand & Stone, which was the largest sand and gravel company in the world. Colonial built much of New York City’s skyline, including Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building, the George Washington Bridge, and the original Yankee Stadium.
    If anyone wants some history about the Pope family and Colonial, there is a book that I just got done reading called ‘The Deeds Of My Father’ The author of the book is Gene Pope JR’s son Paul David Pope the grandson of Generoso Pope. I could not put this book down!! And would recommend it to anyone who remembers the Colonial S&S days

    • Eric says:

      Thank you! This is what I had in mind.

    • Robert Buchanan says:

      Well if it’s any value to you I can’t help much with or about the trucks, however my family were the tugboat people who floated and delivered the barges up and the the rivers of New York and new jersey using colional sand and stone flagships

      • Mike Deegan says:

        Greetings Robert, I just came across this ” Colonial History Site”. Would you remember Herbert Lansing my former neighbor who operated the tugs and barges for Colonial; good guy, was working on getting me a job their in the early 1970’s but it never materialized.

  2. Clarence Ritchie says:

    Eric, my blue 360 was ordered, purchased and used by Colonial. According to my paperwork, Colonial ordered four V12 360’s with that order. I believe the gentleman that has these Autocars recently sold a Colonial 360 mate to my 360.

    • Eric says:

      I’m glad you brought that up as the Brockway Truck forum is one of the few places outside of the ATHS forum where you can find information on the fleet. I’ll update my original post. Hope all is well!

  3. James Hurley says:

    Outstanding find by Ryan.
    Now what are the chances of one of them being
    restored before I die


  4. Charles Saliba says:

    Charles Saliba

    I ended up buying the Colonial Sand and Gravel later named Transit Mix and Certifies Concrete. The property is a huge 45,000 sq ft building in Long Island City, NY. This is where Colonial serviced their track, fueled, washed, painted and parked for the night. Later the other companies did the same but got more involved where they had awhile machine shop where they would re-build engines install and or replace the mixing barrels on the transit trucks. They had diesel and gas station pumps right in the building. I still own the building. Picked it up when the Feds sold the building at auction when Ed Halloren was indicted.

    • Eric says:

      Very interesting. You bought the companies or the property? Was anything interesting left behind?

    • Jp Bonici says:

      As a kid I spent a lot of time in that shop!!!..Ran the overhead crane in the high shop too . My fathers small office was to the left of right of the overhead door on 23 rd. street. Could tell you about the stock room in the back of the building …locker room above the offices..could still picture it all!!!.. I have pictures going back to the 50’s..

  5. John Broderick says:

    I worked in the office of Ed Iorio, who was Fortune Pope’s right hand man. Spent many days at L.I. City Garage. Company was like one big happy family and a powerhouse in N.Y. construction. Next biggest company was Transit-Mix, but they were small compared to Colonial. The Pope Family was wired into every facet of New York City Political life. Politicians, Judges, Labor Unions, Police, you name it, everyone knew Colonial Sand and Stone.

  6. Barbara says:

    My Uncle was Nero who ran Long Island City plant. My father Gino (shop steward). Would love to learn more about these great men that built New York City.

    • Jp Bonici says:

      I just saw your post. My Dad worked in the Astoria machine shop . I knew all about the Astoria dock ,..motoar plant . How many out there know about Blue Diamond Mortar….

      • Leonard Fama says:

        Remember Blue Diamond Mortar on Vernon Blvd, I worked for Colonial from 1969 until they went out of business sad day in my life best company I ever worked for, remember the shop in Long Island City occasionally had to pick up a truck there to go too work, good memories!

        • Anthony Triola says:

          My Dad, Lenny Triola worked for Colonial out of five towns NY. He used to take me with him in that Autocar mixer he drove. I was amazed at watching him grab all this sticks an knowing where to go with them. A big hole on the floor board where the sticks went down to the transmission. Or transmissions! Lol. After unloading I used to sit on his lap an he let my drive to the wad-out!! Good times is rite!

      • Michael Gentile says:

        Colonial blue diamond mortar, my uncle was the shipper

    • Johnpaul Bonici says:

      Nick and Gino Trabucchi…then Pete Vescovi ..I knew Bobby well!..

  7. Rich De Lto says:

    I remember playing in the sand banks in Port Washington where Colonial had a big operation. I remember when the Pope mandion burned down off Bar Beach rd and aldo watching the Colonial fleer of chain driven Mack trucks fo their jobs.

  8. Barbara Trabucchi-Leonardi says:

    I remember visiting the LIC truck plant with Barricini chocolates next door. Can still smell the candy. Port Washington and the barge every July 4th . It was a safe good life.

  9. Diana Tomanelli says:

    My Dad worked for Colonial Sand & Stone and he loved it! Great company to work for.

  10. James Kuhlmann says:

    I worked for Transit Mix From 1980 till it closed. I started as a laborer and became a dispatcher. My uncle, Pat Kuhlmann, was in the Coast Guard with Anthony Pope during WWII and went to work for Colonial in 1946. He became the general superintendent of the NYC section of Colonial. He worked there till it was sold, and then worked for Transit Mix till 1983. I learned a great deal about how to run a business from my uncle and another man John DeRosa who became my mentor when my uncle retired. Anyone who worked for Colonial would know my uncle and John DeRosa (who worked for Colonial as well). I still have concrete plant dreams 30 years later

  11. Freddy says:

    Hi guys.

    Anyone have any pictures of the multi trucking western stars?

  12. andy burr says:

    I am almost 80 now and live in fla had a building moving co out of oil city in oceanside ny for many years when colonial closed I bought the grease trucks at rockaway blvd. plant I kept one and I still have the engine in a restored 64 ford f350 here at my yard in jacksonville fla.

    • John Peluso says:

      My father, Tony Peluso, was part of the local 3 electricians that worked out of College Point/Long Island City/Astoria and helped maintain various cement plants and barges etc.

  13. TOM says:

    My father had deli off Vernon blvd / 34 Avenue just down from the yard and can remember the guys with the trucks stopping to get sandwiches and drinks, my grandparents lived two blocks away from there we always passed by. I’m 63 and remember it like yesterday. Thanks for the post of pictures,if you ever get one restored I would. I’ve to see it.

  14. Anthony Pope says:

    I would love to find out about the trucks

  15. stephen carbone says:

    Anthony….my Dad worked with Generoso Pope in the 1930’s to early 40’s…as Counsel..I would like to contact you directly…his name was Frank Carbone…..hope to hear from you….Steve Carbone..

  16. stephen carbone says:

    Anthony…this site doesn’t allow me to put my email …maybe phone number this will get through..310 470 3371…thanks…steve

  17. L kelly says:

    My dad, Frank l kelly was Vice President for colonial. Was on tap pan z bridge during construction.

  18. Michael Gentile says:

    My father Michael Gentile Junior was the oiler at College Point and his brother Anthony was the engineer my uncle Freddy was the engineer on Zerega Avenue and my cousin James was his fireman my Uncle Jerry morgro was the shipper at the motor plant in Long Island City or Astoria whatever it is and then later moved on to Eastchester dock where he became a shipper in the late 60s early seventies I was a concrete inspector I worked at Colonial 30th Street 151st Street Eastchester dock College Point. My grandfather was friends with the Generoso Pope Sr. My grandfather Michael Gentile Sr organized The Hod carriers the shippers The Batchers and the laborers in all the concrete plants and asphalt plants in New York City locals 1175 and 1176. He also organized the night Watchman who watched over the plants at night.

    • John Peluso says:

      My father, Tony Peluso, was part of the local 3 electricians that worked out of College Point/Long Island City/Astoria and helped maintain various cement plants and barges etc.

    • John Peluso says:

      My father, Tony Peluso, was part of the local 3 electricians that worked out of College Point/Long Island City/Astoria and helped maintain various cement plants and barges etc.

      I was always told that all the trades took great pride in working for the company.

    • Johnpaul Bonici says:

      By any chance are you related to Mike and Skinny Gentile in College Point..?

    • Johnpaul Bonici says:

      Worked with James when he was at at NYC Ports and Terminals too..
      with Joe Miressi ..

  19. Tom Palazzolo says:

    My father Sal palazzolo worked and drove a concrete truck # 1051. I still remember that # on top of the water tank. He would let me ride with him and it was something I’ll never forget. I watched him shift with the sweat pouring down his face. The whole neighborhood work rattle when we came down the street. We were not allowed to ride in the truck with him. He would tell me to duck down when we entered the plant. I’m so fortunate that he is still here with us and having dinner with him today. We live in Tampa bay Florida. He will be 92 this year. I remember him comming home late many nights when he was poring cement at the World Trade Center. Great memories.

  20. Jay Davo says:

    Hey OG’s. Just came across this forum. Great reading about the 15 yd,13 yd,etc. Any body remember the Elliot Ness,and the Zepplins. The Autocar Dumps,with the 318’s,and the two knobs.

  21. Paul says:

    My Dad, Joe Carrano, worked in Payroll in Manhattan Office for 30 years. Laid off when company was sold. He knew the Pope’s and the legal staff. Still remember him working late around the holidays getting the bonus checks run and hand signed.

  22. Peter Brown says:

    I remember when I was boy and Fresh Meadows was under construction (1948-1949), the Colonial Sand and Gravel trucks with their bold white and red lettering making deliveries. I am remembering that the name was Sand and Gravel not Sand and Stone. I could be wrong, it was a lone time ago.

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