CES Anvil - American Made

Our Approach

Our history

Co-owned by Bruce and Karen Whittle and Bob and Gretchen Helvey since 1984, the foundry’s claim to fame is being the oldest steel foundry west of the Mississippi. It started as a blacksmith shop operated by J.M. Wooster and Andrew Gardiner. Because of the local demand for mining machinery, it became the Altaville Foundry and Machine Shop in 1854. Demand for machinery was high, so in 1857 Wooster and Gardiner built a larger foundry in Winterton, or Forks, as Altaville was called then, on the site of what is now the eastern side of Angels Towne Center along Highway 49. A partial stone wall from the original foundry building still stands there among the oaks.

The foundry was given its present name, California Electric Steel, around 1934 when it became one of the first businesses to operate with electricity.

Our Story

The Specimen Hill Quartz Mining Company, whose president was J.M. Wooster, was the foundry’s first big customer, and the first casting was poured in the new structure Nov. 28, 1857. The foundry soon became known for its excellent work, some of the finest in California and beyond.

Between 1891 and 1928 the foundry gradually shifted its product line from strictly mining machinery to steel castings for many purposes, and today it supplies all types of industry from farming to food, wine, marine, aircraft, automotive, trucking, pumps, space, oil companies – manufacturing hundreds, if not thousands, of different steel castings for different purposes.

In the early 1980s, plans were moving along for the creation of Angels Towne Center. At the same time, the foundry needed to expand, so it was moved to its present location in June 1985. Since then, it has continued to grow, yet it keeps a low profile.

“We want to be a good neighbor, so we do our production in a way that people hardly know we are there,” Helvey said. “With a foundry, you would expect to see billowing black smoke and hear lots of noise, but we keep the noise to a minimum and have a venting system to collect the smoke so it doesn’t go out into the environment.”

At a time when hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have moved overseas, Helvey is pleased to co-own one of the few companies producing goods “Made in America” right here in Calaveras County.


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Our goal

is to provide our customers with the absolute best service possible, top-of-the-industry casting quality, and very competitive pricing. We have a modern, state-of-the-art facility, but we have not forgotten the "old time" personal service that has kept our doors open for over 140 years. CES would appreciate the opportunity to quote your casting needs!