Stack on ASARCO Site

Stack on ASARCO Site

The smoke is billowing from a smokestack on the ASARCO smelting site. The San José de Cristo Rey Church of Smeltertown can be seen to the lower left. Smeltertown was an industrial area west of downtown El Paso, which came into being with the construction of the Kansas City Consolidated Smelting and Refining Company (later the American Smelting and Refining Company, or ASARCO) copper and lead smelter, in 1887. In the 1880s the Mexican employees of the smelter began building houses west of the smelter, beside the Rio Grande. School, church and post office were added later. The facility was a custom smelter that processed several different metals from ore that came from diverse sites. Although lead and zinc were extracted at the site, copper was the main product in the later years of operation. In 1945 the El Paso Herald-Post called attention to the poverty in Smeltertown and in the early 1970s it became the center of an environmental controversy. ASARCO was charged with violations of the Texas Clean Air Act. It was also found out that 72 out of 500 residents suffered from lead poisoning due to a huge amount of lead emission between 1969 and 1971. Another study confirmed “undue lead absorption” of people living in a one-mile radius in 1975. In the same year an injunction ordered ASARCO to modernize and make environmental improvements, which were not done due to the high costs. Against their wishes the residents were forced to move; their former homes were razed, as well as the business buildings and stacks, leaving only the abandoned school and church buildings to mark the site of El Paso's first major industrial community.

Area: Central / Smeltertown

Collection: Historical records of the former ASARCO El Paso smelter site

Source: University of Texas at El Paso Library - Special Collections Department

Reference ID: MS585-1274

Uploaded by: El Paso Museum of History


Add a comment
Thank you for your comment

Report this entry

Choose the most important reason for this report

Your name

Your email address

Optional detail

Thank you for your report

More from the same community-collection


Bevel gear and spare parts


Blacksmith tools


Boiler shop doors located at ASARCO.


Boiler shop gantry


Boiler workshop gas track cutter.


Boiler workshop, pipe and benches


Boiler shop railroad tracks


Boiler's vessel


Bolt trays


Centrifical I.R. compressor motor


Homemade work chair located at ASARCO.


Chart panel recorder


Chemical safety sign


Converter bolts. These are huge.


Crane wheels and gear babbet


Crane wheels, spare parts


Crank shaft rod

Cemex Quarry

Taken from Executive Center Blvd. Entrance is at 3125 W. ...

Smelter Cemetery - El Paso, Texas

This is the cemetery in El Paso, Texas located next to the ...

Asarco 1950s

The image shows the ASARCO industrial complex in the 1950s. The ...

Asarco Stacks, ca 2009

The image shows the ASARCO industrial complex in 2009. The ...

Asarco Stacks 2013

The image shows the Asarco smokestacks in 2013 - leftovers from ...

Demolition of ASARCO Smokestacks

Demolitoin of the larger of the ASARCO Smokestacks on 4/13/13