The image shows the demolition of the ASARCO stacks in 2013.
This industrial area was called Smeltertown. It was situated west of downtown El Paso and it 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.

Uploaded on 04.20.2015 by UTEP Library Special Collections

Central / Smeltertown, (2010 - 2019), Livelihood

  • ASARCO, Smeltertown, stacks, demolition, industry, smelting, controversy, poisoning, lead, community

Your comment will be visible after the El Paso Museum staff has reviewed it. This usually happens within 24 hours.

Thank you for your comment

Demolition of ASARCO Stacks in 2013

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


60-ton hoist block


60-ton Converter Crane


The beginnings of ASARCO. Photograph taken from a souvenir booklet published by the Albertype Company of Brooklyn, New York.

Boundary Marker

This is probably the Boundary Marker near Smeltertown, with the Juarez Mountains in the background.

San Jose del Rio Grande Church

This church was originally named San Rosalia, and was built in 1891. It burned down in 1946, and was replaced...

Revolutionary Camp

Looking from Madero's Camp to the American side.

Madero's Headquarters near Asarco

Madero's headquarters near Asarco. Madero may be speaking to the group of men, with his back to the viewer.

Mexican Revolution Artillery

Practicing with a fieldpiece during the Mexican Revolution. Believe to have been taken at the Rebel Camp accross from Asarco....

Mexican Revolution Artillery

This photograph may have been taken at the Rebel Camp near Asarco. Notice the two smokestacks in the background.

Desert View of Asarco Complex with Smokestack

The image shows the ASARCO smelting site in 1975. In 1887, the Kansas City Consolidated Smelting and Refining Company (later...

View on ASARCO Industrial Complex

The photograph shows the ASARCO industrial complex in 1975. In the back, Mount Cristo Rey is visible.


The image shows parts of the ASARCO plant, probably in the 1950s.
In 1887, the Kansas City Consolidated...

Stack on ASARCO Site

The smoke is billowing from a smokestack on the ASARCO smelting site. The San José de Cristo Rey Church of...

Zinc Plant

The image shows the zinc plant on the ASARCO smelter site. In the back, Mount Cristo Rey can be seen....

Stacks on ASARCO Site

The photograph shows the stacks of the ASARCO smelting site from the other side of the Rio Grande.