Monday, February 13, 2012

Ghost of ASARCO

Each day, thousands of commuters pass ASARCO's Globe Smelter site with hardly a second glance at the Globeville landmark. Built in 1886, the plant operated first as a smelter that separated valuable metals from raw ore, then as a producer of specialty metals. The company closed in 2006, and plans for remediation and development of 77-acre complex are now moving forward. The many buildings and structures now being dismantled provide a glimpse of a 120-year-old company with an interior life of its own.
High, wire-topped fences surround the site and it's difficult to see all the buildings, but Steve Stevens, Safety and Personnel Manager from 1967 to 1988 recalls many of them."The tall building housed the Godfrey Roaster that roasted low-grade products from Amarillo and from Leadville, and East Helena, Montana. And there was the unloading building, the bag house, the calcine building, the tank house, and the solution department. They also had the retort department where they purified the metal, and the cadmium sulphide department where they made the paint pigment for cadmium yellow. There was the thallium department, the indium department, the litharge department, the casting department, the premelt room, the change house, the respirator room, the laundry room and the locker room.
"The two-story home near the 51st Street entrance to the plant was the superintendent's house from the old days when he lived on the property. The house contained an old safe with 'Globe Smelting and Refining' written on it. There are also ledgers with the names of employees - Slovenians, Croatians, Poles, Germans, Russians and some Hispanics - from a time when there were three shifts running seven days a week. 
"In the old days, we used to have a garden right on the property and we grew vegetables. And we had a baseball team and played for the championship in 1948 at Overland Park, beating Central Bank one to nothing."
Long gone is the housing provided by the company: the 125-room Globe Hotel for single men and the 10 or 12 houses along Sheedy Row, with accommodations for families. And there was the Globe Mercantile where men could cash their paychecks and purchase everything from food to bicycles.
"A lot of guys were very grateful for jobs at the Globe because they were able to raise a family and buy a house." 
It is hoped that the clean up of the site will also offer jobs and the opportunity for families to settle in Globeville. 

Top photo, Godfrey Roaster building
Second photo, cell house 1926
Third photo, warehouses A, B, and C in October 2010
Bottom photo, warehouses A, B, and C in January 2012