El Paso’s Forgotten Cemetery – Smeltertown Cemetery
If you live in El Paso and haven't checked out the YouTube channel American Decay - The Modern Frontiersman, you're missing out. They do a great job of taking a look at the hidden gems and lost areas of El Paso and the surrounding area. CLICK HERE to head over to the channel on YouTube.
Their most recent episode is about the Smeltertown Cemetery. If you aren't familiar with Smeltertown, it was an area of El Paso that the CDC had to come in and shut down because the area was so toxic. Started back in 1910, the American Smelting and Refining Company (Asacro) was refining hundreds of thousands of tons of lead and copper that was poisoning the entire area. But not much was known about that at the time, so they just kept on doing what they do. Then in March of 1971, a group from the CDC, a team of Epidemic Intelligence Service officers, made their way out to Smeltertown to look at possible lead exposure. Well, there was lead exposure and there was a lot of it.
The city of El Paso ended up suing Asarco based on the findings by the CDC. It wasn't until the 1970s that people started to look into the actual effects of lead poisoning. It was believed that unless a child was visible sick, the lead exposure wasn't a hazard. Of course, they ended up finding the fact that lead exposure even in small amounts is bad. Ultimately Smeltertown was demolished. The buildings were torn down and the residents were forced out. CLICK HERE for a fantastic read on Smeltertown.