Return to Southwestern Portland Cement

For a few months I’ve been exploring an abandoned industrial plant located at the corner of Executive and the Border Highway, the Southwestern Portland Cement Plant.

View Southwestern Portland Cement in a larger map

In this trip I concentrated on the back portion of the complex. There is a cluster of buildings that are interconnected and appear to be in better condition than the front sections of the plant:

Wear Goggles
Wear Goggles!

The walls were painted and boxes of equipment were scattered around. One portion had the remains of an office complete with a 2006 calender on the wall.

Warehouse Office
Warehouse Office

This area was quite striking in comparison to the older portions.  Sure, it was still a mess but it had some cool items of late 90’s vintage:

Click death anyone?
Click death anyone?

Continuing on through the warehouse to the outside, there was a small yard diesel parked out back.

Yard Train
Salty’s had better days

As I began to make my way back into the warehouse, I heard a truck coming around the corner.  Since I’m not sure if the owners would like me wandering around their abandoned factory, I darted behind a shed.  The truck parked out of my view by the warehouse and soon I could hear somebody whistling a tune.  I figured I wasn’t in much danger and continued to take pictures outside while the pied piper was inside.  After a few minutes, he appeared in a doorway nearby.  As he turned to me I greeted him, “Hi”.  Startled, he let out an “Aye cabrón!”. Luckily he wasn’t security, just a Cemex worker.

We chatted for a bit and he told me that Cemex rents this portion of the plant for storage explaining the somewhat refurbished condition. Seeing that I was taking pictures, he asked if I was interested in buying the place. I told him “No” and he said that was good because it would take a lot of money to clean up the asbestos.  I now had my answer to this plants demise.

I still have one area left I would like to visit, the old front office. I may try to get to it soon because I’m not sure how much longer ill have access through the front.  The road has been recently torn up by the ever advancing El Paso Water Utilities purple pipe project:

Road Closed
Road Closed

The full Flickr set can be viewed here: Portland Cement (pt.4)

The previous Flickr sets can be viewed here:
Set Three 6/21/2011
Set Two  5/16/2011
Set One 5/10/2011

More Crazy Mushrooms

A few days after mowing down the last batch of mushrooms a whole new crop came up.  This time around they were more developed and much larger:

3 Rooms to Rent
3 (mush)Rooms to Rent

I had 4 areas were they popped up in nice little clusters. They were in full bloom for about 2 days before they turned brown and started to dry up.

Still no Smurfs
Still no Smurfs

Sadly no Smurfs ever appeared.  This Sunday I mowed down this batch so it will be interesting to see if I get any more after the nights rains.

Full set can be seen here: More Mushrooms

This Old Round House

On the outskirts of Canutillo, visible from I-10 is a rather curious structure. Sitting in the desert is a dome shaped, round concrete house.  As a kid, I could recall seeing it when we would travel west and it would immediately conjure up images of what living in the “future” must be like.

I never got to see the house up close but you easily could see the domed concrete roof, gazebo and diving boards from the freeway.  It was right out of an episode of “That’s Incredible” or “Real People”, where they would show some family living off the grid in a solar dome in New Mexico making their own gasoline from corn or something.

On a recent trip to pick up firewood in Las Cruses, I scanned for it as we passed where it should have been. Either I had missed it or something was blocking my view because I didn’t see it.  I checked Bing maps’ “birds-eye-view” and found an image of it so at least when Bing went live it was still there:

The Canutillo Round House

Hmmm, It didn’t look as fantastic as I remembered but hey its standing.  I headed to check it out in person and see what it would be like to live in a future from the 70’s.

The futures not so bright

The site was less Barbarella and more Mad Max. The main house has collapsed on itself and unkempt shrubs and weeds were everywhere.

That was a dome idea

Upon closer inspection you get a sense that the construction was a little less refined than it appeared from afar and whoever built it really liked concrete.  Not only was the roof concrete but the exterior walls, gazebo and weird tubular perimeter fence were cement. The interior walls also have rocks embedded in them in a rather haphazard pattern.

Nice fountain
Nice fountain

I couldn’t get a feel for what the interior would have looked like due to the roof collapse.  It was apparent that nobody has lived here in a long time.  The interior has been stripped and graffiti covers every surface.

All tagged up
All tagged up

The pool must have been a sight in it’s heyday. You can imagine all manner of 70’s disco parties taking place here; mustaches, corvettes, polyester and cocaine.


It would be interesting to know what caused the owners to abandon their hip outpost. Judging by the lack of any insulation, keeping this place cool or hot might have been a chore. Maybe they were bankrupted by the acres of concrete layed in casting this place.  One things for sure, you don’t get up and leave your house unmonitored in Canutillo.  That’s asking for gangs to move in.


It was a bummer seeing this place in such disarray.  Much like my fantasy future of geodesic dome living never panned out, it didn’t for the owners here either.  The hard truth is given enough time, concrete will crack no matter how much you pour.

A bigger walk through is here: This Old Round House.

Concordia Cemetery

Few places in El Paso are steeped legend and lore like Concordia Cemetery.

Enter if you dare, Mu-ha-ha-ha!

Concordia is the final resting place for all manner of historical figures; generals, outlaws, and civic leaders scattered alongside commoners and unmarked graves. The most famous resident and who’s remains were at the center of a recent legal battle between the city and his surviving family is John Wesley Hardin.

In trouble with the law since the day he was born

The purported outlaw extraordinaire, has had all manner of tall tales told about him. He has been portrayed as a gambler, outlaw, lawyer and heavy drinker with the truth lying somewhere in between.  Famed El Paso historian, Leon Metz, has a book about him that you can browse through at Google Books.

Map of the dead

The cemetery is relatively well maintained now, watched over by the Concordia Heritage Association.  Occasional vandalism is still a problem but Concordia is nowhere near the scary drug den that I recall being warned about in my youth. The graveyard is broken out into sections which makes for an interesting walk through on cultural burial customs. El Paso may not have its own “Chinatown” but we at least have a place to bury the Chinese.

Chinese markers
Chinese Gravestones

All of the sections have a mix of grave markers from very ornate and opulent tombs to simple unmarked wooden crosses.  You’ll even come across a nice advertisement:

monumental advertising
Monumental Advertising

I guess if you buy the plot you can do what ever with it.  One thing that struck me, as I wandered around looking at the family names scattered around, was how connected to El Paso’s past many of these individuals are.  Their names are left not only here but all over El Paso, on buildings and street signs, permanent markers to their commitment to the city’s growth from dusty outpost to sprawling metropolis.

Caples other building

If you happen to be walking around during the summer, bring some water.  There is hardly any vegetation or shade and no water fountains so it gets quite toasty.  Or you could just hop over to L&J for a drink:

L&J, the old place by the graveyard.

I have a bigger walk through that you can view at Flickr here: Concordia Cemetery