ASARCO, originally known as the American Smelting and Refining Company, traces its origins to 1881, when Robert Safford Towne arrived in El Paso after touring the mines in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Two years later he organized the Mexican Ore Company, a small plant that sampled and graded ore from the Mexican mines. In 1887 the ambitious Towne went to Argentine, Kansas, where he secured the backing of the Kansas City Consolidated Smelting and Refining Company for the construction of a major smelter in El Paso to process lead and copper ores from mines in Mexico and in the American Southwest. Towne bought 1,156 acres along the Rio Grande for $3,757, and within five months the El Paso Smelter, with a 100-foot high chimney and a workforce of 250, was ready to begin processing the high-grade Mexican ore. The community that grew up around the plant was called Smeltertown.The demolition was delayed nearly 10 minutes from the scheduled 6:45 a.m. start.
Hundreds gathered on hillsides, nearby business parking lots, and at West El Paso homes to get a view of the historic event.
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