THE FACTORY THAT NEVER WAS

 

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Just south of Beatty,  Nevada, is the Elizalde Cement Factory which was built by the Carrara Portland Cement Company at the beginning of the 1940s.

11337060_885679411499894_6439798320751203696_oAt the time, it was supposed to be one of the most advanced plants of its kind in the USA with houses for the workers. It would produce commercial grey cement and also a fancy high quality cement made from the crushed marble and clay from the nearby Carrara quarry.

However, the factory never went into operation. The popular notion is that it provided to be too costly and logistically difficult to move the cement. 11289489_885679418166560_1426846276698904044_o

Whether that’s true or not, just a month before production was due to start in July 1941, a fire completely destroyed the machine shop, storehouse, blacksmith shop and an office. A few weeks later, the Carrara Portland Cement Company at Carrara closed down, apparently unable to find parts to replace those lost in the fire. 10988513_885679408166561_8010437174527010206_oThe company, however, announced its intention to continue, and then Pearl Harbor happened. Fuel rationing the following spring made it impossible for the company to transport its goods, even if it had been able to get the plant back up and running. It was abandoned, although some of the machine11139355_885679398166562_463181637644374783_nry remained for several years.

SOUTH OF DEVILS GATE

Silver City, Nevada, was established in 1850 and had an exciting first few years. In the Paiute War of May 1860, the townspeople constructed a wooden cannon for protection, while one of the first stamp mills in Nevada was built later that year. No, before you ask, I have no clue how a wooden cannon is constructed but I suspect that, for the good of not only the Paiute but the folks operating it, it was never used.

By 1861, it had a population of around 1200, with accompanying saloons, hotels and boarding houses, as well as stabling for those travelling between the Comstock Lode mines of Virginia City and processing mills. Devils Gate, however, was a frequent haunt of highwaymen. Devils Gate, to the north of Silver City, was a toll road (now the US-342) which shortened the journey to Gold Hill and Virginia City and cut out the winding Occidental Grade of what is now US-341. Unfortunately, the 342 was closed for roadwork while I was there, meaning I had to take the long twisty route to Gold Hill. Twice, actually, because I got lost. It’s not the sort of road you really want to do twice if you don’t have to…

Silver City managed to thrive until the completion of the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in 1869 after which the population quickly moved away. Now about 100 or so people live there, most of whom probably knew I was there. It is a little bit The Hills Have Eyes. Apparently, the cemetery is worth a visit, but it appeared to be on the other side of the road closure.