Visit Date: October 8, 2015
Take U.S. Route 95, Veterans Memorial Highway, south for a few miles from Beatty, Nevada, and look towards the east. You'll spot some colorful hills and a group of very interesting cement building ruins. I had seen a few pictures of the place a while back and decided to check it out the next time I was in the area. Well, I was in the area on Thursday, October 8 of 2015, so check it out I did.
The first ruin I came to was a large one, which at one time probably had a main floor and a basement underneath it. The floor which separated the two is long gone.
What was it used for? I don't know, but it had several entrances and a good number of windows when it was originally built. Perhaps some kind of workshop in the basement, with a store or office at ground level? Maybe a hotel? Office, general store? Whatever it once was, it's now an impressive and photogenic ruin.
The next ruin I came to was also once a large and impressive building, but now only portions of two walls still stand. Again, I was intrigued by the number of large windows it had.
So what was this place, I hear you asking. Well, it goes by a couple of different names, depending on the source you read. The more common name of this ruin complex is the Elizalde Cement Plant ruins. But another name, and perhaps the official one, is the Carrara Portland Cement Company Plant.
There's not much official information about the place, at least not that I could find, but here's what I gathered. The Carrara Portland Cement Company was incorporated in November of 1940 (by the way, I learned that "Portland Cement" is the most common type of cement in general use around the world). A man by the name of Angel M. Elizalde (hailing from an extremely wealthy and powerful Spanish family in the Philippines) was a director of the company, and its largest investor, which is probably the reason why his name became associated with the plant.
The company had grand plans and it wasn't long before excavations for the plant were underway. By April of 1941, a crew of forty-five men were laying the foundations and pillars for the heavy machinery which would soon be in place.
But why build a cement factory at this remote spot in the Mojave desert? Well, the Carrara quarry was located less than a mile away. The plant was going to make two grades of cement; the standard Portland variety, and a special high quality white cement produced from crushed white marble and white clay from the nearby quarry.
And then, things happened. One month before the plant would be operational, a fire decimated the complex. The machine shop, blacksmith shop, a field office and a storehouse were completely destroyed. The beginning of World War II may also have played a part in the company not rebuilding. The Carrara Portland Cement Company was finished before it even had the chance to produce one bag of cement. The investment, the land, the buildings were all abandoned. Leaving us today with an intriguing array of bullet-riddled, cement building and foundation ruins to take pictures of and write about. And apparently an irresistible canvas for graffiti artists.
I admit, I'm sometimes impressed with artwork I've seen on ruins. But I must say, I'd 100% rather not see graffiti, street art, ruin art or whatever it might be called on places like this.
This portion of the complex baffled me, what was it intended to be used for?
The quarry up in the hills has an interesting story and was the source of an earlier commotion in this same general area. An outcropping of snow-white marble was discovered in 1904, in the hills up behind the cement plant ruins. In June of 1912, the American Carrara Marble Company was formed, and between 1911 and 1913 the company laid out a townsite just a little way south of where the cement plant ruins of today are located. The town featured a water fountain, hotel and store, along with many places of residence. During its heyday, it reportedly had nearly 100 residents, its own newspaper and post office. Unfortunately, the marble turned out to be too fractured to be profitable to mine and the quarry was closed in 1919. With no other reason to be there, the residents eventually left and the town was abandoned.
I drove over to see what I could find of Carrara and had some luck.
These cement foundations are located very close to U.S. Route 95. They look to me as if they were used as foundations for heavy machinery of some kind. Way off in the upper left corner, you can see the Elizalde ruins. The dirt road heading up to the hills in the middle of the picture may go to the quarry, at least that's my guess. I didn't have the chance to check it out, but maybe next time.
Water tank? Swimming pool?
A big chunk of Carrara marble, with cutting or chisel marks plain as day.
Steps leading down into a cellar on the left, with a lot of corrugated sheet metal tossed in for good measure. There were a lot of can dumps, "Desert Gold," in the area. I really like poking around in other people's old trash. Every once in a while I'll spot a can with some embossed lettering, like the one pictured above. Be sure to click on any of these images to see them in a larger size.
I love finding old chimneys.
There's something sad yet poignant about an old chimney out in the middle of nowhere, with hardly any evidence of the building it once heated. How many hands warmed themselves in front of a fire that once burned bright on its stone hearth.
I've yet to run across an intact glass bottle in all my wanderings.
One last can dump picture before I go. In the distance stands the lone chimney. Off to the left, you can make out the circular cement ring that once was Carrara's water fountain. And at the right top corner, another road leading up into the hills. I'll bet most people driving on 95 just speed by these places, eager to get where they're going. But if you're always in a hurry, you miss out on a lot of neat stuff. Of course, what's neat to one is trash to another.
If any of the images in this post strike your fancy, feel free to right click on them and save them to your computer. Use them for whatever you like, free of charge. Credit back to Cali49.com would be nice, but it's not required. What would be the point in copyrighting a bunch of rusty cans or a mountain?