Magic hour trespass in Carrara, NV where snow-white marble was once mined & where the Carrara Portland Cement Company Plant, built in 1936 to produce Portland cement, sits in beautiful ruin.
In 1904, the discovery of the snow-white marble in the Bare Mountain range led to the founding of Carrara.
Unfortunately most of the marble found on the site was of insufficient quality so it did not prove to be a bonanza of wealth.
The American Carrara Marble Company was formed in 1912, between 1911 and 1913 the company laid out the town site. The features were a town fountain, hotel and a store.
The “Carrara Pacific,” which was a three mile lidger cable tram system with wooden rails was built to tie into the LV&T Railroad. It was a simple system that used the weight of the full car going down to pull the empty up.
Finally in April 1914, the first slabs of marble were shipped from the quarry. After the LV&T Railroad quit running in 1917, they built a spur from the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, owned by the Pacific Coast Borax to accommodate shipping from the Carrara Pacific.
The town grew to 100 residents, with a newspaper and post office. No one knows what happened to Bob.
I attempted to take the 3 mile heavily rutted dirt road seen here leading into the hills where the quarry was located. I drove about 2 miles with my non-4WD vehicle [which was already pushing it] and decided I better turn around before something happens. No quarry for me:(
Sometimes referred to as the Elizalde Cement Plant ruins, the shell of this abandoned complex was officially called the Carrara Portland Cement Company Plant.
Carrara Portland Cement Company was incorporated in November of 1940. The articles of incorporation list John Lewis as president, Clyde C. Sherwood as secretary and O. J. Gallagher as treasurer, all of whom resided in San Francisco.
The original stock was one million shares at a par value of one dollar each.
The name Elizalde became attached to the plant after Angel M. Elizalde was listed as director. His prominent family name preceded him and he was the most famous of the group and Carrara’s largest investor.
With Elizalde at the helm, Carrara had grand plans. Within a month of incorporation ten cement houses were to be built for housing of the working crew with thirty more to follow shortly. By April, 1941, excavations for the plant with a crew of forty-five men laying the foundations and pillars for the installation of heavy machinery was taking place.
Touted at the time as one of the most advanced cement companies in the country, Carrara was slated to produce two grades of cement: a standard commercial gray construction cement, and a special high quality white cement with the crushed white marble and white clay of its namesake from the Carrara quarry about a mile away.
The marble would be crushed and fluxed at the quarry before entering a 150 foot long by 10 foot in diameter revolving rotary kiln to be heated and calcined, from where it would be taken to a rotary cooling cylinder. From there it was off to a grinding mill to be made into the finished product for shipment. The plant would be powered by a 1100 horsepower steam engine using Diesel oil for fuel.
They estimated production of 1000 barrels, or 4000 sacks daily (80 tons). Construction costs were quoted at a half-million dollars. The plant was expected to be completed in August, of 1941.
The Interlocking Cement Block Co. installed a pilot plant nearby in order to manufacture the building blocks that would be used in the construction of the employees homes.
All of their grand plans fell to ash when a fire in July 1941, one month before production was slated to begin, swept through the complex. It completely destroyed the machine shop, storehouse, blacksmith shop and one of the field offices with a loss of $30,000.
On August 27, 1941 the Reno Evening Gazette reported that the Carrara Portland Cement Company at Carrara closed down. They were having trouble procuring replacement parts for those destroyed in the fire.
By February 1942, Carrara Portland Cement Company (which had become a subsidiary of Elizalde, Ltd.) purchased 360 acres of land lying close to and north of the quarry to protect the corporation’s water rights. In May, 1942, the cement company was surveying their mining claims and water rights.
Angel Elizalde, as well as being heavily invested in the Carrara Portland Cement Company, was also invested in Nevada with other interests. Angel was a member of an extremely wealthy and powerful Spanish family in the Philippines.
The Elizalde family enterprises were involved in La Carlotta and Pilar Sugar mills, The Manila Steamsip Company, The Metropolitan Insurance Company, Samar Mining Company, Inc, The Elizalde Rope Factory, Inc., Elizalde Paint & Oil Factory, Inc., Tanduay Distillery, Great Ridge Development Company, Central Azucarere del Norte and Elca, Inc., National Development Company, Cebu Portland Cement, and the founding of the first radio station in the Philippines – KZRH, among other interests such as gold mining. The brothers were also world class polo players.
Angel seems to have made plans to make Nevada his home. Though he divorced his wife, Marie (a wealthy socialite in her own right), in Reno in 1940, he purchased the Reno and Porter ranches (including the warm springs) about eight miles north of Beatty, Nevada. He was building what was described as a “magnificent residence, having decided to take up permanent residence in the state and to engage in other large operations within the borders of Nevada”.
Despite all of the time, money and effort invested, the cement plant was never put into operation. The investment was abandoned, and the ruins stand on BLM land, tattooed with graffiti and pocked with bullet wounds.
So what happened? War happened. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii December 7, 1941. The US issued a declaration of war on December 8, 1941. Fuel rationing began in May 1942. For a company that depended on Diesel fuel to operate, that would have been the final death rattle. The Elizalde family was instrumental in the war effort in the Pacific theatre. The radio station that the family founded became a vital communication link. Two of the brothers were captured and imprisoned because of anti-Japanese activities. During their incarceration in Fort Santiago, Juan Elizalde was beheaded as a prisoner of war. The timing was wrong for the Carrara Portland Cement Company. Though it came into being with a boisterous fanfare, it died with a whisper on its lips.