Abandoned Terminal Redex

Several months back (July) I went to a weird site at 3670 Doniphan.


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There are a few scattered buildings and a single sign that displays “Terminal” at its top.

Terminal
Terminal, that way

The few buildings at the back are the only remnants of industrial activity and they don’t match the age of the other foundation bits and pieces scattered around.  There are these weird blocks that seem to be marking some sort of station locations set next to train tracks that snake through the property.

Six
Six

The last time I was here the main “office” building had been locked up with entry accessible only through a hole in the wall. A side storage area was broken in to but not very interesting.

Open for business
Open for business

This time around the front door had been pried open and the second story graffiti was new, overlapping the older tagging.   Once inside I noticed something kind of weird, the walls had sections broken out in seemingly random spots.  I also noticed some exposed ceiling tiles and cut sections of pipe insulation on the floor and then it hit me… copper scavengers.

Plastic fantastic
Plastic fantastic!

A couple of fake plants and a desk was all that had been left behind. The drawers had been rifled through, though I wager there wasn’t anything to begin with. After walking back out I headed over to the electric station were it was obvious that nothing is going to be going on here for a while.

 Off
All Off

At about this time a white Jeep Liberty with a flatbed trailer drove up behind the building.  I continued to take pictures, waiting for some sort of acknowledgement for the driver.  Eventually I got a nervous “¿Qué Pasa?” from the driver who was holding some very large bolt cutters.  I approached him with a “Hey what’s up?” trying to explain that I was taking pictures because well you know… abandoned stuff is cool.  Confused, he clearly had no idea what I was taking about and asked if I understood Spanish. I went with “No” to make things nice and simple and continued take pictures but not of him fearing I would spook him further. There wasn’t much was left around to look at except for this nice canister:

RUST!
RUST!

I headed out leaving the scavenger behind, I guess there was still some copper to be had that he wanted. Recycling is all the rage right now, so I guess he can be considered to be doing his part for the environment??? The full Flicker set can be viewed here: Abandoned Terminal Pt. 2, for comparison here’s part 1: Abandoned Terminal. My very first view of the site from next door with my Holga can be viewed here: 2008 Graffiti

Chalk the Block ’11

This weekend downtown El Paso held the 4th annual Chalk the Block event.  The organizers bring together artists, artist teams and other performers for a free event that turns the sidewalks around the plaza and museum into temporary art installations.  With the recent removal of the fences around San Jacinto Plaza the downtown park makes for a great place for artists to create chalk and pastel works on the concrete.

Big Red Heart
Big Red Heart

We arrived early Saturday morning so many of the artists were still working on their pieces. There was still a bunch of other things to see as we wandered around. Poetic Kinetics was on hand displaying one of their Holding Flame sculptures:

Poetic Kinetics
Holding Flame

Jack was mesmerized by it but Shaun was a little afraid.  The flame visuals created by the burner at the top really can hypnotize you.  The heat kicked by the flames keeps you mindful of the danger overhead but the distance keeps you safe. Fiat of El Paso was also using this a showcase event for their just launched 500, with artists creating works around and on the spry little hatch.

Fiat 500
Fiat 500 Art Car

There was a large selection of food trucks on hand hawking all sorts of nacho-churro-relleno-on-a-stick concoctions. We opted for a stop at Kipps Cheesesteaks for their awesome hot sandwiches.

Eat at Kipps!
Eat at Kipps!

I guess no outdoor event is complete without some sort of protests.  The Occupy Wallstreet protests that are currently sweeping the globe have even spawned a local group who were standing out in front of the Cortez Building.  They had wanted the center of the Plaza but were supplanted by the arts this weekend. Go Arts!

Occupy Mesa Street?
Occupy Mesa Street?

Main street had been turned into an informal gallery space with several booths set up and artists displaying their wares. Local El Paso artists David “Grave” Herrera  and Mitsu Overstreet of “Border Youth” were on hand laying down some paint on a Sun Metro bus:

Grave's Border Youth
Grave’s Border Youth

The kids were about done at this point and we had seen everything that was worth checking out.  This years event was well organized and looks to be something that will continue and only get better.  My full Flickr set can be viewed here: Chalk the Block

Elizabeth and Chapel Cemeteries

Last week when I was in the Dallas/ Fort Worth metropolitan area I had the chance to do some urban exploring with a local friend. Virginia had a 2 day conference to attend and we were staying up by the Texas Motor Speedway.  Using Google maps, I spotted two little cemeteries that were really close to our hotel. On the last full day there, I again headed out with a friend to see what was to see:


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Elizabeth Cemetery

Our first stop was Elizabeth Cemetery.  It’s all that remains of Elizabethtown because like many small towns, once the railroad passes you, its time to turn out the light.  While nothing may be left of the village the cemetery is still quite active with burials as of this year.

Elizabeth Cemetery
Smile for the Camera!

The cemetery is well maintained and under the watchful eye of a remote security camera. The march of progress has put a modern neighborhood right behind it but one can imagine that this was once out all by itself.  One of the more notable features was the presence of these interesting seals on some of the gravestones:

Republic of Texas
Rick Perry would be proud

We walked around were kind of amazed at the range of dates buried there.  Infant mortality was pretty high in the 1800’s and it shows here.  As artists who had to suffer through some graphic design classes we noted one amusing example of the importance of laying out your text before committing to the final design:

he-aven
Bloom in he-aven

You almost have to read it in a Chandler Bing voice.  Even though suburbia encroaches nearby, this area is still very much ranch or farm land.  Down the road is well house with the remains of a windmill.

Windmill Tree
Windmill Tree

Windmill Tree

This plot of land is a cow pasture and probably has been since it was first homesteaded.  The skeleton of the windmill is completely dwarfed by the tree.  Upon closer inspection you can see that in this instance nature is triumphing over industry:

Grow baby, grow!
Grow baby, grow!

The tree has completely engulfed one of the legs of the windmill.  No worries though, the windmill most likely hasn’t been used since power lines were pulled to the well house some time in the 20’s.  Continuing on down the dirt roads toward Chapel Cemetery, we passed the remains of a house.

Burned Out House
The roof, the roof, the roof was on fire.

Burned Down House

The fire here looked like it burned with some serious intensity.  All that remained was the firebrick from the chimney and metal scraps.  The rest was ash.  In locating this site on Google maps their satellite map shows it burned down but the 3/4 view yields this:

It shows only the back garage as being burned out.  From this image the house looks well maintained so one can only wonder what circumstances lead to the structure fire. Continuing on down old Denton road and passing an orchard we stopped at Chapel Cemetery.

Chapel Cemetery
Chapel Cemetery

Chapel Cemetery

Chapel Cemetery was smaller than Elizabeth.  It didn’t have the fancy gated entrance or camera setup but was well maintained.  The nearby orchard and other industrial activity may have kept vandalism down. Chapel seems to be dominated by a couple of  families, Francisco and Raibourn.  The Raibourn plots were pretty extensive but right in the middle was this one spelling oddity:

Rayborn
I’m Reyborn, not Raibourn

Did Mitchell want to be different? Was he randomly inserted here? Simple coincidence?  My money in on the “Lazy Stone Mason” from Elizabethtown who likes to hy-phen words, misunderstanding which Rayburn he needed to use. The last two prominent features here were these odd tree looking gravestones:

Woodmen of the World
Woodmen of the World

They carry a “Woodmen of the Word” seal which I hadn’t noticed before in any of the other cemetery hops I’ve done.  A quick Google search turns up that the Woodmen were a fraternal benefit society which has grown into a financial services organization.  I would have never known.  I’m so glad Al Gore invented the internet.

In all it took us about an hour and half to see the 4 stops on the map and made for a nice mourning  morning trip.  The full Flickr set can be viewed here:  Elizabeth and Chapel Cemetery

Swift Meat Packing, Fort Worth Texas

Right next to the Fort Worth Stockyards is a large abandoned industrial complex that used to be the Swift Meat Packing Plant. It was part of Gustavus Swift’s family of companies and was in operation from about 1902 to 1971.  It soon fell into disrepair due to numerous fires from trespassing vagrants, gang activity and graffiti taggers.


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There are still several large buildings on the property that are open to some urban exploring though care should be taken, it’s quite apparent that numerous homeless have taken up residence here.  I didn’t do this excursion alone. I had a friend with me as a second set of eyes. It’s funny but one of the creepiest things we encountered was this lost child’s toy:

Lost Toy
Lost Toy

It really puts some nightmarish Freddy Kruger/Halloween thoughts in your head.  The first building we entered, Processing 1, was the smallest at the complex and had some of the freshest graffiti:

Processing 1
Processing 1

The names I’m giving these buildings are for reference and based on the order we entered them or from what they looked like.  Processing 1 was two stories and except for the graffiti, it was rather unremarkable.  Next door was Processing 2:

Processing 2
Processing 2

It had a lot of internal damage from fires and the second level wasn’t accessible. The stairs were missing and we didn’t want to chance climbing up the outside ladder. Behind Processing 2 was the Garage.  It was a large open metal structure adjacent some storage areas. It had one of the more interesting homeless shelter setups:

A bed and chair!
A bed and chair!

Most of the doors were free to swing in the breeze so as we wandered around we could hear various banging and squeaking which really plays with your mind. Fires and the passage of time have really done a number to the place.  Interestingly though, in around 2008 the site was used as a set piece for the TV show Prison Break.  They converted one of the structures into a South American Prison and added several guard towers:

Prison Break
Penitenciaria Federal de Sona

The grey stucco facade and windows are complete fakes but its interesting how your mind is fooled by the movie magic.  The three guard stations that were built also have paint that mimics age but upon closer inspection you can see the timbers are new.  Its a sharp contrast to the wood that’s been around since about 1902 making up the roofs of the warehouse structures:

Roof collapse
Don’t be scared little tiger

The remains of the roof looked like it could come down at any moment but that doesn’t scare the tiger guarding the place.  He wasn’t the last toy we came across, parked outside of Processing 4 was this little tike:

Little Tike's last ride
Little Tike’s last ride

If you will notice, the fourth floor of Processing 4 has no windows.  Winding up the interior stairwell lead us to a room that was behind a large heavy refrigeration door:

The Black Room
The Black Room

It was dark, but the sky lights let in enough light to see that the walls had been painted black causing the graffiti to also glow as if under black light. That room kind of creeped us out so we didn’t stick around there.  The last structure we entered was the largest and had extensive damage to it’s northern face.  The wall had completely fallen exposing the interior to the elements:

Exposed
Exposed

This building is different from the others in that each large room is accessed from the stairwell through large refrigeration type doors. It kind of implies that every floor was heavily cooled for what ever processing that went on.  It also has a large service elevator that would have serviced all five floors. We were about out of time so we headed out to meet back up with Virginia and get some much deserved beers.  In total we spent about 3 hours there and the complete Flickr set can be viewed here: Swift Meat Processing Plant