Once there was a place called Smeltertown, and it was known as the largest industrial city on the banks of the Rio Grande. The smokestacks of the American Smelting and Refining Company, which polluted the air for three miles in every direction, grew so tall over the decades that they became a landmark just inside the El Paso side of the US-Mexico border. In a community of small adobe houses, many with dirt floors and without indoor plumbing, both the men employed at the smelter and the women who raised families and made homes there form the history of Smeltertown.
Through interviews with the women and their now middle-aged children, the realities of everyday life in Smeltertown are revealed—as is the strength of the women who forged a community and preserved a culture in these primitive conditions. Current photographs of the interviewees and historical photographs of Smeltertown illustrate the history of an area not even native El Pasoans knew.