Constructed in 1882, the Martha Rose/Walsh Smelter site outside of Silverton included a 20-ton smelting plant along with an ore crushing facility and coal-fired blast furnace that produced silver, lead, and gold during its heyday. After treating over 100 tons of ore, the facility permanently closed in 1897. For over 100 years, the site sat idle while changing ownership several times. The smelter site was selected for redevelopment due to its flat terrain, lack of development in the surrounding area, and close proximity to the town’s infrastructure.
In 2006, the U.S. EPA contracted URS to conduct Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA’s). Site cleanup began in December 2008 and was completed in December 2009. The Phase I ESA identified soil and groundwater metals contamination related to past smelting operations. The Phase II assessment identified lead, arsenic, barium, and asbestos contaminants of concern. Field sampling was conducted to assess and evaluate the environmental conditions identified in the Phase I and Phase II.
Funding for the project came from a variety of different sources. San Juan County was able to secure $1.3 million in grants from the EPA, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Brownfields Foundation, Colorado Department of Health and Environment, and Colorado
Department of Transportation. EPA and the Bureau of Land Management contributed another $300,000 of in-kind assistance. San Juan County contributed over $500,000 to the project.
The site, now known as the Anvil Mountain Subdivision project, once fully built out, will include approximately 50 single family, multi-family and duplex homes to create a wide range of sizes and prices. The project is planned as affordable housing with integrated energy efficient and sustainable design innovations.
Cleanup of the Martha Rose/Walsh Smelter site prevents future releases of contaminants, reduces the use of fossil fuels through efficient green buildings, and creates new open space. The area’s rich mining and rail legacy will be preserved using architecture design similar to mining era buildings in the town, and preserving and interpreting historical elements.