The old Kaiser Aluminum Smelter at Mead closed in 2002 after a crippling steel workers strike. Today, the buildings are abandoned and according to a security guard, nearly all of the enormous complex has been stripped bare. Even the copper wire was pulled and sold to China. The parking lots are infested with weeds.

Over 2,000 jobs high paying jobs were lost forever. It is not so apparent from this photo but the buildings and complex are enormous – its a half mile from one end of the complex to the other!


Rahco’s old facility, below, is pretty quiet now.  Rahco designed and constructed agricultural equipment and systems for materials transport as used in mining and earth moving operations.

Like many firms founded in Spokane, this one was bought by an out of area international firm. Rahco was the industrial firm of Spokane’s equivalent to Thomas Edison, the prolific inventor and businessmen, Raymond A. Hanson (who – read the link – is partially named after Thomas Edison). Ray passed away in February of 2009. When the company changed hands, the new owner apparently did not do well with the firm and had to seek an outside buyer.

Note – click on the image for  7k pixel wide panorama – you can then scroll from side to side in your browser.

The Weeds

Weeds are everywhere this year. This seems to be due to the record breaking wet and cool spring that kept the rains coming until July 5th.

The weeds make the streets outside this abandoned building on Division St, the main north-south road in Spokane look really run down. The weeds are far worse on two other sides of this building – so bad they are blocking the sidewalk completely.

The furniture store that occupied this building and the next one down, on the left, is out of business. Across the street, at middle right of this picture, a shop is For Lease. And the white building a bit further down, on the right, is empty.  If you traveled about 100 yards from the white building across the streets you’d come to the empty old CompUSA building.

A positive for Spokane, I guess, is that space is available everywhere from single shops to big retail outlets to factory buildings that once employed hundreds to thousands. An the lease costs are very low. Across the street from where I took this photo, a new Moroccan restaurant is being built.

I will have more photos of empty buildings some other time. Including the vacant Agilent facility once home to between 1,600 and 2,000 high tech workers, and the empty General Dynamics/Itronix builidng once home to 450 high tech industry workers. Spokane’s manufacturing and high tech sectors were already in decline before the current economic downturn – the present downturn, like in other towns, has left vacant storefronts, office, warehouse and manufacturing buildings through out the area.


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