RR Anderson, DIY Cultural Arts Specialist

Jan. 11, 2012 at 9:27pm

Ruston: From Environmental Holocaust Moonscape to Mixed-Use Utopia

The Rise and Fall and Rise of a Place

First, Enjoy this little documentary playing now on KBTC:

Watch Ruston on PBS. See more from Full Focus.

Interesting Notes from the Film:

  • Integrated labor force except for Asians who were segregated?
  • Corporation and Union joined forces to fight any EPA regulation
  • Slag and untreated waste dumped directly into the bay
  • Midnight whistle for no reason?
  • Town Police Force completely owned by Company
  • Volunteer Firefighters
  • Regular employee deaths
  • Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

This is based on a new historical Ruston book recently reviewed in the Tacoma Weekly

The film has a brief bit about what is happening right now with the ASARCO Ruston smelter site, but I have recently had the pleasure of touring this place in the first-person flesh, after being invited by the honorable purchaser of these two Tacomics... 

ruston tacomic


tacoma developers


And now..


Photographed with permission, but with camera hidden inside a very large fur hat (editorial note, see urban explorer episode 1 & episode 2). 


Ride along in the Cadillac Escallade, picture taken immediately after passing through gate.. stopping to check out the automatic cement curb making industrial robot who was very friendly.   


Coming up on the historic and retrofitted Ruston Ferryboat. Joked about how cool it would be to see the Kalakala tied up along side her.  This chunk of Commencement Bay is private property so is very Privately-Owned-Ferryboat friendly. No pesky Coast Guard or something.


I was very excited to check out the ship ever since the stowaway Jobs With Justice condo buyer infiltrator stunt I read about here...  very exciting!


My Tour Guide and latest Tacomic Art Patron Mr. Loren Cohen. Turns out he also won the bid on a copy of my book at the Mark Lindquist Kings Books auction fundraiser event (My book happened to be bundled with  "BabeLehrer's book  and also maybe an erotic cook book). 


Someday all this will be real. Condos are now Apartments, but the movie theater and shopping center and dense packing of mixed use buildings will cover over the toxic nightmare that was the ASARCO smelter footprint. Can't happen soon enough I say! 


Says they're on schedule for opening the heart of this thing for Christmas of 2013 or 2014 


The Urbanist joked to me later that the little model in the back of the ship reminds him of a James Bond villain's insane utopia that is revealed near the climax of the film.  Whatever they have to do to make it happen, I say go for it. Anything is better than how ASARCO left it.


Continuing the tour, here is the parking garage that the shopping area and movie theater complex will connect to. Notice in the model they do a good job of hiding all the ugly parking under the buildings, but the idea is the people who live here can walk everywhere.


Most of the bad stuff has been barged away by ASARCO, everything else buried under plastic, concrete and imported clean fill.


Here is the Train tunnel and Car Tunnel, The Car Tunnel is going away forever. Remember driving through there honking at the other side?


up on the hill now, this little pond is where all the crap from the stack was dumped to cool down before getting pushed into the ocean.  Horrible-horrible things happened in this pool. Lovecraft horrible!  But they're making it all better.


Homes, sculpture parks (can't wait to see what Claudia is building), shoppers, walking the waterfront folks... coming soon!


Someday you'll be walking the popular Ruston waterfront all the way down, past the Sperry ships, down to this Marina, down to Point Defiance park.  Build it.  Build it Ray, and the people will come.  SHIFT IS HAPPENING!  I hope to hell.  

comments [5]  |  posted under Condos, Development, History, Recovery, Ruston, Tacoma, urban explorer, Utopia


by NineInchNachos on 1/11/2012 @ 11:42pm
breaking: elks update! www.thenewstribune.com/2012/01/11/197945...

by Dave_L on 1/12/2012 @ 1:04am
Thanks for the KBTC Ruston link. Got a few friends who grew up in Ruston, including musician/roofer Joel Lively / LewSchmngy of Schmngyfest, and J.R. at the Jive. (People try to put the Antique Sandwich in Ruston, but I believe that side of the street is Tacoma.) M. Sullivan can tell you some great stories about the Ruston railroad fire, Rust, and the Rust mansion on Eye Street. The day the ASARCO stack came down was quite remarkable.

by NineInchNachos on 1/12/2012 @ 8:06am
thanks Dave!

by dolly varden on 1/12/2012 @ 8:46am
Great report - thanks! It's great to see some progress up there, at last.

by NineInchNachos on 1/24/2012 @ 1:34pm
another update! rustonhome.blogspot.com/2012/01/ruston-w...


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RR Anderson is one of the most curious characters in the UFO lore and the history of underground cartooning. He fought bizarre underground beings in the caves of Alaska, was wounded by a laser before it was invented, and had a background with the clandestine branch of the Tacoma Cartoonists Society.

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