Blast from the Past: Disappearance of a Town

A community vanishes before your very eyes.

More fun with Google Earth.  Going out of town a bit for this one.

It's amazing to actually see an entire town disappear, but that's just what happened to the town of Tormey, just north of Rodeo.  A complete history is of course impossible here.  But the Tormey family has an incredible website dedicated to their history, including their namesake town in California.

Tormey and Hercules share similar backgrounds.  Both began as company towns.  Tormey's company was the Selby Smelting Works, later acquired by the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO).  The company owned the homes in Tormey and leased them to employees, as well as provided the town's utilities.  ASARCO closed down the plant in 1971, and with it, they closed down Tormey.  They notified the residents their leases would be terminated, and utilities stopped.

The accompanying photos are, in essence, a time-lapse of how Tormey just disappeared.  In 1939, Tormey was a thriving community with tree-lined streets.  By 1987, the homes were gone, and the streets were barely visible. By 1993, there was little evidence a town ever existed.  And by 2008, Tormey had become a parking lot.

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Susan D.Keeffe June 05, 2012 at 06:06 AM
Please forgive the iphone typing.
Dn June 05, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Once I figured out how to throw it, the slider is a helluva pitch. Unfortunately, the picture I wanted went from 1903 to 1993, without anything between them. Boohoo. Still, this is better than watching 'Back to the Future 1,2, and 3'! Thank you!!!!
Susan D.Keeffe June 05, 2012 at 04:05 PM
How can I find the names of the residents? I think I had a second cousin who lived there, Her first name was Geraldine or "Gerry" as I knew her. I think her last name was Smith. Her parents were Addie and Palmer Smith and they all moved to Martinez before Tormey was razed.
Ralph Bedwell July 14, 2012 at 05:00 AM
They paved paradise? It was probably a nice place to live, but I thought the site was abandoned in a horribly polluted state? The smelter there spewed huge amounts of lead into the environment. There's a reason why the beach adjacent to the site of the old town is capped with asphalt.
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