Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry

Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry
This new Port of Entry, with a six-lane bridge over the Rio Grande, 17 miles east of El Paso, is one of the largest border crossing stations in the country. It opened in 2014, with the intention of drawing traffic, especially commercial trucks, away from other congested crossings around Juarez/El Paso. It replaces an old crossing nearby, known as the Fabens Port of Entry. Tornillo is one of fewer than fifty official crossing points on the US/Mexico border, 29 of which are in Texas.

Sweetwater Gypsum Plant

Sweetwater Gypsum Plant
This is one of a few US Gypsum mines and wallboard plants in the USA. The company presented its Sheetrock brand of wallboard at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, and since then it has been among the largest suppliers of gypsum-based housing products in the country. It has seven other gypsum mines (in Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and at Plaster City, California), and fifteen wallboard plants in the USA.

Sooner Pipe Yard

Sooner Pipe Yard
This pipe yard near Midland is one of the largest in West Texas. It is operated by the Sooner Pipe Company, a major OCTG pipe supplier in Texas, with three regional yards: in Crosby (near Houston); in Godley (near Dallas); and this yard in Midland, serving the Permian Basin. OCTG is an industry term for Oil Country Tubular Goods, and refers to the seamless rolled steel pipe used for oil and gas well drilling (making the hole), casing (stabilizing the hole), and tubing (bringing the oil or gas to the surface). Though larger than most, it is one of more than a hundred pipe yards in West Texas.

San Angelo Proving Grounds

San Angelo Proving Grounds
This facility, northeast of San Angelo, has been the primary proving ground for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, based in Akron, Ohio, since 1944. It covers 7,250 acres (more than 11 square miles), and has several tracks, with a total of 58 miles of roads. It is one of four large-scale proving grounds established by tire companies in western Texas.

Nine Mile Training Center

Nine Mile Training Center
The Nine Mile Training Center is one of the largest private armed forces training centers in the country, in area. It is located south of Fort Stockton, 35 miles from the border, on 35,000 acres, with access to another 350,000 for exclusive use. It’s a military-style base open to the public, who can sign up to take classes in defensive and offensive tactics with live weapons. It is mostly used by private security companies, paramilitary groups, and civilian law-enforcement organizations. There are mortar ranges, heavy weapons ranges, explosive breaching bays, an aerial gunnery range, runways, drop zones, a 8,300-square-foot shoot house, simulated training villages, and a driving course.

Million Barrel Museum

Million Barrel Museum
Located in Monahans, Texas, this five acre concrete bowl, 35 feet deep, used to have a roof, and was built in the late 1920s to store crude oil–around a million barrels worth–during the early boom years of the region. The oil leaked out through cracks, into the ground, and the tank was soon abandoned. In the 1950s it was filled with water and turned into a recreational lake, which also leaked, and was abandoned. In 1987 it was opened as part of a museum site, operated by the local country historical commission.  

Bovina Feedyard

Bovina Feedyard
This cattle feedlot owned by the Bovina Cattle Company, part of Friona Industries, is one of six feedyards in the region owned by the company. Friona is a local company, founded in the Panhandle, which is one of the most productive cattle production areas in the nation. There are more than a hundred feedyards and several beef packing plants in the Panhandle.

Schellbourne Pony Express Wayside

Schellbourne Pony Express Wayside
At Schellbourne, Highway 93 crosses the route of the former Pony Express trail, marked by a wayside interpretive station, and an abandoned motel. The Pony Express looms large in the myths of manifest destiny, despite being in existence for just a year and a half, between 1859 and 1861. At the time it was the state of the art for getting information across the country – a note could be passed from east coast to west in as little as ten days. In a few years it would be outperformed by telegraphs and railways. The Pony Express was a 1,900 mile-long route across the western half of the continent, with hundreds of horses, and 184 stations, spaced from 5-25 miles apart. Most served as relay stations, where tired horses and riders could be swapped out for fresh ones, on their collective sprint across the plains and mountains. In this way, the Pony Express carried a total of 35,000 letters between its termini at St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California, over the course of its short existence.

Western Elite Landfill

Western Elite Landfill
The Western Elite Landfill, on Highway 93, the Great Basin Highway, is a major landfill for the Las Vegas region. While the big Republic pile at Apex takes household trash from the city, and is open to the public, Western Elite is, as its name implies, more exclusive, only taking industrial wastes from previously approved haulers. Though it is an hour away from the city, it is a major landfill for Las Vegas’ construction debris. It also accepts tires, shredded vehicle residue, asbestos, and grease traps.  As Las Vegas’ primary construction waste site, the Western Elite Landfill is where many demolished casinos end up. The fence of the mile-long perimeter of the site is salvaged neoclassical railings from a demolished Las Vegas casino.

Hyperloop One Test Site

Hyperloop One Test Site
At the top of the Apex Industrial Park north of Las Vegas is the nation’s first full scale Hyperloop test site. Hyperloops, of course, are large diameter vacuum tubes, which propel pods inside them by air pressure, at very high rates of speed. Similar to the pneumatic tube system still found in some large retail operations, where small capsules are used to move cash to and from cashiers, hyperloops upsize this technology to move people, as well as goods, inside the pods. With two test areas, and a 1,500 foot long full-scale tube section, this site is likely the largest test site for a hyperloop system in the USA. It completed its first full-scale test run in May, 2017. That year Richard Branson, whose Virgin brand operates an airline, and is developing the commercial space flight center in New Mexico, joined the team of investors, and the Apex project is now known as Virgin Hyperloop One, and is based out of Los Angeles.
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