Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Man vs. nature

If you were walking through the woods and suddenly came upon a huge factory, it would make for a striking scene, wouldn't it? Yet you can see just this in certain formerly industrialized areas, because once a factory is abandoned, nature moves in quickly, especially in areas that were heavily wooded before they were settled.


The former Campbell Works of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company in Struthers, Ohio. Credit: coalcampusa.com


Abandoned coke ovens at New Boston, Ohio. Credit: coalcampusa.com


Sintering company office, near USS Ohio Works, Youngstown. Credit: coalcampusa.com

These scenes remind me of what my dad and I found when we drove up Rum Creek, West Virginia in 2003, looking for the coal camps he grew up in. When we went there in the 70s and 80s, there were still lines of little company houses strung along the run, but in 2003, nearly everything was gone. Here are two pictures I snapped in 2011 of the place he was born:






This railroad runs parallel to the road, along the creek. The tracks are still used, judging from the lack of rust on the rails. In the upper photo you can see a crossing of the track in the foreground, which is how you would get from the main road to the other side of the track, where the houses were. But there are no houses now, just some piles of rotten lumber. When a house was abandoned, nearby residents would usually tear it down to use or burn the wood. Farther up the run, the road ended at a huge coal washing operation:


In my dad's day, the miners lived within walking distance of the mine, but now, I suppose they drive in from Logan or elsewhere. The only people left near the mine are people who can't, or won't, leave. They have to put up with explosions, noise and ruined water from the subsurface and surface mines nearby. Such is the price of cheap electricity.


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