Current Issue Article Abstracts
Spring 2017 Vol. 7.1
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Among the oldest of technologies, the extractive industries refer to those processes that involve the removal and processing of raw materials from the earth: mines, quarries, collieries, oil and gas refineries, cement plants, and the heavy clay industries (brick, tile, and terra cotta). These processes transformed entire regions and markets, creating a much altered landscape with vast and deep quarries, pits, and mines; enormous furnaces, smelters, and kilns; fabrication shops and mills; and transportation networks to bring raw materials in and product out. Entire worker communities with houses, schools, churches and synagogues, pool halls, and stores were created to keep local labor close at hand. Many such sites, while rich in historical and architectural value, are also toxic environmental brownfields, thus making them especially problematic for contemporary reuse.
The mines of Butte, Montana led the world in the supply of copper from 1887 through the First World War. This period corresponds in human history with a new acceleration in the scale of the industrialized production of minerals, as the geography of extraction expanded. That scale of production required industrial infrastructure of tremendous size and complexity, creating cultural landscapes of extraction on a vast new scale, and leading to environmental impacts of a severity not previously seen. Such characteristics make the preservation of sites embodying the history of industrialized extraction daunting, as can be seen in the region embracing Butte and Anaconda, Montana. The legacy of environmental damage caused by the mining industry at Butte and Anaconda has created the largest Superfund site in the United States. Unfortunately, Superfund remediation is often incompatible with the preservation of some historic features of mining's industrial infrastructure. This article suggests how such a vast landscape of extraction around Butte and Anaconda can be interpreted through judicious attention to large historic landscape features that survive, that are compatible with and often integrated into the Superfund remediation, and that help to convey the complexity and scale of historical industrialized mineral extraction.
Reflections on Mountaintop Mining as Industrial Heritage
Stefania Staniscia and Charles Yuill
There is a growing interest worldwide in preserving and promoting industrial heritage as cultural landscape resources. This is proven by the increasing number of inscribed properties of this specific typology in the UNESCO World Heritage List. These sites’ landscapes are sometimes the result of mining activities, and all of them are considered as “Cultural Landscapes,” i.e., as the manifestations of the interaction between humankind and its natural environment over a clearly defined geo-cultural region. They are usually clusters of archaeological remains of large-scale mines, working sites, transport lines, and mining settlements.
Thinking about what has been happening in the Appalachian region since the late 1960s with the practice of mountaintop mining (MTM)—one of the most common forms of coal mining in the Central Appalachian ecoregion—one might, paradoxically, suppose that the entire region could become a world heritage site as one of the most representative testimonies of the era that, according to Crutzen, we entered at the end of the eighteenth century: the Anthropocene era.
This paper presents the case of MTM and its impacts on the landscape and explores the theoretical framework for its consideration as industrial heritage within the design disciplines.
This paper explores the ways that communities, the iron industry, and the state responded to iron mining development in Minnesota's Mesabi Range. The Mesabi Range in northern Minnesota was the most productive iron range in the United States from 1895 to today, producing more than 3.8 billion tons of iron ore. The removal of all of this iron produced tremendous changes to the landscape, which communities in the Mesabi Range had to negotiate.
As open pit mines expanded during the 1910s, all but two communities were forced to relocate to make way for an expanding mine. Archival records reveal that communities contested mining displacements, yet this social negotiation over mining is relatively absent in current interpretative discourse. Instead, state agencies have reimagined the mining landscape, filling former mines with trout and removing much of the built environment in an effort to promote a recreational landscape atop a postindustrial one. These actions have fostered a distorted collective memory of the region's past and an industrial landscape where historical features are treated as recreational areas rather than cultural resources.
Inaugurated by the Penrith Lakes Development Corporation in 1981, this two thousand hectare site located near the foot of the Blue Mountains, meant to replicate the precontact Cumberland Plain, is slated for urban development and parkland recreation over the next twenty years. This reconstructed riparian landscape is part of extended terrain around the Nepean River that possesses a significant Aboriginal history, and as a former site of gravel and sand quarrying, it boasts a fifteen-kilometer gravity-fed “flow and filtration” system that sustains a complex series of habitat corridors and interconnected lakes, ponds, and wetlands. This case study of the Penrith Lakes Scheme tries to answer two main questions: What is at stake in creating an artificial landscape that simulates nature in the midst of a major urban growth area? And, second, can this naturalistic veil promote a deeper recognition of Aboriginal histories and the conservation of Aboriginal heritage? Design, in fact, can activate latent narratives in landscapes such as Penrith Lakes, and such narratives are responsible for much of the cultural work completed by preservation professionals.
Activities related to the extraction and exploitation of natural resources are varied in Tunisia. But the most important numerically and spatially are stone quarries, which, once abandoned, are considered as low-value land and, in most cases, become an environmental nuisance, even though they have the potential to be of great natural, scientific, or cultural interest. The abandoned calcareous sandstone quarries that were opened in the Tyrrhenian barrier beach on the eastern coast of the Cap Bon peninsula (northeast Tunisia) illustrate this. The industrial quarrying started in the 1970s, but more detailed observations of the site reveal that the recent quarries often overlap with older ones dating back to antiquity. The site is very rich in archaeological remains and offers the opportunity not only to analyze and understand the variety of the landscape, but also the evolution of extraction techniques over time. This paper is devoted to sharing better knowledge and valuation of the quarries and their heritage, landscape, and environmental assets. It also aims to provide ideas for reintegrating them into their environment and making them useful spaces for the towns of the east coast of the peninsula, which are undergoing very rapid urbanization.
John D. M. Arnold, Donald Lafreniere
Formal historic preservation is a professional and sanctioned approach to the conservation of our historically significant built cultural heritage. Postindustrial landscapes are, by definition, functionally and materially obsolete, and in many cases derelict and decaying. While they hold historical significance, these sites are often not widely perceived as valuable contributors to our heritage. Yet these landscapes persist. We argue that the material persistence of these features is the result of generally unrecognized processes of informal material conservation.
In this paper, we outline a new framework, vernacular preservation, an ontology for heritage professionals to use in considering how to approach and recognize nonformal interventions that result in the protection of heritage resources. Here, we use the postindustrial landscape of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula—a former copper-mining district—to illustrate how vernacular preservation differs from formal historic preservation, reviewing the process of vernacular preservation and how it is activated in practice.
Vernacular preservation constitutes perhaps the most traditional, common, and widespread mechanism of material conservation of the historical built environment yet has been largely invisible, little discussed, and undertheorized by the heritage preservation community. Understanding this preservation process begins by acknowledging its existence and by extending the heritage dialogue to include these underrepresented historical properties and their important role in defining postindustrial landscapes. We conclude the paper with a discussion on how this novel approach to thinking about preservation extends broadly to the field and should be given greater attention.
Rodrigo De La O
Photographic archives are a potential source of knowledge in industrial heritage. This paper deals with the case of the main mining sites developed in Francoist Spain to produce energy. Historic photographs are not only a description of the original forms, dispositions, and uses of an industrial complex, nor are they only a register of social implications of labor. They contribute to recognition of a more complex understanding of the heritage significance of obsoletes landscapes nowadays. This paper analyzes the photographic archives as an aesthetical footprint related to the narration of meanings, symbols, and identity...
Joern Langhorst, Kate Bolton
Sites created for and abandoned by hardrock mining operations in the Rocky Mountain West are among the most layered, complex, and noteworthy landscapes in America, expressive of the entangled relationships between the human processes of extraction and reclamation and nonhuman processes of geological and ecological change.
Few types of landscape have involved such localized drastic change of the surface of the earth and such significant impacts on associated nonhuman and human systems. The spatial and temporal scales of mining and postmining operations and their impacts extend far beyond the immediate local context, recent history, and immediate future. The complexity of such landscapes transcends the physical and lies in the various values that drove the processes of extraction, as well as those at play in addressing postextraction conditions. They pose fundamental challenges to many disciplines and have prompted a rethinking of traditional concepts and practices of preservation and reclamation. This paper develops a framework that meaningfully responds to the complexities of postmining landscapes (PMLs). It is connected to a critical investigation of functionalperformative and aesthetic-experiential considerations and an engagement of underlying meanings and values.
It casts PMLs as dynamic and ever-changing sites to model and render legible new forms of human-environment relationships.
Joseph E. B. Elliott
The Pennsylvania "Slate Belt," an area of only twenty-two square miles, lies approximately fifty miles to the northwest of Philadelphia and just south of Blue (Kittanning) Mountain between the Delaware and Lehigh rivers. The first quarries opened in the 1830s, but significant growth followed in the first decade of the twentieth century when the Lehigh Valley accounted for approximately half of the slate produced in the United States, eventually becoming the greatest slate-producing region in the world. During World War I, many of the slate firms closed to release men for other essential war work, especially in the Bethlehem Steel plant nearby. Most of the quarries never reopened after the war, as modern synthetic materials such as asphalt composites and plastics proved less expensive and easier to use and required less skilled labor to fabricate and install...