Mining Meccas: The Foundation of the United States

As technological advances occur, as does progression in ability and efficiency of technologically inclined societies. In LeCain’s “Between Heavens and the Earth I think the case study of Butte and how it has been affected by mining serves as a good example of some of the implications associated with technological advances that allowed underground mining to occur. With the advent of machinery that assisted blowing out and digging deeper into the land, many negative repercussions followed and continue to follow. For a short time mining was a mode of growth for America drawing new residents into areas and concentrating wealth, but soon after people would carry on to the next big mining project and leave the land pillaged and towns empty. The example of Butte is a classic tale of richlands exploited by mining through the progress of technology then left behind in disarray for the unfortunate souls who grew roots in the area; LeCain writes “Over the course of nearly a century, miners excavated and extraordinary ten thousand miles of mine tunnels and shafts, leaving behind something more like termite-infested wood than terra firma” (LeCain 35). These are the lands that are left behind by the technology that allows mining to progress, these are the lands that hundreds of thousands of American citizens such as those in Butte live over in wake of mining’s reign.

As stated in the “ Zombie Mines and the (Over)burden of History article, it is clear that many who are well versed in the industry of mining believe there are real solutions to the destruction left behind by mining, that they can be “healed by landscaping and revegetation” (Sandlos, Keeling). While I know little about the magnitude of damage that mining creates, I do believe it is probably possible to clean up these zones even if it takes years to accomplish. However, I think that knowing what we know about the destruction mining causes to the land and to people residing near these sites, it is imperative that we reevaluate mining practices and find alternative materials to those we have thrived by for so long. I think for the time being mining will still be very much apart of industry, but it is important that we begin to address these issues before they occur rather than try to repair the aftermath.

1 thought on “Mining Meccas: The Foundation of the United States”

  1. I enjoyed reading your discussion about this weeks readings on the history of mining and your related opinions to the subject. Furthermore the quote you included by LeCain I think paints a sad truth about how so many of these mining sited are left. I’m sure many of the students in class have seen the Berkley pit and the consequences which it has caused for Butte’s residents. Additionally to me what is equally alarming are the mining sites away from large towns and urban areas such as in southern Utah that are still left with such little clean up and go unrecognized. I also liked how you stressed the importance of reevaluating mining practices which have been in place for so long but would have enjoyed it more if threw out some ideas of how it could change or more specifically which aspects of mining you think need the most attention paid to.

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