Leadville: The Struggle To Revive An American Town

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Island Press, Nov 5, 2004 - History - 312 pages
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Leadville explores the clash between a small mining town high up in Colorado's Rocky Mountains and the federal government, determined to clean up the toxic mess left from a hundred years of mining.

Set amidst the historic streets and buildings reflecting the town's past glory as one of the richest nineteenth-century mining districts in North America-a history populated with characters such as Meyer Guggenheim and the Titanic's unsinkable Molly Brown--the Leadville Gillian Klucas portrays became a battleground in the 1980s and 1990s.

The tale begins one morning in 1983 when a flood of toxic mining waste washes past the Smith Ranch and down the headwaters of the Arkansas River. The event presages a Superfund cleanup campaign that draws national attention, sparks local protest, and triggers the intervention of an antagonistic state representative.

Just as the Environmental Protection Agency comes to town telling the community that their celebrated mining heritage is a public health and environmental hazard, the mining industry abandons Leadville, throwing the town into economic chaos. Klucas unveils the events that resulted from this volatile formula and the remarkable turnaround that followed.

The author's well-grounded perspective, in-depth interviews with participants, and keen insights make Leadville a portrait vivid with characterizations that could fill the pages of a novel. But because this is a real story with real people, It shows the reality behind the Western mystique and explores the challenges to local autonomy and community identity brought by a struggle for economic survival, unyielding government policy, and long-term health consequences induced by extractive-industry practices.
 

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LEADVILLE: The Struggle to Revive an American Town

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Magazine journalist Klucas debuts with a patiently detailed unfolding of the environmental missteps that have marked the entire history of Leadville, Colorado.The town sits atop an impressive array of ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
1 Living Downstream
5
2 Boom Years
14
3 The Fortunes of ASARCO
26
4 The Shutdown
41
5 Overrun by Outsiders
56
6 The Brown Envelope
62
7 Plugging the Yak
81
13 Stray Horse Gulch
167
14 Give and Take
180
15 Saving Oro City
192
16 The Hydrologic Center of the Earth
207
17 Kids First
218
18 Docs Meadows
231
19 Appalachia of the West
243
20 Wedding Cakes and Merlot Ponds
257

8 The Lead in Leadville
91
9 Stall Stall Stall
113
10 Beyond Denial
127
11 A New Era
145
12 Moving Yellow Iron
154
Epilogue
277
Acknowledgments
287
A Note on Sources
289
Index
293
Copyright

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About the author (2004)


Gillian Klucas, a talented journalist who has written for High Country News, On Earth, Preservation, and other magazines, became so intrigued by Leadville's multifaceted story that she moved there. This is her first book.


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