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The Legacy of American Copper Smelting

Industrial Heritage versus Environmental Policy

Bode J. Morin

Publication Year: 2013

In The Legacy of American Copper Smelting, Bode J. Morin examines America’s three premier copper sites: Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, Tennessee’s Copper Basin, and Butte- Anaconda, Montana. Morin focuses on what the copper industry meant to the townspeople working in and around these three major sites while also exploring the smelters’ environmental effects. Each site dealt with pollution management differently, and each site had to balance an EPA-mandated cleanup effort alongside the preservation of a once-proud industry. Morin’s work sheds new light on the EPA’s efforts to utilize Superfund dollars and/or protocols to erase the environmental consequences of copper-smelting while locals and preservationists tried to keep memories of the copper industry alive in what were dying or declining post-industrial towns. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the American history of copper or heritage preservation studies, as well as historians of modern America, industrial technology, and the environment.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xiv

This project was the culmination of the first Michigan Technological University (MTU) dissertation in industrial heritage and archaeology, a unique multidisciplinary program dedicated to exploring and understanding the social, cultural, and physical remains of industrial societies. ...

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pp. xv-xxviii

In its simplest form, this is a heritage study. It examines the debates about which things a community should save, how the final decisions are influenced and negotiated, and what, if anything, should ultimately be remembered about the past. These are not simple or uncontested questions because the significance of past events and historical materials are not universally appreciated. ...

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Chapter 1. The Historic Roots of Copper Production and Smelter Pollution

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pp. 1-14

Copper has been a highly valued commodity in the global economy for eight thousand years. Its use has expanded as its specific properties—ductility, alloy-ability, corrosion-resistance, and conductivity—were successively exploited. Despite its utility, the production of copper consumed significant resources and caused visible and not-so-visible human health threats ...

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Chapter 2. The American System: A Technological Context

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pp. 15-66

The seriously degraded American copper mining and smelting landscapes that required extensive EPA involvement in the late twentieth century resulted from the ever-increasing and nationally significant role that technology played both in smelting copper ores and in escalating demands for the metal. ...

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Chapter 3. Ducktown

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pp. 67-100

The final part of the drive into Ducktown, Tennessee from Chattanooga is rather unremarkable, especially given the striking, thirty-mile climb that follows the Ocoee river gorge up from Cleveland (Tenn.). One would hardly know that this stretch of river was once classified as ecologically dead and not expected to fully recover for decades. ...

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Chapter 4. Montana

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pp. 101-148

Driving west on US 90 fifteen miles from Butte, Montana, travelers get their first glimpse—and it is dramatic and huge. It dominates the skyline, but not in the same way that the Empire State Building towers over New York or the Eiffel Tower stands above Paris. The Washoe Smelter stack sits on a geologic plateau seven hundred feet above the valley, ...

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Chapter 5. Quincy Smelter

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pp. 149-180

The first historic mining-related landscape feature a visitor to the Michigan Copper Country sees and recognizes as industrial is likely a head frame. Most visitors pass dark sand beaches unaware that they’re looking at stamp sands and drive through Michigan Technological University not knowing that it is the twenty-first-century incarnation of the Michigan School of Mines, founded in 1885. ...

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pp. 181-196

Two key factors combined to drive the dramatic technological change in American copper mining and smelting in the nineteenth century. First, copper demand increased at such a rate in the industrial and modern periods that supply lines often required significant modifications to existing technologies to achieve ever-greater output and efficiency. ...

Appendix: Mining District Heritage Model

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pp. 197-206


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pp. 207-238


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pp. 239-266


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pp. 267-274

E-ISBN-13: 9781572339866
E-ISBN-10: 1572339861
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572339507
Print-ISBN-10: 1572339500

Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 849928888
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Legacy of American Copper Smelting

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Copper mines and mining -- Environmental aspects -- United States.
  • Environmental policy -- United States.
  • Copper industry and trade -- Tennessee -- Ducktown -- History.
  • Copper industry and trade -- Montana -- History.
  • Copper industry and trade -- Michigan -- Keweenaw Peninusla -- History.
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