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Mass Destruction

The Men and Giant Mines That Wired America and Scarred the Planet

Timothy J. LeCain

Publication Year: 2009

Mass Destruction is the compelling story of Daniel Jackling and the development of open-pit hard rock mining, its role in the wiring of an electrified America, and its devastating environmental effects. This new method of mining, complimenting the mass production and mass consumption that came to define the "American way of life"in the early twentieth century, promised infinite supplies of copper and other natural resources. LeCain deftly analyzes how open-pit mining continues to adversely effect the environment and how, as the world begins to rival American resource consumption, no viable alternatives have emerged.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xii

When I was a boy growing up in western Montana, my parents took me and my four brothers to see the Berkeley Pit in Butte, back when it was still a pit and not a toxic lake. I can still recall the mixture of awe, excitement, and unease I felt at seeing that shattered industrial landscape, one so different and seemingly distant from our home in the green and pleasant Missoula Valley.

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One: In the Lands of Mass Destruction

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pp. 1-23

The wooded hills and elegant homes of Woodside, California, at first might seem an odd place to begin a book about mass destruction technology. On a warm early summer’s evening in this fashionable community south of San Francisco, the air smells of fresh-cut grass and eucalyptus. A light breeze carries a hint of salt air from the ocean ten miles to the west and stirs the leaves on the tall coastal oaks that blanket the hills a dense green.

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Two: Between the Heavens and the Earth

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pp. 24-63

The autumn of 1902 in the Deer Lodge Valley was like many in southwestern Montana before and since. The days were mostly dry and warm, the nights chilly and cloudless. Relatively little rain fell to wash the dust off the quiet farming valley, and the hay and other crops grew predictably slower as the daily hours of sunshine grew shorter. This was the typical cycle of autumn, one that the ranchers and farmers had adapted to and learned to ...

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Three: The Stack

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pp. 64-107

The first stop of the specially chartered train that Saturday morning was in Garrison, a tiny farming and ranching community at the far northern end of the Deer Lodge Valley. The train then headed south toward Anaconda, pausing at every small country rail stop along the way to pick up passengers. Everyone rode free that day, courtesy of the Anaconda, or the Amalgamated Copper Mining Company, as it was now called. When the train ...

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Four: The Pit

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pp. 108-171

No one knows precisely when the change began or who began it. The shift in language must have been gradual, though the immense physical transformation itself had occurred with remarkable speed. Regardless, by the early 1930s the big mountain of copper that people had long referred to as “the Hill” no longer seemed to warrant that name. True, the remnants of the old hill of copper still endured along one wall. But it would have been ...

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Five: The Dead Zones

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pp. 172-218

Walk through the older parts of Butte’s Mount Moriah Cemetery, pause now and then to read the names and dates on the gravestones, and it will not be long before a pattern begins to emerge. On a late winter day in March, a brittle crust of snow still hides the yellowed cemetery grass. Deep drifts linger in the shade of the scattered pines where only the tops of the headstones are visible, poking out of their wells of snow like hard gray ...

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Epilogue: From New Delhi to the New West

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pp. 219-230

On a Friday night in Gurgaon, a booming suburb of India’s capital of New Delhi, honking cars crowd the streets and commuter traffic slows to a crawl. Above the busy streets and sidewalks, the brightly lit windows of new air-conditioned malls and office buildings gleam in the gathering darkness, some with twenty-foot-high illuminated advertisements for pricey handbags, clothes, and electronics. One of the shiny modern office ...


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pp. 231-263


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pp. 265-273

E-ISBN-13: 9780813548562
E-ISBN-10: 081354856X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813545295
Print-ISBN-10: 0813545293

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 20 photographs
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 593315818
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mass Destruction

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Subject Headings

  • Copper mines and mining -- Health aspects -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Mining engineering -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Copper industry and trade -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Copper mines and mining -- West (U.S.) -- History.
  • Copper mines and mining -- Environmental aspects -- West (U.S.) -- History.
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