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Hard Places

Reading the Landscape of America's Historic Mining Districts

Richard V. Francaviglia

Publication Year: 1997

Working with the premise that there are much meaning and value in the "repelling beauty" of mining landscapes, Richard Francaviglia identifies the visual clues that indicate an area has been mined and tells us how to read them, showing the interconnections among all of America's major mining districts. With a style as bold as the landscape he reads and with photographs to match, he interprets the major forces that have shaped the architecture, design, and topography of mining areas. Covering many different types of mining and mining locations, he concludes that mining landscapes have come to symbolize the turmoil between what our society elects to view as two opposing forces: culture and nature.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Many kind people generously provided material and information, and without them this book could not have been written. The list includes miners and mining engineers, professors, mining museum administrators, historic preservationists, staff members of government agencies, and local historians, among them Steve Gordon, Ray Luce, Jeff Brown, Franco Ruffini, Mary Anne...

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pp. ix-xvi

In this fascinating excavation of America's mining landscapes as cultural and historical resources, Richard Francaviglia shows us how to read the massive physical evidence that mineral extraction has left all across the land. More than anything else, his book reveals the order in the disorderly landscapes of Hibbing or Bisbee, the coal towns of Pennsylvania or the gold towns of California. These are...

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pp. xvii-xx

Across the country, mining has left its legacy on the landscape. Wherever miners worked and ores were processed, one can see the results of their labor: mining communities huddle amid barren piles of waste rock, and mountains of tailings and slag are left in the wake of historic milling and smelting activity. Even places that were mined a century ago often show the results today, whether or not many of ...

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Chapter One: Reading the Landscape

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pp. 1-62

By the time these words were written in 1869, mining had transformed landscapes from Georgia to California. Its distinctive visual signature was usually described by Victorian era travelers and writers as a necessary outcome of civilization. In the next half century, the impact of mining would become even more profound, and the interpretation of its landscapes more polarized: mining country...

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Chapter Two: Interpreting the Landscape

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pp. 63-168

We know that mining districts have a distinctive look. Although no two mining districts are identical, the site, layout, and architecture may be similar enough from place to place to imply interconnections. The head frames and ore dumps we see in virtually all mining landscapes are not random features; they tell us a great deal about an aggressive system of winning metals and materials...

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Chapter Three: Perceiving the Landscape

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pp. 169-216

Although America is littered with thousands of ghost town sites, many of which are associated with mining activity, a surprising number of our former mining towns have survived despite the closing of their mines. Their survival, and their popularity, surprises the cynics. Like the "Unsinkable Molly Brown," that feisty Colorado mining matron who caught the popular imagination with her resolve...


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pp. 217-224


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pp. 225-232


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pp. 233-237

E-ISBN-13: 9781587290701

Page Count: 237
Illustrations: 60 photos, 5 drawings, 14 maps
Publication Year: 1997

OCLC Number: 610467062
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hard Places

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Subject Headings

  • Mines and mineral resources -- United States -- History.
  • Human ecology -- United States -- History.
  • Mineral industries -- Environmental aspects -- United States -- History.
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