Sunday, January 28, 2007

Something New

If you've got the general appearance of my blog memorized in your mind, you may have noticed there's something different about it today. I added a photograph to the upper right hand side here.

This photo - taken by a good friend of mine from up in Michigan, Jeff Feldmeier, by name - is of the Down River area of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River at a place known as "Miller's Landing."

The West Branch of the Susquehanna originates up around Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania, if I am not mistaken. From there, it meanders across the north-central part of the state down past Curwensville, Clearfield, on to Karthaus and from there, flows on to Lock Haven and beyond till it meets up with the main Susquehanna coming down from the New York-Pennsylvania border. This is not an exact description of the river - just an approximation so please, if you are a purist about geographic information, just accept this as my own description - sort of.

Miller's Landing though is a spot where the Moshannon Creek empties into the West Branch and as you can see - hopefully - from this shot, it is indeed a lovely scene as the river winds through the mountains near here and the two bodies of water converge.

The Moshannon Creek - well, there are two of these. One is named Black Moshannon and the other is referred to as the "Red Moshannon" - mainly because of the acid drainage from old mines and sulfur deposits which turned the water the reddish color over the past century or better. Again, these words are my explanations - not necessarily the exact and technical descriptions.

The tiny little run that flows behind the back lot of my property - Moravian Run - (referred to by residents here in this village simply as the "Sulfur Creek") empties into the Red Moshannon Creek down in what once was a booming little coal mining town from about 1884 until the turn of the century when mining work there began to dwindle out. This former "boom" town -now a ghost town - is called Peale and if you check out the website under my "favorites" listing, you will find a very informative site giving many details, along with old photos and maps of the town as well as the mines that once existed there.

Although I am far from being really knowledgeable about Peale, I do have a big interest in learning more about this village where my great-grandparents settled back in 1884. The village was actually begun by a mass resettlement of many of the immigrant families - primarily coal miners by occupation - who were living in another type community in Lycoming County about 90 miles east of Clearfield County. That town was named McIntyre and it was here that my great-grandparents initially had settled after immigrating here from Sweden in 1880 for my great-grandfather and 1881 for my great-grandmother and their five older children.

Right now, the area surrounding Peale is the focus of a big dispute in this vicinity. A company, based in York, PA (Resource Recovery) wants to put in a huge landfill which would encompass much of the land that was previously Peale. This is a pretty extensive amount of land that would be incompassed into this landfill in a remote, already heavily mined by either old slope mines or strip mines over the year. The conservationists in the region don't want a landfill in there because of various reasons - more destruction of the land, disruption of hunting, possibly of the Black Moshannon fishing stream and how it would impact the entire communities surrounding this by the influx of tractor-trailors hauling garbage in from around the state as well as from nearby states. There is also the rails-to-trails aspect that might be overrun by such a landfill and eliminating then the ability to retrace the trackage that was once a part of a bustling Railroad line - the Beech Creek Railroad. The Peale Tunnel - a railroad tunnel along the hillside known as "Tunnelside" in Peale is also at risk by the landfill being put in there and operating.

All this makes for a lot of dissent in the Clearfield and Centre County region. There is a need for a landfill - for landfills in general, which many do not want to accept as a necessity of life. I am not against putting landfills in remote areas where they can be accomodated safely and with as little destruction of wildlife and forests as possible. In some respects, this location is ideal for this type of industry. Note, I said "in some respects."

But just because this is a remote area, tucked away in the mountains and woods there, doesn't mean it has nothing else of value to offer than to be used up as a landfill.

If this could be done in a manner so as not to destroy the historic aspects of the area - the tunnel, the old railroad line, other aspects to that area that so many have come to love as part of our heritage, then I would say go right ahead and put the landfill in to put some of the land there to a useful purpose again.

What I don't agree with though is the mentality some in this area have adopted over the past 20 years or so though - the "NIMBY" syndrome of "Not in My Backyard." And, especially since many who have joined that faction have also been ones who over the years had no qualms about taking their garbage by the pickup truck loads and just dumping it alongside the old dirt roads, or back into old stripping cuts and such and leaving it open and exposed and saw nothing wrong at all in those actions, now they are often the ones who fight the strongest against a landfill. Many of them also became displaced workers back in the 80's when the coal industry around here began to recede considerably due to the high sulfur content in much of the coal in this region. And, when that happened many of these individuals frequently sported bumper stickers on their cars for years stating "Hungry and out of work? Eat an environmentalist."

Sadly, there is no easy answer to this issue.

It is a fact of life that landfills - the garbage dumps of today which take the place of the old burning dumps of years gone by in many areas, which also offer a better means of disposing of trash than simply carting junk out into the wilderness and dropping it willy-nilly along the back roads or in stripping cuts - are a necessity. Seriously, whether one likes landfills or not, they are very much needed in order for we, as a people, to survive. Some will argue they have nothing against a landfill for use by the local residents ONLY - just don't bring in big city's trash to dispose of it in our community. Well, sad to say, that too is a necessity. Where, in the middle of a metropolis like New York City can a landfill - or "sanitary" type mode of disposal for garbage - be situated?

Much as many would not agree with this analogy but it all goes back to the Bible and a simple question there - "Am I my brother's keeper?" And, perhaps as much as many in this area would not want to have that seem to be "Am I my brother's garbage keeper?" perhaps we are just that.

Society, back when the earliest settlements, now the cities of the nation, were being formed did not know, didn't understand then about disposal of garbage or sewage issues and as those regions developed and grew, no thought was given to what to do with those aspects of living. And as these cities grew, so did the problems from the trash but with no way to dispose of it within their spatial limitations but to take it out to the country and get rid of it.

It is a quandry, no doubt about it. I wish there were an easy solution that would satisfy all factions here. But unless technology develops another method of making trash just evaporate into thin air, unfortunately I think we have to accept that our space has to be used in this manner.

Perhaps we do have to resign ourselves to becoming the trash keeper for our brother man. But if that is the way things have to be, can it be done without destroying the historical aspects of the region?


Gene Bach said...

You're right, everybody wants a place to dump their trash...but not anywhere near THEM! Sad but true. It's amazing how we can cry out for having something as long as it only affect other people and not ourselves.

Smalltown RN said...

We are creators of this, instant that..disposable that...where do we think it is going to go? Wast was never brought to mind so much as when my children were young. I was a cloth diaper mom. I first did my own and then got wise to diaper service. What a god send. Baby food...yup I bought it at first...till i realized that I could make it myself and a 1/4 of the cost...and decrease the waste by 75%. If we all just did one thing about decreasing our waste it would be amazing the difference we could make on the environment. Since I started recycling...I only have one garbage can a week if food waste goes into my compost for the garden, my bottles and cans go to the recycle depot and anything I can burn goes into the fireplace in order to heat my house. The three "R's" Reduce, Reuse Recycle.

Thanks for a great post!

East of Oregon said...

trash is a real problem... nice post and I like the new picture you have . . take care:)