Saturday, July 6, 2013

Life in the iron range.



The daily paper here is called The Mining Journal.

To say that mining made the UP is not an exaggeration. Mines made the shipping industry a necessity and loaded up many a ship that sunk on Lake Superior. A new company has announced the opening of a new mine to bring copper and nickel to market. This is good news, I guess, but it will only provide about 150 jobs. Meanwhile, another iron mine will close next year.

Here in Marquette, things are looking good. There are half-million dollar condos by the water, the restaurants are full and, by all appearances, the recession that batters the lower part of the state is not much of a factor in this college town, in this county where 26% of the UP's population lives.

But tonite we drove to Ishpeming. Just 10 miles away it is a different story. The main street is deserted, except for one wavering pot bellied guy in front of a bar. Most store fronts are empty. There are no coffee shops or cafes. The homes all seem in desperate need of basic maintenance and the buildings of the closed mines cast their shadow across the town. 

As we headed down a side street, we slowed for three young people crossing the street, their gaunt frames seemingly oblivious to us, till one young man, his face pocked with huge sores, looked up with eyes that didn't seem to focus.

The mines come. The mines go. The despair continues. 

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