Monday, May 3, 2010

A new gold rush in rural Montana?

Read Kirk Johnson's report, "As a Near Ghost Town in Montana Watches, a Gold Mine is Reborn." The dateline is Marysville, not even a Census Designated Place, though it isn't far from Helena, which is also in Lewis & Clark County, one of the state's few metropolitan counties. Canadian investors bought up the old Drumlummon mine in Marysville a few years ago, and now they have discovered a vein of gold they say may be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Oldtimers and newcomers alike have mixed feelings about this turn of events. The following excerpts sum up some of their thoughts and provides a vignette of this town of about 70 residents, where the streets were never paved, though its population was about 5,000 during its late 1800s gold rush:
To many people in the new West, especially environmentalists, hard-rock metal mines — abandoned by the tens of thousands and in many cases leaking water laced with heavy metals leached from the rock — have become symbols not of gold-rush nostalgia but rapacious disregard for the land.

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Marysville does get a tourist trade in summer — mostly ghost-town lovers, snapping photos of the sagging, derelict past. But on a spring afternoon, a moving vehicle is a rare sight, and the wooded hills hug in tight and green and fragrant with pine, compounding the sense of a place removed from the ordinary flow of time.

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