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sean mcdaniel

all i can say is, ain't that america? you don't have to be from a logging town to see the ruins of post-industrial towns like those in oregon on right here in places like greenville, where railroad car production kept the town running and people working for decades. environmentalist might or not might not be the main problem in logging towns, but coffee shops and mountain bike trails aren't the solution.

if i can stray (but not to oakland) another problem is that i really believe that the working class is resigned to life on or near the poverty line. when i was growing up, nearly every father worked in some sort of mill or factory...and they all did what ever they could to send their sons to college to keep them away from the open hearth or production line. call me an elisist pri...sorry, but i think they've given up. today, the holy grail of employment is the night shift manager at get-go...or the head cashier at giant eagle. the value of education seem to be lost on people mentioned in the times article and on many of the working people around here.

Mark Stroup

Have been on the road the past day or two, so haven't had a chance to reply to a very provocative, "But sometimes they are wrong. Dead wrong."

The NY Times says this:

***But by 1990 the last mill had closed, a result of shifting markets and a dwindling supply of logs because of depletion and tighter environmental rules.***

To me that means that tighter environmental rules is just one reason for the decline of lumber jobs. And if timber is anything like coal or steel, the number of people necessary to produce x board feet is probably a tenth of what it was. So you can probably add technology to the list of factors for lower employment in the lumber industry.

Forgive me if I haven't read your book. I'll get to it. Just started Shelby Foote's "Civil War: A Narrative," so it might be a while.

I kind of see your point regarding the arrogance of environmentalists, but I still appreciate their uncompromising vigilance. I grew up in Clarion County. I've seen the strip cut land, the red streams, and the abandoned oil and gas wells.

Just like executives in modern day extractive industries, those drillers and miners never intended to cause such destruction, but they did. The arrogance of environmentalists may have caused some job loss. The jury may be out on that. There is no doubt, though, that extractive industries have treated our commonwealth cheaply.

P.S. I do think that some of our Post-Industrial wastelands could become tourist sites in their own right. One of the highlights of the canoe trip along Warren is seeing the refinery.

Sam M

Well said across the board.

Mark: I agree with you. A lot of timber people want to blame everything on the environmentalists. Which isn't fair. At the same time, the activists very often come across as some sort of optimistic economic development agency. Don't worry, they say. Loggers in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are much better off than they were!

I guess some of them are, depending how you measure such things. Some of those old timber towns from the spotted owl fiasco are doing quite well.

But others aren't. And there are some aggravating factors. First, the spotted owl thing went down in the late 80s and early 90s, immediately prior to one of the most explosive economic booms in American history. Oh, and by the way, where was that economic boom centered? Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

So a lot of these loggers and their families could move to thriving cities and find new work. As much as I like Pittsburgh, it is nothing close to the economic engine that Seattle was in the 1990s. And it won't be anytime soon.

And those old logging towns out west? Most aren't "old logging towns." Some kind of are. But the logging boom really hit there after WWII. And in many cases not until the 70s and 80s. So, culturally, they have been logging towns for maybe a generation or two. Kane, PA, has been a logging town since it was established.

In 1864.

The list goes on and on. In the Pacific Northwest, logging companies were cutting down the last of America's remaining old growth. And (perhaps) endangering wildlife that relied on that old growth.

There hasn't any old growth cut in Pennsylvania for about 80 years. Because it has all been cut. Almost all of the ANF is a second-growth (or third- or fourth-growth) forest. What little virgin trees that are left are already protected.

And what happens if you stop cutting the Allegheny? A lot of really smart people believe that if you just walk away, eliminate cutting and treat it like an old-growth forest, what we'll have is a 513,000 acre fern patch in 100 years. A host of factors, from deer pressure to invasive species, might well make it impossible to recreate the forest that was here when white settlers first arrived.

So not only are the economic questions more complex here, so are the environmental ones.

OK. I better stop there and let you read the book...

Sam M

An addendum: To call Warren "post-industrial" might be to misstate things a bit. That refinery is not only still running, it is expanding at an aggressive clip. It is currently engaged in a $450 million expansionm which includes adding a coker. The coker will allow the refinery to make more and more gasoline that meets tighter environmental standards.

Local environmetalists call this a calamity.

Is it? it certainly adds a lot of ugly looking stiff to the immediate vicinity. And probably some pollution. Although that is debatable.

But if we vote want cars to burn cleaner gas, and we want refining capacity that can keep up with demand well enough to keep prices under control...

The problem, of course, is that Americans want all things. We ant the refinery to be "there." Not here. Only environmental restrictions make it almost impossible to build a new refinery. WOuld you want one in your town?

I don't know. Maybe you would. They pay union wages. And I think the coker is bringing something like 80 new jobs to the refinery.

Complicated stuff, to be sure. But to be clear: Warren isn't post-industrial quite yet.

By the way, ever see the refinery at night?

Seriously, man. Wow. You half suspect to see the ghost of Andrew Carnegie float by on a timber raft.

Mark Stroup


I was trying to address the issue with a broad brush, which is, of course, impossible. But I do think the fate of the ANF should be considered in terms of stewardship, and that I imagine is what the Forest Plan tries to do.

If you're in the business of extracting resources, however, you have few incentives for looking at a 100-year horizon. Perhaps it's the same with environmentalists. Although I'm not sure that the smart people you're talking about could create a model that would convince me that the ANF will turn into a fern patch in 100 years.

Regards wanting a refinery in my town: I'm guessing we do have a refinery here (Sunoco on Butler Street), and I'm not opposed to it. We are implicated in whatever environmental choices we make (choices we make in surrounding areas will affect the ANF), but the ANF is the closest thing to a wilderness that we have. According to a friend, the drilling activity in the ANF is among the most intense in the whole world.

Thank you for pointing out my mis-statement. The refinery in Warren is "industrial" not "post-industrial." I still stand by my point that our interventions into nature are perhaps as fascinating as nature itself (assuming that man-made activities aren't natural).

Thank you, also, for spurring my curiousity regarding this issue. The public comment period on the forest plan will last till August 28: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/allegheny/news/2006/1155099600-1155210810-09-Aug-2006.php

I hope to get up to Warren again soon and see the refinery by night. Maybe I should just check out what's going on in Lawrenceville. I'd use less gas that way.

sean mcdaniel

jim thorpe PA was never a logging town. but it certainly qualifies as post-industrial...and guess what...the NYTimes talks about how recreational activities...mountain biking in particular...are helping to revitalize the town.

check it out here:


the article, however, doesn't take to residents to see how they survived the loss of jobs that probably paid twice as much 25 years ago than the coffee shop pays now — counting what's in the tips jar.

of course, it was a travel piece. so the shiny happy veneer is to be expected.

sean mcdaniel

sam, please excuse me for editing your words to make a point...

"The problem, of course, is that Americans want all things... (they) want cars to burn cleaner gas (and) refining capacity that can keep up with demand well enough to keep prices under control...."

as if all this solves the problem of burning up an infinite supply of oil that keeps getting harder to find all the time, harder to reach and othen ends up in places that are dangerous to work in because of climate, location and politics. even the most optimistic oil guys will tell you that the low hanging fruit is gone...and that supplies really are dwindling.

you may help reduce consumption through your dislike of driving...and i'll do my part by pedaling where and when i can (and that' a lot)...but even environmentally conscious types probably drive much more than they would care to admit.

yeah, americans want it all...even if it means shortchanging their own children and grandchildren. hope i'm not around to see what post-industrial means when the oil really starts coming up in short supply.

the answer remains the same...stop figuring out how to make more gas...and start thinking about how to use less.


I'm starting to have second thoughts about considering the refinery in Warren as industrial and not post-industrial. Industrialism presumes a certain amount of modernism and ascendancy. Along the river banks, you'll see many examples of natural adaptation, and within the refinery you'll see many examples of rust and entropy. Doubt, regret, and consideration are part of the milieu (don't tell me that the locals don't understand that). Smoke from a smokestack used to mean money. Now it means a possible fine from the EPA.

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