Is it worth it?  05.21.13

Is it worth it was sent to SWE and is a great story about what we have and Chris Cline's mine - Is it worth it?

I want to thank all of you who are working to save the beautiful Wisconsin environment. I lived in Cable, Wisconsin for many years and considered Lake Superior and its environs my church.

I was born and spent my early years on the Iron Range north of Duluth. It is, as you well know, the home of open pit iron mining. After my family moved East when I was about 10 years old we still continued to go up almost every summer to visit relatives.

Even as a youngster traveling up through Wisconsin I was struck by the incredible difference in the scenery of the two states. And the difference became even more stark once we left Duluth. The view out the car window was dismal compared to the lush green of the Wisconsin we had left.  And when we came to Virginia it looked like a denuded moonscape. I guess to a lot of people it was impressive -- vast open pit mines almost as deep as the Grand Canyon, providing the jobs that supported the little town at their edge. Locals thought it was great. I think only visitors thought it was something else. The town was proud of its mines and people could take tours.

This was the 40s and 50s. By the 60s, however, things began to change. The prime iron ore ran out and the town of Virginia died with it. A process to mine the lower grade taconite was developed but it wasn't and hasn't been enough. Once called the Queen of the Arrowhead (because it is located on the strip of Eastern Minnesota that looks like one) it is no more. The young people all fly the coop if only to go as far south as Duluth. There are a lot of boarded up businesses. The open pits have been filled with water now but no one is fooled into thinking these are some of the 10,000 lakes for which Minnesota is famous. I find the town very depressing as my mind flashes back to the summer vacations of my youth when Virginia was alive and well.

In the scheme of things Virginia's days of glory were brief and what it is left with is a damaged denuded landscape that may never be restored.

I strongly suggest that anyone promoting open pit mining visit the Iron Range before coming to a decision. And ask yourself: Is it worth it?