Skip to comments.End of Empire: Tough economy closes mining town
Posted on 10/19/2011 6:52:15 AM PDT by Cardhu
When the local mine closed the entire town of Empire, Nevada shut down too (Video by David Botti) Continue reading the main story Altered StatesForeign doctors in rural America Hispanic education in crisis Baseball from Far East Watch Mormon luau in Utah Watch
Some outside observers have been quick to draw apocalyptic lessons from America's recent economic woes. But here in the Black Rock Desert, in remote north-western Nevada, it truly is the end of Empire.
The former company town, built around a gypsum mine and drywall plant, is fenced off and silent. Inhabitants gone, houses empty, plant idle.
A year ago, more than 300 people lived here in a bustling community that boasted two churches, a golf course and swimming pool.
But demand for gypsum-based wallboard had already collapsed with the downturn in the construction industry and the plant, which had been in continuous operation since the 1920s, was no longer viable.
When the United States Gypsum Corporation announced that operations would cease at the end of December 2010, the town's residents were told they had until the end of the school year to move out.
Bit by bit, over the months that followed, Empire died.
Viewed from a nearby hill, Empire still looks like an oasis of green amid the muted colours of sagebrush and the distant "playa", where land-speed records have been set and the annual Burning Man festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors every Labour Day.
But almost nothing is moving behind more than three miles (4.8km) of chain-link fencing that now surrounds the town, the plant and its small desert airstrip.
A handful of USG employees mow the lawns, maintain the houses and keep an eye on the mothballed plant.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
In the meantime, people were getting sick and houses being gutted because of inferior Chinese wallboard....
Blame the collapse in the housing market? or trade policies?
Ten years’ construction more houses than you have families to live in them has consequences.
It isn’t as if people weren’t explaining where all of this was going to go for years on the housing bubble threads.
Company towns come, Company towns go...it has always been thus.
Gotta agree. Look anywhere in West Virginia or SW PA and that scene has repeated itself a thousand times. Just about every village in SW PA was a coal mine or steel mill company town at one time.
Only difference is that around here, when the company left, they abandoned the towns and some residual population stayed behind. I guess Empire, NV is so far out in the boonies, that there is no alternative for everyone but to pack up and go. Also, the company appears to have taken the step to evict them rather than just abandon the site.
I’m guessing also that by continuing some minimal maintenance functions, they can claim that the site is exempt from environmental remediation. Sort of like the strip mines around here. The companies left the dragline on the site and then claimed that the mine isn’t really ‘abandoned’ and so they don’t have to pay for remediation.
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