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Tennessee’s Great Copper Basin by Harriet Frye

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            Author Harriet Frye was born and raised in Ducktown in the heart of Southeastern Tennessee’s Copper Basin and currently serves as secretary of the Ducktown Basin Museum Board of Directors. Unless readers realized it from other sources, they would never guess from this book that over 50 square miles – 32,000 acres - were completely denuded of all vegetation by the copper smelting process in the Copper Basin in one of history’s worst environmental disasters. This book only refers to this reality in three passages. “ In 1889 . . . sulfur fumes from years of open smelting had already turned the surrounding hills into an eroded landscape of red clay” (14). “The process produced a dense sulfurous smoke that soon destroyed the surrounding vegetation” (21). “In the postcard image below . . . the once-barren landscape is punctuated with trees. . . “(75). Much has been written about the environmental devastation and disastrous health impacts here, and some of the photos do show denuded hillsides, but the captions and the four entries in the Bibliography do not highlight this dimension of the area’s heritage.

Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Press, 2017. 127 pages with a bibliography and photos on practically every page. Trade paperback