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Water geeks know that Waukesha, WI has been trying to obtain water from Lake Michigan, against the prohibition in the Great Lakes Compact preventing distribution of water beyond the watershed. This breezy environmental history says that water has been at the center of Waukesha’s history since the beginning.
When he was nine, my brother Steven enlisted the rest of the kids in our isolated neighborhood to help him build earthworks in the empty field behind our house. Not a fort—we already lived in one of those—but a replica of Little Round Top, a crucial site on the Gettysburg battlefield.
National Parks are often referred to as “America’s best idea.” Recent scholarship and well-publicized difficulties within the agency have shown that, perhaps inevitably, the National Park Service and the extensive system that it manages, has taken on important characteristics of the society of which it is a part, for better or worse.
Almost everyone has some experience with open space and with “heritage,” perhaps through visiting historic sites, or through family trips to that place “where Grandma always used to go as a girl.” Water, of course, is intimately connected to all of our most cherished open spaces and heritage places, whether the connection is evident in the landscape or not.
Place always exists in a particular time, and for Northeastern Pennsylvania that time is anthracite coal time. Because coal mining has decreased significantly over the past 50 years, the result has been a major outmigration of the area’s traditional population… However, the legacy of coal still runs deep as reminders of coal heritage are scattered throughout the 484 square miles that make up the anthracite coal region.
In physical space, where is the Mississippi River? This may seem like a relatively straightforward question, but from the perspective of a historian, I think a different question—What is the Mississippi River?—needs to be answered first.
In February 1872, Horace W. Cleveland trudged through the snowy streets of Minneapolis to the Pence Opera House. His goal was to deliver a speech convincing the city planners, wealthy landowners, and businessmen to work quickly on protecting and preserving the scenic beauty found throughout the growing cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Angie Tillges is the Great River Passage Fellow. She is a public space artist and educator who is skilled at working with public institutions and community organizations on projects of social, artistic, and ecological importance. She leads projects that provide people the opportunity to make personal and lasting connections with public spaces in their communities.
Within its relatively short length (194 miles) from its source to Lake Superior, and the truncated time frame of 300 years since European contact and colonization, the St. Louis River is emblematic of historical patterns of use and exploitation in the region, as well as recovery attempts, for rivers across the state of Minnesota and indeed much of the country.