Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When rivers catch on fire

On Wednesday at Lakeside, John Hartig told us about rivers that catch on fire--the Cuyahoga, Buffalo, Rouge and Chicago. The Chicago River caught on fire so often it was a tourist attraction in the 19th century. The only one I'd heard about was the Cuyahoga since it happened in 1969. But what surprised me was he said there were no photos of this fire--it was not considered unusual at the time, and the photos usually shown to illustrate it are from a fire in the 1950s. Can you imagine that happening today--there'd be so many phone photos and videos of it there would be no problem documenting it.

It is wonderful to see the recovery of these 4 rivers, and learn about the people, sometimes just one, who stepped up to save them. However, as lovely as the wetlands, parks, birds and fishing areas are that have replaced the factories, they will never create the jobs and middle class wealth that the much maligned industrial era did.

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