Monday, August 10, 2009

Stuck In The Past

The mills aren't coming back. Neither are the people. Augusta, Maine is beginning to come to terms with both these facts:

In May 2006, a suspicious late-night fire at the mill forced a reckoning: this once-mighty economic engine had become a skeleton of brick, filled with toxic chemicals that posed threats to the community and the river. To echo the writer John McPhee, who years earlier had witnessed the removal of Augusta’s mill-empowering Edwards Dam, it was time again for this city of 20,000 to say farewell to the 19th century, and perhaps to the 20th as well.

The global economy passed by Augusta. Twice. The problem is that the city did too good of a job hanging onto its productive history. Now, the last person out of town will kindly remember to turn out the lights.

What does the future hold for Augusta? Sadly, this story does not portend any hope. Reeling from the loss of industry, this city is still mourning.

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