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24 September 2005 @ 06:13 pm
Adventures in sludgespotting  
Toxic wasteland...

It's only toxic wasteland...

Dan, Dan's friend John, and I went to Panther Valley today to drive around in Dan's truck of awesomeness and look at the remnants of strip mining. This area is Pennsylvania state forest, so you can drive around as much as you want. It was a hell of a lot of fun. Both of those guys are quite amusing to talk to, and it's quite interesting to see a strip mine for yourself. You're driving along a lumpy gravel road in what appears to be garden-variety woods, and then every now and then you see some weird fugly sign of industrial waste. I took a bunch of pictures that I will put up later. For now, I'll say that we came across the following:

A bed of cracked black and orange sludge. The sludge near the edges had the consistency of soap. Near the middle, it was like pudding. We threw rocks in and watched it go splat.

Mountain Dew Lake. Seriously...the water is neon green and there's fuzzy orange stuff growing on the rocks at the bottom.

Shallow, clear streams full of red-orange rocks.

Nature's skate park - a lumpy, hilly area made of some sort of dense shale pile that looks like concrete and is pretty solid but scrapes away when you paw at it with your foot. Strangely bright green trees are scattered throughout.

A truck full of other people going to look around. The driver had mined in this area years ago and wanted to show his family where he worked.

An ancient wooden bridge. I was afraid to step on it because Dan trod on a trestle and it sank a bit, but Dan and John walked out a ways.

All in all, the place is just surreal. Some of the more polluted areas (like Mountain Dew Lake) smell funny. There are very, very few signs of non-plant life. You'll see occasional bugs and maybe a hawk, but the forest is much more quiet than it should be. It was a perfect day to go, too...overcast and calm and a bit nippy. And we didn't even get to see all of the bizarreness Panther has to offer. I'd definitely go back.
 
 
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icarus | cial: joker >3funkicarus on September 24th, 2005 10:25 pm (UTC)
you must post pics. this sounds too awesome.
Victoria Maevesyncopated_time on September 24th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
Ooo, what state forest is that a part of? I've never heard of Panther Valley before. I'd like to add it to my list of places to go photo-hunting.
The Heavy Metal Matador: South Park - Happyrydain on September 25th, 2005 01:05 am (UTC)
Panther is part of the Sproul State Forest not too far from Bellefonte. You take 144 through Milesburg to Devil's Elbow Road, and the roads to the weird stuff branch off from there.

Be aware that this is a challenging excursion. Devil's Elbow Road was pretty crappy and the roads in Panther themselves require a vehicle with excellent offroad capabilities. You also need to keep track of where you're going. I've seen maps of the state forest but nothing showing the roads within Panther in detail. Luckily Dan's truck pwns and he knew exactly where he was going, so that was all taken care of. Take water, a spare tire or patch kit, food, and a cell phone just in case.

I notice that your location is sort of close to the Allentown area. There are strip mines and other fun industrial leftovers there, too. Randy's seen them, which is why he didn't have any interest in getting up early on a weekend to tag along with us. There might be a location nearby that's easier to travel through. I was slightly disappointed that everything I described was something he'd already come across in some form.
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The Heavy Metal Matador: South Park - Happyrydain on September 25th, 2005 10:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah...strip mining isn't exactly environmentally friendly. That particular mine closed down about 20 years ago, and from what I understand, there are some attempts being made to reclaim the land. Some of the pits of sludge or oddly colored water that Dan and John remembered aren't there any more. The sludge basin we chucked rocks into was next to a dried-up basin that used to contain liquid of some sort.
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zerielzeriel on September 26th, 2005 04:10 am (UTC)
Fortunately, newer environmental regulations have made more recent strip-mine closings much more environmentally awesome--there are many, many former mines near my birthplace that are indistinguishable from the surrounding woodlands, and in fact one company has made the interesting transition from coal-mining enterprise to owning a string of golf courses built on former strip mines--easy to shape the ground as you please when you're legally required to bring it back up to natural, why not put a new facility there when the mine runs out, eh?