Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 8, No.1, 1998. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


In his introduction to Hard Places, Richard Francaviglia admits that "mining landscapes may not be especially pretty to look at." Beauty is in the beholder's eye, and many people would probably agree with the statement; others of us see in these hard places doorways to the past and a better understanding of the present. He goes on to say, "Across the country, mining has left its legacy on the landscape. Mining, in fact, creates its own distinctive topography that may last for thousands of years" (xvii).

Within those statements is the heart of this pioneering study, an analysis of America's mining landscapes. Landscape is defined broadly, as the author explains in his Introduction, a part of the book that must be carefully read. Hard Places successfully addresses three issues: identification of sites; interpretation of processes or forces that shaped the landscape of a mining area; and perception, "what do mining landscapes mean to us as Americans?"