A Montana river, transformed.
The Clark Fork River Superfund site begins in the scarred hills of Butte, Mont., and ends 120 miles downstream behind the century-old Milltown Dam. (Here's a map.) A plug in the river just east of Missoula, the dam traps a thick deposit of contaminated sediments washed down over the years from Butte's copper-mining industry. The cleanup of the Milltown terminus of the Superfund site began quietly on June 1 when dam operators opened the gates and the waters of the reservoir began to drop. When the project is complete, the dam will be gone and $100 million will have been spent to remove the toxic sludge and restore the river system. What does it mean to restore an inhabited landscape? And what happens to the memories that live there? Click here to read a slide-show essay on the Clark Fork River.
Caitlin DeSilvey's work on Milltown is supported by a fellowship from Humanities Montana. She is a lecturer in cultural geography at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England.