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History Workshop: “Please Do Clean this Town: U.S. West Mining Town Environments and Postwar Urban Development, 1940 – 1970.”

Nichelle Frank, UO History,
Friday, April 27, 10:00-12:00 pm,
McKenzie Hall, Room 375.

This talk focuses on how urban development in US West mining towns from the 1940s to 1970 followed larger national trends in urban planning while grappling with each town’s mining past and present. Race, class, and gender influenced both who was in charge of postwar planning and decisions about which projects to pursue. Postwar projects included housing construction and rehabilitation, museum dedication, street widening, mine drainage tunnels, and open pit mining. Residents and non-residents—sometimes together, sometimes separately—formed groups with planning, mining, tourism, or historic preservation visions. Each group or organization rarely combined forces with others. Still, these groups’ varying projects produced similar results: they reinforced the spirit of mining town history while cleaning up many of its physical impressions. This talk will examine who directed these different projects, how they made their decisions, and what that has meant for the narratives each town tells about its past.