"The World Is Studded With Artificial Mountains" Discussion Thread

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This is a very interesting topic. There is an artificial landscape feature along Interstate 91 in Hartford CT which is a landfill. Not a slag heap but still very much there. I also note the change of use of the word “reticent” in recent years, which used to mean not talking much, verbally retentive, unwilling to say much, and now seems to mean the same thing as “reluctant.” The author of this article is not the only one using it this way.
I really appreciate this article because so many things that are right in front of our noses go unnoticed or uncommented upon, and still have a strong effect on our sense of space and place. Another topic many people are very much interested in is how roads reshape the landscape, and our experience of it, and how they change over time.

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Don’t forget Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach, VA USA. Mount Trashmore Park :: VBgov.com - City of Virginia Beach

You have some photos of the old slag heaps in northern France that seem rather old. Most have now become leisure attractions, having been turned into artificial ski slopes, courses for mountain biking, and sometimes wild life reserves. And in the flat mining basin these mountains are now the source of much local pride.

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I noticed that Hammond, Indiana my current hometown and had never heard of Bairstow Slag, so I looked it up and found About Us - Lost Marsh Golf Course So it’s pretty nice now.

In Germany, we have the Monte Kaolino:

Monte Kaolino is a sand dune in Hirschau, Bavaria. It consists of 35,000,000 tonnes of sand, a by-product of kaolinite production over the years. The sand dune is now used as a ski resort for sand skiing and sandboarding, in addition to other activities.

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A success story
The Cuyuna Iron Range in central Minnesota USA was mined out decades ago. Open pit mining left mountains of tailings and huge holes where there had been flat prairie. But now the holes are deep manmade lakes, often with abandoned mining equipment. Popular with experienced divers, though not safe for rookies. They are also stocked with trout.

The “Mountains” are now covered with trees and miles of very challenging mountain bike trails. Because most of Minnesota is relatively flat, these trails are very popular with riders from the Minneapolis/St.Paul area, a 2 hour drive to the south. You can always tell when someone’s been “up to The Cuyuna” because their bikes are red with tailings dust.

In winter, trails are groomed for snowshoes, skis and fatbikes. There is also plenty of bird watching year round. All of this tourism is helping in an area where the economy had been going downhill since the mines closed.

Google “Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area” to learn more.


I’m surprised Berlin’s Teufelsberg didn’t make it.

I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario and it was considered a real treat to drive over and watch the slag being dumped.

We called the train - The Ghost Train - as it never made a sound - an all electric train. The only way we knew that a vat was about to be dumped was a clunking noise and a screech from around the vat as it tipped.

The beautiful streams of lava have been depicted on postcards that we often sent to family and friends. Each dump was different - fantastical images appeared in glowing hot red lava. We always rolled the windows down no matter what season of the year - to feel the heat that emanated off the lava.

It was an incredible sight each and every time and will forever remain in my memory of The Ghost Train.

Let’s not forget the uses they put the cooled lava to around Sudbury. Every driveway was paved with the black crushed rock. The chunks were sharp and hurt bare feet terribly but it was tough stuff and showed up everywhere. Along the roadways - railbeds - in gabions.

The slag mountains of Kestrel, Turkey are the site that provided the majority of the tin at the beginning of the Bronze Age. The mine also called Goltepe excavated around 1994 solved the ancient mystery of where all the tin came from. Afghanistan is the nearest location of such massive deposits and it had long been assumed that it was imported from there. Mining began around 2,700 BC and by the time it ended in 1,800 BC there were more than two miles of tunnels bored into the mountain. The piles of slag became minor mountains in their own right with people constructing dwellings and pottery factories within it and from it. It’s in the Taurus Mountains and has been declared a World Heritage Site. Here are some photos of its various phases up to modern times.

This scale model of disputed China-India mountainous border regions, set up for Chinese military use as seen in Google Earth Imagery is really interesting if you haven’t seen it before.

The link to this site is : Aksai Chin Terrain Scale Model in Huangyangtan, China (Google Maps)

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Just a quick note to say that Salvation Mountain is still alive and well… The article made it sound as if it has disappeared somehow.Salvation Mountain

Apple Mountain, a small-scale ski resort near Midland, Michigan, was built from the soil dug to create drainage ditches in the flat, previously swampy farmland of the area. There are still apple orchards nearby, although most of the farms raise sugar beets and navy beans.

There are trash mountains all over Florida. What do we do with these?

Start mining them. There are tons of metal and other materials that can be profitably recycled or repurposed. Our Filipino friends have provided the methods and inspiration as many of them have been forced to live on the huge trash dumps of the Philippines. Hopefully Floridians will not be reduced to the sad state of the Filipinos and have to use the trash dumps as a prime resource. It would however go a long way in mitigating the mess we’ve made in our environment due to our relatively high standard of living encouraging excessive waste.

Squirrel Hill is not the name of the slag heap in Pittsburgh! It’s the beautiful historical neighborhood that the slag heap abuts. I live in Squirrel Hill just above the slag heap. As you note in the article, it has now been repurposed as the neighborhood Summerset, with the slag covered with yards-deep topsoil (although some still wonder if the toxins below are seeping through).

The 1971 the Canada Winter Games were held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a prairie province (read FLAT). Alpine skiing events are the centerpiece of the games, but there were no ski hills in Saskatchewan, so they built one…Blackstrap Mountain: “The hill was built in 1970 by the Canadian government for the 1971 Canada Winter Games at a height of 2,045 feet above sea level. The mountain is built with soil excavated from the escarpment behind the “mountain”. The theme for the Saskatoon bid for the 1971 Canada Games was “Going to build a mountain” in honour of the construction of the hill.” As a child at that time, this fascinated me!