Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The village of Webster before steel killed its dreams
WEBSTER, Pa. – Few people in my hometown of Webster, Pa., could relate to stories told by local old timers about their memories of the village when it was beautiful before America's Industrial Revolution turned it into an environmental disaster zone.
Well the photograph, above, recently discovered at the nearby Donora Historical Society has finally vindicated those folks who remembered the small southwestern Pennsylvania village along the Monongahela River in its heyday. Their memories were drawn from an era predating the strength of US Steel, which, in 1901, expanded a sprawling steel mill and later built zinc smelters across the Mon in Donora, creating pollution that killed most of the vegetation in Webster and contributed to the infamous smog of 1948.
The photo was taken when residents of the village had planted lush gardens behind clean picket fences, as well as a new Presbyterian church next to a Victorian apartment building. They had big dreams and houses by the river where their children could walk to its shores for a swim. Tree shade was abundant.
Click here to view a larger version of the photo. Click here to read a story written in 1908 by a Webster woman about the history of the town.
(Allow me a day or two to take a photo from a similar vantage point of how things look here today)