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Photo from the International Space Station showing Butte and the open-pit mining area east of Butte. Photo: NASA crew of the International Space Station on 2 August 2006.
Fred Quivik inspecting a chunk of slag on a slag pile at the Quincy Smelter, Hancock, Michigan.
Slag canyon of Silver Bow Creek, Butte. Photo: Fredric L. Quivik
Industrial Waste as Cultural Resource: A Retrospective in Industrial Heritage
Upper Gallery, Meyerson Hall
210 South 34th Street, Philadelphia
The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation is pleased to welcome Fredric L. Quivik, an industrial historian, industrial archeologist, and architectural historian living in Houghton, Michigan.
“The production of waste is intrinsic to any metabolic process, and the same is true for industrial processes. People generally are little interested in waste products, however, wanting to focus instead of the finished products, or perhaps the processes themselves. Yet no organism or process can sustain itself without some attention to how wastes will be disposed. Every industrial operation must pay some attention, even if relatively careless, to how its wastes are disposed. Thus, waste-disposal infrastructure and accumulations of wastes are cultural features that help us to understand the some of the meanings of industrial society. This presentation will offer an overview of the concept of ‘industrial waste as cultural resource,’ in the context of the broader field of industrial heritage. Most of my work as an industrial historian has focused on extractive industries; likewise most of my attention to industrial wastes has concerning mining wastes. While waste rock, tailings, slag, and smoke, and their cultural significance, will be at the center of my presentation, I will attend as well to industrial wastes in other contexts, both in the U.S. and abroad, including Germany and the U.K.”
Dr. Quivik recently retired from teaching in Michigan Technological University’s Department of Social Sciences and that department’s graduate program in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology. He continues working as an expert historian in Superfund litigation and related litigation. After completing an MS in Historic Preservation at Columbia University in 1977, he moved to Butte, Montana, where he worked for more thirteen years in various facets of historic preservation, developing a particular interest in historic sites with an industrial or engineering character. In 1990, he returned to graduate school, to complete a PhD in Penn’s Department of History and Sociology of Science. He completed his dissertation, “Smoke and Tailings: An Environmental History of Copper Smelting in Montana, 1880-1930,” in 1998. While researching the dissertation, he began working for the U.S. Department of Justice as an expert witness in U.S. v. ARCO, the Clark Fork Superfund case, concerning the Superfund site that embraces Butte and Anaconda, and is the largest Superfund site in the United States. Since then, he has continued working on Superfund and related environmental cases, and has also completed several documentation projects for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). In January 2010, he began teaching at Michigan Tech, and a year later he became the editor of IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, in which capacity he organized several theme issues, including the 2013 volume on the “Industrial Archeology of Industrial Waste.” Fred retired from teaching at Michigan Tech in 2015, and he continues to work as an expert historian in environmental litigation. Among the trials at which he’s testified for the United States are U.S. v. Asarco, et al, the Bunker Hill Superfund case in Idaho, and U.S. v. BP, the Deepwater Horizon case in New Orleans.