Thursday, October 13, 2011

It begins. (For real this time.)


Last week, the railroad started demolishing the last of the wooden trestles leading up to the Oredock. No demolition has started on the dock itself just yet, but now that various permits have been approved, it's only a matter of time.

Standing by the barricade on the walking trail.
(Standing by the barricade on the walking trail -
all these pictures were taken on Saturday, October 15, 2011.)

It's been over four years since it was announced that the Oredock's coming down (and five years since they removed the parts of the approach that crossed Main Street and Highway 2), but I don't think the reality's really sunk in yet for most people. There's been some false starts and stays of execution along the way that have delayed the inevitable...with it constantly being pushed off into the future, I guess it started to seem like maybe, just maybe, it would never actually happen. But now, it is.

Peeking through the fence on Water Street.
(Peeking through a fence on Water Street.)

Throughout this drawn-out saga, I've had a lot of conflicting emotions. I still do. I think this has brought out some of the best in Ashland (the rallying of community spirit, the art shows, the shared sense of nostalgia and loss), and some of the worst in Ashland (the negativity, the blame game, the Monday-morning-quarterbacking). I imagine the reactions would be similar in any community facing a similar situation, but sometimes I have a really hard time getting past how negative this place can feel -- or, rather, how the negative voices tend to dominate the conversation. Growing up here, I don't remember feeling like a "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade" sort of person -- moving away to college, and later to Helena, changed something in me, flipped a switch in my brain that made me more optimistic. Or, well, marginally more optimistic, at least.

About as close to the dock as I could get without stepping on a seagull carcass.

It's going to be really hard to watch the Oredock come down. People should be sad -- it's a big deal. But at the same time, thanks to bureaucratic paper-shuffling and some plucky peregrines, we got four extra years with it. Four extra years of pictures, and four extra years of driving into town and seeing it off in the distance...four extra years of walking out on the ice beside it, and four extra 4th of Julys with the fireworks booming off the chutes.



Are four extra years as good as forty extra years? Nope. But it's better than nothing. (See? Marginally more optimistic.)


View from the boathouses.

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