Readers of Green City Savior have asked: What events actually happened? A lot of them. I drew upon many historical situations or locations since the novel is set in a real place. Readers should remember, however, that this is ultimately a work of fiction. There were times when I chose to relocate a place to suit my purposes, or insert my fictional characters into an event at which they obviously weren’t present in real life. Below are just a few references. I’ll add more over time.
● The Honeymoon Bridge: Like many residents of that difficult time in history, it really did get swept off its footings in 1938. You can see pictures of it below, and more at http://www.niagarafrontier.com/tashapageone.html. There's also great footage at this site (scroll down to the second bridge collapse): http://io9.com/historic-bridge-disasters-caught-on-film-1441224408.
● Niagara Falls has long supported industries. This circa 1900 picture was taken from the Canadian side of the Niagara River. These mills and factories are long gone from this section.
This picture was taken in 2013 as I drove around the city:
● Niagara County’s involvement in the war effort: Niagara Falls was instrumental in the war effort. Many of its heavy industries converted their facilities to handle some step in the uranium refining process.
Little Boy explodes over Hiroshima, Japan, 6 August 1945 (left);
Fat Man explodes over Nagasaki, Japan, 9 August 1945 (right).
According to the CDC’s website, in 1943 and 1944 the Carborundum Company at its Niagara Falls location was “engaged in various phases of Manhattan Engineer District (MED) programs to determine suitable methods for engineering and shaping uranium rods. This work also involved the forming, coating, and canning of uranium rods for the MED pile.” Also, from 1959 through 1967, the company “used powder fabrication techniques to manufacture uranium, plutonium, and carbide pellets for an AEC research program. The Hanford facility supplied Carborundum with materials during that period.”
In 1942, the Electro Metallurgical Company (ElectroMet), a subsidiary of Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation, “was contracted by the Manhattan Engineer District to design, engineer, construct, and operate a metal reduction plant.
Developing the technology to produce pure uranium metal was a priority for
the Manhattan Project. ElectroMet received uranium tetrafluoride from Union Carbide's Linde Air Products Division. ElectroMet reacted the uranium tetrafluoride with magnesium in induction furnaces to produce uranium metal. Once the metal was produced, it was cast into ingots, and the ingots were then shipped out for testing or for rolling. The leftover process residues were sent to other sites for uranium recovery, storage, or disposal. ElectroMet was also in charge of recasting metal, research and development in low- and high-grade uranium ores, and supplying calcium metal to Los Alamos and other laboratories.”
Titanium Alloys Manufacturing (TAM), according to the CDC, processed uranium-contaminated scrap associated with the nuclear weapons production
process in 1955-1956.
● The uncovered silo at the Manhattan Project site: In 1944, a parcel in Niagara County (the Lake Ontario Ordinance Works Site, or LOOW) was reassigned to the Manhattan Engineer District (MED) for use as a storage location for radioactive residues and other radioactive material that resulted from developing the atomic bomb. Some of that waste was stored in a silo on site at the LOOW. It was left uncovered and leaked Radon until the 1980s. You can see the silo in the picture below.
General Leslie Groves
● Radioactive Deer. Although the fictional story relocates them, deer found in Lewiston, in Niagara County, about seven miles from the Falls, were radioactive and there really was a mutant deer study for that parcel of land. And the deer really did have radioactive isotopes in their bodies. According to Jeffrey Hastings, a Michigan professor and writer, who interviewed nuclear physicist Dr. Marvin Resnikoff from the University of Buffalo about his 1981 study, 15 abnormalities had been found in 20 deer captured near the site. Initial autopsies showed high amounts of radium and cesium in four deer livers.
Here’s a link to a pre-study article about the deer in that section of Niagara County having “among the highest [radiation levels] he had ever seen.” The article appeared in the Observer-Reporter, Washington, PA, on Tuesday, December 23, 1980.
● Hortonsphere Used for An Experimental Nuclear Use: It appears that a large containment pressure vessel, known an Hortonsphere, was located on the same site in Niagara County. The picture at the top of this section shows the metallic sphere behind the silo. The Hortonsphere disappeared at some point, and some believe that recent electric imaging scans show it to be buried in Niagara County.
● Mount Vesuvius: This really is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It’s hard to imagine, given this breathtaking and peaceful picture.
Here’s a picture of modern-day Torre Annunziata, where historically pasta-making dominated its industry:
Jean Lussier really did go on to work in a chemical factory in Niagara Falls.
● General Leslie Groves in Niagara Falls: The celebratory meeting attended by General Leslie Groves (number 23) and area industrial leaders may have actually took place sometime after the war:
● Bloody Run: Sadly, this environmental disaster is real.
● Love Canal. Love Canal was one of the most astonishing environmental tragedies in American History. It spawned an environmental movement, shaped the law as we know it, and woke up the world to the dangers of toxic waste. You can read resident/activist Lois Gibb’s story here.
My own immigration story began with my great-grandparents, Camillo Desiderio and Giustina Paolini. They emigrated from Moscufo, Province of Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy. Within days of Giustina’s arrival, they were married on May 4, 1920 at the San Raphael Society for Italian Immigration in New York.