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Hughes Bore Hole Statistics
Flow: 800-3,500 gpm 
Acidity: 2.8-3.5 pH 
Pittsburgh to Harrisburg Greenway under development 
AMD&ART site will be part of a larger greenway 
Large, challenging treatment situation will allow for innovation

Borough of Portage Statistics
Population: 3,105 
Per Capita Income: $9,446 
Poverty Rate for Families with Children: 75.3% 
People over 25 with a College Degree: 12.5%

Portage Township Statistics
Population: 4,089 
Per Capita Income: $9,340 
Poverty Rate for Families with Children: 82.1% 
People over 25 with a College Degree: 9.7%

Imagine walking through a verdant green hemlock forest, when suddenly you encounter a stunning red-spectrum world of seeming total devastation. For hundreds of feet in any direction is a watery sea of orange muck and dead trees laced by streams of chartreuse, green, and yellow. Visually arresting, like the Mud Pots at Yellowstone, the Hughes Bore Hole discharge is a massive intrusion into the natural world. On the average, 1,500 gallons of AMD flows every minute from the earth, causing nature to immediately react in awesome and incredibly beautiful ways.

Nearly eight percent (8%) of the total AMD pollution load into the Little Conemaugh River spews from the Hughes Bore Hole. Drilled during the 1920's to remove water from the hundreds of miles of interconnected coal mines, and capped during the 1950's, the bore hole blew out in the 1970's. Ever since, an excess of 8,000 pounds of dissolved metals-four tons a day-has gushed across the landscape, blanketing the earth with crusty and oozing Yellow Boy (iron precipitate) and drowning the surrounding trees before forming a channel that carries the steady flow of AMD half a mile to the Little Conemaugh.

AMD&ART hopes to leave this visually fascinating and intellectually rich phenomenon, with its vibrant colors and living science, essentially untouched, as a perpetual yet ever-changing exhibit, traversed by low boardwalks that mirror the pattern of the abandoned mine tunnels hundreds of feet below. The Hughes project brings together a wide range of partners to preserve and interpret this unusual place while at the same time designing a remediation system able to treat this discharge. Passive Remediation for large flows like the Hughes Bore Hole is still new science. Currently, AMD&ART is working with scientific experts to develop the best approach for passively treating large discharges.

This complex site also creates a powerful opportunity for education on many levels. The proximity and visibility of both the consequences of AMD pollution and its remediation, as well as the visual impact of the site, place significant science content in a novel, dramatic context. As remediation and environmental recovery take place at Hughes, AMD&ART allows for the possibility of long-term monitoring in this dynamic environment. On-site, this could serve school groups, scientists from other remediation projects, and visitors on the Mainline Trail. For individuals outside the region, this learning opportunity will be accessible on the Internet.

Pennsylvania is looking beyond its extractive industrial past to a thriving recreation industry, grounded in its aquatic and trail resources. Hughes' stunning visual texture and interpretive importance will make the site an asset to this industry. We are working with trail development agencies and communities on either side of the Hughes Bore Hole to route the proposed regional Mainline Trail into the Bore Hole site. The Mainline Trail is also a part of the larger Pittsburgh-to-Harrisburg Greenway, Pennsylvania's Millennium Legacy Trail. Soon, the Mainline will mirror the success of other regional trails such as the Ghost Town Trail, bringing dollars to the economies of local towns and tens of thousands of visitors to the Hughes Bore Hole annually.

 

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AMD&ART
2001