The Tyrone Forge quarry, owned by New Enterprise Stone & Lime, Inc., supplies blacktop, concrete, lime and crushed stone. For us, the quarry is a bit of mixed blessing. Since it’s only a little over a mile away from our houses as the crow flies, we get noise and light pollution from it – though nothing like the folks living right next to it in the villages of Nealmont, Ironville and Tyrone Forge.
But it’s damned convenient having a source of 2RC gravel so close to the bottom of our lane. “Lane” perhaps fails to convey the reality of a mile-and-a-half-long, one-lane road up a northeast-facing, steep mountain ravine. Road maintenance has been a constant preoccupation for us in the 35 years we’ve lived here. There are always trees to be cleared, rocks to be pitched off, ditches to be dug out, cross-grates to be cleaned (picture half-culvert pipes topped with narrow versions of cattle guards), ruts to be raked out, and potholes to be filled. So they know us pretty well at the quarry. It’s a fairly friendly place, and the state Department of Economic and Community Development has listed New Enterprise as one of the 50 best companies of its size class to work for.
Up through the 1970s, the quarry was a small, family-owned operation. But when it was bought up by New Enterprise, it began to expand almost overnight, gobbling up hundreds of acres of valuable farmland. Though limestone quarries don’t produce anywhere near the kind of pollution that other forms of mining do, they can still produce a lot of silt runoff, which can have a devastating effect on aquatic life. And the Tyrone Forge quarry sits right on the banks of the Little Juniata River, a high-quality trout stream. According to FlyFishingConnection.com,
Little Juniata River, located in the Southern region of Central Pennsylvania, is a river that’s making a comeback with help from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and environmental awareness. Throughout the 1960s, raw sewage and pollutants from local mills ran into the Little Juniata from towns above. Cleanup started in the early ’70s and today, the Little Juniata is a large river with large deep pools, moderate water, and prolific hatches supporting the thousands of fingerlings stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission each year. This river is one of the finest in the State of Pennsylvania, running through two counties (Blair and Huntington).
In March, New Enterprise applied for a permit to expand further–
to deepen the quarry, add additional mining and support area, add an additional sediment pond, add a NPDES discharge point, and change the postmining land use on New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company’s property from forest and cropland to unmanaged natural habitat (251.4 acres) and permanent water impoundment (137.4 acres).
So if this is approved, they will become stewards of a small lake and over 250 acres of “natural” habitat.
Meanwhile, the parent company continues its active involvement in the permanent destruction and fragmentation of habitat through highway construction. In 2000, New Enterprise was the successful bidder for the construction of a ten-mile stretch of the newly christened Interstate 99 just north of here. Thus, it became the official executioner of a once-beautiful section of Bald Eagle Mountain – the very same ridge we live on – tearing a gash out of its wooded flank that in some places reaches all the way to the ridge crest. The quarry roars through the night to supply the stone and concrete for former Congressman Elmer Greinert “Bud” Shuster’s “Highway to Nowhere.” By sheer coincidence, New Enterprise was always a heavy contributor to Shuster’s campaign chest. (It has continued that pattern with Bud’s son and dynastic successor, Bill Shuster. In the current election cycle, Son of Bud is the second-largest recipient of campaign donations from the building materials industry in the U.S. Congress.)
Bud Shuster was no stranger to such amazing coincidences during his tenure in power. His highway-building zeal found its fullest expression in his chairmanship of the powerful Congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, during which time he aided and abetted the most expensive road construction boondoggle in U.S. history, Boston’s Big Dig. If you live in Boston and have learned to appreciate the convenience and fine workmanship of this engineering marvel, you can thank his stalwart supporters at New Enterprise Stone & Lime – and you can thank us, the residents of Plummer’s Hollow, for helping to keep them in business. Have a nice day.