It's The Pits

     We all know how old habits and ways are hard to break. Our language is continually developing new words and ways of saying things, but old phrases continue to lead to misunderstanding and inaccurate information. Like a "broken record " we repeat these phrases just as if everyone knows what we mean. What percentage of our population do you suppose really knows what a "broken record" actually implies?

     All over our state (and the world), people have removed gravel and sand from the earth to use for construction . These holes from which it was shoveled were called "pits" because the "vein" of material would "run out" and another hole would have to be explored.

     Since my childhood I remember that virtually every farm in Whitefield had a gravel pit - a place where you could get mineral material . Some places had better material than others and "good pit" would sometimes be 50 feet across and 10-15 feet deep. These gravel holes were starting to outgrow their "pit" rating. Now soil would tumble into the hole. Here ground water would flood the "pit". Things were changing. Farmers closed and reclaimed their pits for use as pasture. They brought their gravel and sand from the "Bigger Pits" where the land owner had sold his mineral rights and land to large companies from outside of the town who specialized in mineral extraction.

     My dictionary says that a  "pit" is a deep hole like a sink hole or mine shaft. It has a definite size implication restricted to depth.

     The Lincoln County News reported on Sept 27th that the Crooker gravel operation in South Whitefield was expanding their operation from "56-acre permitted gravel pit by 101 acres" !!!
     Would you call an area the size of over 100 football fields a "pit" ?

     Here in Whitefield, Williams Construction and Crooker Gravel Company have what needs to be referred to as  "LARGE STRIP MINES " .

     These operations are scraping the topsoil and removing the minerals EXACTLY as the coal strip mines of Ohio and West Virginia do.

     My argument is that by using innocuous words like "pit" to describe something that more closely resembles a "canyon" puts an inaccurate and misleading spin to what ever the discussion is about. 

     From tax assessment to environmental and aesthetic matters,  accuracy of description is paramount.

     I move that we all  use the term "strip mine" when we talk about mining that approaches 5 MILLION square feet in area!

David Chase

return to front page