The plants are thriving in a wetland that sprang up after the mine was shuttered in the 1970s.
A vacationer heading to Lake Placid on State Route 3 could be forgiven for barely glancing at a group of dilapidated buildings on the way through Star Lake, New York. Those structures are all that remain of what was once the world’s largest open-pit iron mine.
But hidden in a wooded marsh directly across the street, curious road trippers would find an even more startling deposit: Millions of orchids have been thriving for over 60 years on the blighted industrial waste site.
The colorful flowers are growing atop a wetland that formed at the base of a pile of tailings—crushed rock left over when iron ore is extracted from its surroundings. As part of her research, graduate student Grete Bader tallied up the plants within 20 predefined plots, and her work suggests wildflowers now cover the hundred-acre wetland. Continue Reading →