I began this article with a lengthy description of satellite sleuthing—i.e. using film, contemporary photos, and newspapers to locate history by satellite. Then I reread it. Even I got bored. Sigh. Like an Illinois politician once said, “I could write shorter sermons, but once I start I get too lazy to stop.”
I have split this article into two sections; NOT to squeeze every last bit of ad juice I can, but because these satellite photos load slowly, especially if you’re living in rural Indiana.
The Marble Hill Nuclear Plant in Jefferson County
$3 billion—partially subsidized by the government, partially swallowed by the Indiana taxpayer—went into this plant, which is now nothing more than a dirty hole in the ground. Officially, Public Service of Indiana, which owned over 70% of the plant, refused to continue funding the construction. “”…Given the realities of today’s political environment and financial markets, Public Service of Indiana clearly cannot continue to be a part of the project.”
Unofficially, it was the public increasing distrust of nuclear power in the wake of Three Mile Island. Nuclear plants were seen as not only unsafe investments, but unsafe, period.
Delays in construction, missing provenance in construction components (managers have to know materials’ origins EXACTLY), and an anxious public pushed the plant further and further behind. While $2.6 billion had been sunk into the plant, estimates to complete it swelled to $7-$11 billion. Since its shut down, portions of the half-completed plant have been repurposed or simply scrapped.
Michigan City’s Brookwood Gardens: the Farm that Cocaine Built
In the 2018 film The Mule, director Clint Eastwood slightly fictionalized the very-true tale of Michigan City horticulturist Leo Sharp. A skilled breeder of daylillies, Sharp nonetheless had a hard time making ends meet in the fickle flower business. His struggles with financial issues ended when he began muling cocaine from the Mexican border to Detroit.
Although 87 at the time of his arrest, Leo Sharp trafficked literal tons of cocaine, funneling his profits into improving Brookwood Gardens, his Indiana daylilly farm. He transformed that narrow strip of land into one of the most celebrated horticulture hybridization farms in the Midwest. He was also a legend in the criminal community, earning the nickname El Tata (Papa).
Eventually, he was caught (otherwise we wouldn’t know his story). Nearly ninety and not in the best health, he only spent a year in prison before being released. He died in 2016 at the age of 92.