EUREKA — Halfway down Eureka's Main Street, near a gold rush-era cabin and across from a skeletal storefront that once housed a J.C. Penney store in 1907, Sharon Brewer sits in her consignment shop and eyes the stranger who just stepped through the door.
Outsiders stick out like a sore thumb in this almost-abandoned mining town. It's isolated, rimmed by a shield of mountains, and its residents prefer the solitude. When the Environmental Protection Agency flew in from Colorado in 2000 and informed the town it had a lead problem, the agency didn't stand a chance at blending in.
"When the EPA first got here, (the town) was hostile," Brewer says as she drives down the street, past the old mining head frames that started appearing in the late 1800s and still stand today. "My kids, excuse my French, but all you ever heard was, 'The effin' EPA; there's the effin' EPA.' If we still had a coffee shop, you'd have had an earful."
Text by Amy Choate-Nielsen / Deseret News
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