Although poetic license and the First Amendment no doubt allow Chris Ransick the right to perpetuate a myth if s/he wants to, still I have to comment on the mean-spirited "Advice for Visitors to Rock Springs' (HCN, 8/19/96).
If people who so freely criticize Rock Springs ever left I-80's truck stops they might notice air so clear you can see the snow-capped Wind River mountains 100 miles to the north. Or they would see a town with a low crime rate, many churches, good public schools, a progressive community college, a fine arts center, museums, libraries, first-class public recreation facilities and yes, even a few good restaurants. At the edge of town they would find antelope grazing and might glimpse the wild horse herds that live on nearby White Mountain and the surrounding desert.
They might develop an appreciation for a landscape designed by nature, not real estate developers. They might meet the gutsy, hard-working people who live there. Some are descendants of coal miners and railroad workers, sheep and cattle ranchers representing 56 nationalities who pioneered the town. They might meet some of the folks who decided to stay on after the boom of the "70s went bust to work in the trona mines, the oil fields, the schools, the banks, the health-care facilities, and small businesses.
These are people who work on environmental issues, create food banks, serve in local government, coach Little League, lead Scout groups, attend concerts, poetry readings, and public lectures, take their families camping, hiking and fishing. In short, people who care about their community and love the place where they live.
Montana has been dubbed "the last best place," but Rock Springs is one of the last "real" places in the West, where people aren't elitist and every downtown business isn't a gallery or a cappuccino shop.
Rock Springs, Wyoming
The writer is an assistant professor of English and director of Western American Studies at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs.