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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Detailed Cartography: Dante's Forge

Dante's Forge
     The town of Dante was established by Adrian Dante after the logging around Sherwood began to diminish. Its location around Swift Creek and the Rush made for strategic locations to send the logs to the sawmills, most of which belonged to Dante—the logging company was also named after him. From there the logs could be sent down the Rush or "Shoreward." Logging was more controlled in Dante than Sherwood had been, mostly due to smaller demand since other great logging cities had saturated the need. Still, Dante grew for quite some time in all directions until it could no longer grow west for having run into Sherwood. For a long time the two towns were equitable neighbors, and the border between them somewhat fluid and they decided to form a cooperative that linked them together, but less formally than the one that would join Faihaven and Meridian in a few years. Dante was nearly wiped out during the Depression, and many of its citizens became homeless, scratching out survival on the outskirts of the town, which eventually became known as the Grind.
     The discovery of iron ore in Mt. Kelly helped the town stay alive, and they quickly converted many of the unused sawmills into steel mills and refineries to process the raw ore that was brought down the Rush. The demand for steel was so great for the new skyscrapers in Belport's City Center that the mills and refineries ran all night long, casting a glow into the sky and making people think it was a different Dante who had founded the town. The new plants caused so much noise that some people began to refer to it as a forge for the constant ringing of metal on metal, and the name stuck. Dante's Forge quickly became the heart of industry in the region.
     During World War II, much of Dante's factories shifted to wartime production. During this time, the banks of Belport's City Center made sure everything was in order so the wartime effort continued unabated, and all decided that oversight would go more smoothly if Dante were made part of Belport. Since Dante and Shoreward were already, informally, knit together, and Shoreward had all the warehouses for the wartime production, it was agreed that both places, and the space between them, known as the Grind, should be formally made part of Belport. The area is called Dante, Dante's Forge, or even just the Forge interchangeably. Some have suggested that the neighborhoods along the border of the Grind and Dante's Forge be called the Vestibule. Others extend this to where Dante borders with any other area. With the decline of the factories, many neighborhoods were simply left to fend for themselves. Homelessness has risen back up—though nowhere near what Depression-era rates were—and crime has increased so that Dante—and Shoreward—match the old Grind for criminal activity. Over time, the border between Dante and Shoreward has shifted back and forth. With the decline of factories and improved shipping methods, Shoreward has started to encroach into the Forge, where previously Dante had invaded into Shoreward.

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