Warning! WIP (Work In Progress) Ahead!
This post is somewhat of an experiment in ways to present sourcebook styled material. Unlike the first few posts of Psykout’s Secrets, this post is non-(pseudo) technical. She’ll be handling the technical aspects of The Jagged Earth sourcebook material (see her posts on supercomputing), but not everyone is interested in (comic book) high-tech talk. So, for those of our dear readers who wanted to know more about Aurora City’s background… Please enjoy the following Part 1. I tend toward long posts, but this one really needed breaking up. Part 2 won’t be far behind.
A Setting History
Aurora City is the setting within The Jagged Earth setting. It’s where that magic, often literally, happens. But how did Aurora City get to be Aurora City? It went something like this…
A Brief History of Aurora City [Part 1]
The Appalachian Mountains, while not the barrier to east-west migration that the Rockies would become, was nevertheless a significant hurdle for many early English settlers. Nestled along the western edge of the mountains near what would become North Carolina and Tennessee, the Jigsaw Range encompassed some of the most rugged terrain to be found. That didn’t prevent brave, oft times foolhardy, and fiercely independent hunters, mountain-men, and other early settlers from moving into the area, but it did keep their overall numbers down.
The mountainous terrain encouraged self-sufficient hunters and trappers more than agriculture and, after a brief tumultuous period of fighting, an understanding was reached with the original Native American residents. Cut off from frequent contact with “back-Easters” by the geography of the Jigsaw Range, the rough-and-tumble, independent nature of the settlers melded relatively peacefully with the local tribes. Eventually a rough trade in furs (deer, beaver, fox and bear) grew up and the middlemen for such items began to gather in an isolated valley along the Tchalitkee River. Plentiful water even outside that available from the river encouraged the growth of a small trading community to handle the needs of the adventurous.
The geography of the mostly untouched area, nicknamed Independence Valley, created the widest and deepest section of the Tchalitkee and a small port sprang up around the original town: Port Kirby. Initially the port specialized in transferring furs east to the coast. In return, “luxuries” and equipment flowed inland from more established cities that controlled the coastal trade. The port’s location and access allowed it to handle the larger ships a burgeoning lumber mill industry upstream. Soon timber (Fraser fir, white pine, hickory, chestnut, and oak) joined the list of local exports.
Trade and Expansion
The small traders and businesses that set up shop at the port gradually grew into Kirby City, a small town collected around the core of Port Kirby. However, prosperity continued to draw more inhabitants to the small town until it grew into a city in more than just name. By the time the Civil War erupted, Kirby City was a thriving gaggle of people who had grown up in the local area. Fortunately, neither the city’s trade goods nor its location was of strategic importance and it escaped the War Between The States relatively unscathed.
The Mining Years
The same qualities allowed it to remain mostly untouched during the following years. Bituminous coal was discovered and mines sprang up in the surrounding mountains. As the fur trade diminished, zinc took its place and the city continued to expand on the strength of lumber, coal and zinc. Due to the ruggedness of the terrain and difficulty in moving very large amounts of coal and zinc through the countryside, the city grew at a much slower rate than would be expected for one as prosperous as it was. To address this shortfall, a rail spur to the port area of the city was finally put into place. Afterwards, the city enjoyed renewed population expansion over several decades until conservation measures and played out mines pushed the coal industry into decline. Only a few deep mining operations remained commercially successful.
[To be continued…]