The year is 2014, and the sleepy mining and agricultural towns of Northern Appalachia have transformed into gold-rush towns. But this is a new type of gold – Shale gas.

These towns sit above an underground formation called the Marcellus Shale that could help make America the world’s greatest producer of natural gas – and in 2014 the Marcellus region is booming. The restaurants are buzzing, bars packed, hotels full for the first time since many people can remember. Each generation of this area has seen the boom and the bust of other major industries – timber, coal, steel – and shale gas  is the next one. It’s marketed as energy independence, good paying blue collar jobs, the American Dream. In areas where decades of economic decline have created a culture of need, this dream is welcomed with open arms.

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Photo credit: Amanda Gillooly