The first things you see driving down from the Rocky Mountains into Pueblo, Colorado, are smoke stacks. Three big ones sprout from the Comanche coal plant at the edge of town, and then a stubble of shorter towers rises from the steel mill, which once provided good paying jobs to anyone who wanted one.
Pueblo’s fortunes changed in the 1980s when steel prices crashed, and the mill laid off thousands of workers. One in every five residents now lives below the poverty line. The town looks and feels like a struggling Rust-Belt city in the high desert.
Pueblo used to be called Steel City and “the Pittsburgh of the West” for its industrial prowess. City Councilman Larry Atencio remembers