Mordor West

Mordor West

I always imagined that Mordor would look something like this.

The great war engines of Sauron would be belching forth fire and smoke, creating all manner of ill-will to be foisted upon men, elves, dwarves and hobbits, all with the intent of finding the One ring and taking it for himself.

The raw material of war would come from deep underground, the dwelling place of things that are best left un-named.  They would be pumped to the surface, forged in fires of unimaginable fury, then unleashed against the world in his quest for domination.

To discover that Mordor was just south of the Cheyenne city limits was quite a surprise.

Actually, this isn’t Mordor.  I know, for some of you that may be a disappointment.  But this is a place where things come from deep underground and are converted into fuel by chemical process and heat.  Just like Mordor.  We don’t get war engines from it, though, just gasoline.  This is Frontier refinery in Cheyenne.

Sherry and I first came to Cheyenne for a job interview for me on May 1, 1984.  I remember the date because it was our 2nd wedding anniversary.  As we entered Cheyenne via I-80 from the east, the very first landmark we spotted was the refinery.  It was belching smoke like this picture, and, on May 1st, it was snowing.

Now we both grew up in Wisconsin, home to much snow.  And we had lived for a few years in Livingston, Montana.  Also home to much snow.  Snow on May 1st was not new. But there was something foreboding and, frankly, depressing, about pulling into what might become our new home on a spring day that featured freezing temperatures, snow, wind and an oil refinery  that would serve as the defining image of Cheyenne.

I got the job and we moved here.  It turned out that Cheyenne really isn’t cold all the time, or snowy.  (The wind does always blow, however.) Frontier refinery does not dominate the landscape, either.  Rather, it sits on the edge of town providing jobs for hundreds of people and making fuel to power our vehicles.

Actually, Cheyenne is a pretty nice place and doesn’t look like Mordor at all.

I hate to break this to you, but Mordor does not really exist outside the confines of JRR Tolkien’s mind.  This shot of the refinery looks a lot more sinister than it really is, because it is actually pretty mundane.

A guy can still pretend, however.


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