He still speaks with authority, though his voice is shot through with old hurts. The fluorescent lights in the common room of Sweetbrook Hospital’s psychiatric wing etch the elderly man’s face in stark lines.
“That town? That whole place? Poison.”
He smokes his cigarettes with stained fingers that shake just a little. He looks over his shoulder as if expecting an attack.
Thomas “Tommy” Dalton was town manager of the ghost hamlet of Ichor Falls for between 1972 and 1979, a time of great tumult for the tiny coal town. “Folk started getting sick, horrible sick. Passing blood, coughing blood… and the poor, poor babbies what were born,” Dalton said, trailing off.
The mysterious illnesses were only the culmination of the problems facing Ichor Falls residents. The place was in the midst of an economic downward spiral that was dramatic even by Appalachian standards, drug use was rampant, and there seemed to be a missing child epidemic there. But even that, according to Dalton, wasn’t the worst of it.
“People done things there, you know? Done things they ought not have done. Made the wrong kinds of deals.” I asked him if he meant the New Elysium Group, who is ramping up negotiations to redevelop the community. Dalton seemed to be searching for the right words, but settled on “Worse.”
Federal investigation into alleged conspiracies centered in the town, involving drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, and multiple killings all came up with nothing; on the surface, Ichor Falls is the ideal quaint mountain town, exuding charm and history, and welcoming new residents and tourists alike.
Ask Tommy Dalton, however, and you’ll get a much different answer.
I did ask him just that — I asked him what he thought about the renewal of the town. He began to weep, then to moan. “The town’s poison,” he raved, as one orderly rushed over with a syringe full of sedative and another hustled me out. “Poison, and every man woman and child who moves there will die screaming!”
New Elysium corporate spokespersons were contacted in connection with the development of this article, but refused to comment, other than to say via press release “Ichor Falls will be the scene of what we call The Great Renewal, and we want as many people as possible to come take part!”