Calcutta, Washington: Present
Remote, dying towns in central Washington have a history of seeking tourist hoards by taking on fantasy identities: Bavaria, the Old West, the Spanish Main.
"We can do it too," Calcuttans said.
They were pessimistic Present, shaped by generations of northern winter nights, by flights from poverty into poverty, by hard work that amounted to nothing. But they tried to lure visitors with a Viking motif, out of a notion that the basalt walls of the canyon look like the fjords of Norway.
The idea of a medieval Norwegian village wasn't well fixed in their minds; they created the Old Norse atmosphere by fastening sheet-metal cones and curved wooden horns to the roofs of several buildings: Viking helmets. The buildings look like thuggish Vikings buried up to the eyebrows.