From the introduction
Doctor Herbert Langston knew something about ore. In the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he created a machine that could extract ghost rock from even the crudest raw materials.
The machine-he called it "the reducer"-worked well for almost two weeks. But on the 13th day it suffered a spectacular and catastrophic explosion that killed 17 workers and maimed dozens more.
Langston gathered the only other thing he’d ever cared about, his daughter Daphne, and fled town. The pair didn’t stop running until they reached Wichita, Kansas. With the last of their savings, he bought an old house and a junkyard that used to belong to the Black River Railroad.