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Rocky Mountain Mining Camps : The Urban Frontier (Reprint) (Paperback) (Duane A. Smith)
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"Few Americans at the end of the Mexican War in 1848 dreamed of the vast mineral potential of the country they had wrested from their southern neighbor. Few would have believed that within a generation this land would be criss-crossed by prospectors in search of gold and silver, that valuable deposits would be found, and that permanent settlement would rapidly follow. From 1859 and the first gold rush until the 1890 this wilderness became the setting of the Western mining camp. The mining frontier, the camp--the germ of a city--appeared almost simultaneously with the opening of the region. To make his venture profitable, the miner needed to open lines of transport--and transportation soon brought many of the refinements and problems of urban civilization. Because he could not raise crops or make his own equipment, the miner attracted farmers and merchants to his c hence trade, and industry developed rapidly, often within a decade after the opening of the mining fields. Lawlessness, destructive fires,and rough-and-ready vigilante justice were among the uglier features of the young communities whose people were ill-prepared for the problems of urban government. The heyday of vice so often depicted in motion pictures was a relatively short interval in the life span of a typical mining camp, however, as the maturing communities quickly established schools, churches, and libraries. This is an absorbing history of the Rocky Mountain mining towns which traces their cycle of growth from birth to boom and either extinction or transformation into a permanent agricultural-mining community. Written in lively, nontechnical language, this study of a unique institution of the American past will interest both scholars and general readers"--Provided by publisher.