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Trail of Gold and Silver

Mining In Colorado, 1859-2009

By Duane A. Smith

Publication Year: 2009

"This is no dry technical history meant solely for mining buffs. This book is for people interested in Colorado hitory who want to know about mining and for people interested in mining who do not know much about Colorado history." —Jonathan Rees, New Mexico Historical Review

"The Trail of Gold and Silver is a superb overview of hard rock mining, a survey which ponders past failures as well as successes. From bonanzas such as Cripple Creek to Summitville's environmental disaster, Colorado Mining has had ups and downs as high as Mount Elbert and as deep as the Royal Gorge."—Tom Noel, The Denver Post

In The Trail of Gold and Silver, historian Duane A. Smith details Colorado's mining saga - a story that stretches from the beginning of the gold and silver mining rush in the mid-nineteenth century into the twenty-first century. Gold and silver mining laid the foundation for Colorado's economy, and 1859 marked the beginning of a fever for these precious metals. Mining changed the state and its people forever, affecting settlement, territorial status, statehood, publicity, development, investment, economy, jobs both in and outside the industry, transportation, tourism, advances in mining and smelting technology, and urbanization. Moreover, the first generation of Colorado mining brought a fascinating collection of people and a new era to the region. Written in a lively manner by one of Colorado's preeminent historians, this book honors the 2009 sesquicentennial of Colorado's gold rush. Smith's narrative will appeal to anybody with an interest in the state's fascinating mining history over the past 150 years.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Duane Allan Smith has been called many things, but no one can deny he is Colorado’s most prolific historian, surpassing even the late, great LeRoy Hafen. The Trail of Gold and Silver is Smith’s fiftieth book. The University Press...

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pp. 1-10

“Gold! Gold in the Pike’s Peak Country,” shouted newspapers throughout the Midwest in the late summer and fall of 1858. The news spread over a country still stirred by the tremendous excitement of the California gold rush a decade earlier...

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1: Pike’s Peak or Bust

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pp. 11-97

A gloomy winter slipped past, but gave way to a spring of 1858 that was not much brighter economically. The flowers bloomed, but too briefly to take most people’s minds off the trials of daily life. Still, for two groups of people...

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2: 1859: The Year Dreams Became Reality

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pp. 29-45

When the speeches ended, the distinguished “keynoter” Greeley became an onlooker as the miners set about creating a rudimentary set of mining laws. Technically, those mining on Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Ute land were trespassers, who had no legal...

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3: 1860-1864: “To Everything There Is a Season”

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pp. 47-61

William A. Crawford, writing to his cousin Mina from the Rocky Mountains, captured perfectly the expectations of “Young America,” as the press liked to call the generation that opened the second season of Pike’s Peak mining. William...

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4: 1864-1869: “Good Times a-Comin”—Someday

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pp. 63-77

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens had published those words just as the Pike’s Peak rush started. His popular A Tale of Two Cities undoubtedly traveled west that summer, packed away in some...

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5: 1870–1874: Bonanza! Three Cheers and a Tiger”

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pp. 79-94

The promised land! Prospectors and miners had been looking for it in the mountains of Colorado since 1859. Before the decade of the 1870s ticked into history, some at least would finally reach it. To paraphrase the words of another popular...

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6: 1875–1880: “All Roads Lead to Leadville”

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pp. 95-112

Thus did Leadville welcome author and artist Mary Hallock Foote, who arrived in May 1879, with her mining engineer husband, Arthur, when the town was booming as none other in Colorado’s short history. That summer Leadville stirred...

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7: The Silver Eighties: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

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pp. 113-127

As the tide of Colorado mining ebbed and flowed in the 1880s, many Coloradans scrambled to make a living in a world that seemed far different from that of twenty years ago. They may even have grown a little nostalgic about the...

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8: “There’ll Be a Hot Time”

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pp. 129-149

From the horse to the horseless carriage. From the candle to the electric light. From the train to the plane. From the stage to the motion picture. From the telegraph to the telephone. From rural farm to teeming city. From a wilderness...

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9: “The Everlasting Love of the Game”

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pp. 151-171

Mabel Barbee Lee, in trying to portray the allure of mining for her readers, recalled a meeting she had had with an old-time Cripple Creek prospector during a 1951 visit to the then ghost-like town. No longer the exciting, booming “metropolis” of her youth...

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Photographic Essay: Nineteenth-Century Colorado Mining

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pp. 173-186

The following photographs provide all that Cicero hoped, except, perhaps, “guidance in daily life.” Historians and Coloradans are fortunate that the development of Colorado mining paralleled the development and improvement...

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10: 1900–1929: Looking Forward into Yesterday

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pp. 187-207

As the new century dawned, only Cripple Creek and the San Juans upheld Colorado’s mining reputation of yesteryear in the present. Other districts looked more to their past and relied on history to entice investors, along with their finances...

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11: Mucking through Depression, War, and New Ideas

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pp. 209-225

Mucking is defined as “the operation of loading broken rock [ore, debris] by hand or machine[,] usually in shafts or tunnels.” In the 1930s through the 1960s, mucking pretty much described what the mining industry was doing on various levels...

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12: Mining on the Docket of Public Opinion: The Environmental Age

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pp. 227-243

Almost from the days of the Pike’s Peak gold rush, there had been Coloradans and others concerned about mining’s impact on the environment. The reasons have been many, but the discussions and actions generally were local...

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Photographic Essay: Colorado Mining in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

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pp. 245-256

By the turn of the century into 1900, it had become obvious that mining would not play the premier role it once had within the state’s economy. Much of the romance, excitement, and newness of the “rush” days had disappeared...

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Epilogue: A Tale Well Told

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pp. 257-262

David Lavender, in his One Man’s West, tells the tale of a heaven-bound prospector/ miner stopped at the pearly gates by St. Peter. Inquiring why, the miner receives this startling answer...


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pp. 263-271

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Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 273-275

Colorado mining has attracted an increasing number of researchers, historians, writers, and ordinary but interested folk over the past 150 years. It is a fascinating story, one well worth digging into with vigor. While it is impossible to list...


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pp. 277-282

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320111
E-ISBN-10: 1607320118
Print-ISBN-13: 9781607320753
Print-ISBN-10: 1607320754

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 33
Publication Year: 2009