Rocky Mountain Mining Camps

Rocky Mountain Mining Camps

The Urban Frontier
Duane A Smith
Distribution: World
Publication date: 05/22/2017
Format: Paperback 16 b&w illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-03114-3
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Traditionally the American frontier was the home of the self-sufficient individualist, a rural environment where settlers lived without the comforts of society. But from the first gold rush into the Rockies in 1859 until the 1890s, when most gold fields had been played out, the unsettled wilderness of the Rocky Mountains became the setting of a unique phenomenon—the Western mining camp. To be profitable, miners needed a community of support—including secure lines of transportation, farmers who could raise crops, and merchants who could supply equipment. The lure of easy money also attracted a drifting crowd of gamblers, prostitutes, and con men, and a saloon and a brothel often were the first businesses to appear in a prospering mining town. Unstable populations and a lack of planning exacerbated the problems of the mining camps, including lawlessness, destructive fires, and rough-and-ready vigilante justice, but most maturing communities stabilized and quickly established schools, churches, and libraries.

In this absorbing history of the Rocky Mountain mining towns, Duane A. Smith traces their cycle of growth from birth to boom and either extinction or transformation into permanent agricultural-mining communities, and he recounts colorful histories of camps that sprang up overnight and developed into urban settlements.

Author Bio

Duane A. Smith is author ofA Colorado History, Horace Tabor: His Life and the Legend, Silver Saga: The Story of Caribou Colorado, Colorado Mining: A Photographic History,andFortunes Are for the Few: Letters of a Forty-Niner.


“Smith writes clearly and well about everything from fire protection and vigilance committees to laundries and retail credit. . . . If you’ve ever wondered what daily life was like in a mining camp, look no further. . . . The eminently readable Rocky Mountain Mining Camps will convince you that our Old West was an urban West.”
 — Colorado Central Magazine

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Table of Contents

1. The Urban Frontier
2. Young America
3. Not All Were Welcome
4. When Young America Finds a Good Gold Gulch
5. Boom Days
6. Growing Pains
7. Maturing in Spite of Itself
8. Magnet in the Mountains
9. Problems of Urbanization
10. The Mature Camp
11. Community Leadership
12. Life Was Never Easy
13. A Time for Relaxation
14. The Tiger is Found
15. The Promised Land
Bibliographical Essay
Works Cited

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