Describe the Mining Boom That Swept the West in the Late 1800s.

297 Words2 Pages
Mining was an important factor in the development of the West during the 1800s. When people got wind of a discovery of gold or silver, they would flock to the area with hopes of striking it rich due to the high value of these minerals. These prospectors would use pan and placer mining to sift the minerals out from streams or the shallow surface of the land. After these shallow resources of the minerals were depleted, commercial mining outfits would come in and extract the gold and silver from deep underground. “The thousands of people who flocked to the mining towns in search of quick wealth and who failed to find it often remained as wage laborers in corporate mines after the boom period” (Brinkley, 2007). The working conditions were harsh and very dangerous. Many miners were maimed or killed. The mining boom occurred in many states including Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, Idaho and Montana. With the influx of prospectors to these areas, boomtowns emerged almost overnight. Boomtowns were active and often ungoverned. Cheating and stealing were common occurrences. Many times justice was handled by vigilantes. Boomtowns mostly catered to men prospectors with prostitution and saloons. When the mines no longer generated ore, people would leave the towns to go on to the next site or to return home. The boomtowns would become ghost towns. Gold and silver mining in some areas led to the mining of other metals as well. Copper, lead and zinc were a few of the new metals that were being mined to provide raw materials for manufacturers. Brinkley (2007) states “such efforts proved more profitable in the long run that the usually short-lived gold and silver extraction. “ Brinkley, A. (2007). American History: A Survey, Twelfth Edition. The McGraw-Hill
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