Opening of Western Mining Districts
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Latest update January 27, 2007
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The Beginning: California Gold Rush
James Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill (in what later became the town of Coloma) on the America River on January 24, 1848. The rest of the United States starting getting reports of the discovery as early as September, but it wasn't until November of 1848 that the reports started capturing the attention of the masses. By January of 1949, the rush to California was on.
California Gold Rush town profiles: Amador City Angels Camp Auburn Coloma Coulterville Downieville Grass Valley Jackson Jamestown Mariposa Mokelumne Hill Nevada City Placerville San Andreas Sierra City Sonora Sutter Creek Weaverville Yreka
The Far West Frontier - 1858-1868
The hordes of miners and prospectors that had arrived in California and Colorado were often finding themselves out of luck as placer deposits were played out. By 1859, California miners were beginning to move East in search of new Frontiers. By the early 1860's, Colorado miners were doing the same and pressing west. The flood of prospectors resulted in many new districts being opened in Nevada (Austin, Eureka, Virginia City); Montana (Butte, Helena, Philipsburg, Virginia City); Utah (Park City); and many other areas throughout the West.
The Colorado Booms
The mining history of Colorado began in 1859 with the Colorado Gold Rush to the Front Range area of the Rocky Mountains. Early gold rush towns included Central City, Blackhawk, Breckenridge, Idaho Springs, and Georgetown.
Colorado experienced a second boom in 1879, this time centered on silver. Silver was discovered in Colorado by the early 1860's, but it wasn't until Congress authorized federal purchase of silver in 1878 that silver prices rose to levels that fueled a frenzy of new mining. Towns founded just prior to or during the silver boom include Aspen, Creede, Lake City, Leadville, Ouray, Salida, Silver Plume, Silverton, and Telluride.
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