The Bodie Mining District was established in 1860 after the discovery of gold deposits in the area. Bodie's largest boom ended just over twenty years later, but the town survived into the twentieth century supported by a few small but steady mines. Mining ended with World War II. What remained of the town became a state park in 1964.
In Bodie's Gold, author Marguerite Sprague uncovers the original sources of information whenever possible, from the first mining claims to interviews with former Bodieites. Enhanced with numerous historic photographs and extracts from newspapers of that period, as well as by the reminiscences of former residents, the book offers a fascinating account of life in a Gold Rush boomtown. The book is now available in a new, easier-to-handle paperback edition that will make it more convenient for readers who want to carry if with them in a car or backpack.
When “California Fever” raced through southeastern Ohio in the spring of 1849, a number of residents of Athens County organized a cooperative venture for traveling overland to the mines. Known as the “Buckeye Rovers,” the company began its trip westward in early April. The Buckeye Rovers, along with thousands who traveled the overland route to California, endured numerous hardships and the seemingly constant threat of attacks from hostile Indians. On reaching their destination, the Ohioans discovered that rich deposits of gold were extremely rare, and that except for a few lucky fortune–seekers, mining required hard physical labor and yielded small rewards. They persisted nonetheless and most of the company returned to Athens in late 1851 or early 1852 with modest fortunes.
The arduous experiences of the overland trek were recorded by two Buckeye Rover diarists. The more compete account was compiled by John Banks. He wrote effusively while on the trail and throughout his stay of more than two years in the gold regions. J. Elza Armstrong, by contrast, was brief, even laconic, and his journal ended upon reaching California. The contrast between the two brings into focus the divergent personalities who were drawn to California by the lure of gold.
A nine–month segment of Bank’s diary, from February to November, 1851, had been missing at the time the story of the Buckeye Rovers was first published in 1965. This revised and enlarged edition contains the complete diaries. They offer valuable record of the Buckeyes’ adventures from the time they left home until the time they departed California for the return trip to Ohio.
Written in 1930, Coronado's Children was one of J. Frank Dobie's first books, and the one that helped gain him national prominence as a folklorist. In it, he recounts the tales and legends of those hardy souls who searched for buried treasure in the Southwest following in the footsteps of that earlier gold seeker, the Spaniard Coronado.
"These people," Dobie writes in his introduction, "no matter what language they speak, are truly Coronado's inheritors.... l have called them Coronado's children. They follow Spanish trails, buffalo trails, cow trails, they dig where there are no trails; but oftener than they dig or prospect they just sit and tell stories of lost mines, of buried bullion by the jack load... "
This is the tale-spinning Dobie at his best, dealing with subjects as irresistible as ghost stories and haunted houses.
Popular media depict miners as a rough-and-tumble lot who diligently worked the placers along scenic rushing rivers while living in roaring mining camps in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Trafzer and Hyer destroy this mythic image by offering a collection of original newspaper articles that describe in detail the murder, rape, and enslavement perpetrated by those who participated in the infamous gold rush. "It is a mercy to the Red Devils," wrote an editor of the Chico Courier, "to exterminate them." Newspaper accounts of the era depict both the barbarity and the nobility in human nature, but while some protested the inhumane treatment of Native Americans, they were not able to end the violence. Native Americans fought back, resisting the invasion, but they could not stop the tide of white miners and settlers. They became "strangers in a stolen land."
Golden Treasures of the San Juan contains fabulous stories of lost mines, bullion, and valuable prospects of one of the most beautiful mountain areas of the United States. Many of the stories are based on the personal adventures of author Cornelius.
When the Indian Mountain Lands (the San Juan) were ceded in 1874, the wild region was thrown open to prospectors seeking its gold and silver riches. Many prospects were valuable discoveries, yet were lost and became legendary mines. Further, the Spanish explorers had been through this area much earlier with their bullion, and their caches added to the legends of gold discovered or to be discovered. The authors of this book trace complete stories about these long-lost hoards.
Volume 3, Life Writings of Frontier Women series, ed. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher
In her memoir, and 1870s revision of her journal and diary, Louisa Barnes Pratt tells of childhood in Massachusetts and Canada during the War of 1812, and independent career as a teacher and seamstress in New England, and her marriage to the Boston seaman Addison Pratt.
Converting to the LDS Church, the Pratts moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, from where Brigham Young sent Addison on the first of the long missions to the Society Islands that would leave Louisa on her own. As a sole available parent, she hauled her children west to Winter Quarters, to Utah in 1848, to California, and, in Addison's wake, to Tahiti in 1850.
The Pratts joined the Mormon colony at San Bernardino, California. When in 1858 a federal army's march on Utah led to the colonists' recall, Addision—alienated from the Mormon Church after long absences—chose not to go. Mostly separated thereafter (Addison died in 1872), Louisa settled in Beaver, Utah, where she campaigned for women's rights, contributed to the Woman's Exponent, and depended on her own means, as she had much of her life, until her death in 1880.
Historian Jeffrey J. Safford examines how gold mining ventures were developed and financed during and after the Civil War, and how men, primarily Easterners with scant knowledge of mining, were willing to invest large sums in gold mines that promised quick and lucrative returns.
Safford explains how these mining companies were organized and underwritten, and why a little-known district in southwestern Montana was chosen as a center of operations. Relying on extensive primary sources, Safford addresses the mind-set of the businessmen, the expectations and realities of new mining technology, the financial strategies, and the universality of the Hot Spring experience.
“Saints and sinners, whores and housewives, swindlers and laborers alike attempted a hasty adjustment to novel conditions in a land that seemed strange and forbidding,” writes William R. Hunt in his narrative history of Alaska mining. Hunt offers an exciting anecdotal account that follows hungry prospectors, canny shopkeepers, hopeful hangers-on, and crafty lawyers through the gold mining camps and temporary towns of nineteenth-century Alaska. Hunt has hiked and mined many of the same claims he writes about in the book, and North of 53 offers a rare glimpse into far-flung communities from Skagway to the Yukon to the deep interior of Alaska to the Ididarod and Nome on the Bering Sea.
At the age of 27, Fannie Sedlacek left her Bohemian homestead in Nebraska to join the gold rush to the Klondike. From the Klondike to the Tanana, Fannie continued north, finally settling in Katishna near Mount McKinley. This woman, later known as Fannie Quigley, became a prospector who staked her own claims and a cook who ran a roadhouse. She hunted and trapped and thrived for nearly forty years in an environment that others found unbearable.
Her wilderness lifestyle inspired many of those who met her to record their impressions of this self-sufficient woman, who died in 1944. To many of the 700,000 annual visitors to Denali National Park she is a symbol of the enduring spirit of the original pioneers.
Searching for Fannie Quigley: A Wilderness Life in the Shadow of Mount McKinley goes beyond the mere biographical facts of this unique woman’s journey. It also tells historian Jane G. Haigh’s own story of tracking and tracing the many paths that Fannie Quigley’s intriguing life took. Uncovering remote clues, digging through archives, and listening to oral accounts from a wide array of sources, Haigh has fashioned this rich lode into a compelling narrative.
In Searching for Fannie Quigley, Haigh separates fact from fiction to reveal the true story of this highly mythologized pioneer woman.
A century ago, Treadwell, Alaska, was a featured stop on steamship cruises, a rich, up-to-date town that was the most prominent and proud in all Alaska. Its wealth, however, was founded on the remarkably productive gold mines on Douglas Island, and when those caved in and flooded in the early decades of the twentieth century, Treadwell sank into relative obscurity.
Treadwell Gold presents first-person accounts from the sons and daughters of the miners, machinists, hoist operators, and superintendents who together dug and blasted the gold that made Treadwell rich. Alongside these stories are vintage photos that capture both the industrial vigor of the mines and the daily lives that made up Treadwell society. The book will fascinate anyone interested in Alaskan history or the romance of gold mining’s past.
A Financial Times Best History Book of the YearA surprising account of frontier law that challenges the image of the Wild West. In the absence of state authority, Gold Rush miners crafted effective government by the people—but not for all the people.Gold Rush California was a frontier on steroids: 1,500 miles from the nearest state, it had a constantly fluctuating population and no formal government. A hundred thousand single men came to the new territory from every corner of the nation with the sole aim of striking it rich and then returning home. The circumstances were ripe for chaos, but as Andrea McDowell shows, this new frontier was not nearly as wild as one would presume. Miners turned out to be experts at self-government, bringing about a flowering of American-style democracy—with all its promises and deficiencies.The Americans in California organized and ran meetings with an efficiency and attention to detail that amazed foreign observers. Hundreds of strangers met to adopt mining codes, decide claim disputes, run large-scale mining projects, and resist the dominance of companies financed by outside capital. Most notably, they held criminal trials on their own authority. But, mirroring the societies back east from which they came, frontiersmen drew the boundaries of their legal regime in racial terms. The ruling majority expelled foreign miners from the diggings and allowed their countrymen to massacre the local Native Americans. And as the new state of California consolidated, miners refused to surrender their self-endowed authority to make rules and execute criminals, presaging the don’t-tread-on-me attitudes of much of the contemporary American west.In We the Miners, Gold Rush California offers a well-documented test case of democratic self-government, illustrating how frontiersmen used meetings and the rules of parliamentary procedure to take the place of the state.
Browse our collection.
See BiblioVault's publisher services.
Files for college accessibility offices.
UChicago Accessibility Resources
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press