Sometimes citizens took the law into their own hands and became vigilantes, people who deal out their own brand of justice without benefit of judge or jury.
Boomtowns were made up mostly of men, and very few children lived in boomtowns.
Some women opened businesses or worked as laundresses or cooks in boomtowns.
Mining booms were often followed by mining busts, which occurred when people left town after the mines stopped producing ore.
Toward the end of the rush, people began mining other metals, such as copper, lead, and zinc.
Frontier areas around boomtowns eventually became states.
Railroads Connect East to West
Because the mines were far from industrial centers, transportation became important to the survival of mining communities.
Wagons and stagecoaches could not meet the transportation demands of the West, but railroads could.
The network of railroads increased rapidly between 1865 and 1890.
Railroad work was often supported by government subsidies, financial aid and land grants from the government.
The federal government granted more than 130 million acres of land to railroad companies to build the rail network.
Much of the land was obtained or purchased by treaties with Native Americans.
Towns often offered cash subsidies to make sure the railroads came to their communities.
Los Angeles was a community that offered a subsidy to a railroad company.
The search for a route for a transcontinental rail line - one that would span the continent and connect the Atlantic and Pacific coasts - began in the 1850s.
Two companies accepted the enormous challenge of building the transcontinental railroad - the Union Pacific Company, which built its track westward, and the Central Pacific Company, which built its track eastward.
Both companies were very competitive with each other.
The Central Pacific hired about 10,000 Chinese laborers, and the Union Pacific hired Irish and African American workers.
All workers toiled for low wages in harsh conditions.
Construction of the transcontinental railroad was complete on May 10, 1869.
The two sets of track met a Promontory Summit in Utah Territory.