Unit 8: The West in American History

I. THE MINING FRONTIER Gold and Silver Strikes

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  • Gold and Silver Strikes

In 1859, two young prospectors struck gold in the Sierra Nevada. Suddenly, another miner, Henry Comstock, appeared. “The land is mine,” he cried, and demanded that they make him a partner. From then on, Comstock boasted about “his” mine. The strike became known as the Comstock Lode. A lode is a rich vein of gold or silver.

It was clear from the start that the Comstock Lode was rich in gold. Some Mexican miners later discovered that the land was even richer in silver. In fact, Comstock had stumbled onto one of the richest silver mines in the world.
From mining camp to boom town. The Comstock Lode attracted thousands of prospectors from many countries. A tent city formed at the edge of the desert, near the diggings. The mining camp grew into the boom town of Virginia City, Nevada.
Other strikes. At about the same time as the discovery in Nevada, gold was found in Colorado at Pike’s Peak. Once again, the news spread quickly and a new “gold rush” was on. The cities of Denver and Colorado Springs grew up near rich gold mines. In the following years, miners found valuable ore in Montana and Idaho. In the 1870s, miners also made major gold strikes in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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