Thousands of people came west to supply the miners’ needs. Towns grew up near all the major mining sites. Many lasted only a few years. When the ore was gone, boom towns often turned into ghost towns. Other settlements lasted and grew. Some miners stayed on even when they found no gold. They opened stores, restaurants, and hotels.
Problems. The surge of miners into Colorado, Nevada, and the Dakotas created problems. Mines and towns polluted clear mountain streams. Miners cut down forests to get wood for buildings. They also forced Native Americans from the land. A few miners got rich quick. Most did not. Much of the gold and silver could be reached only with expensive rock-crushing machinery and drills. Because of this fact, only those with considerable financial backing could hope to find any real riches…the “average” miner clung to his hope of striking it rich but generally, worked back-breaking hours finding just enough ore to survive.