The Bonanza Trail: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of the West

The Bonanza Trail: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of the West

The Bonanza Trail: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of the West

The Bonanza Trail: Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of the West

Excerpt

With due apologies to the geologists, I am convinced, after having read nothing but mining history of the West for the last three years, that mines are discovered by accident. Had it not been for Indians who showed glittering stones to eager prospectors, and for burros which broke their hobbles and strayed away while their masters slept, the gold rushes would not have occurred. The number of Indians who wore silver and turquoise ornaments, yet refused to divulge the sources from which they came, or who dangled sparkling specimens of rock before greedy white men's eyes and then gave sketchy directions as to where the stones could be found, cemented the determination of the explorers to search for the hidden wealth. The number of pack animals that perversely wandered off and were trailed by their owners up some mountainside has become folk legend. The prospector always picked up a stone to heave at the beast and discovered that he had a piece of blossom rock or float in his hand. Instead of throwing it, he began digging and the result was a gold or silver rush, which usually netted him nothing.

For more than three centuries the West attracted restless and curious white men. The first ones were the Spanish explorers, who searched avidly but unsuccessfully for the fabled Seven Cities of Cíbola, said to be so rich in gold, only to find that they were the seven adobe pueblos of Zuñi, gilded by sunlight. They became a symbol of the lure which for more than three centuries beckoned men and made them crazy, while they searched and killed, and found and lost the gold and silver and copper. Sometimes the quest made them millionaires; sometimes, paupers. But even when they lost, their eyes kept searching the sandy banks of rivers and the rocky sides of mountains for the "strike" which they knew was ahead of them, and as they grew older the glitter in their eyes grew brighter and their efforts became more determined. Tomorrow they would strike it rich; tomorrow was another day.

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