Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/182

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the year of greatest output was 1853, when almost $65,000,000[1] were produced. After 1859 the production fell off greatly, partly from the exhaustion of the richer placers, and partly because thousands of California miners left for the Comstock lode. In 1889 it had fallen to a little over $11,000,000,[2] but in more recent years it has risen again, and has ranged from about $16,000,000 to over $31,000,000 annually. The total production of gold in California from 1848 to 1910 has been over $1,500,000,000, or almost half of the total production of the United States to date.

Period from 1859-1890

While these events were going on in California, gold and silver were being discovered in many places in the Eocky Mountains and in the desert country between them and the Sierra Nevada, known as the Great Basin. Though these regions are nearer the eastern states than California, their mining resources were not developed until long after those of the latter. This was due to several causes: The mines of California had already been discovered while those of the interior were as yet unknown; many California pioneers came by sea and knew nothing of the interior, while those who came by the emigrant trail found the difficulties and dangers such that they felt fortunate when they crossed the Sierra Nevada and entered the fertile valleys and salubrious climate of the coast. They tarried, therefore, as little as possible in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin, but hurried on to where they knew gold existed and where they would be safe from dangers which had already lined the emigrant trail with the bones of thousands of people. Hence it was not until over ten years after the discovery of gold in California that important mining began to the eastward.

After the California placers had been shorn of their richest treasures, many men left them to seek new discoveries, spreading north and south along the coast, and eastward beyond the Sierra Nevada. The result was that many mines which have since become noted were found during that time. Among them the most celebrated was the Comstock lode, which was destined to produce more gold and silver than any other one lode that history had recorded, and the development of which was accompanied by the most sensational and dramatic series of events ever recorded in a mining camp.

The Comstock lode is situated on the slope of Mt. Davidson, just east of the main range of the Sierra Nevada, some twenty miles beyond the California border, in what is now Nevada, but what was then a part

  1. Report of the Director of the Mint, 1910.
  2. Charles G. Yale, California State Mining Bureau, Report State Mineralogist, 1896, p. 64.