Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/185

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
181
GOLD MINING IN THE UNITED STATES

rapidly invaded the interior country, and between 1860 and 1885 made many discoveries, the mining camps to the eastward becoming affiliated with Denver as a center, those to the westward having closer relations with San Francisco. Even to-day this distinction is observable.

After the discovery of the Comstock lode, Californians began to appreciate the possibilities of the desert and they rapidly overran that region, but even before the discovery of the Comstock they had begun to explore the region east of the Colorado River, then known as New Mexico, but later divided into New Mexico and Arizona. Here gold had been mined by the Mexicans long before the American conquest, and many of the old mines were reopened and new ones discovered by the American miners. As early as 1853, the old town of Tucson became an active mining center, and somewhat later the gold mines near Prescott, Phoenix, Santa Fé and many other places were developed. Between 1860 and 1864 the gold of the region now included in Idaho and Montana was discovered, and the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon River regions, the Boisé Basin, the Owyhee region. Deer Lodge, Bannack City, Alder Gulch, Helena and many other districts became important gold producers.

Though all these discoveries were of much local importance, no one of them was great enough to mark an epoch in the gold mining industry of the country, as was the case in the discovery of the gold of California and the Comstock. An exception to this, however, should be made in the case of the Boisé Basin and the surrounding country, from which many millions in gold were taken in a short time. Most of this gold, however, was sent to San Francisco, and in those early days, when people were too busy to keep very accurate records, a large part of it was credited to California mines; but those who know the Boisé region and the prosperous city of Boisé are familiar with the immense production that once came from there.

We now come to the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a region somewhat removed from those we have been discussing. In 1874 General G. A. Custer, while on an exploring expedition there, reported gold in some of the stream beds. The following year miners began to come into the region and very soon a general rush for the new gold fields occurred. The Black Hills, however, were then a part of the Sioux Indian reservation, which was not open to settlers, and the various United States military posts were instructed to keep the people out; but in spite of this and the fierce opposition of the Indians, numerous exploring parties managed to reach there; and finally, in 1876, this mountainous region, which had long been looked on by the Indians as their last resort for safety, was thrown open to settlers. From that time until the present the Black Hills region has been a steady producer of much gold and some silver, the production of gold usually