Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/186

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amounting to several million dollars yearly, and aggregating, up to 1910, approximately $150,000,000. At the present time, the old placers have been largely exhausted, but the gold-bearing veins are extensively worked, especially at the celebrated Homestake Mine.

Effect of Discoveries of Silver on Gold Mining, 1859-1890

While the gold of the west was thus being found and poured into the mints and commerce of the world, numerous discoveries of silver ores, often of immense value, were being made in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin. The first great discovery of silver ore in the United States was that at the Comstock lode, but others followed rapidly, until the multitude of mines opened between 1860 and 1885, made the United States the greatest silver producer in the world. Silver was then valuable, the deposits were larger than had ever been known to exist before, and the profits were immense. Towns grew up based entirely on the silver industry, and silver was the chief topic of the thoughts, conversation and daily pursuit of the people; the prospector looked only for silver, and a class of people began to grow up who knew silver ores but not much about other ores, so that many gold deposits were passed over, to be discovered years later.

This condition of affairs had the effect of stimulating the silver industry to its greatest extent, almost to the total exclusion of the search for gold, and discovery after discovery of silver deposits in the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin was the result. First came the Comstock lode in 1859, and then followed rapidly between the years 1860 and 1885 the Reese River, Eureka, White Pine, Pioche and the Calico districts in Nevada; the Park City, Little Cottonwood Cañon, Frisco and Tintic districts in Utah; the Leadville, Silver Cliff, Aspen, San Juan districts in Colorado; Butte City, Montana; Tombstone, Arizona; Silver City and Lake Valley, New Mexico; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and in more recent years, Creede and Tonopah. Many other regions of silver discoveries might be mentioned, but the above list shows the vastness that the industry had reached.

Effect of Depreciation of Silver on Gold Mining, 1875-1890

The enormous production of silver, accompanied by increasing outputs in Mexico and elsewhere, brought about the inevitable result and caused the fall in the value of the metal. At the time of the opening of the Comstock lode in 1859, the price of silver was $1.36 per ounce. Until then silver had been very scarce, and in spite of the enormous output of the Comstock and other mines discovered later, the price of the metal held up wonderfully until 1873, ranging in value from $1.36 to $1.29. The great flood of silver that was being produced, however, finally made itself felt, and slowly but surely the price fell. In the