Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/191

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GOLD MINING IN THE UNITED STATES

ery of gold, brought many adventurous people there who did much to develop the gold resources when found; in fact, the very discovery of gold was made in the building of a mill to supply the wants of the increasing population of California.

After our Civil War had ended, in 1865, many men who had served in both armies had become too much accustomed to constant excitement and action to settle down to the ordinary monotonous callings of life, and thousands of them started for the west as a country offering the life of adventure that they sought. Such men were thrifty, intelligent, brave and used to hardships. No pioneers of a new country were ever more suited to their task than they, and the result was soon seen in many new mining discoveries, made in the years immediately following the war.

Again, after the price of silver began to fall, many men were thrown out of work by the closing of the mines, and the search for gold attracted them as offering a more stable pursuit: with the result that in the years from 1890 to 1905 some of the great gold discoveries of the world were made, including the Cripple Creek, Klondike, Goldfield and other regions.

Financial panics and times of business depression have also marked epochs in the development of mining, especially gold mining. When manufacturing and other commercial pursuits are-not prosperous, when men are thrown out of work, speculators financially ruined, banks closed and the whole world seems gloomy, then gold mining has often been most prosperous; for the unemployed and the unfortunate have taken to it as a means of earning a livelihood or of recuperating their shattered fortunes, and in doing so have often made rich discoveries. Many of the pioneers who came to Colorado in the 1859 rush were men who had suffered in the financial panic of 1857; and many of the early prospectors in the Cripple Creek region were people who had been similarly injured in the panic of 1893, while many a Klondike explorer had been a prosperous business man before the latter sad era. In the same way a marked increase in the production of gold in 1908 followed the financial panic of 1907. This feature of gold mining as a last help to the unfortunate has been observed not only in the United States, but in many other parts of the world. When all else fails, the people take to gold mining, especially placer mining, which requires but little equipment, is easily learned, and in some places is sure to afford a certain, though often meager, profit.

An important factor in the progress of gold mining has been the increased respect for the industry on the part of the public at large. Not many years ago, many people, especially in the east, looked on gold mining as a gamble and a calling of questionable character; and the numerous fraudulent schemes that had been floated gave them some