Welcome to Western Mining History

Where to Find Gold in Idaho

WMH Gold Maps for Google Earth Pro are designed to locate areas with high potential for finding placer gold. A core feature of these maps is the highlighting of townships that contain both active placer mining claims and historical gold mines. The screenshot below is from the Idaho Gold Map and shows gold-bearing PLSS townships  Continue Reading

A Collection of Arizona Mining Photos

Arizona of the 1800’s was a state defined by harsh desert topography, rugged remoteness, fierce indians determined to defend their homes from outsiders, and a certain degree of frontier lawlessness. These factors contributed to Arizona getting a later start in the Western mining booms than some of the other states. Arizona remained a territory until  Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: Columbia, California

Featured Mining Town: Columbia, California

Columbia, California was one of California's richest placer gold districts. Much of the substantial town center that was built in the late 1850s is preserved today as part of Columbia State Historic Park.  Continue Reading

Incredible Photos of Travel by Stagecoach in Frontier Colorado

The stagecoach has become an iconic symbol of the American West. In remote parts of the western frontier, the stagecoach was the only form of public transportation for years or decades before being replaced with trains or later roads and automobiles.   Continue Reading

Winning the Metal: Ore Mills of the West

Article By Gary Carter. Photos sourced by Western Mining History. Numerous articles and books have described the techniques to extract valuable metals from waste rock. One of the best books on the subject is Drills and Mills by Will Meyerriecks. Meyerriecks describes the process of extracting metals from waste rock as “winning the metal”. As  Continue Reading

Arrastras Illustrated in These Historical Photos

Water-powered arrastra at Dixie, Idaho

The remains of mining-era arrastras are fairly common in the West, but what exactly are they? The short answer is that the arrastra was the most primitive method used to crush ore into a fine enough powder that the precious metals could be separated from the host rock. While many people are familiar with the  Continue Reading