Welcome to Western Mining History

Mill Locations of the Comstock Lode

The Comstock Lode of Nevada was one of the richest deposits of precious metals ever discovered, and the mining bonanza that occurred there is one of America’s most significant historical events. This article looks at the distribution of the over 200 mills that were constructed to process the Comstock ore.  Continue Reading

A Tour of Colorado Mining Towns

This tour of Colorado mining towns is organized by county, and represents the current contents of the Colorado Mining Towns database at Western Mining History.   Continue Reading

Best Historical Photos: 1900s Nevada Boom Towns

20,000 spectators at a drilling contest in Goldfield, Nevada ca. 1906

The first decade of the 1900s was an exciting time for the state of Nevada. Most mining rushes were over in the West, but Nevada had numerous new discoveries during this time. Mining booms occurred that resembled the great excitements of the 1860s and 1870s, and mining camps quickly developed into fantastic cities.  Continue Reading

The California Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush was the most significant event in the history of the settlement of the western frontier. The initial discovery was made in January 1848, but news traveled slowly and although many miners arrived in 1848, the beginning of the Gold Rush was the following year in 1849.  Continue Reading

The Western Prospector

Dating back to the earliest days of the California Gold Rush, prospectors were looked upon by the general public as the solitary heroes of the western frontier. They were responsible for the rapid discovery of California's seemingly endless placer gold mines, and soon were tracing those placers back to their sources in what became the region’s great underground mines. "The Western Prospector" details the history of prospectors in the West, including numerous historical photos.  Continue Reading

Shorty Harris and the Bullfrog Claim

Shorty Harris was the Death Valley region's most famous prospector. He discovered the Bullfrog mine that started the great rush to Rhyolite around 1905. Despite his success as a prospector, he never became wealthy, and preferred the simple life of a desert prospector.  Continue Reading