Welcome to Western Mining History

The Impossible Road: Incredible Photos of the Otto Mears Toll Road

The Otto Mears Toll Road

Established in 1876, Ouray, Colorado was positioned at the north end of the rugged San Juan mountains, in a box canyon that served as the gateway to many rich mining districts. The town would have been the ideal commerce and transportation center for a large part of the region of not for one problematic detail.  Continue Reading

Home Sweet Home – Miner’s Cabins of the Frontier West

Miners pose at their cabin somewhere in Colorado

The rugged individuals that opened the frontier West were prospecting, mining, and attempting to survive in what was a vast wilderness at the time. Many of the basics of survival had to be sourced directly from the miner’s immediate surroundings, and shelter was one of the first necessities of life that had to be addressed.  Continue Reading

Introducing the WMH Gold Explorer

The Western Mining History Gold Explorer is an interactive map designed to assist in the location of both historic and modern gold districts in the Western United States. The Gold Explorer is available to Premium Members Members: Access the WMH Gold Explorer The Gold Explorer locates all the mines from the USGS MRDS database that  Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: South Pass City, Wyoming

Featured Mining Town: South Pass City, Wyoming

The first significant gold discovery in the South Pass area occurred in 1867 and a rush was on. South Pass City became the largest camp in the new district, and in 1868 became the second incorporated city in Wyoming.   Continue Reading

The Top Ten Gold Producing States

Placer mine near Anvil Creek - Nome Alaska

From 1799 through 1965, the United States produced over 300,000,000 ounces of gold, which at the current price of around $1,500 per ounce (as of August 2019) would be valued at over $450 billion dollars. These are the ten states that contributed the most gold to US production during the golden era of mining in the American West.  Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: Central City, Colorado

Featured Mining Town: Central City, Colorado

Central City was Colorado's most important mining center for almost two decades following gold discoveries in 1859. The city's fame would be overshadowed by Leadville in 1880, but Central City would endure for decades as one of the West's oldest and most resilient mining towns.  Continue Reading