Colorado Mining History

Duane A. Smith, Colorado’s foremost historian, particularly in the mining history of the state, produces two great gems.

In San Juan Legacy: Life in the Mining Camps (University of New Mexico Press, $24.95) Smith once again demonstrates his unique grasp of the subject. Ten years after the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1859, silver and gold in the San Juan Mountains transformed this unique area into one of the state’s most legendary mining meccas. Smith details the mining era, peppered with the everyday life in towns such as Silverton, Telluride and Ouray.

In Smith’s 50th book, The Trail of Gold and Silver (University Press of Colorado, $22.95), he expertly  chronicles 150 years of mining in Colorado, in which gold mines brought prosperity and new industries that eventually led to statehood. Also documented are the silver discoveries that created the towns of Georgetown and Leadville. The 1891 gold discovery at Cripple Creek was the last, and greatest, discovery in Colorado. And the labor strikes—from Telluride to Cripple Creek to Ludlow—are covered with amazing clarity. ­

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