marshall trimble ask the marshall true west magazine

In the June issue of True West, there are several photos of the mines and miners of George Hearst (pp. 20-25).  How did those men get paid?

Jimmy Spell
Sonora, California

Hard rock miners worked for wages. It varied but here’s a good example:

A 12-hour workday (seven days) paid $2.25, and $1.00 went for room and board. The men working the stamp mill were paid $4 a day. The Comstock Lode in Nevada had the reputation of providing the best working conditions for miners. They were paid a guaranteed $4 minimum for an underground, eight-hour shift, making Comstock miners some of the best paid industrial workers in the world.

hard rock miners true west magazine
Depending on mine ownership, the pay, hours and working conditions for hard rock miners varied across the West.
— Courtesy Library of Congress —

By the early 1900s, many hard rock miners saw work weeks cut to six and then five days. A workday dropped to 10 hours and eventually to eight hours. However, in places like Clifton, Arizona, Mexican miners were making half that wage and working longer hours.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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