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From the 1800s, the Western world and mining have been closely linked with each other due to some geological and historical reasons. In the United States, mining gained prevalence when the Gold Rush took place in the mid 1800s. Ten years after the California gold rush in 1849, new deposits were found in other parts of the West. The gold rush sparked an interest in mining for other precious metals such as silver and copper and minerals as well. Mining camps were made to house the millions of people who travelled West to avail the work opportunities that resulted from mining.

People from East and West came with the dream of striking it rich. Denver and Sacramento became the mining hubs for workers. Boom towns in Idaho and Arizona also cropped up. There were fewer women and children who lived in such towns. However, the mine workers came from different backgrounds. From Mexicans, African Americans, Mestizos (offspring of white and Mexican parents) to Chinese Americans – everyone was involved in the mining industry. Such mining towns usually had saloons, bars and brothels.

Most Western films are greatly influenced by them. Violence was much higher and they weren’t proper laws or sheriffs to control it. The boom towns would prosper for years but as soon as the mines were exhausted or found to be fruitless, the population would gradually leave. These abandoned towns became popularly known as ghost towns. The industrial revolution that started in the 1700s also fuelled the growth of coal mining in the West. At this time, coal was integral for industries and transportation industry.

Britain was first amongst the Western world to develop formalized techniques of underground coal mining. Coal mining was also one of the most dangerous kinds of mining in the nineteenth century. The technologies that the miners used to reach the depths were primitive by recent standards. In the United Kingdom, mining helped in the prosperity of Yorkshire, Lancashire and South Wales. In 1859, Comstock Lode in Nevada was discovered and it produced $310 million worth of gold and silver.

Nevada’s financial support, population from the mining activities actually helped in admitting it to the United States of America. The history of a lot of western states such as Montana, Idaho, Alaska and the Dakotas has been greatly influenced by mining. The mining industry of the American West was funded heavily by the British. Their technology and equipment was critical to the mining boom of the 1800s. Since the American investors were severely affected by the war, the mining boom started to peter out by the 1860s.

Since the late 1800s, coal mining has been the source of a lot of political and social debate. At that time, the government and the US citizens were both unaware of the impacts of mining on the environment specially water and land. It wreaked havoc on the local communities. During the nineteenth century, very little was done at that time to regulate the mining industry. A lot has changed since then. Newer technologies, techniques and regulations have come up that ensure the safety of miners, protect the environment and communities and foster sustainability.

References: • History of coal mining in the United States. (2009, April 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:01, May 6, 2009, from http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=History_of_coal_mining_in_the_United_States&oldid=284838377 • Gold mining. (2009, May 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:03, May 6, 2009, from http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Gold_mining&oldid=287255571 • The Mining Boom. In U. S History. Retrieved 10:05, May 6, 2009, from: http://www. ushistory. org/us/41a. asp

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