A Swallow Press Book
“The story of the last great goldrush on the Western mining frontier—in Goldfield, Nevada, peaking about 1906. Beautifully told, with great attention to the lives of ordinary people.”
Reference & Research Book News
“Those familiar only with Nevada’s 19th-century mining past an the Comstock Lode will find much of interest in Zanjani’s latest book…Zanjani opens with personal stories of discovery, beginning with a gold find by a Shoshone Indian that helped end 20 years of depression in the state. Her greatest contribution, however, lies in providing a real sense of life and death in a gold rush town that flashed and faded early in this century.”
Nicholas C. Burckel, Library Journal
“The prose is the prose of a good novelist, but Sally Zanjani’s stuff is soundly based on careful, extensive, thoroughgoing research…This book is a masterpiece of the historian’s craft.”
Joseph R. Conlin, Nevada Historical Society Quarterly
“Goldfield’s flame may not have burned long, but its intensity was equalled by few others. The Goldfield saga is as rich and exciting a vein of Western history as one is likely to strike. The author has taken a compelling story and presented it in a highly readable narrative that vividly re-creates the days of the Old West’s last boomtown.”
Jerry Keenan, Wild West
“The discovery of Goldfield, Nevada, in 1902, along with the earlier discovery of Tonopah in 1900, marked the revival of mining in Nevada. Mining production, which had escalated after the discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859, dropped to almost nothing with the decline of the Comstock in the 1870s. Without continued mining production, the state entered what proved to be a twenty-year depression period that ultimately led some observers to suggest that Nevada be deprived of its statehood. Nevada was saved from further abuse by the new discoveries in the southern part of the state.
The Tonopah boom was moderate, as was the early development at Goldfield. Then in the winter of 1904 a rich gold strike at Goldfield set off a boom reminiscent of the earlier days of the Comstock rush. Within a short time Goldfield was the largest city in Nevada. The boom, however, did not last and Goldfield, confronted with a major labor dispute, was headed for oblivion.
It is the basic story of discovery, boom, and bust that Professor Zanjani recounts. Hers, however, is not the ordinary history of a boom mining camp. It is a social documentary of Goldfield as it moved from discovery, through its boom period and into decline. Based on a massive research effort, Goldfield is more than just a recitation of facts. Zanjani gives the reader a detailed look into the lives of the people of Goldfield as they worked, played, ate, slept, and died during the various phases of the camp’s history. I know of no other mining boom camp that has been covered in this fashion. It is a unique story, well-told by a literary craftsman. It is, in the opinion of this writer, a classic of its kind.”
—Russell R. Elliott, in Prefatory Note to Goldfield
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This is the story of the men who sought for gold, from California to the eastern rim of the Rocky Mountains. Wolle writes colorfully of the unbelievable privations the men endured in penetrating the fastnesses of the high Sierra and the Rockies and in crossing the desert wastes of Arizona, Utah and Nevada; of the mines first discovered in New Mexico by Coronado and his men four centuries ago; and the first great rush that hit California in 1849.
During the fabulous reign of Colorado Silver, innumerable prospectors passed by Pike’s Peak on their way to the silver strikes at Leadville, Aspen, and the boom camps in the Saguache, Sangre de Cristo, and San Juan mountain. Then, in 1890, a carpenter named Winfield Scott Stratton discovered gold along Cripple Creek. By 1900, this six square mile area on the south slope of Pike’s Peak supported 475 mines and led the world in gold production.
The story of the American mining frontier can be traced in the ghost towns — from the camps of California's forty-niners to the twentieth-century ruins in the Nevada desert. They mark an epoch of high adventure, of quick wealth and quicker poverty, of gambling and gun-slinging and hell-raising.