Wyoming AHGP
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project


Portion of the Mining Region of the Black Hills

Gold, Silver and Copper

Standing at Laramie City, and looking eastward, the eye rests upon a spur of the Rocky Mountains, known as the B1ack Hills Range; and as we look to the west we behold, first, another spur known as the Medicine Bow Range. Then just beyond, and in full view, rises up that grand old leviathan, the Snowy Range, the Great Mastodon of the Western Hemisphere.

Locked up in these everlasting hills are countless stores of wealth waiting only for the hand of energy to be applied. Nature has entrusted to us the key. What if it requires almost an iron grasp to turn it? What if our first excavations hardly seem to repay our efforts? We will slacken not our grasp. The same great mineral belt, which lies along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, extending throughout the entire territories of Colorado and New Mexico, from which Colorado alone has extracted her millions of dollars in gold and silver, extends also through our territory, and in close proximity to Laramie City, as we propose to show by a few plain facts brought to light by a partial prospecting and development within the past two years. Within the Black Hills at a distance of from fifteen to twenty-five miles, are found ledges of gold, silver and copper of very favorable promise, a great many of which are now being rap-idly developed.

The Metcalf Mining Company, owning seven lodes, have erected smelting works for the reduction of their ores; works now about ready for operation. Eleven other companies have been formed, and work is being prosecuted vigorously by each in the development of their respective mines.

Essays of the ores from this locality, made at the United States Mint in Denver, Colorado, show a yield of from twelve dollars to four hundred dollars per ton of ore.

We have personally traced this belt, or formation, from Pole Creek to Box Elder, a distance of over thirty miles, crossing the Union Pacific Railroad at Granite Canon Station, and following the eastern base of the range of Black Hills, and being just inside, or above, a series of limestone hills, known as the Hogbacks. The width of this belt is from one to four miles. The upper or western boundary being Syenite barren of minerals as far as yet known. And while we find Gneiss, Taleose and Chloritic Slates, Trap, Quartz, and Porphyry, comprising the rocks of the upper portion of this belt, and bearing true fissure veins, as the Meritt, Agnes, Cheyenne, Excelsior and Ransom lodes, the rocks of the lower portion are certainly all sedimentary. Many of the deposits are clearly connected with the stratification of the limestone. They follow it, and permeate it in such a way as to give the opinion of deposition by means of percolating thermal waters carrying mineral salts, and accompanied by jets of gases, chiefly sulphurous acid. Their regularities and irregularities alike resemble those displayed by ordinary springs of water permeating the crust of the earth, avoiding some strata, saturating others, filling local cavities and fissures in others. Now, if this theory be correct, it is most likely that its application, as far as the mode of deposition is concerned, will be found universal in the limestone portion of this belt. Differences in character among the mines must be explained by the differences in the mold or form receiving the deposit. The ores of silver, copper, and lead found in this locality so far, are chiefly sulphurates; nearly all lodes and deposits of the upper portions of the belt bearing some gold.

Within the Medicine Bow Range, to the west of us, at a distance of from twenty-five to fifty miles, are found ledges of gold, silver, copper, and rich placer mines. The earth of the valleys of nearly every stream and tributary penetrating these mountains, contains free gold, and in a great many places in paying quantities, where a man can pan out with his own hands from two to five dollars per day in pure gold. But this is not considered big enough for the miner alone, as in order to pro-duce "big pay," "bed rock flumes" must be constructed in some places, "canals and hydraulics" in others; so that, even in working placer mines of ordinary richness, to produce good results, capital and labor must go together. Consequently we have in this locality several quite extensive corporations for working placer mines; among which are the New York and Wyoming Mining Company, the Home Mining Company, and the Parson Mining Company, together with several smaller companies; each of whom have made extensive preparations, and will undoubtedly reap a rich harvest during the coming summer.

During the past winter, and within this range, at distance of about thirty miles from Laramie, a district has been discovered bearing lodes of wonderfully rich free gold quartz, producing ore which yields from one hundred dollars to five thousand dollars per ton. The first discovery made in this district was the Centennial Lode, by Mr. I. Y. Skidmore and others, which yielded by first assay nine hundred and sixty-five dollars per ton of ore. Col. S. W. Downey immediately took hold of this lode, and has since been pushing its development. And thus far the Centennial Mine promises to be an immense fortune. Several other lodes have been discovered in this vicinity, notwithstanding the difficulty of prospecting in the snow of the mountains in winter; and several companies have been formed, and are pushing the development of favorably prospecting lodes; among whom are M. G. Tonn & Co., Wm. "Waters & Co., Clark, McPherson & Co., and others whose firm names we do not know at this writing.

These ores with the pure gold of the gulches must eventually, bring to their development thousands of men, as capital looks abroad for in-vestment and as the toiling millions of the old world seek this great western land, as they surely will, and as our population shall increase. We count upon it as certain that wherever one man can take out of the ground two dollars per day in pure gold, the country possessing such resources must give place to a vast population. Travel through almost any of our eastern states and you will find many poor farmers, who toil from daylight until dark, year after year, to raise their little crops of wheat, corn and potatoes, or whatever it may be, upon which they barely support themselves and families, and the crops which they reap, they must first sow and plant. Here Nature has given us acres upon acres containing pure gold which simply requires the reapers to gather it in.

Too great importance cannot be attached to the development of this resource: not only as characterizing and affecting the wealth of this particular region; but also on account of the national necessity of home production of these precious metals, which ever have been and must continue to be fixed standards of valuation. Disguise the fact as we may; talk as we may of higher aims and nobler objects, the fact still remains that human enterprise and energy in every sphere of industry, even in the learned professions, literature and the fine arts, are directed towards the acquisition of gold and silver. The higher the type of civilization, the more certain this principle of action. In every enterprise the amount of gold and silver gained or lost is the measure of success or failure. The value of all things else whether for use or ornament is measured by this standard. The production of these metals was the prime attractive feature that directed the course of emigration toward this region. As Col. S. W. Downey, of this city once very fitly said in one of his noble lectures on the resources of the Great West: "The gold of California, the silver of Nevada, the gold and silver of Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Wyoming sifted out the finest energy and enterprise of the world, transported it across kingdoms, empires, continents, and oceans to the trackless wilds, the vast peculiar realm of the American savage." Hence with our gold, silver, and copper mines, our mountains of iron, our vast deposits of coal, together with our soda, kaolin, plumbago, building-stone, lime, and gypsum, with two million acres of grass and agricultural lands, in the Laramie Plains alone, with four noble streams penetrating to our vast forests of pine and spruce, and which form a channel of communication by which means millions of feet of timber can be annually run down to our great national highway, the Union Pacific Rail Road, whereby we can supply a treeless country over six hundred miles in extent on the east of us.

With such resources as these, is there any man foolish enough to assert or even think that these Laramie Plains, and the grand old mountains which encircle them, will not in a very few years become thickly populated, and swell the population of this city to many thousands.

Source: History and Directory of Laramie City, Wyoming Territory, By J. H. Triggs, Laramie City: Daily Sentinel Print, 1875.

Back to AHGP

Copyright August @2011 - 2024 AHGP - Judy White Copyright ©2000-2006  
For the exclusive use and benefit of The American History and Genealogy Project. All rights reserved.