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Rocky Mountain West: Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, 1859-1915 (Histories of the American Frontier)

Rocky Mountain West: Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, 1859-1915 (Histories of the American Frontier)

Duane A. Smith

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The Pike's Peak Gold Rush of 1859 brought dreamers and drifters by the thousands who dug up streams and hillsides in the Rockies seeking their wealth. Mines and towns soon stretched from Colorado to Montana in a pell-mell rush to extract the vast mineral wealth of gold, silver, copper, and coal. Nearly forty years after the first gold rush, from atop Pike's Peak in 1893, Katharine Lee Bates captured forever in the verse of her stirring tribute "America the Beautiful" an image of the Rockies as "purple mountain majesties." These two views of the Rocky Mountains-of their recoverable wealth and their grandeur-are central to this story of how people adapted to and eventually appreciated the singular beauty of the western landscape.

Here is a lively history of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana from 1859 to 1915-the era of booms and busts, of a scramble for property and profits on the part of the railroads, miners, and cattle ranchers. But as wilderness rapidly gave way to permanent settlement, many quickly saw the need to preserve forever a bit of the unspoiled forests of the Rockies through creation of national parks. This is a book for all who have wandered through mining ghost towns or hiked in the preserved wilderness at Yellowstone, Glacier, or Rocky Mountain national parks.

Duane A. Smith is a professor of history at Fort Lewis College and the author of over twenty books on the West.

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