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Goldfield: The Last Gold Rush on the Western Frontier

By: Zanjani, Sally
Price: $18.95

Swallow Press, 1992.
Shortly after the turn of the century discoveries by a Shoshone prospector in the barren central Nevada deserts ignited the last great goldrush on the Western mining frontier. Prospectors, miners, stock promoters, gamblers, camp followers, roughs, lawmen, and anarchists, among others, converged upon this unlikely plot of sand and joshua trees from every corner of the earth. The saga that ensued is first-rate. It tells the story of ordinary people - their everyday lives, hopes, loves, and dilemmas - as well as the fates of the newly crowned nabobs, who could wager a fortune on the turn of a roulette wheel. "Hell-roaring Goldfield" passed through the same stages of boom, industrialization, and decline as its mining-camp predecessors, but with some significant differences. Greed knew no bounds, waves of epidemic disease and violent death swept the city, mining stock speculation reached new heights, and the tycoon who rose to the top - the ruthless ex-gambler George Wingfield - dominated Nevada for years to come. In other ways as well, the last boomtown cast a long shadow over the future. Goldfield played a key role in the nineteenth-century mining boom that reversed twenty years of depression and decline in a severely depopulated state and assured the triumph of mining camp ideology over other value systems. Along with its careless bravado, that ideology meant unfettered individualism and the primacy of materialism over moral values. It meant a restless search for excitement in the saloons, forerunners of today's casinos and second only to the mines in economic importance. Above all, it meant getting rich and getting out, leaving others to pay the price.
Paperback,289 pages.