From Two Thousand Miles on Horseback
By James F. Meline
New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867

The gulch miner has been here in all his pristine strength and glory. Gravel, sand, bowlders, rocks--not one stone left upon another; not one where Nature put it. The entire bed of the stream in the condition of the Kentuckian who was "uneasy in his mind." It was all "tore up." Here sent as high up the bank as impossible hydraulics would allow, and left to feel and trickle its way along a steep mountain side some hundred feet below, that crowbar, pickaxe, and spade might hold high revel in its quiet bed; there put into the straight-jacket of a race, to feed that waterwheel now rotting like the dam above it. Old cradles, broken rockers, quartz pounders half completed and abandoned, a lonely grave or two up the hillside, requiemed over every night by the wild pines. Nothing more is left of the gulch miner, whose occasional prize of a nugget lured hundreds from happy homes and richer placers in their quiet fields. He has passed on. He is eighty or a hundred miles further west, close behind the trapper, whose quiet haunts he invaded.

Mining here is no longer the matter of the chance finding of a little dust and a few spangles. The surface gold is already picked up, and the lodes are now owned by associations and companies, who, with the aid of science, propose to get the precious metal out of the bowels of the earth.

We soon come upon chimneys, large wheels, machinery, mills, steamengines--many of the latter not yet put up. Presently the valley becomes a continuous settlement, and so we go on some two miles. Just below Black Hawk we pass a large and handsomely constructed building of stone, erected some two years since by Fitz John Porter, as agent for a mining company. The company never did any mining, its funds being mainly absorbed in preliminary building.

Black Hawk is a long street of mills, stables, houses, and shops, all in the mining interest. Where it ends and Central City begins, in going up the valley, does not appear, but presently you are in "Central."

The desolation and literal dilapidation of the bed of the creek has now extended up the sides of the valley to their summits. They look like mountains in reduced circumstances, and in a shockingly bad state of repair. Trees and vegetation have long since disappeared. Holes, shafts, and excavations almost obliterate the original surface. Hoisting wheels; here and there, show that a depth is reached beyond ordinary digging. Lower down the hillside, holes of four to twelve feet in horizontal depth into the solid rock show that some poor fellow has thrown away clays of hard toil for bitter disappointment.

Miners Homepage