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The essay talks about the Comstock Lode which turned out to be the richest silver lode in the United States. Located beneath the eastern slope of mount Davison a Virginia range peak in Nevada, Comstock Lode is actually a vein of silver ore. It leads to the main discovery of silver ore in the United States. It also talks in details about the events that followed with the discovery of the Comstock Lode and how all these events got unfolded to create enormous fortune for the silver miners and how this fortune contributed to the growth of Virginia City located in Nevada. It is one of the major dramatic incidents in Nevada’s history in the nineteenth century and without it Nevada would not have been able to attain statehood. The thesis statement for the study is – “to investigate the events of Comstock Lode and how it impacted the regions in many ways”.
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The Comstock Lode is one of the major mining discoveries in the history of America viewed in significance and output. It estimated that the total amount of ore brought out from the district, 57% was silver ore. It was basically considered as a gold camp. After the discovery of the lode got out in 1859, it created a sliver rush of prospectus to that area, wanting to stake their claims. After the California gold rush in the year 1849 the discovery of the Comstock Lode created a considerable exhilaration in California and throughout the United States. Mining camps soon started thriving surrounding that particular area and it grew to become an active commercial center which included Virginia City. The Comstock Lode was noteworthy not because of the enormous fortune it generated but the large role this fortune played in the growth of San Francisco and Nevada and also the advancement of mining technology that spurred because of it. The initial discovery of the Comstock Lode took place in the year 1859 and for the following twenty years Comstock became the dominating events in the history of Nevada and therefore also became an important event in the history of America.
The history of Comstock Lode consisted of the three main periods which describes the significant factors of the event. The first period from 1859 to 1865 consisted of the litigation period. Corporations and miners went to court for their claims and fought over mining claim limits. Confusions also showed in whether the lodge would be considered as a unit of continuous vein of ore or should be split into many veins of ore (Miller, 2016). During the six years the miner removed an approximate 50 million from the ground but 10 million from that sum got spent on court case. William Stewart, a leader of the Comstock and a politically motivated mining lawyer was involved in resultant of these court battles. The second period from the 1865 to 1875 saw the dominance of the banks.
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Representatives of the Bank of California located in San Francisco got demonstrated dominance over Comstock. The bank’s representative William Sharon gambled on the future of the district and won it. They started their unfair practice by lending out money at 2% a month under cutting less capitalized banks and went on to acquire mills and mines when the borrowers defaulted. In this way the bank carried on their dominance and started influencing control on the Virginia City. Exercising their dominance the bank soon built the railroads from the mining regions which drastically decreased the transportation cost (Holman, 2016). Under the influence of William Sharon the bank took over the water, land and freighting companies which reduced cost and increased profits. The last period from 1875 to1881 marked for the years of bonanza for the Comstock Lode. Lead by mining superintendents a team of four Irishmen discovered ore bodies which were by far the richest ore bodies discovered in the Comstock Lode in 1873. Till 1878 the discoveries of the richest ore bodies was vigorous and after that year there showed a rapid decline in the bonanza discoveries.
Comstock Lode kept on producing ore till 1940 after that got greatly reduced. It has been estimated that from the years 1859 till 1882 the total amount of ore that was brought out was worth more than 300 million dollars. But it did not prove profitable for the owners of vast majority companies. The stakeholders got dividends from the 14 mining companies, out of the 103, who were dependable for these pay-outs. European born dominated the employments of mining. Out of the majority of men involved in mining industry of Comstock Lode the American were the second followed by the English and the Irish were the first among the majority miners. The Chinese were forbidden from working in the Comstock Lode due to the universal racism directed towards them. Due to the Comstock Lode and the interest it generated around the nation as a result of fortunes of the silver miners, the mining innovation and technology made a huge jump forward during this time. Huge advancement in the technology and process were made which changed mining forever (John, du Bray, Henry & Vikre, 2015). Washoe process and the square set timbering are the two advance processes of extraction of silver from ore that got spurred in these years of Comstock Lode events. To reach metal hidden underneath the surface tunneling underground was the only way. But that to be a problem due to the deadly caves especially in the soft ore of Comstock Lode. This problem also got solved with the visit of a German engineer in the mines of Nevada in 1860.
From the above findings in can be concluded that Comstock Lode brought a significant change in the lifestyle of the people living in the Virginia City. The population of the Virginia City grew from 4000 to 25000 owing to these historic events of the Comstock Lode. Nevada is commonly known as the Silver State as it was founded while the Comstock silver mines were being constructed. The Comstock Lode was an important event that generated fortune and the growth of the Nevada and with the advancement of mining methods.
- Holman, T. J. (2016). Social construction of technology in the workplace: Lode mining in the Fairbanks Mining District, Alaska 1902-1942. Doctoral dissertation, University of Alaska Anchorage.
- John, D. A., du Bray, E. A., Henry, C. D., & Vikre, P. (2015). Magmatism and Epithermal Gold-Silver Deposits of the Southern Ancestral Cascade Arc, Western Nevada and Eastern California.
- Miller, B. (2016). Understanding Fraud in the Silver Mining Districts of the Western United States in the Second Half of the 19th Century.