Date of Award

Spring 1980

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Robert Swartout

Second Advisor

Rev. Jeremiah Sullivan

Third Advisor

Rev. James Hamilton

Abstract

The usual Rocky Mountain gold camp went through a general growth pattern. First the gold was discovered in an area and a rush followed. In this stage, the camp that grew was loosely organized, transitory and totally dependent on the mining. The population fluctuated wildly. Gradually, government and social order became organized, a business district would grow and the temporary camp would gain signs of maturing. The wild days of the boom became quieter and cultural influence showed in the camp's activities. The mature gold camp which evolved was quite different from the early rush camp. The initial excitement of the discovery of gold was gone, the areas were well-known and well-mapped and, as a result, there were few surprises. Most of the wealth was controlled by big corporations. Gone were the individual mine owners and workers. The mature camp might not even rely on mining as its primary industry, as the growth and importance of agriculture increased. This pattern was common to almost all Rocky Mountain gold camps. However, the mere discovery of gold in an area did not guarantee a rush to the area. The existence of gold in Montana had been known as early as 1852 but the rushes did not begin until the 1860s. The discovery had to be assisted by two important factors working together. First, gold rushes almost always occurred at times of national instability when men motivated by widespread turbulence or upheaval moved out in search of quick fortune. Secondly, a gold rush did not occur unless a man or group of men publicized and promoted the rush.H A look at the three major gold rushes in Montana reveals that all three fit both this general growth pattern and that these two factors were present to precipitate the rush. The purpose of this thesis is to make a study of one gold camp in Montana and to fit it into the framework of the major strikes and current events in Montana at that time. I will examine the mining at Pony, Montana and determine if this camp fits the common growth pattern, and if the two factors discussed previously are present. In conclusion, I will consider the impact of mining on early Montana through the case study of Pony.

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