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5 Must Visit Mining Towns

There are hundreds if not thousands of old mine camps and towns in the united states that are nothing more than a memory of a time that once was. Some of these old towns lasted for a only a year or so while others maybe hung on a bit longer. There are however a few of these old mine towns that became cities and are are still standing strong today. Some of these old towns still have active mining as a contibutor to their economy today while others have become tourist and recreational spots.

In this article we're going to take a look at five old mining towns that you need to get out and visit this year.

Butte Montana
Butte started out as placer gold camp back in the 1860s after the miners started moving north from California after the big rush there started to die off. Within a few years hwever the gold ran out and mining slowed down until the 1870s when some silver was found. However it was the high copper content of the ores that put this place on the map. By the mid 1880s, Butte had become a major copper producer and by 1896, the mines aroud Butte were producing over 25% of the world’s copper. These mines supplied work for over 8,000 men and by 1910, Butte had a population of over 100,000. Copper ore mined from the Butte mining district in 1910 alone totaled 284,000,000 pounds at the time, Butte was the largest producer of copper in North America and rivaled in worldwide metal production only by South Africa. The same year,in excess of 10,000,000 troy ounces of silver and 37,000 troy ounces of gold were also discovered. The amount of ore produced in the city earned it the nickname "The Richest Hill on Earth."

Today Butte has a population of around 35,000 residents. There is still some active mining that goes on in the area. The city hosts a large mining museum that show cases the history of this great copper town. For rock hounds there is the mineral museum and for historians there is a real cool down town. Be sure to check out the Copper King Mansion.

Deadwood South Dakota
It was gold that was discovered on French Creek in the Black Hills back in 1874. After word had gotten out about this gold strike it didn't take long before the area was crawling miners, prospectors, merchants, gamblers and gun slingers. Deadwood was a lawless town and pretty saw much everyone and everything. The population swelled to 12000 by 1877 however some records state the population got as high as 25,000.

This town saw some characters that would go down in the history books. Gunman Wild Bill Hickok was killed here on August 2, 1876. Both he and Calamity Jane were buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery. Eleanor Dumont, also known by her nickname Madame Moustache was a notorious gambler on the American Western Frontier. Jack McCall the infamous murderer who On August 2, 1876, walked into Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon #10 and shot Wild Bill Hickok point blank in the back of the head. Let's not forget Seth Bullock who arrived in Deadwood two days after wild Bill had been shot. Seth became the first sherrif in town and eventually built Deadwood’s first hotel, the Bullock Hotel. It was Deadwood's finest most luxurious hotel of its time being a three story building with steam heat and indoor bathrooms on each floor

Deadwood today is a tourist town. The population today is a far cry from the booming gold rush days with under 2,000 residents. Although the town had it's share of fires over the years, a lot of the orginal town still stands. There are casinos, guided tours of the town, eateries and bars and the list go on and on.

Cripple Creek
This town is known as the world's greatest gold camp. It was back in October 1890 that Robert Womack discovered some rich ore and started a great Colorado gold rush. By July 1891 there was a post office and by November, hundreds of prospectors were camping in the area. Within three years the population increased from five hundred to ten thousand. By 1900, the Cripple Creek mining district was home to over 500 mines and by 1910 the camp had produced 22.4 million ounces of gold. Between 1894 and 1902, around 50,000 people lived in the mining district with 35,000 in the town of Cripple Creek alone making it the fourth most populous town in Colorado at the time.

Throughout it's history, Cripple Creek district produced about 23.5 million troy ounces of gold and over 30 millionaires were produced since its mining heyday. Remember Robert Womack/ He was the one would found the original discovery here. Well he was not one of those millionaires. Robert sold his claim for $500 and a case of whiskey and died penniless on August 10th 1909.

Today, cripple creek is a destination for those seeking to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle. Walking through the old down town you'll find the many casinos and nightly entertainment as well as many shops, eateries and bars. It's not just a place for adults either. There's camping, hiking, mine tours and more.

Virginia City Nevada
Like many old mine camps in Nevada, Virginia City became a mining boomtown virtually overnight as a result of miners rushing to the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. However Virginia City far surpassed many others for its peak of population from 4,000 in 1862 to over 15,000 the followin year. By 1873 Virginia City had a population of over 25,000 residents and was called the richest city in the United States.This town also became known as home to the Comstock Lode, named after Henry Comstock who ended up with a silver claim that was located on the slopes of nearby Mount Davidson. The Ophir, Gould and Curry and Consolidated Virginia mines were mines that made up the “Big Bonanza” of 1873. The mines produced at least $300 million in mineral deposits. George Hearst and John MacKay were two men who made millions in the mines became known as the Bonanza Barons.

Peak production from the Comstock occurred in 1877 where the mines produced over $14,000,000 of gold and $21,000,000 of silver that year. At one point there were over 400 companies mining in and around this area.

Samuel Clemens or better known as Mark Twain wrote for the local newspaper here. Clemens lived in Virginia City and wrote for the Enterprise from fall 1862 until May 1864.

Today Virginia City is a town full of old history. Visitors come to tour the old mines and the Sutro Tunnel. Old mansions and stately brick buildings can still be seen as you walk the streets of this old town. Just a short drive from Reno makes this town of less than 1000 people a great way to get away for a day.

Tombstone Arizona
You can't talk about old mine towns and not mention Tombstone Arizona. Founded by prospector Ed Schieffelin when he found silver back in 1877. Within a short period of time there was over a hundred other prospectors in the area. Ed and two partners then formed the Tombstone Mining and Milling Company, and built a stamp mill and by the fall of 1879 Tombstone was a bustling camp with several thousand residents. One of the mines called the tuff nut mine was producing silver ore that as rich as $22,000 a ton.

Tombstone saw it's share of fires. On June 22, 1881, a fire started in the Arcade Saloon, destroying 66 businesses. A year later, on May 25, 1882, a fire started in a Chinese laundry which burned out over 100 buildings. This town also saw it's share of outlaws and gun fights. Robberies and stage hold ups were almost a daily occurance. "Killings were so common that the local paper hardly even mentioned them. And of course Tombstone was home to the famous lawmen Doc Holiday, James, Virgil, and Wyatt Earp and that famous shoot out at the OK corral. Oh and let's not forget Doc's old lady, Big Nose Kate.

How much silver was extracted from the ground around here? Well Estimates vary widely as to how much was mined a Tombstone, but it is said that over 32,000,000 ounces were produced, worth way over a billion dollars today.

These days Tombstone is a tourist town. You can check out the actual site of Tombstone's legendary gunfight and see daily reenactments of the shootout. Check out the old mines and the famous boot hill. Have yourself a drink in Wyatt Earp's original gambling hall. Walk the same streets the miners of old once walked and check out the many shops, eateries and saloons. Tombstone is just a bit over an hour from Tucson and can make for an exciting day trip.