The Mining Law of 1872: Past, Politics, and Prospects

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Overview

History has left us a classic image of western mining in the grizzly forty-niner squatting by a clear stream sifting through gravel to reveal gold. What this slice of Western Americana does not reveal, however, is thousands of miners doing the same, their gravel washing downstream, causing the water to grow dark with debris while trout choke to death and wash ashore. Instead of the havoc wreaked upon the western landscape, we are told stories of American enterprise, ingenuity, and fortune.

The General Mining Act of 1872, which declared all valuable mineral deposits on public lands to be free and open to exploration and purchase, has had a controversial impact on the western environment as, under the protection of federal law, various twentieth-century entrepreneurs have manipulated it in order to dump waste, cut timber, create resorts, and engage in a host of other activities damaging to the environment. In this in-depth analysis, legal historian Gordon Morris Bakken traces the roots of the mining law and details the way its unintended consequences have shaped western legal thought from Nome to Tombstone and how it has informed much of the lore of the settlement of the West.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826343574
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Morris Bakken earned B.S., M.S., Ph.D., and J.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He teaches courses on American legal and constitutional history, westward movement, American military heritage, women of the American West, women and American law, as well as historical thinking and historical writing at California State University, Fullerton. He is the author or editor of numerous books including Icons of the American West: From Cowgirls to Silicon Valley.

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Table of Contents


Disclosure Statement and Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 Chapter 1 An Act to Promote the Development of the Mining Resources of the United States 8 Chapter 2 Local Mining District Regulations 16 Chapter 3 Congress Speaks: The General Mining Laws 25 Chapter 4 Courts Speak: Mucking Out Waste and Processing Words 32 Chapter 5 Location, Location, Location 37 Chapter 6 It's Off to Work We Go 55 Chapter 7 Spurs, Dips, and Angles 62 Chapter 8 Litigation 72 Chapter 9 Tailings, Slickens, and Slimes 82 Chapter 10 Hydraulic Mining 94 Chapter 11 Modernizing the Mining Law of 1872 106 Chapter 12 Environmental Law in the Age of Aquarius 116 Chapter 13 A Frontal Attack on the Mining Law of 1872 126 Chapter 14 The Continuing Attack on the Mining Law of 1872 147 Chapter 15 Badger State Battle for Mining 164 Conclusion 175 Notes 188 Index 233
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