Gold!: Madness, Murder, and Mayhem in the Colorado Rockies

Gold!: Madness, Murder, and Mayhem in the Colorado Rockies

by Ian Neligh

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Overview

Gold!: Madness, Murder, and Mayhem in the Colorado Rockies by Ian Neligh

Gold! brings together the story of this metal’s glittering legacy in the Centennial State and the madness, murder, and mayhem that came along with it. The book examines the rich history of the miners and treasure hunters who came to face danger and hardships in the unforgiving Rocky Mountains. This story is unique in that it takes a look at the phenomenon of gold, the treasure hunters, both modern and historic, and brings them to life in a detailed and sharp narrative.

Author Ian Neligh spent a year meeting with experts and enthusiasts, hearing their stories and trying to understand why it is they continue to do what they do—often in the face of extreme hardship. Modern-day gold miners profiled include Al Mosch, Bill Chapman, Ken Reid, and Chad Watkins.

Gold! is the story of an unusual subculture on the rise in the mountains of Colorado fueled by a delicate balance of hope, greed, and loss. It tells the story of men mostly forgotten by the world as they go in endless pursuit of an impossible fortune. It follows miners working their small, dangerous gold claims in mines over a hundred years old, to modern-day prospectors trying to strike it rich and counterbalance the weight of a struggling economy. The book also examines if those who spend their lives in search of riches—ever actually strike it rich.

This book will appeal to both history buffs as well as fans of modern-day reality shows like Gold Rush.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781513260655
Publisher: Pruett Publishing Company
Publication date: 09/05/2017
Pages: 196
Sales rank: 264,644
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Ian Neligh is the editor of the Clear Creek Courant newspaper, located in Idaho Springs, the town where the Colorado gold rush first began. He has won many state and national journalism awards for his writing and reporting including first place for online in-depth reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, first place for investigative reporting from the Colorado Press Association, and numerous others.

Read an Excerpt

Gold! Clear as day and twice as bright, the glittering piece of metal winked up at me from the tidepool of black sand. Hardly daring to breathe, I adjusted my pan again and coaxed another little wave to further reveal the treasure. The dirt drew back, and my heart began beating faster. Mouth dry, I could hardly believe it. I’d found an actual piece of Colorado gold.

It was the same gold that tempted the Spanish to venture into dangerous new lands hundreds of years ago. It was the same gold that inspired legend, provoked madmen, dreamers and treasure hunters. It was the same gold, even when found in the smallest quantities, that set fire to a gold rush which swept across the United States in 1859 and drew to the Rockies a staggering 100,000 people. Towns formed, laws were cast, and a state was born. All because of the same gold that I now gazed down at.

As a newspaper reporter, I’d spent years working in and around the towns and cities established in the desperate scramble for gold. I’d worked in the brick buildings, walked the narrow streets and seen the amber-colored stains running from forgotten mines like the aftermath of bullet holes from a gunfight.

I’d looked at the hulking relics left from a bygone era to lean dangerously from the hillsides and valleys, rusted tributes to a time when a fortune could be dug from the ground and anyone, regardless of their economic status, could change it all in the blink of an eye. They also serve as memorials to crushed dreams, lives and an environmental legacy that will chain us to the sites for all of time.

What I found more fascinating were those that still hunted for their fortune in the shade cast by the gold rush more than 150 years ago. Prospectors, miners, treasure hunters who ignored popular sentiment that the gold was gone, that it had disappeared or was too hard to remove. A small community engages in dangerous, back-breaking work even today to pry wealth from the dirt and rock of the Colorado mountains.

Fascinated with both the history of the Gold Rush and those who still toiled in its legacy, I spent a year meeting with them, hearing their stories and trying to understand why it is they continue to do what they do - often in the face of extreme hardship. Many times by word of mouth, I went and met with one after the other and discovered the dubious inheritance of the gold rush included far more than just miners and prospectors.

But for the moment those thoughts were far away. I’d found gold in a chilly Colorado stream, and that is, after all, how it all began.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: Wolverines and Sunken Treasure

Chapter 2: A Fortune Lost and Found

Chapter 3: Diving for Gold

Chapter 4: Aladdin's Cave

Chapter 5: Chasing a Bullet

Chapter 6: Hard Rock Miner

Chapter 7: The New Prospectors

Chapter 8: A Gold Tooth and a Pair Of Pistols

Chapter 9: Gunslingers, Killers, and Ghosts

Chapter 10: The Tale of Two Cities

Chapter 11: Never Fearless

Chapter 12: Windigo

Chapter 13: Those Who Came Before

Chapter 14: What the Next Blast Brings

Chapter 15: A Family Legacy

Chapter 16: The Long Tunnel

Chapter 17: Phantoms

Chapter 18: Bat Country

Chapter 19: Ghost Country

Epilogue

Bibliography

Interviews

Fascinated with both the history of the Gold Rush and those who still toiled in its legacy, I spent a year meeting with experts and enthusiasts, hearing their stories and trying to understand why it is they continue to do what they do - often in the face of extreme hardship. Many times by word of mouth, I went and met with one after the other and discovered the dubious inheritance of the gold rush included far more than just miners and prospectors.

Here are a dozen of the people I’ve profiled:

1. William Green Russell, a miner who in 1858 discovered the first significant deposit of gold in the Rockies that ultimately launched the Pike’s Peak gold rush.

2. Alfred Packer, a prospector who confessed to an act of cannibalism committed during an arduous trip with five other miners through the mountains of Colorado in the winter of 1874.

3. Chad Watkins, a celebrity gold prospector featured on several seasons of Discovery Channel's "Ice Cold Gold".

4. Al Mosch, octogenarian owner of the Phoenix Gold Mine; appeared on Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures: Colorado Gold Mine".

5. James Long, a miner and president of the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies.

6. Brad Poulson, employee at the Newmont Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine.

7. Bill Chapman, founder of Gold-n-Detectors, a store that caters to modern-day prospectors.

8. Jesse Peterson, owner of a mine and company that outfits tourist prospectors.

9. Ed Lewandowski, retired engineer and gold miner.

10. Bob Bowland, one of the owners of the historic Argo Gold Mine and Mill.

11. Dr. Richard Goldfarb, a geologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on gold; appeared on the History Channel’s “How the Earth Was Made”.

12. Deb Zack a project manager with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety’s inactive mine program, who works closely with Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife to ensure that bats colonizing abandoned mines can freely enter and leave.

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Gold!: Madness, Murder, and Mayhem in the Colorado Rockies 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is just fun stuff. Criminals, gunslingers and cannibals! Also a lot of interesting history and colorful profiles of modern-day treasure hunters. Who knew Colorado's gold rush was so interesting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I could give this book 10 stars I would. If you are looking for an exciting read, and if you like, Colorado, gold or history, this is a book for you! The author's writing is brilliant, witty and he has a good sense of humor. This book takes you through adventures in the past from surviving vicious wolverines to those that didn't survive cannibalism and everything in between. It has modern day prospectors who go in search of elusive gold through Colorado's rivers and mountains, leading you to some of the most dangerous and unbelievable places.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bounces around