Colorado Silver Mining Boom Essay

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The Colorado Silver Mining Boom (1879-1893) inspired a race for the right to lay railroad tracks through the Colorado Royal Gorge. Conflict between the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway turned into a violent war that created turmoil for the railroad industry and for the courts. On March 27, 1880 a compromise was forged when the Treaty of Boston ended the conflict that had helped shape the American transportation system.

The Steam Engine
The Greek inventor Hero of Alexandria invented the steam engine in the 1st century A.D. In 1698, Thomas Savery invented the modern steam engine and Thomas Watt perfected it in 1765. These innovations would be adapted in ways that changed the world. …show more content…

The first company to start building railroads was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). They laid down their first tracks in 1828 and the line was completed in 1830. On that track, they used Peter Cooper's steam engine train called Tom Thumb to haul passengers and goods between Baltimore and Ohio. In 1869 the Union Pacific Railroad joined B&O to make the first transcontinental railroad. Soon, networks of railroads would connect vast territories and allow industries to flourish.

Mining silver was the reason Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway were fighting over the Royal Gorge. They wanted to use the gorge to quickly reach the mining fields in Leadville, Colorado. Coal was used to run steam engines. During the industrial age demand for coal pushed mining companies to find areas to mine that were hard to access. The trains were needed to transport coal back to markets to run steam engines.

Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
William J. …show more content…

D&RG workers decided that they were going to build ahead of the Santa Fe workers; however, Santa Fe sought court injunctions against D&RG. Soon after this both companies hired armed guards. This led to fighting in which one guard for the D&RG was shot and killed.

Dangerous Railroads
Building railroads in the West was very dangerous and had many unexpected obstacles. The West was the most unexplored region in the United States in the 1800's. Railroad construction crews feared falling rocks from dynamite and shifting boulders. The dry and hot environment was extremely hard to work in. The work was slow, tiring and involved little food and water.
People of the West
The Old West consisted of lawmen, outlaws and an overall under civilized United States. Immigrants flooded into the West looking for work and opportunities to start a new life in the United States. Many of these immigrants became gold diggers and railroad workers.


In the late 1870's miners in the Western United States were in search of silver and lead. The town of Leadville had a silver boom and attracted the attention of two railroad companies and started a conflict between them. Leadville was a small town which was only accessible through the Royal Gorge where there was only room for one set of train

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