Bodie: The Mines Are Looking Well... The History of the Bodie Mining District, Mono County, California

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9780972520058: Bodie: The Mines Are Looking Well... The History of the Bodie Mining District, Mono County, California
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The mines are looking well. These words appeared repeatedly in late nineteenth-century newspapers and mining journals to reassure investors who had speculated in risky, often corrupt, western gold and silver mining stocks. Infused with investment capital, companies spent lavishly as they dug for mineral riches. Their abandon cast an air of confidence that made the future deceptively bright for burgeoning mining towns scattered throughout the American West. One such town was Bodie, California. Today Bodie is a ghost town, carefully preserved as one of California s most popular state historic parks. In Bodie: The Mines Are Looking Well . . . author Michael H. Piatt unravels the old town s compelling mystery. While previous books have discussed Bodie s social history and focused on three tumultuous boom years from 1878 to 1880, this work tells the entire story. From the discovery of gold in 1859 to the town s abandonment in the mid-1900s, Piatt explains the forces that determined Bodie s fate. Tracing the stories of six principal mines, this book examines Bodie from the perspective of its mining district. Woven into this gilded narrative are tales of life in a remote, rough-and-tumble community, lively accounts of gambled fortunes, frontier violence, engineering marvels, and battles of men and machines against the forces of nature. The sources used to uncover these dramatic details include newspapers from Bodie and neighboring towns, mining journals, government reports, and publications by technical societies. Principal among eyewitness accounts are interviews with prospector, miner, and mill hand, Robert T. Bell. Born at Bodie in 1914, Bell was the last person to have worked in Bodie s underground. Bodie: The Mines Are Looking Well . . . contains more than 160 historic photographs, maps, sketches, detailed source notes, a comprehensive bibliography, and a glossary of mining terms. It is a must read for aficionados of the Old West, for students of mining history, and for every inspired traveler captivated by a silent, eastern-Sierra outpost that once boasted the greatest gold mine the world has ever seen.

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About the Author:

A native of California, Michael H. Piatt first visited the ghost town of Bodie in 1968. This initial visit has influenced his research, writing and way of life for more than three decades. In 1969 and 1970 he served as a Park Aide at Bodie State Historic Park. In 1981 he set aside his career as a civil engineer to study traditional blacksmithing in New Mexico. From 1982 to 1994 he worked at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachussetts, demonstrating the craft of fashioning tools and hardware in the manner of early American blacksmiths. The author of articles on western mining and transportation, he lives in central Massachusetts.

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Michael H. Piatt
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Michael H. Piatt
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