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Mining and Agriculture


Mining played a vital role in the development of the West. Immigrants often began their work lives in the United States as miners and this ethnic diversity is well represented in our mining collection. The department's mining resources include photographs, manuscripts, maps, serials, and directories. Twelve thousand digital images show mines, machinery, ore processing facilities, mine interiors, mills, smelters and miners of all types. Maps show mining claims and mining districts. Manuscripts document the arrival of prospectors during various gold and silver rushes from 1859 to 1900, mining camps and boomtowns, working conditions for miners, mining accidents, as well as coal mining life. One can glean the impact of mining activities on the environment through all the department's resources.

Mining technology materials include information on mine interiors, mining structures, mills and smelters. Many of our manuscripts also document the impact of mining on the environment with graphic examples of the adverse effects of mine tailings and large-scale dredging and hydraulic mining.

Especially well-used are the Edward Doyle and John Lawson manuscripts. These United Mine Workers activists represented the coal miners through the 1914 Ludlow, Colorado strike and subsequent fatal attack by the state militia, later referred to as the Ludlow Massacre. Other mining resources document labor organizing, strikes and gains in Cripple Creek and Leadville.

You can search for mining related material in our collection with the Library's online catalog. Use terms such as "Diamond Lil Mine," "miners," "mills and millwork," "concentrators," "dredges," "head frame," "tailings (metallurgy)," "tailings embankments," "mine railroads and cars," "ore deposits," or "mine interiors."


Agriculture has been integral to the development of the West. Our books, magazines, microfilm and other collection formats reflect this history in many ways. New Americans from every continent took part in the cattle and sheep ranching, fruit, vegetable and grain growing, and food processing industries. A wealth of original materials documenting agriculture in the West is available for research in the Western History and Genealogy Department of the Denver Public Library.

You can search for agriculture related material in our collection with the Library's online catalog. Use terms such as "ranches," "farms," "farming," "harvesting," "irrigation," "orchards," "peaches," "cantaloupes," "cattle," "sheep," or "dairy industry."

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Irrigating Colorado Potatoes [between 1900 and 1920].

Irrigating Colorado Potatoes [between 1900 and 1920].

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Updated: June 25, 2013