Entranced by visions of instant wealth, the fabled prospector and his trusty burro combed the hills of the Rocky Mountain West for that one huge deposit of pay ore. Close behind the prospector—and drawn by the same vision—came the speculator. Capital, a scarce though essential commodity on the frontier, was supplied by the speculators and made possible the development of a hardrock mining industry that helped shape the early history of the region. Between the Civil War and the turn of the century, the gold and silver mines of Colorado were a gaudy, unsavory, but important element in the American financial scene and in the economic history of the West.
Joseph E. King, drawing upon contemporary sources, provides the first comprehensive and scholarly examination of eastern investors in Colorado and challenges the popular notion that eastern investors did little more than exploit the mines of Colorado. Not surprisingly, the prospector and the lusty boom towns he visited have often captivated the imagination of historians at the expense of the later stages in the development of a mineral industry. Professor King stresses the contributions of promoters, businessmen, and mining engineers in the development of the “Wild West.”