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Mining the West

  Map of Western Colorado, 1888   "The New Empire of Western Colorado"
From: Leadville [Colorado] Herald Democrat, 1888
NYPL, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, Map Division
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Newspapers were avid promoters of map information about the West. They either printed maps in their own pages or distributed finished products to readers to encourage subscriptions. This woodcut, from the Leadville Herald Democrat, shows some 20 railroad steam engines criss-crossing the map on tracks built to carry the mineral wealth of Colorado to market. Leadville is at the center right. Some $600 million of silver, gold, lead, and zinc was pulled out of the ground there. During the gold rush, Leadville's population numbered some 30,000 people; today, only about 2,600 are left.

In his essay "Impressions of America," Oscar Wilde described his 1882 visit to Leadville, where he was invited to dinner in a mine; the three courses were whiskey, whiskey, and whiskey! Wilde also found in Leadville "the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across," a sign reading: "Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best." The Mount of the Holy Cross, made famous by James Moran's painting, is just north of Leadville.

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