Mining archaeology in the American West: A View from the Silver State

Shoshone Wells site

Publication: University of Nebraska Press and the Society for Historical Archaeology

Author: Donald L. Hardesty

Date of Publication: 2010

PDF File: Hardesty-2010-Mining-archaeology-in-the-American-West-a-view-fr.pdf


The purpose of this article is to explore the historical structure, characteristics, variability, and evolution of Nevada’s mining frontier through the material remains of the technological systems, landscapes, and social formations associated with past mining activities. These physical expressions include standing buildings and structures, ruins and other archaeological remains, landforms, and historical documents. This article discusses how to travel into mining’s past through the corridors of written and pictorial documents, landscapes, architecture, and the archaeological record and how to use these resources interactively to explore the Nevada mining frontier. Traveling through documents involves images of the past gleaned from personal diaries and letters, photographs, state and federal census records, tax assessments, company records, government publications, and the like. Mining landscapes are marked by images in landforms, vegetation patterns, land-use patterns, circulation networks, and cultural traditions.