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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Colorado History

- Colorado History -
Cripple Creek District

A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo

Amalgamation: a process using mercury to collect fine particles of gold or silver from pulverized ore. Both precious metals dissolve in the silvery liquid, while rock does not; they can later be released by applying heat or pressure to the mercury.

Bonanza: the discovery of an exceptionally rich vein of gold or silver.

Miners in San Miguel County, Colorado in the 1860s
Miners in San Miguel County, Colorado - 1860s

Borrasca: an unproductive mine or claim; the opposite of a bonanza.

Claim: a parcel of land in a gold field that a person was legally entitled to mine because he had staked it out and recorded his title. The dimensions varied according to local custom.

1860 miners brawl
Disputes among miners were ususally settled by brute force, as in this 1860s engraving of a claim-jumping brawl.

Claim jumping: stealing someone else's mining property - usually after it had been staked out but before it had been officially recorded.

Colors: the particles of gold gleaming amid the residue in a prospector's pan after washing.

Coyoting: a method used by miners to reach gold deposits resting on bedrock without excavating all of the overlying soil. After a vertical shaft was sunk, tunnels radiating like wheel spokes were dug along the bedrock.

Cripple Creek miners in 1892
Placer miners equipped with pans and sluices at gold-laced Cripple Creek, Colorado in 1892.

Crevicing: removing gold from the cracks and crannies of rocks by prying it out with a knife.

Cross-cut: a mine tunnel going across an ore vein, used for ventilation and communication between work areas.

Drift: a mine tunnel following the direction, or "drift," of a vein; opposite of a cross-cut.

Gallows frame: the wooden or steel scaffold at the top of a mine shaft carrying the hoisting rope.

Gangue: worthless minerals mixed in with valuable ore.

Giant powder: a miner's expression for dynamite.

Colorado miners camp in the 1860s
Colorado miners' camp in the 1860s

Grubstaking: supplying a prospector with food and gear in return for a share of his findings.

Gumbo: the bane of the miner's existence - sticky wet clay.

Hard rock: ore that could be removed only by blasting, as opposed to ore that could be worked with hand tools.

Pikes Peak Miner
A determined gold seeker pauses for an 1859 portrait in the Pikes Peak region,
site of one of the first great rushes after California and the forty-niners.

High grading: the theft of chunks of ore by miners,who usually took only the valuable high-grade pieces.

Horse: barren rock interrupting a vein of ore.

Lode: a clearly defined vein of rich ore. The principal vein in a region was called the "mother lode."

Muck: the debris left after blasting hard rock. The miner who shoveled this ore-bearing material into a car or chute was known as a mucker.

early Colorado miner
A determined Colorado miner

Placer: a deposit of sand, dirt or clay, often in an active or ancient stream bed, containing fine particles of gold or silver, which could be mined by washing. The word is the Spanish for submarine plain, and rhymes with "passer."

Pyrite: fool's gold; a mineral composed of silicon and oxygen that is often mistaken for real gold.

Quartz: a crystalline mineral, often transparent, in which gold and silver veins were most commonly found.

Salting: planting rich ore samples in an unprofitable mine to attract unwary buyers.

Cripple Creek stock certificate
Cripple Creek Placer Mining Company stock certificate from 1892.
Click the $1 share to view an enlargement.

Shaft: a vertical or inclined excavation; usually a mine's main entrance and hoistway leading to the tunnels where the ore was dug.

Sluice: a wooden trough for washing placer gold. As soil was shoveled into a steady stream of water, gold and other heavy particles sank to the bottom where they were caught by cleats, known as riffles. Some small, portable sluices, or rockers, could be rocked back and forth like a cradle to hasten the washing of gold.

Gregory Gulch, Colorado miners - 1859
Miners beside a sluice box in Colorado Territory's Gregory Gulch.
This stike by John Gregory in 1859 revived the Pikes Peak rush.

Sourdough: an experienced prospector; traditionally one who had the foresight to save a wad of fermenting dough to leaven the following day's bread.

Stamp mill: a device that was powered by steam or water in which ores were pounded to a fine powder by heavy iron stamps, rising and falling like pile drivers.

Toplander: an aboveground worker at a mine.

Gold panning in Clear Creek, Colorado 1880
Hope dies hard: This lone prospector was still panning for gold in Clear Creek in Colorado
more than 20 years after gold was first found there in 1859.

Turned house: a mine tunnel that took a sudden change in direction.

Widow-maker: a compressed-air drill, used to bore holes for dynamite in hard rock. Prolonged inhalation of the fine dust created by early models of this drill subjected miners to a deadly lung disease called "silicosis."

Winze: a passageway usually connecting two tunnels at different levels.

miner's cabin interior
Interior of a miner's cabin in Colorado. Its owner tried to give it a home-like atmosphere.

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Cripple Creek District Labor Strikes:
| The Western Federation of Miners / State Militia |
| The 1893 - 1894 Strike | The Strike of 1903 - 1904 |
| The Mine Owners Association |
| Crimes and Military Rule in the Cripple Creek District |
| Marshall Law in Cripple Creek District / End of the Strike |

Early Cripple Creek District
| Photos, Fire, and Life in Cripple Creek |
| Other Colorful Towns in the Cripple Creek District:
Gillett - Colorado's Only Bullfight, Victor, Independence
| A Guide to the Miners' Gritty Lingo |

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- Colorado History In Depth -
Lecture Notes, Reading, and Information:

| The Cheyenne Migration to Colorado |
| The Gratlan Affair, Massacre, Fort Laramie Treaty |

The Cheyenne Social Club
| A Cheyenne War Story: Wolf Road, the Runner |
| Cheyenne Traditions and Beliefs, Sacred Stories |
| Horses, Warriors, War Pipe, Sweatlodge Ceremony |
| Cheyenne War Parties and Battle Tactics |
| The Scalp Dance and Other Cheyenne Dances |

Fort Union
| The Sante Fe Trail and Fort Union |
| Sumner - Ninth Military Department / The First Fort Union |
| Early Arrivals to Fort Union, Daily Life at Fort Union |
| Captain Grover - The New Fort Union, the Confederate Threat |
| Fort Union Arsenal, William Shoemaker, End of Fort Union |

Americans from the East
| Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase |
| The Expedition of Zebulon Pike |
| Pikes Peak or Bust / Colorado Gold Rush |

Colorado's Role in the US Civil War
| The Civil War, Fort Wise / Fort Lyon |
| Mace's Hole, Colonel Canby, F.C.V.R. | Fort Weld |
| The Pet Lambs, John Chivington |
| General Henry Sibly, Battle of Valverde, Fort Union |

More Colorado History Information
| Bent's Fort Photos, Personalities, Plans, and More |

| What Was Easter Like at Bent's Fort? |
| Colorado Trivia, Miscellaneous Old Photos,
Western Personalities, Forts, and More

| Lullabies for Jittery Cows - Cowboy Ballads |
| Heraldry of the Branding Iron |
| Project Aims to Clear Infamous Cannibal, Alferd Packer |
Lead Gives Alferd Packer's Story More Weight |
| Legendary Colorado Love Stories: Baby Doe Tabor & More |
| Colorado Pioneer Women: Elizabeth Byers |
| Early Denver Jokes / The History of April Fools' Day |

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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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