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"Few Americans at the end of the Mexican War in 1848 dreamed of the vast mineral potential of the country they had wrested from their southern neighbor," writes Duane A. Smith, author of Rocky Mountain Mining Camps. "Few would have believed that within a generation this land would be criss-crossed by prospectors in search of gold and silver, that valuable deposits would be found, and that permanent settlement would rapidly follow." Yet, from the first gold rush into the Rockies in 1859 to the "playing out" of most of the area's gold fields in the 1890s, a previously unsettled wilderness experienced urbanization and some crude, Western mining camps were transformed into burgeoning cities overnight. In this absorbing history of a number of Rocky Mountain mining settlements, Smith traces the cycle of this frontier phenomenon as camps pop up, experience the uncontrolled booms associated with gold and silver discoveries, and either die with the depletion of resources or survive as permanent agricultural and mining communities.