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Our Life and Times Along the Colorado Northern Front Range and Plains
In the 1800s miners migrated north from played-out placer mines in California and Colorado. Placer mining of gold or other minerals is done by washing the sand, gravel, etc. with running water, but by 1870 most area placer mining was no longer profitable. The Garnet Mountains attracted miners who collected the gold first by panning, then by using rockers and sluice boxes as the free-floating gold diminished. Although miners had located gold-bearing quartz veins, the lack of decent roads and refined extracting and smelting techniques, made further development unfeasible at that time. Silver mines elsewhere started to draw the miners out of the Garnet Mountains, but in 1893, the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act set off a panic throughout the region. Silver mines closed, and within weeks thousands of unemployed miners were on to gold mining in the Garnets. Miners began to trickle back.
"Garnet was named for the semi-precious ruby-colored stone found in the area and it was a good place to live. The surrounding mountains were rich in gold-bearing quartz. There was a school, the crime rate was low, and liquor flowed freely in the town’s many saloons. The bawdy houses did a brisk business and Missoula and Deer Lodge were close enough for necessary supplies."