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Opening of the West

With the Mexican Cession of 1848 and the, Gadsden Purchase of 1853, the continental expansion of the United Sates ended. “Manifest Destiny,” as generally understood at the time was complete.  Now, huge empty territories were a part of America – people were needed to fill them and make them productive, but the American Civil War complicated the process.  Nonetheless, the Government took steps to encourage America’s rugged pioneers to move west with the Homestead Act 1862, acts fostering the building of the Transcontinental Railways (1862) and finally, the Mining Law of 1872. In the end, it would be the iconic American “prospector” who opened the West, with his endless quest for gold and silver in these new, remote and risky lands, and by the late 1870s, southeastern Arizona was the most dangerous part of America.

Following the dissolution of Chiricahua Indian Reservation in 1876, Geronimo and other Apache leaders left the desolate San Carlos Reservation to return to their traditional, nomadic ways, taking little mercy on the few settlers that had moved in and who the Apache saw as invaders.   Making the West safe for prospectors and settlers alike became the job of the U. S. Calvary and this led to the accidental discovery of mineralization in remote Mule Gulch in 1877. The first mining claim was located and soon others would follow; braving the dangers of the desert, hostile Indians, Mexican bandits and merciless American outlaws.

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