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Chapter 6 - Montana's Gold and Silver Boom, 1862 - 1893

Additional Information and Resources for Chapter 6

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Educational Trunks

Gold Silver and Coal Oh My!: Mining Montana's Wealth from the Montana Historical Society. This trunk chronicles the discoveries that drew people to Montana in the late nineteenth century and examines how the mining industry developed and declined.

East Meets West: The Chinese Experience in Montana from the Montana Historical Society. This trunk chronicles the lives of the Chinese who came to Montana, the customs that they brought with them to America, how they contributed to Montana communities, and why they left.

A Child's Eye View of Bannack and Getting the Gold from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. These trunks cover hard rock and placer mining through activities and artifacts depicting the gold mining history in Bannack.


Inspired by reading specialist Tammy Elser, who was in turn inspired by SKC graduate Taylor Crawford, we've created a "Takeaway" bookmark for every chapter of Montana: Stories of the Land. Before starting a chapter, print and cut out these bookmarks and distribute them to your students. Ask them to use the Takeaway to summarize the GIST of what they learn from reading assigned sections of the chapter. Remind them that they don't have much room, so they'll need to think before they write down the most important idea they want to take away from the section. Learn a little more about the GIST strategy.

Even though we've created Takeaways for every chapter, we don't recommend you have your students complete a Takeaway for every section of every chapter they read. That would be exceedingly tedious. However, used appropriately, they can be a useful tool for encouraging reflection and teaching students how to summarize information.

Websites and Online Lesson Plans

Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan is a highly a readable memoir that details Mary Sheehan Ronan’s journey across the Great Plains, her childhood on the Montana mining frontier, as well as her later life on the Flathead Reservation as the wife of Indian Agent Peter Ronan. The Girl from the Gulches Study Guide includes lesson plans, vocabulary, chapter summaries and questions, alignment to the Common Core, and other information to facilitate this book's use in the classroom. Book One, which contains Mary's memories about Bannack, Virginia City, and Helena, is available to download as a PDF.

Created by Billings elementary school librarian Ruth Chandler Ferris, "Thinking Like a Historian: Using Digital Newspapers in the Classroom" is a flexible lesson plan that introduces students to newspaper research and the social history of gold-rush era Montana. 

Historian Ellen Baumler has created a lesson plan, "Children of the Mining Camps," to accompany this PowerPoint presentation of the same title.

Find a lesson plan that involves panning for gold on page 35 of the user guide for the "Gold, Silver and Coal" footlocker.

Montana: The Magazine of Western History created discussion guides for articles in its autumn 1999 gold rush issue, including "No Need to Rush: The Chinese, Placer Mining, and the Western Environment," by Liping Zhu. It also created discussion guides for articles in its winter 1999 transportation issue, including "The Steamboat and Stagecoach Era in Montana and the Northwest," by Carlos Schwantes. In both cases, the articles' full text (but not the pictures) are posted online.

Montana PBS created several lessons, designed to accompany the television series Frontier House, a reality television show that brought modern families to Nevada City, Montana, to simulate life on a nineteenth-century homestead. The lesson plans focus on westward migration, homesteading, and daily life in the 1880s for white settlers on the frontier. 

"German Gulch" is a new website focused on the archaeological finds from German Gulch, a 19th and early 20th century mining area near Butte, Montana. The collection contains some of the most significant Chinese artifacts recovered in Montana.

Discover a wide array of resources for studying mining history.

Videos or DVDs

From the Far East to the Old West: Chinese and Japanese Settlers in Montana, Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs - 29 minutes. Check your library. Copies of the video and study guide were distributed free of charge to all Montana public schools.

Pauper's Dream: Tribute to the Montana Hard Rock Miner, Joseph Campanella - 58 minutes.

Possible Fieldtrips

Bannack State Park, 24 miles southwest of Dillon

World Museum of Mining, Butte 

Elkhorn State Park, near Boulder  (Gravel road and high elevation make Elkhorn difficult to access in the winter.)

Garnet, 30 miles east of Missoula 

Granite State Park, near Philipsburg  (Accessing this ghost town requires high clearance vehicles.)

Helena (Use the booklet Camp to Capital: Step into Helena's Past, by Ellen Baumler et al, for a self-guided tour or arrange a tour with Montana Historical Society interpretive historian Ellen Baumler.)

Virginia City, Montana



Hydraulic mining in Alder Gulch, M.T., ca. 1869-71, photo by W. H. Jackson of the Hayden Survey, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives, Mines and Mining



Walter S. Corwin, photo by E. H. Train, Helena, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives, Mines and Mining



Indian Camp with Mt. Helena in the distance, ca. 1874, photo by Bundy & Train, Helena, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives 953-370



Detail of photograph of Pioneer City, M.T., 1883, photo by F. Jay Haynes, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives, Haynes Foundation Coll. H-1098

Alignment to Content Standards and Essential Understandings Regarding Montana Indians (EU)

Tests and Answer Keys