Thesis

American River Townsites: Examining Connectivity and Community in Physically Discrete Populations

This research provides an examination of one small-scale, 19th century community located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the North Fork, Middle Fork of the American River. This community was comprised of the populations of three mining townsites, Michigan Bluff, Deadwood, and Last Chance, which were each separated by mountainous terrain and miles of steep river canyons. Research sought first to prove that the study of small transient populations was possible and productive, a common misconception among some researchers, and in so doing add to our small but growing body of literature surrounding this subject. Further, it was intended that the methods documented in this research would prove to be a useful guide for future scholars and thus encourage continued growth in our knowledge of rural 19th century community. This study utilized both archaeological and archival datasets to examine a period of time from 1850 to 1880, in order to gain greater insight into the lives of these residents. The methods employed for this research were able to prove that while predominantly transient, the populations residing in the far-spread towns of Michigan Bluff, Deadwood, and Last Chance shared a common background structured by the mining industry, and numerous instances of social interaction, that together validate the categorization of these peoples as one regional community.

This research provides an examination of one small-scale, 19th century community located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the North Fork, Middle Fork of the American River. This community was comprised of the populations of three mining townsites, Michigan Bluff, Deadwood, and Last Chance, which were each separated by mountainous terrain and miles of steep river canyons. Research sought first to prove that the study of small transient populations was possible and productive, a common misconception among some researchers, and in so doing add to our small but growing body of literature surrounding this subject. Further, it was intended that the methods documented in this research would prove to be a useful guide for future scholars and thus encourage continued growth in our knowledge of rural 19th century community. This study utilized both archaeological and archival datasets to examine a period of time from 1850 to 1880, in order to gain greater insight into the lives of these residents. The methods employed for this research were able to prove that while predominantly transient, the populations residing in the far-spread towns of Michigan Bluff, Deadwood, and Last Chance shared a common background structured by the mining industry, and numerous instances of social interaction, that together validate the categorization of these peoples as one regional community.

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