Images that come to mind when one thinks of the bucolic state of Vermont are not likely to include those of a mining landscape. These are reserved for the coalfields of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky, and perhaps the mining ghost towns of the American West. It is not surprising then that the discovery of substantial veins of copper in Orange County was to have dramatic impacts on not only the landscape of Vermont, but also its inhabitants. And in spite of the fits and starts of Vermont’s copper industry, it owns a significant place in history.
Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, no fewer than five copper mines were in operation in Orange County. The Ely Mine, located in the southeast corner of Vershire, became one of the most productive copper mines in the United States. At one point employing over 800 miners and laborers, most of whom were Cornish and Irish immigrants, the Ely Mine spawned the creation of a boomtown consisting of over 150 buildings and dwellings. Following one of the earliest labor strikes of the era, the mine closed and, within two decades, the town of Copperfield completely disappeared.
This thesis is an historical narrative that tells the story of the Ely Mine, its boomtown, and particularly its miners by weaving together primary resource material such as United States Federal Census and immigration records, letters, and historical photographs, newspaper articles, and maps.
Copperfield is a story of perseverance and tenacity not only on the part of entrepreneurs and businessmen, but also — and most importantly — on the part of the hundreds of immigrant miners who passed through the Orange County copper mines. Without the contributions of these “ordinary” people, there would be no story to tell.
|Advisor:||Kreiger, Barbara S.|
|Commitee:||Frommer, Myrna K., Milich, Klaus J.|
|Department:||Master of Arts in Liberal Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- New Hampshire|
|Source:||MAI 55/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, American history|
|Keywords:||Copper, Ely Mine, Nineteenth century, United States, Vermont, Vershire|
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