Frederic Quivik, a consulting historian of technology, noted that mining in the United States didn't start in the West.
People along the Atlantic Seaboard were already mining copper and iron during Colonial times.
Westward expansion brought lead mining to the Mississippi Valley.
Mining in the American West began with the California Gold Rush of 1848 and spread to Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Montana.
A former Butte resident, Quivik
has researched and written extensively about the environmental history of the copper industry in Butte and Anaconda.
Besides his consultant work, he is an adjunct instructor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Gold and silver lured prospectors to the West, Quivik
said some early miners used a series of ladders that descended hundreds of feet into the ground.
At the end of the day, when the miners were tired, not everyone made it to the top successfully.
Hoists and open cages replaced ladders, but miners sometimes fell or banged into jutting rocks.
Power drills and electric lights were advancements that also carried risks, Quivik
looked at litigation in the early 1900s involving the Anaconda smelter.