Thomas F. Walsh: Progressive Businessman and Colorado Mining Tycoon

Thomas F. Walsh: Progressive Businessman and Colorado Mining Tycoon

by John Stewart


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Thomas F. Walsh tells the story of one of the West's wealthiest mining magnates - an Irish American prospector and lifelong philanthropist who struck it rich in Ouray County, Colorado.

In the first complete biography of Thomas Walsh, John Stewart recounts the tycoon's life from his birth in 1850 and his beginnings as a millwright and carpenter in Ireland to his tenacious, often fruitless mining work in the Black Hills and Colorado, which finally led to his discovery of an extremely rich vein of gold ore in the Imogene Basin. Walsh's Camp Bird Mine yielded more than $20 million worth of gold and other minerals in twenty years, and the mine's 1902 sale to British investors made Walsh very wealthy.

He achieved national prominence, living with his family in mansions in Colorado and Washington, D.C., and maintaining a rapport with Presidents McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and Taft, as well as King Leopold II of Belgium.

Despite his fame and lavish lifestyle, Walsh is remembered as an unassuming and philanthropic man who treated his employees well. In addition to making many anonymous donations, he established the Walsh Library in Ouray and a library near his Irish birthplace, and helped establish a research fund for the study of radium and other rare western minerals at the Colorado School of Mines. Walsh gave his employees at the Camp Bird Mine top pay and lodged them in an alpine boardinghouse featuring porcelain basins, electric lighting, and excellent food.

Stewart's engaging account explores the exceptional path of this Colorado mogul in detail, bringing Walsh and his time to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607321873
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
Publication date: 07/15/2012
Series: Mining the American West Series
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 8.78(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

John Stewart is an attorney in Denver. He completed a master's degree in history at the University of Colorado at Denver.

Table of Contents

Foreword   Duane A. Smith     xi
Acknowledgments     xiii
Introduction: In Search of Tom Walsh     1
Origins in Ireland     5
A Childhood with Few Advantages     7
Education and Training     8
Thoughts of Leaving     9
To America and the West     11
A Supportive Family in Worcester     11
Railroads and Gold in Colorado Territory     13
Poet, Reporter, Carpenter, and Miner in the Black Hills     15
A Learning Experience     19
Life in the Silver Boomtown of Leadville     23
Proprietor of the Grand Hotel     23
Marriage Presents a Religious Dilemma     24
Social Strata of a Frontier Town     27
Full-Time Mining     29
Denver, Smelting, and the Silver Crash     33
Promoter, Investor, and Family Man     33
Smelting in the Ten Mile District     36
The Silver Crash Brings Economic Devastation     38
A Bonanza in the Snowy San Juans     41
Removing the Ute Indians     41
The Town of Ouray and the Imogene Basin     43
A Troubled Start for Walsh in Ouray     48
Daughter, I've Struck It Rich     51
The Fabulous Camp Bird Mine     55
A Mine Named for a Gray Jay     55
A New Mill and a Long Aerial Tramway     59
The Greatest Gold Mine in the World     61
A Rags-to-Riches Myth     63
Walsh on Labor     65
Caring for a Diverse Workforce     65
An Island in a Stormy Sea of Strikes     68
Ideas Unlike Those of Many of His Peers     71
Labor on Walsh     73
What to Do with Millions of Dollars     75
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Walsh Invite You to Be Their Guest     75
Move to Washington     77
Entering the Most Exclusive Ranks of Polite Society     79
A Candidate for Higher Office     81
A Prominent Member of National Society     83
The Greatest American in Paris     83
Promoter of the West     87
The President's Mining Adviser     88
A Spokesman for Progressive Ideas     91
The Price of Affluence     95
Keeping Blackmailers at Bay     95
Betrayal by an Old Friend     98
The Walsh Palace     103
Expectation for Conspicuous Consumption     103
Some Famous Neighbors      105
Entertaining the Elite in a Legendary Mansion     107
A King for a Friend     111
A Personal Empire in Africa     111
To Be a King's Partner     116
Selling the Camp Bird Mine     119
Advice of a Famous Engineer     119
Investing a Fortune     122
Death, and a Return to Colorado     127
Vinson     127
Wolhurst Becomes Clonmel     132
A Senator for the Common Man?     135
Family and Country     139
A Honeymoon to Remember     139
Helping Family on Both Sides of the Atlantic     143
A Public-Spirited Citizen and Patron     148
The Passing of Thomas F. Walsh     151
The Golden Cradle     151
Last Illness     154
He Had Oppressed Not One Single Soul in the Attainment     155
Would He Remember Colorado?     157
The Walsh Family and the Walsh Mine     161
Carrie     161
Evalyn, Ned, and a Large Blue Diamond     163
The Camp Bird After Walsh     171
Conclusion: The Legacy of Thomas F. Walsh     175
Glossary of Mining Terms     179
Geology of the Camp Bird Mine      183
Walsh Family Tree     185
Notes     189
Bibliography     213
Index     221

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