Title

Reconstructing Coloma Ghost Town's Demographic Landscape

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

For the past six years, the University of Montana has been researching the mining ghost town of Coloma, Montana. During this long-term research, various M.A. thesis and dissertation projects have helped Coloma become more than just a “mystery camp.” Yet, there are still mines of knowledge left untapped. Coloma offers a unique opportunity to study how humans adapt to a new landscape at a late nineteenth-and-early-twentieth-century mining town of the American West. Anglo-American settlers and European immigrants intermingled in Coloma, fostering a complex community of individuals attempting to scrape a living from the rugged Garnet Range. They would have carried with them traditional cultural practices, beliefs, and social relations. This traditional knowledge would have contributed to the adaptive community’s building of a meaningful place in a new space. How ethnicity and identity factored into an allocation of landscape meaning by the settlers of Coloma is the object of my study. Through an interdisciplinary combination of primary sources, archaeological evidence, and historical structure analysis, this research project attempts to reconstruct the ethnic make-up of Coloma. The results will contribute to a fuller understanding of Coloma’s demographic landscape and bolster further interpretations of landscape learning in mining town communities of the American West.

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Reconstructing Coloma Ghost Town's Demographic Landscape

UC 326

For the past six years, the University of Montana has been researching the mining ghost town of Coloma, Montana. During this long-term research, various M.A. thesis and dissertation projects have helped Coloma become more than just a “mystery camp.” Yet, there are still mines of knowledge left untapped. Coloma offers a unique opportunity to study how humans adapt to a new landscape at a late nineteenth-and-early-twentieth-century mining town of the American West. Anglo-American settlers and European immigrants intermingled in Coloma, fostering a complex community of individuals attempting to scrape a living from the rugged Garnet Range. They would have carried with them traditional cultural practices, beliefs, and social relations. This traditional knowledge would have contributed to the adaptive community’s building of a meaningful place in a new space. How ethnicity and identity factored into an allocation of landscape meaning by the settlers of Coloma is the object of my study. Through an interdisciplinary combination of primary sources, archaeological evidence, and historical structure analysis, this research project attempts to reconstruct the ethnic make-up of Coloma. The results will contribute to a fuller understanding of Coloma’s demographic landscape and bolster further interpretations of landscape learning in mining town communities of the American West.