A Hole in the Ground with a Liar at the Top: Fraud and Deceit in the Golden Age of American Mining

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University of Utah Press, 2006 - History - 374 pages
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Coal, silver, gold...there is something about the allure of finding hidden treasure that puts a glint in people's eyes--a glint that is sometimes binding. An American saying, often attributed to Mark Twain, defines a mine as a hole in the ground with a liar at the top. Delve into the curious mind of the con-artist with author Dan Plazak as he investigates the history of mining frauds in the United States from the Civil War to World War I. Take, for example, the case of Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary son Julian, who turned his artistic impulses into creativity of a more nefarious sort after concluding that I want more money than the sort of literature I have produced can provide. At the prompting of a Harvard friend, Hawthorne soon turned from writing novels and journalism to writing letters intended to encourage investment in Canadian mining ventures--ventures of little or no value except to the letter writer. By gathering such familiar stories as that of Nevada's infamous Comstock Lode with a succession of lesser-known scandals, Plazak provides a well-written volume that's a treat for anyone who believes there really is a sucker born every minute.

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Introduction to Mining Fraud I
The Imaginary Mine of Doctor Gardiner
Mother Lode of American Mining Swindles I

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About the author (2006)

Dan Plazak is a graduate of Michigan Tech and the Colorado School of Mining. He is a consulting geologist and engineer.

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