Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2. The Miner

The majority of miners in America were Irish immigrants. They were adventurous, hardworking, and able to live in solitude and bear unbelievable physical hardship. Their one obsession was finding the gold that hid in the rivers, streams, gorges, and mountains of this land. What the rowdy, bovine babysitting cowboy thought of them and their work was of little consequence.

As for western fashion, the cowboy and the miner were exact opposites. Where the cowboy liked his custom handmade high heeled boots, his bright silk bandanna, large hat, and fancy six-shooter strapped to his hip, the miner needed only a good pair of knee boots, a shovel and a gold pan,….. and of course, a burro to carry them. Because of the miner’s desire for good practical clothing one piece of western fashion was invented just for him, Levi Strauss’ cotton canvas jeans with copper riveted pockets. The irony of this is that Levi's became the main fashion statement for cowboys.


vs-f said...

My grandfather crossed the Chilkoot trail in search of Klondike gold in 1897. He didn't take Levis, but did wear overalls over a pair of wool pants that had been demoted from the realm of "good clothes" by years of wear. If you're curious about what miners took to the Klondike, you can find the list here. (Probably they didn't need so much stuff in Deadwood).

I did a blog posting about my great-grandfather's adventures in the Yukon. You can find it here:

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