By Tim Ravndal
Back in the early 1800’s a push to the west was charged with yellow fever. The dream of striking it rich brought thousands of prospectors out west to hit the mother Lode.
When Gold was discovered in Confederate Gulch, a craze began with thousands of propsectors and suppliers stampeding for what was then Meagher County. In those days, the early prospector got the nugget and the rest fought for the crumbs.
Within a few years, it was realized that controls had to be put in place to protect the miners from not only each other but to ensure that their rights were not infringed by the government of the Territory or the Federal Government.
In 1866, the Mining Act was passed into law. In that act, provisions of protection of patented rights along with access to those claims could not be inhibited. The new law also provided for a must needed protection for the conveyance of water to facilitate the mining and ranching needs of the area.
Further protections were needed so in 1872, the Mining Act was revised giving further protection to the citizens of this country. In this process many of the disputes were resolved through the new amended law and the search for beneficial resources continued.
As of 2020, the 1866 Act as revised in 1872 still stands. The law has never been amended or repealed but the federal and state government officials predominantly ignore the law in the name of environmentalism.