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This was exemplified quite clearly in the state by

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Unformatted text preview: pictured in Crested Butte, were first built in Colorado in 1877. Coking ovens were often placed a good distance from the mine "in order to gain easy access to water, which was consumed in large quantities at the ovens" for washing the coal as well as quenching the coke once it had completed its burn. Furthermore, "smoke from the ovens carried tar, ammonia, benzol, and other products liberated by combustion. These pollutants killed all vegetation within miles of the plant."10 However nefarious these connections between individual lawmakers and other moneymaking interests may have been, the relationship between government as a whole and resource extraction in general was not restricted to lone senators and the smelting industry. For a less conspicuous example, one need only look to a January 1894 edition of the Boulder Daily Camera which described a new type of hand drill invented by a miner in Gilpin County. The drill was said to be five times as productive as a two- man pick- mining team, and was designed so that "a child can operate it" by simply turning a crank.11 In this instance, the social institutions which 5 allowed 272 children to work in manufacturing, smelting and mining in 1890 Colorado shaped the technologies which were developed to extract natural resources.12 In fact, it was often the case that a lack of active institutional involvement, rather than direct meddling, pushed exploitation of both labor and resources forward. This was exemplified quite clearly in the state by deforestation. Prior to Western settlement, Colorado had an estimated 33,500 square miles of wooded land amounting to approximately 32 percent of its area.13 And while congress had set aside 4,849 square miles of that land by 1900, according to the US Census these reserved lands contained "but little merchantable timber, as they had been cut and burned very exhaustively before being reserved."14 The reservations were set up, then, not to protect existing timber, but to be "of value principally for the protection of future crops."15 In so far as lands with harvestable timber went unprotected, the reactive rather than proactive reservation of timbered lands created an incentive structure that served to encourage further deforestation. This lead to an explosion in the value of Colorado's early timber crop;...
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