This is the untold story of Lewis Chalmers, a Scottish mining capitalist who spent two decades chasing silver sixty miles south of the original Comstock Lode.
In lengthy letters to friends and financiers in London, he chronicled his day-to-day struggles at multiple lodes in the mountains of Alpine County, California—from miners’ strikes to fending off a series of financial disasters. In addition to hard-rock silver shafts, Chalmers’ ambitious projects included the mammoth Isabella Tunnel, a nearly mile-long venture he promoted as a “Second Sutro.”
Part charming conman, part resourceful entrepreneur, part silver-tongued dreamer, Chalmers wangled funds from influential European friends to keep his mining enterprises going until 1885, when he returned to London. Remnants from his mining days still survive. But the true treasure he left behind was an extensive collection of letterbooks.
Excerpts from Chalmers’ business and personal correspondence provide a detailed record of his adventurous pursuit of silver and offer a fascinating glimpse into the mind of this brilliant, lively, and tenacious man.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Karen Dustman, a former lawyer and prosecutor, finally realized it’s writing that makes her world go ’round. She is the author of over a dozen books on Sierra history and has written widely about California and Nevada history. She also wrangles an active history blog. After helping the Alpine Historical Society rescue more than a dozen volumes of Lewis Chalmers’ business and personal letterbooks, she spent years transcribing them—and became smitten with this fascinating man. Karen lives in the wilds of California with her husband and a 42-year-old macaw who rules the roost.
Publisher:America Through Time
Imprint: America Through Time
Publication Date: 27th February 2023
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General
HISTORY / United States / 19th Century