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Cultural Landscape Development and Tourism in Historic Mining Towns of the Western United States
AuthorHotten, Alison L.
AdvisorHausladen, Gary J.
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This thesis examines the development of the cultural landscape of western mining towns following the transition from an economy based on mining to one based on tourism. The primary case studies are Bodie, California, Virginia City, Nevada, and Cripple Creek, Colorado. Each one is an example of highly successful tourism that has developed in a historic mining town, as well as illustrating changes in the cultural landscape related to this tourism. The main themes that these three case studies represent, respectively, are the ghost town, the standard western tourist attraction, and the gambling mecca.The development of the landscape for tourism is not just commercial, but relates to the preservation of history and authenticity in the landscape; each town was designated as a Historic District in 1961. An important part of this research is the role of popular culture and the mythic West and how these concepts have influenced the physical and cultural landscape of the mining town. All of the case examples are affected, to a certain extent, by general ideas about the nature of a western mining town, as well as popular knowledge specific to the site.