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    Comstock 's name was associated with the discovery through his own machinations. According to folklore, James Fennimore, nicknamed Old Virginny Finney, christened the town when he tripped and broke a bottle of whiskey at a saloon entrance in the northern section of Gold Hill, soon to become Virginia City.

    Below the town were dug intricate tunnels and shafts for silver mining. The Comstock Lode discovery and subsequent growth of Virginia City was unequaled by the history of other precious metal discoveries. By Nevada produced over half of all the precious metals in the United States.

    The wealth supported the Northern cause during the American Civil War and flooded the world monetary markets, resulting in economic changes.

    Virginia City's silver ore discoveries were not part of the California Gold Rushwhich occurred 10 years before. At the time of the discovery of the Comstock Lode, silver was considered the monetary equal of gold, and all production was purchased by the federal government for use in coinage. Insilver was demonetized by the government, in large part due to the flood of silver into international markets from the silver mines of Virginia City.

    Technical problems plagued the early mining efforts, requiring the development of new mining technology to support the challenge. German engineer Philip Deidesheimer created a timbering system for mining tunnels called square sets, which enabled the retrieval of huge amounts of silver ore in a safe manner. As technological advancements, these were used many times over in later mining applications.

    In one observer reported that in Virginia City, "every activity has to do with the mining, transportation, or reduction of silver ore, or the melting and assaying of silver bullion. But, Virginia City far surpassed all others for its peak of population, technological advancements developed there, and for providing the population base upon which Nevada qualified for statehood.

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    The riches of the Comstock Lode inspired men to hunt for silver mines throughout Nevada and other parts of the American West. Virginia City population increased from 4, in to over 15, in It fluctuated depending on mining output. US Census figures do not reflect all of these frequent changes.

    The city included gas and sewer lines, the one hundred room International Hotel with elevator, three theatres, the Maguire Opera House, four churches, and three daily newspapers.

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    Many of the homes and buildings were made of brick. At its peak after the Big Bonanza of Virginia City had a population of over 25, residents and was called the richest city in America. Inthe mines began to play out and the population fell to just under 11, Mine owners who made a killing in the Comstock mines spent most of their wealth in San Francisco.

    A San Francisco stock market existed for the exploitation of Comstock mining. The Bank of California financed building the financial district of San Francisco with money from the Comstock mines. The influence of the Comstock lode rejuvenated what was the ragged little town of San Francisco.

    Virginia City in early s and in The church at left is St. Mary's in the Mountains Catholic Church. Historic photo is of the pre-fire church. The mining industry dominated Virginia City, making it an industrial center similar to those of the east coast.

    But the city retained some of its frontier flavor. The social history of the town has emphasized the high number of immigrants among its residents. Miners largely from CornwallEnglandwhere tin mines had been developed based on hard rock technology, flooded the Comstock. The new English immigrants were one of the largest ethnic groups. Many of the miners who came to the city were Cornish or Irish. Through time, the numerous independent Comstock mines became consolidated under ownership of large monopolies.

    When it appeared the Comstock Lode was finished, the city's population declined sharply, with ten thousand leaving in and John Mackay and partner James Fair began as common miners, working their way up to management positions in the mines. By purchasing stock in the mines, they realized financial independence. The Irish Big Four, as the men were called, eventually controlled the Consolidated Virginia mine where the Big Bonanza was discovered in The next few years were some of the most profitable on the Comstock, as the Bank Crowd lost control to the Irish Big Four.

    Population reached 25, in In winter the miners would snowshoe to the mines and then have to descend to work in high temperatures.

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    These harsh conditions contributed to a low life expectancy, and earned miners the nickname of Hot Water Plugs. Adolph Sutro built the Sutro Tunnel to drain the hot spring waters to the valley below.

    But, by the time it was completed inthe mines had substantially passed the intersection level, as their tunnels had been dug ever deeper. We can build another if we can keep the fire from going down these shafts.

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    Virginia and Ophir hoisting works burned, the fire did not penetrate the Con. Virginia shaft and only reached feet into the Ophir shaft.

    A majority of the area now designated as the National Historic Landmark historic district dates to this later time period. However, the bonanza period was at an end by [22] Virginia City and Mark Twain[ edit ].
    Virginia A celebration at a slave wedding in Virginia, Social conditions in western Virginia were entirely unlike those in the eastern portion of the state.

    The population was not homogeneous, as a considerable part of the immigration came by way of Pennsylvania and included Germans, Protestant Scotch-Irishand settlers from the states farther north.

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    Counties in the east and south were settled mostly by east Virginians. During the American Revolution, the movement to create a state beyond the Alleghenies was revived and a petition for the establishment of " Westsylvania " was presented to Congresson the grounds that the mountains presented an almost impassable barrier to the east.

    The rugged nature of the country made slavery unprofitable, and time only increased the social, political, economic, and cultural differences see Tuckahoe-Cohee between the two sections of Virginia. This effectively disenfranchised some of the poorer yeoman farmers. In addition, it gave the slave-holding counties the benefit of three-fifths of their slave population in apportioning the state's representation in the U.

    As a result, every county beyond the Alleghenies except one voted to reject the constitution, which nevertheless passed because of eastern support. The eastern planter elite dominated the legislature and saw to their own interests.

    It extended the vote to all White males 21 years or older. The governor, lieutenant-governor, the judiciary, sheriffs, and other county officers were to be elected by public vote. The composition of the General Assembly was changed.

    Representation in the house of delegates was apportioned on the basis of the census ofcounting Whites only. The Senate representation was arbitrarily fixed at 50 seats, with the west receiving twenty, and the east thirty senators. This was made acceptable to the west by a provision that required the General Assembly to reapportion representation on the basis of White population inor else put the matter to a public referendum.

    But the east also gave itself a tax advantage in requiring a property tax at true and actual value, except for slaves. Small farmers, however, had all their assets, animals, and land taxed at full value. Despite this tax and the lack of internal improvements in the west, the vote was 75, for and 11, against the new Constitution. Most of the opposition came from delegates from eastern counties, who did not like the compromises made for the west.

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    In particular, men such as lawyer Francis H. Pierpont from Fairmont, had long chafed under the political domination of the Tidewater and Piedmont slave-holders. In addition to differences over the abolition of slavery, he and allies felt the Virginia government ignored and refused to spend funds on needed internal improvements in the west, such as turnpikes and railroads. The name was subsequently changed from Kanawha to West Virginia. When this First Wheeling Convention met, delegates from 25 counties were present, though more than one-third of the delegates were from the northern panhandle area, [34] but soon there was a division of sentiment.

    Some delegates led by John S.

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    Carlile favored the immediate formation of a new state, while others led by Waitman Willey argued that, as Virginia's secession had not yet been passed by the required referendum as happened on May 23such action would constitute revolution against the United States. On May 23,secession was ratified by a large majority in Virginia as a whole, but in the western counties 34, voted against and 19, voted for the Ordinance. The Wheeling Conventions, and the delegates themselves, were never actually elected by public ballot to act on behalf of western Virginia.

    This included some hold-over state senators whose four-year terms had begun inand some who vacated their offices to convene in Wheeling. Other members "were chosen even more irregularly—some in mass meetings, others by county committee, and still others were seemingly self-appointed" [39] An act for the reorganization of the government was passed on June The next day convention delegates chose Francis H.

    Pierpont as governor of Virginia, and elected other officers to a rival state government and two U. The federal government in Washington, D.

    Thus, there were two state governments in Virginia: The second Wheeling Convention had recessed until August 6, then reassembled on August 20 and called for a popular vote on the formation of a new state and for a convention to frame a constitution if the vote should be favorable. At the October 24, election, 18, votes were cast for the new state and only against.

    The election results were questioned, since the Union army then occupied the area and Union troops were stationed at many of the polls to prevent Confederate sympathizers from voting. Most pro-statehood votes came from 16 counties around the Northern panhandle. Votes recorded from pro-secession counties were mostly cast elsewhere by Unionist refugees from these counties.

    During that constitutional convention, a Mr. Lamb of Ohio County and a Mr. Carskadon claimed that in Hampshire County, out of votes only 39 were cast by citizens of the state; the rest were cast illegally by Union soldiers. Gordon Battellewho also represented Ohio County, and who proposed resolutions to establish public schools, as well as to limit movement of slaves into the new state, and to gradually abolish slavery.

    The education proposal succeeded, but the convention tabled the slavery proposals before finishing its work on February 18, The new constitution was more closely modeled on that of Ohio than of Virginia, adopting a township model of government rather than the "courthouse cliques" of Virginia which Carlile criticized, and a compromise demanded by the Kanawha region Charleston lawyers Benjamin Smith and Brown allowed counties and municipalities to vote subsidies for railroads or other improvement organizations.

    On May 13, the state legislature of the reorganized government approved the formation of the new state. Carlile sought to sabotage the bill, first trying to expand the new state's boundaries to include the Shenandoah Valley, and then to defeat the Willey amendment at home.

    Battelle had urged in the Wheeling Intelligencer and also written to Lincoln. While many felt that West Virginia's admission as a state was both illegal and unconstitutional, Lincoln issued his Opinion on the Admission of West Virginia finding that "the body which consents to the admission of West Virginia is the Legislature of Virginia", and that its admission was therefore both constitutional and expedient.

    The revised constitution was adopted on March 26, and on April 20,President Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting the state 60 days later on June 20, Meanwhile, officers for the new state were chosen, while Gov.

    Pierpont moved his pro-Union Virginia capital to Union-occupied Alexandriawhere he asserted and exercised jurisdiction over all of the remaining Virginia counties within the federal lines. The question of the constitutionality of the formation of the new state was later brought before the Supreme Court of the United States in the following manner: Berkeley and Jefferson counties lying on the Potomac east of the mountains, inwith the consent of the reorganized government of Virginia voted in favor of annexation to West Virginia.

    Many voters of the strongly pro-secessionist counties were absent in the Confederate Army when the vote was taken and refused to acknowledge the transfer when they returned.

    The Virginia General Assembly repealed the act of secession and, inbrought suit against West Virginia asking the court to declare the counties a part of Virginia, which would have declared West Virginia's admission as a state unconstitutional. Meanwhile, on March 10,Congress passed a joint resolution recognizing the transfer.

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    The Supreme Court decided in favor of West Virginia in McClellan 's forces gained possession of the greater part of the territory in the summer ofculminating at the Battle of Rich Mountainand Union control was never again seriously threatened, despite an attempt by Robert E. Lee in the same year. InGeneral John D. Imbodenwith 5, Confederates, raided a considerable portion of the state and burned Pierpont's library, although Senator Willey escaped their grasp. Bands of guerrillas burned and plundered in some sections, and were not entirely suppressed until after the war ended.

    The Eastern Panhandle counties were more affected by the war, with military control of the area repeatedly changing hands. The area that became West Virginia actually furnished about an equal number of soldiers to the federal and Confederate armies, [50] approximately 22,—25, each.

    Inthe Wheeling government found it necessary to strip voting rights from returning Confederates in order to retain control. James Ferguson, who proposed the law, said that if it was not enacted he would lose election by votes. The Democratic party secured control inand inthe constitutional amendment of was abrogated.

    The first steps toward this change had been taken, however, by the Republicans in On August 22,an entirely new constitution was adopted. Beginning in Reconstructionand for several decades thereafter, the two states disputed the new state's share of the pre-war Virginia government's debts, which had mostly been incurred to finance public infrastructure improvements, such as canals, roads, and railroads under the Virginia Board of Public Works.

    Virginians—led by former Confederate General William Mahone —formed a political coalition based upon this: Although West Virginia's first constitution provided for the assumption of a part of the Virginia debt, negotiations opened by Virginia in were fruitless, and inVirginia funded two-thirds of the debt and arbitrarily assigned the remainder to West Virginia.

    Development of natural resources[ edit ] This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Saltpeter caves had been employed throughout Appalachia for munitions; the border between West Virginia and Virginia includes the "Saltpeter Trail", a string of limestone caverns containing rich deposits of calcium nitrate that were rendered and sold to the government.

    The trail stretched from Pendleton County to the western terminus of the route in the town of UnionMonroe County. In the late 18th-century, saltpeter miners in Haynes Cave found large animal bones in the deposits. The bones were named Megalonyx jeffersoniior great-claw, and became known as Jefferson's three-toed sloth.

    It was declared the official state fossil of West Virginia in The West Virginia official state rock is bituminous coal[53] and the official state gemstone is silicified Mississippian fossil Lithostrotionella coral. Salt mining had been underway since the 18th century, though it had largely played out by the time of the American Civil War, when the red salt of Kanawha County was a valued commodity of first Confederate, and later Union, forces.

    In years following, more sophisticated mining methods would restore West Virginia's role as a major producer of salt. However, in the second half of the 19th century, there was an even greater treasure not yet developed: It would fuel much of the Industrial Revolution in the U. The residents both Native Americans and early European settlers had long known of the underlying coal, and that it could be used for heating and fuel.

    However, for a long time, very small "personal" mines were the only practical development. After the War, with the new railroads came a practical method to transport large quantities of coal to expanding U. As the anthracite mines of northwestern New Jersey and Pennsylvania began to play out during this same time period, investors and industrialists focused new interest in West Virginia.

    Geologists such as Dr. Ansted surveyed potential coal fields and invested in land and early mining projects. After its new president Frederick J. Inin the southern part of the state, along the Norfolk and Western rail lines, the important coal center of Bluefield, West Virginia was founded. The "capital" of the Pocahontas coalfieldthis city would remain the largest city in the southern portion of the state for several decades.

    It shares a sister city with the same name, Bluefield, in Virginia.
    Click here for a separate chronology of toxic chemical accidents Morehead and Guillaume de Chalmont produced America's first commercial high-carbon ferrochrome, and furnished ferrochrome for Spanish-American War armorplating. In the Union Carbide Company was created in Virginia to manufacture calcium carbide for acetylene lighting. It acquired the stock of four companies: The name was changed to Union Carbide Corporation in May New products included ethylene glycol antifreezebatteries, carbon for film, and ferroalloys for steel construction.

    Several hundred Union Carbide workers died of acute silica poisoning while constructing a tunnel for hydroelectric power for Union Carbide near Hawk's Nest, West Virginia.

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    Union Carbide developed raw materials and by-products; resumed butadiene studies to synthesize rubber; acquired the Bakelite Corporation and developed plastics; began operating Oak Ridge facilities; Linde perfected uranium refining; Electro Metallurgical Company later Union Carbide's Metals Division created for wartime metallurgical research and uranium manufacturing; National Carbon later Carbon Products developed special carbon products; United States Vanadium later part of Metals Division mined uranium and constructed three plants for treating uranium ores; Union Carbide and Carbon research laboratories contributed to atomic weapons research.

    Union Carbide ceased operating the U. DOE's Oak Ridge facilities in Mercury used for the separation of lithium-6 at Oak Ridge. A third of the world's mercury was brought to Oak Ridge. Inalmost half of workers tested had mercury in their urine at levels above those considered safe.

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    Kanawha Industrial Emergency Planning Council was founded by area chemical industries; later on government agencies joined the Council, and the word "Industrial" was dropped. Union Carbide Nuclear Company created. Union Carbide began funding confidential research on the toxicity of methyl isocyanate MIC at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; more research was performed in The corporation's long-term plan included "strengthening the assignment of individual responsibilties and accountabilities, strengthening business management methods, allocating resources selectively in strategic planning units, and practicing good corporate citizenship at home and abroad.

    Three employees killed at the Penuelas, Puerto Rico complex. Benzene gas leak at the Penuelas, Puerto Rico complex killed an employee.

    Employee at Institute, West Virginia killed by propane fumes. India granted Union Carbide a license to manufacture pesticides. Union Carbide Corporation built a plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, with Union Carbide owning 51 percent and private Indian companies the other 49 percent.

    An explosion at Union Carbide's Antwerp, Belgium polyethylene plant killed six employees. The plant was later sold to BP Chemicals. Worker electrocuted at the Eveready battery plant in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    The second-highest rate was at Union Carbide's Texas City facility, where 18 workers had died of brain cancer.

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    See also the entry. Fire at the graphite electrode plant at Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. These tax exempt bonds mature at various dates from through and have an average annual effective interest rate of 6. Newsday article on Union Carbide in Indonesia reported that more than half its Indonesian employees suffered from kidney disease due to exposure to mercury, that mercury levels in an Indonesian factory's well water were twenty times higher than levels considered acceptable in the U.

    S, and that surrounding rice fields and groundwater were also contaminated. Completed a Temik aldicarb pesticide plant in Brazil. Our intention is to have the broadest and strongest portfolio of insecticides in the industry, with products that offer important protection for all the major agricultural crops of the world.

    Union Carbide inspection team indicated that the plant at Bhopal, India was unsafe. Hydrogen chloride leaked from a tank car at Union Carbide's Massey yard at South Charleston, West Virgina; several hundred residents were evacuated, a some were treated at the hospital.

    Tank containing acrolein exploded at the Taft, Louisiana plant; windows a mile and a half from the plant were blown out, and 17, people were evacuated. Agreement reached to sell Indian chemicals and plastics business. Temik aldicarb pesticide reinstated for use in Florida after being temporarily suspended for environmental impact evaluation.

    An excess of cancer deaths is reported at Union Carbide's Seadrift, Texas plant. Workers exposed to polyethylene showed a seven-fold greater risk of lymphoma than the general public.

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    Ceased operating the U. An internal Union Carbide memo warned of a "runaway reaction that could cause a catastrophic failure of the storage tanks holding the poisonous [MIC] gas" at the Institute, West Virginia plant. The memo was released in January by U. Bhopal, India disaster killed thousands of people. Company statements in its Annual Report included the following: We moved swiftly to provide emergency relief while concentrating management of the crisis among a small group of executives, so that unaffected businesses could proceed with their normal routines.

    Many were shocked that the accident had happened to Union Carbide, a company with an excellent safety record. Expressions of support for Carbide poured in from customers, suppliers, and friends around the world. Carbide was also sustained by the performance of our employees, who never faltered throughout the December crisis.

    Some of these actions are purported class actions in which plaintiffs claim to represent large numbers of claimants alleged to have been killed or injured as a result of such exposure In March Union Carbide renewed its personal injury and property damage insurance and now has substantially less of such insurance with broader exclusions and a substantially larger deductible than in Union Carbide is continuing to seek additional coverage.

    The tentative settlement agreement is supported by the U. The Corporation does not intend to conclude a settlement unless all claims arising out of the Bhopal gas release can be resolved with finality or provided for in the settlement process. Some of the facilities will be divested under the announced restructuring program and the sale of the Consumer Products business [batteries, lighting products, plastic wrap and bags, antifreeze, and automotive specialty products, in ]. Circuit Court of Appeals New Orleans dismissed 28 suits by chemical manufacturers attempting to challenge EPA regulations on plastic and synthetic fiber wastewaters.

    Lawsuit filed by the family of Joe Harding, an employee at the Union Carbide-run uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky owned by the U. Department of Energy, charging that his fatal cancer was due to exposure to low-level radiation. Harding had claimed that exposure to uranium hexafluoride was routine, and that Union Carbide had encouraged workers to falsify radiation tests.

    The Kentucky Department of Workers' Claims was to decide in whether to award workers' compensation benefits to the family. The chemical industry announced the formation of a special committee of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association to lobby the state legislature "so that those regulations [in response to the Bhopal disaster] are reasonable and do not unnecessarily harm the industry.

    MIC production at the Institute plant was halted after the disaster at Bhopal until Maybut in the six weeks following the disaster, 1. See also the FebruaryAugustand February entries. Union Carbide notified the U. EPA that sincechemical leaks had occured at its Institute, West Virginia plant, including 61 leaks of methyl isocynate MICleaks of phosgene, and 22 leaks of both.

    The tests, which had been conducted at the Carnegie Mellon Institute of Research inshowed a high rate of skin cancer in mice treated with the chemical; Union Carbide did not notify the EPA until September The Institute, West Virginia facility leaked methylene chloride and aldicarb oxime, chemicals used to manufacture the pesticide Temik; six workers were injured, and more than a hundred residents were sent to the hospital.

    See also the January 23,Februaryand February entries.

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    Union Carbide charged that employee sabotage caused the disaster at Bhopal, India. EPA study lists highly toxic chemicals, being used by at least companies at thousands of locations, which pose serious health dangers to the public in the event of a chemical accident; only about twenty percent of the thousands of chemicals in commercial use had even been tested.

    The previous month, it was revealed that a draft EPA report revealed that there had been 6, toxic chemical accidents sincekilling people and injuring almost 1, Severance agreement between Union Carbide and former chairman Warren Anderson. In response to the Bhopal disaster, the U. To defend itself against the takeover attemptUnion Carbide repurchasedshares [out of million total shares?

    Funds to finance the repurchase were obtained through: The mayor of La Mesa, California asked Union Carbide to relocate its arsine-phosphine-ethylene oxide production facility. An attempt to locate it in Washougal, Washington failed. Amidst citizen protest inthe arsine-phosphine facility was relocated outside Kingman, Arizona. The plants were later transferred to Praxair, and one of them was sold to Allied Signal. Institute, West Virginia employee killed in coal crusher. OSHA classified 72 of the violations "serious," where there is substantial probability of death or substantial physical harm.

    Federal district judge dismissed Bhopal suits in the United States. Explosion injures employee at Institute, West Virginia. For the penalty paid by Union Carbide for not divesting its consumer products division by Marchsee the June entry. The Corporation is vigorously defending the pending litigation The Corporation maintains that interim compensation for personal injuries cannot be allowed when the evidence as to liability is in dispute and the claimants' right to compensation has not been established.

    Given the Corporation's numerous defenses and the evidence that the tragedy was caused by employee sabotage, liability is in dispute The Corporation believes that the [homicide] charges [against former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson] are without merit, and that Mr.

    The goal is a permanent fund earmarked for college scholarships for blacks at mixed-race universities, for legal aid, tutoring, and for training in business and civic affairs.

    Seventy-five students are currently participating in the scholarship program. Union Carbide Corporation operated a uranium mine in Uravan, Colorado from the s to Yet UC subsidiary Umetco planned to transport low-level radioactive waste from other sites to Uravan. More than members of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, a tax-free lobbying organization, established their "Responsible Care: Responsible Care "is an ongoing process, and a call for action, to achieve these primary goals: Union Carbide Corporation sued insurance companies to recover the costs of cleaning up its hazardous waste sites.

    Fire and explosion of 4, pounds of ethylene oxide at Institute, West Virginia; tetranaphthalene was spilled into the Kanawha River, killing 3, fish. Union Carbide's Texas City, Texas facility began a community outreach program, including focus groups, plant tours, and a formal citizens advisory panel CAP.

    Bhopal district court issues arrest warrant for former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson after he failed to respond to a summons.

    See also and April entries.

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