The Comstock,
The Net and You

Joel Hunter Crook

Wherein the Author does prove that history can does repeat itself
However if you try this at home realize the results may vary
Virginia City
VIRGINIA CITY, NEVADA -- The most famous boom town in the world because of the Comstock Lode. The Territorial Enterprise lives on from those boom days to a new boom-economy, this time the "diggings" are electronic.

In the Spring of 1859 the Comstock Lode was discovered in the wilderness of the Territory of Western Utah. It was a discovery that would change the course of the history and wealth of these United States. It would make some men millionaires and break others. It enticed people from all walks of life to move West and stake a claim. If they did not work in the mines then they learned to dig into the minds or pocketbooks of their fellow citizens. The Comstock brought us the likes of Mark Twain and Dan DeQuille. It gave us the silver dollar, a popular TV show in the 1960s [Bonanza], and it gave us a long standing piece of memorabilia [history]: The Territorial Enterprise.

By the fall of 1859 the town of Virginia City was born. It grew by leaps and bounds and by the beginning of November 1860 the first weekly issue of The Territorial Enterprise appeared. In a few short months The Territorial Enterprise became the first daily paper in the future State of Nevada. Virginia City boomed and bloomed in leaps bounds. For a time it became the "Pot o' Gold at the end o' the rainbow" before bow moved on. In fact for the next forty or so years, quite a few folks chased that rainbow and the pot of gold up and down the whole Eastern Sierra.

Then, as is true today, there were the rich and there were poor. There were good people and there were bad ones. There were proper folks and then there were improper louts and sinful women.

There was a right side of town and an assuredly wrong side of town. There were the Blessed and then there were ones who were generally believed by the Blessed to be bound for a place beside an Eternal Fire.

Then, as today, wealth, goodness, blessedness and propriety all walked hand in hand and it was believed without a doubt that poorness reflected badly upon one's status with one's neighbor and by some accounts with God. When large sums of cash are involved the clever play upon the weak and the rich upon the poor. The former generally got the gold while the latter got the shaft. The righteous claimed their halos and the sinners claimed a pauper' s grave. That is the price for building an empire in a wilderness frontier.

Well you might be asking how can the history of the Boomtown West relate to the Internet? The Internet is today's new frontier. It is a place of opportunity and riches. What opportunity? What riches? Let me ask, have you ever heard of Sun Microsystems? How about AOL? Compaq? Ebay? Novell? Lycos? Netscape? GO Network? Cisco? 3Com? Earthlink? Dare we say Microsoft? The term IPO has become synonymous with the term "mother lode.'' Cruising the Web is akin to panning for gold.

Review your history books upon the Eastern Sierra and then cruise the World Wide Web. You will find that both are wild and wooly places where great beauty, wisdom, wealth can be as easily had as grief, terror and a broken fortune. Their greatness and charm is the fact that they are frontiers.

Some corners of the wilderness, real and virtual, refused to be tamed. There are those who continue to try to tame the West and the 'Net and happily have failed to do so. America needs its frontiers: whether they are in the Eastern Sierra or the virtual world of the Web.

There are those who have claimed that the evils of any and all frontiers must be tamed and the wilderness broken down and harvested for the wildness will "degrade the morals of our youth and taint the love of our women."

"The Wilderness leads men astray and makes for violence and decay!" The Falsely Pious cry unto their flocks (even as they fleece them). "Let us destroy the Philistines. Let us pave their Wilderness that Order may prevail. And we may take their riches from them (without having paid the fair market value thereof)."

In this desire to tame Nature scientists and some religious leaders are a like. There is something in them that can not abide a wilderness. There is something that does not want to be tamed in both man and in Nature and it recoils against the walls and boundaries that Civilization builds. It would walk the wild side, the road less traveled, the lighter side of the Force, the Mythic Journey. Our frontiers give us a sense of freedom and a sense of community. They give us the power to dream a new dream and realize a heart's desire. The Wildest Frontier is not above or below or around us. It never has been. It just takes a whole lot of nothing around us to realize that the greatest frontier of all is within the human mind. The greatest treasure lies within the human heart.

[The few notes seen above in brackets and italics are editorial notes. We agree with Joel Hunter Crook's conclusion, but tenderly add that it is thought that the "imagination is the way that the heart expresses itself to the human."]

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