Tomboy Bride: A Woman's Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West (The Pruett Series)

by Harriet Fish Backus

Paperback, 1980




WestWinds Press (1980), Edition: Second edition, 320 pages


A Colorado favorite, Tomboy Bride presents the first-hand account of a young pioneer woman and her life in a rough and tumble mining town of the Old West. In 1906 at the age of twenty, Harriet Fish hopped on a train from Oakland, California, to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado in search of a new life as the bride of assayer George Backus. Together, the couple ventured forth to discover mining town life at the turn of the twentieth century, adjusting to dizzying elevation heights of 11,500 feet and all the hardships that come with it: limited water, rationed food supplies, lack of medical care, difficulty in travel, avalanches, and many more. As she and George move from Telluride's Tomboy Mine to the rugged coast of British Columbia, to the town of Elk City, Idaho, and then back to Colorado's Leadville, Harriet paints a poignant picture of a world centered around silver mining, sharing amusing and often challenging experiences as a woman of the era. With a new foreword by award-winning author Pam Houston, this 50th anniversary edition also includes previously unpublished black and white photographs documenting Harriet's journey. Tomboy Bride endures as a classic of the region to this day as it captures in heart-felt emotion and vivid detail the personal account of Harriet Backus, a true pioneer of the West.… (more)


½ (18 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ElnEm
My Grandparents grew up and were married in the San Juan Mountains mining region in the early 20th century and my grandmother said this account is very much what her life was like as a bride at 18.
LibraryThing member itsJUSTme
I really wanted to like this book but was disappointed. It got "old" real fast. About 1/2 way through I was tired of it and just wanted to be done. I normally like this kind of book! But it just didn't do it for me.
LibraryThing member AmronGravett
"I heard more incredible stories of packrat ingenuity and achievement but no one could tell why the rats hid the food instead of eating it.

The author recounts life at the Tomboy Mine nearly 12,000 feet high in a mountain near Telluride. She retells their lives moving around to British Columbia,
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Idaho and Leadville. After numerous rejections, it was finally published when she was 84 years old. This is an important memoir from Colorado mining history and the conditions of the families who endured.
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Original language


Original publication date

1977 (Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder Colorado)

Physical description

320 p.; 5.5 inches


0871085127 / 9780871085122
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