SAT Subject US History Practice Question 883: Answer and Explanation
54. In the second half of the 19th century, mining went from being an endeavor dominated by individual prospectors to one dominated by a few large corporations because
A. the children of prospectors lost interest in mining and sold their operations to corporations.
B. insurance and licensing fees were beyond the reach of most individuals.
C. the machinery required for extracting ore cost more than most prospectors could afford.
D. the transportation costs of shipping ore became too great for individual prospectors.
E. most of the prospectors were drafted into the Union army during the Civil War.
Correct Answer: C
During the various precious metal "rushes" and "strikes" of the 19th century, the first pieces of gold and silver could be found along the surface or just beneath it. But soon, heavy equipment was needed to dig underground mines and extract large amounts of precious metals. This was beyond the financial means of the average prospector. This progression from individual entrepreneur to large corporation is repeated in many economic fields during U.S. history. The story of children losing interest in the family business (A) is more common to agriculture than to mining. Exorbitant insurance and licensing fees (B) are more common to the litigious 20th century than the 19th century. Transportation costs (D) were not such a concern with precious metals, which were brought to market in smaller quantities than, say, corn or lumber. The Civil War draft (E) did not significantly impact the mining industry.