Frank Water's "Pikes Peak" mining saga is indeed a lost classic of American Western literature, and encompasses all of Frank Water's themes of individual passion, familial loss, and personal transcendence in the service of a great ambition -- a common theme in Waters and a powerful one. Waters also has that interesting way of approaching his story -- and his characters -- as near parables and fables, so that his stories feel nearly timeless. A few years ago, I read everything by Waters I could get my hands on, and noticed the interesting Buddhist path that his characters tend to follow, transcending their own reality through deep immersion in nature. In this set of joined novels, the immersion is much more than just hiking or hunting, it is instead the ambition to mine and dig and plumb the depths of the earth, an ambition that is in the end at odds with the settling down impulse of the maturing West. After Wallace Stegner's powerful Angle of Repose, I'd argue that Waters is the next most powerful and insightful novelist of the West. If you're just starting Waters, I'd recommend Man Who Killed the Deer -- it was his breakthrough novel, and continues to be an influence on Western literature. One personal note -- my novel Coeur d'Alene Waters could almost be read as a latter-day coda to Waters mining saga, as I deal with the aftermath of the pell-mell urge to mine that Waters first chronicled in his work.