I'm designing a town in the Ozark mountain range circa 1871, and am unsure what population size to give it.
River Bend is an isolated town in the Ozark highlands of Arkansas founded in 1845 on the promise of mining lead, zinc, and iron. The town made a modest profit until Chuck Goodnight hit diamonds five years later: the mining town boomed for the next eleven years until the Civil War started, and the mine was closed as the workers became soldiers.
The War is now six years behind us (1871). Chuck Goodnight and most of his workers are as dead as the Goodnight mine, and River Bend is dying too. Its remaining population ekes out a living through trapping and lumber, sending furs and logs downstream on the nearby river.
- What population range would be appropriate for River Bend in its heyday just before the War?
- How small might its population be ten years later in 1871?
- Is it even reasonable for the town to not be completely abandoned a decade later?
[Links to cited sources, wherever possible, are appreciated: not because I don't trust you but because I want to add them to my own resource stockpile.]