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THE PACIFIC SLOPE.
STATISTICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY
MINES AND MINERALS, CLIMATE, TOPOGRAPHY, AGRICULTURE, COMMERCE,
AND TERRITORIES WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
THE SETTLEMENT AND EXPLORATION OF
J. ROSS BROWNE,
AIDED BY A CORPS OF ASSISTANTE.
90, 92 & 94 GRAND STREET.
D. APPLETON & COMPANY, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of
J. ROSS BROWNE,
THE MINERAL RESOURCES OF THE STATES AND TERRITORIES WEST OF
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 5, 1868. SIR: In the preliminary report which I had the honor to transmit to you from San Francisco in November, 1866, a general summary was given of the mineral resources of the States and Territories west of the Rocky mountains. It was not anticipated by the department that the information required under letter of instructions dated August 2, 1866, could be obtained in full within the brief period intervening before the next meeting of Congress; but it was hoped that sufficient data might be collected to furnish a general idea of the rise and progress of the mining interest on the Pacific slope. No official document in any department of the government contained accurate information on this subject, and it was considered desirable that special attention should be given to the following points:
1. The origin of gold and silver mining on the Pacific coast and present condi<tion of that interest, as tending to show the progress of settlement and civilization.
2. Geological formation of the great mineral belts and general characteristics of the placer diggings and quartz lodes.
3. Different systems of mining, machinery used, processes of reducing the ores, percentage of waste, and net profits.
4. Population engaged in mining, exclusively and in part, capital and labor employed, value of improvements, number of mills and steam engines in operation, yield of the mines, average of dividends, and losses.'
5. Proportion of agricultural and mineral lands in each district, quantity of woodland, facilities for obtaining fuel, number and extent of streams, and water privileges.
6. Salt beds, deposits of soda and borax, and all other valuable mineral deposits.
7. Altitude, character of climate, mode and cost of living, cost of all kinds of material, cost of labor, &c.
8. Population of the mining towns, number of banks and banking institutions in them, facilities for assaying, melting, and refining bullion; charges upon the same for transportation and insurance.
9. Communication with the mines and principal towns, postal and telegraphic lines; stage routes; cost of travel; probable benefits likely to result from construction of the Pacific railroad and its proposed branches.
10. Necessity for assay offices and public depositories; what financial facilities may tend to develop the country and enhance its products.
11. Copies of local mining laws and customs regulating the holding and working of claims.
12. Number of ledges opened, number claimed, character of the soil in the mining districts, and its adaptation to the support of a large population.
The preliminary report, submitted in answer to these inquiries, embraced such information as could be obtained within the brief period allowed for its preparation. Although imperfect in many respects, it was received by the people of the Pacific coast as an indication of a growing interest on the part of government in the development of our mineral resources. It was a source of gratification to the miners to find that, after years of unprofitable toil, during which they had contributed largely to the national wealth, the peculiar character of their occupation was beginning to be understood, and its influence in promoting settlement and civilization to be better appreciated.
The report which I now have the honor to submit is the result of many years of labor and exploration. It contains the aggregated experience of the ablest statisticians and experts on the Pacific coast. If there be any merit in the work, it belongs chiefly to my co-laborers, who have devoted themselves with such unselfish zeal to the promotion of the objects designed to be accomplished by this commission. The fund appropriated by Congress was insufficient to admit of compensation adequate to such labor; but assistance was cheerfully given, as a matter of public benefit, without regard to personal or pecuniary considerations. When it is taken into view that this inquiry extends over the Territories of Utah, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, and Washington, and the States of Oregon, California, and Nevada, embracing an area of country stretching from the Rocky mountains to the Pacific, and from Mexico to British Columbia; that in many parts of this vast mineral range travel is still difficult and expensive; that the business of mining is new to the American people, and the collection of statistics unsystematized in this department of industry, it will be conceded that as much has been accomplished as could reasonably be expected.
An erroneous idea prevails that the collection of mining statistics involves original explorations and detailed personal examinations of every mine throughout the vast range of our mineral regions, with scientific and practical deductions relative to the treatment of ores; and it is expected by some that the information obtained shall be entirely new, and furnish a complete index for the purchase, sale or working of every mine in the country. Apart from the fact that such an investigation would require the employment for many years of a large scientific force at great expense, it would be difficult even then to present statistics which had not already been made public. The same sources of information are open to all. The mining press of the country, closely connected with that interest, directly identified with its progress, in daily and familiar contact with its details, makes it a special duty to keep up the current record of cost and production, success and failure. There may be misstatement or exaggeration, but not more so on the part of the press, which is held to a certain accountability by public sentiment, than on that of individuals who may be prejudiced or irresponsible. Statements publicly made and thoroughly criticised are as likely to be correct as casual examinations made by persons visiting a special locality, unfamiliar with its growth and progress, and compelled after all to depend upon information derived from others. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that there are difficulties in the way of absolute accuracy.
Every miner naturally desires that his mine should be carefully examined and reported upon in detail, especially if, as in the majority of cases, it be unproductive. Without reflecting that a mere list of the unproductive mines would fill a volume, the miner is disposed to estimate the value of a report by its mention or omission of that in which he is most interested. However disposed a government agent may be to meet the wishes of the mining community in this respect, it is equally important to bear in mind that this inquiry is not designed for speculative purposes or the promotion of special or individual interests. The public desire reliable statements, and herein lies the difficulty-a spirit of exaggeration on the one hand, a demand for facts on the other. To afford satis