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wholly composed of copper or brass, a branch of business which gives employment to several factories and foundries, requires a constantly increasing supply of tins metal.
The following statement, showing the imports of copper during 1866 and for the first six months of 1867, embraces only the rough metal and sheets. All other forms in which it is imported are included under the head of general merchandise. Though very incomplete, and confined to the imports received at San Francisco, this table showrs that there is a field for the manufacture of copper on the Pacific coast which deserves the consideration of capitalists.
Imports of copper at San Francises from January 1> 1856, to July 1, 1867.
Bars and packages: In 1866, 1,245; in 180?, 242; total, 1,487. Cases of sheathing-: In 1866, 1,203; in 1867,386; total, 1,589. The weight and value of the packages are not returned at the custom-house.
The Manufacture Of Sulphate Of Copper In California.—The annual consumption of the sulphate of copper on the Pacific coast amounts to nearly 500 tons. The present wholesale price is $200 per ton. About four-fifths of total quantity imported is used in the processes of amalgamation. The greater part of the other fifth, or about 100 tons, is used by farmers for soaking wheat, &c.; sulphate of copper, or blue-stone, as it is generally called, being* the best known preventive of rust in that grain. Till recently all the sulphate of copper used here wras imported, chiefly from England. At present there is sufficient made in San Francisco to supply the demand. Crane & Brigham, a firm in the drug business, have been engaged for several years in perfecting a plan for the manufacture of this article from the sulphurets, which were too poor to pay for export or concentration. They expended nearly $50,000 in apparatus and experiments, and obtained a patent for a process which they discovered hi 1864. But the costs of labor and strong opposition from importers made it an unprofitable investment. In the spring of 1867, a method was discovered by them of making this article from the carbonates and oxides brought from the Williams fork of the Colorado, Arizona, by which it is prepared in the greatest,purity at a cost below that for which it can be profitably imported. The San Francisco Refinery Works, and other establishments in that business, of which there are several, also make quantities of the sulphate of copper as a by-product of their chemical operations. Under these circumstances it is not improbable that the importation of this article will soon cease.
Iron.—The failure, till recently, to discover a deposit of coal on this coast suitable for smelting purposes, has prevented much attention being paid to the bodies of iron ores which are scattered throughout California and Oregon. But the discovery of good coal in Washington Territory, and in the late llussian possessions on this coast, within the past year or two, has brought the subject of iron smelting into notice. The consumption of pig, bar, plate, and every other description of iron, already considerable, must increase with the progress of the States and Territories on this side of the Rocky mountains, and the importance of this,metal in manufactures and arts imparts to the subject an interest scarcely second to that attached to the production of the precious metals.
With an abundance of material necessary for the manufacture of iron at their doors, as it were, it is scarcely probable the people of this coast will bo much longer content to import so essential an element of prosperity from foreign countries.
The First Iron-smelting Works On The Pacific.—Oregon is entitled to the credit of having erected the first iron-srnelting works on the Pacific coast, though several of the heaviest stockholders in the enterprise are citizons of, California.
The Oregon Iron Works are located at Oswego, about nine miles south of Portland, on the west bank of the Willamette river. They are the property of an incorporated company, having a capital of $500,000. The operations of this company were commenced in September, 1865. In 1866 the erection of the furnace and necessary buildings was commenced, and completed in June, 1867. But smelting was not immediately commenced, in consequence of an insufficient quantity of charcoal, the fuel intended to be used. The destruction of the company's foundry and machine shop by fire on the night of July 2, which involved a loss of nearly $100,000, further delayed operations.
The furnaces were erected under the direction of Mr. G. D. Wilbur, of Connecticut, and are constructed on the same plan as those in general use in that State. They are built of the basaltic rock which underlies, the ore. This material is found to be adapted to the purpose. The cupola is 32 feet high, and the bosher or hearth nine feet six inches in diameter. The blast (hot) is applied through three tuyeres, under a pressure of two pounds to the square inch, generated by suitable machinery driven by water power.
The charcoal used is prepared from the Oregon fir, which has been found by experiment to be adapted^ to smelting purposes, and is very compact, weighing about 16 pounds to the bushel. Contractors supply it to the company at eight cents per bushel, delivered at the works. It is calculated the furnace will redueo nine tons of ore daily, (24 hours,) each two and one-half tons of which being estimated to produce one ton of metal in pigs.
The first pigs cast at these w^orks, and consequently on the Pacific coast, were made on the 24th August, 1867, when about six tons of Yery good metal were run out. The ore used ranged from 60 to 65 per cent. The furnace has been running continuously since, producing from six to eight tons of metal per day. About 80 men are employed about the works as miners, furnace men, tean> sters, &c.
On the 1st day of October the Oregon Iron Company .had produced 224 tons of pig iron, 2,240 pounds to the ton, at an expense as follows:
For each ton (2,240 pounds) iron produced there were used—
166 bushels charcoal, costing at furnace 8 cents . $13 28
884 pounds lime, costing at furnace 40 cents 3 53
4,970 pounds ore, costing at furnace $2 50 per ton 5 50
Labor reducing each ton 6 67
Total cost of the pig on bank of river 28 98
This does not include interest on capital, or State and county taxes.
A sample of this metal was received at San Francisco August 30, 1867, which, after thorough tests by the various foundries ki that city, was pronounced a superior article. *
The average cost of importing pig iron from Europe to San Francisco is about $40 per ton, ranging from $35 to $45; the fluctuation arising from the rates of freight, which is usually fi:om $12 50 to $15 per ton. Occasionally it is brought (by French and German vessels at a lower price, as these vessels generally carry cargoes of light merchandise, which require heavy freight as ballast. The usual freight from Atlantic ports is from $12 to $16 per ton in currency.
Within the past year small parcels of pig iron have been received from Australia. The Australian iron costs about $40 per ton in gold, delivered on the wharf. .
The following particulars concerning the cost of producing iron, copied from the report of the United States Eevenuo Commissioners for 1865 and 1866, will be found of interest in this connection. It will be seen by these fi>ures that While it is quite possible to make iron on the Pacific coast as cheaply as in anyother portion of the United -States, it cannot be made as cheaply as in England:
An establishment capable of. producing in the United States 10,000 tons of finished iron per annum would cost for ore, leases, lands, blast furnaces, mills, houses, and appurtenances necessary for the full equipment, from the ore to the finished iron, at the present time $1,250,000
Capital to carry it on. 750,000
, A similar one in Great Britain would cost.... $500,000
Capital to carry it on . 300,000
Total.. ,. 800,000
Interest on $2,000,000 capital invested in American establishment at 8 per
On 800,000 in England at 5 per cent 40,000
Leaving a balance of interest against American manufactures of 120,000
In the United States a fair average cost of producing pig iron is not less than $35 per ton. In England or Wales the cost of producing a ton of pig iron averages $14. To the difference shown by the figures given, it is just to add the difference per ton caused by larger interest on the greater capital invested in the United States. ( Vide report, pages 327 and 328.,)
This question of interest on capital is fplt more severely on the Pacific coast than in any other State in the Union, and forms an impediment to all manufactures.
In the vicinity of the Oswego -works are numerous beds of hydrous sesquioxicle, which, according to estimates based on careful measurement, contain 50,000 tons. This ore by analysis is found to contain from 46 to 56 per cent, metal. Nearly one-fourth of these beds consists of solid masses of ore, the remainder consisting of the same deposit very much disintegrated and broken, but equally rich in metal.
At the distance of two and one-half miles from the works a similar body of ore has been found, which measures 100 acres superficially, and of a thickness varying from six to 12 feet. This body of ere is estimated to contain several millions of tons. Similar bodies of ore have been found at several places within an area of twenty miles of the works, extending as far. as St. Helen's, on the Columbia river. In every case where these deposits of ore have been examined they are found to bo underlaid by volcanic lava and ashes, beneath which are heavy beds of basaltic rocks. No vein or deposit of the ore has been found in this basalt, but in many places the crevices and fissures in that formation are filled with scales and fragments of the overlying ore.
These bodies of ore present all the appearances of having been deposited in a liquid state, in indentations that existed at the time of the surface of the basalt. The whole formation has subsequently been tilted up so as to dip to the east at an angle of about 10 degrees. The present surface of the ore-beds is covered with a deposit of sand, gravel, and clay, from a few inches to 10 feet in depth.
Similar bodies of ore exist in the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius, Italy, which are known to have been ejected from that volcano in the form of chloride of iron and subsequently metamorphosed to its present form.
Limonite is never found except in recent or secondary geological formations. It is the most valuable of all the ores of iron, being readily convertible into steel. The difference between limonite and hematite consists in the former containing from 15 to 20 per cent, of its weight of water, while the latter contains none. Limonite, owing to this difference, melts at a considerably lower temperature than hematite, a most important matter in a country where fuel is expensive.:
An analysis of this Oregon limonite, made by Kellogg, Hueston & Co.,. of San Francisco, gave the following results:
Sesqui-oxide of iron 77.66
Moisture - 11.16
Silica 1 ■ . • 1 1.08
Sulphur and phosphorus .10
Its specific gravity is 4.25. By actual working, on the large scale, it yielded' 54.37 per cent, of metal in pigs.
The extraction of the ore involves but little expense, as it is all near the surface. It is estimated that it can be taken out and delivered at the furnace at $1 50 per ton.
These Oregon iron works labor under a disadvantage in having no limestone in their vicinity. This mineral is as essential in smelting operations as fuel itself. All the limestone used has to be brought from San Juan island, and costs $6 per ton delivered. As it requires one-third as much of this mineral as of the ore for smelting, this disadvantage is serious in point of expense.
I Rots'In California.—'Every description of iron ores is known to exist in California in abundance. The most important bodies of them are found among the foot-hills of the Sierra. Nevada mountains, at too great a distance from the manufacturing centres to admit of smelting with profit, to compete with imported iron at places along the coast having the advantage of cheaper supplies from abroad. The heavy cost of inland transportation from these central marts is an advantage, however, in supplying a local demand, because transportation upwards to the mountains is always dearer than it is downwards to the plains. The cost of castings received in the mountains from San Francisco rarely falls below 8200 per ton; it is generally much higher. The consumption of cast iron among the quartz, lumber, grist, and other mills located among the foot hills reaches nearly 2,000 tons annually, and the demand is limited by the difficulty in supplying it.
The cost of erecting smelting works on a scale sufficiently large to supply the local .demand need not exceed a few thousand dollars. The profits of such an establishment located among the mines, or on the line of a railroad connected with the mining districts, if properly conducted, would be remunerative, It is strange that, with such facts patent to capitalists, works of this kind have not been established at points where materials and facilities are known to exist for carrying them on to advantage.
The following particulars concerning bodies of iron ores found in this State, which have been examined by competent persons, 'will be useful in showing the character, importance, and location of these deposits. For convenience they are divided under the heads of specular, hematite, magnetic, chromic, titanic, and mixed ores.
Specular Iron Ore.—Deposits of this ore have been discovered a few miles north of tho town of Santa Cruz, 75 miles from San Francisco, near the sea, in the Coast range. There is abundance of wood and limestone in the vicinity.
Also on Utt's ranch, six miles from Auburn, Placer county, in the foot hills, 45 miles from Sacramento.
In the Coast range, in San Bernardino county, about 600 miles from Sacramento, is another deposit of this ore.
Also at Four Hills, a locality about 10 miles northeast from Downieville, Sierra county, among the summits of the Sierra Nevada. The ore at this place is very pure and abundant, in a densely timbered country, with limestone close at hand.
Plumas county, also, contains valuable bodies of this ore. On the side of a broad canon in the southern portion of this county, in sight of the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada, about 16 miles from Downieville, Sierra county, within a couple of miles of the line of the proposed Oroville railroad, there is an iron mountain composed in great part of this ore. It assays from 40 to 70 per cent. metal. Parties have pre-empted 320 acres of the land embracing the mountain for the purpose of working it as an iron mine. It is intended to erect smelting works on the ground during the present fall. Wood, water, and limestone are close at hand, and the Beck with Pass wagon road runs within a mile of the claim.
There are deposits at other places, bat the above are among the most accessible. \
Specular iron ore is somewhat similar in composition to red hematite, but is readily distinguished from that ore by breaking with a bright metallic fracture, almost like cast iron, to which peculiarity it owes its name. Like hematite, it .is of volcanic origin. The ores of Pilot Knob and Iron Mountain, Missouri, belong to this class. It requires a much greater heat to smelt specular iron ores than any others of that metal; this trait is important on this coast. The iron made from this ore is the best known, when properly made.
Magnetic Ieon Oees.—The most important, because the most convenient, body of this ore in California exists on the line of the Central Pacific railroad, near Clipper Gap, where there is a mountain of considerable proportions composed almost wholly of the variety known in Germany as "spiegelien," from which steel is made with so much facility in that country by the Bessemer process.
The advantages of having a plenty of wood, wrater, building materials, 'and fire-clay for furnace purposes, and limestone for flux, and a railroad running close by, have induced an attempt to erect smelting works in the vicinity. 'Robinson, Brown & Co.'s iron mines are located here, about three miles from the railroad and three miles from Bear river. These mines were located and patents for the land from the federal government applied for in May, 1866. The company purchased the title of the railroad to the even sections of the land, to the extent of about 1,500 acres. The greater portion of this land is well covered with timber suitable for charcoal. The ore crops out from the mountain in many places. There are two qualities in the deposit; on the east side it is highly magnetic, while on the west it is very much like the Oregon limonite. Assays made by Kellogg & Hueston, of San Francisco, in March, 1866, gave the following results: the magnetic ore, 64.37 per cent, metal; the hematite, 44.67 per cent, metal. A specimen sent to Professor Jackson, of Boston, Massachusetts, was analyzed by that gentleman, who states in the report on the subject that it contains no phosphorus, sulphur, titanium, or other substance injurious to the manufacture of iron.
A tunnel has been cut in the side of the mountain to test the thickness of the stratum. At the time of our visit, in June, 1867, it had been run for 30 feet,, with no signs of the end. On the opposite side, where there were no croppings near the surface, a shaft was sunk 15 feet; at that depth thvy struck good ore.
Estimates as to the probable expenses of making pig iron at this locality and delivering it at San Francisco show that charcoal can bo made and' delivered at the furnace for 12^ cents per bushel, (the Oregon works pay 8 cents;) the lime will cost $2 per ton; the total cost for labor, materials, and interest on capital reaching $20 per ton, to which must be added $6 per ton for transport to San Francisco by railroad and steamer. The average cost of pig iron in that city during the past three years has been $41 50, landed on the wharf. Its price at present is. from §47 to $50 per ton. The mines are 40 miles distant from Sacramento by railroad.
Arrangements have been made with the firm of Coffee, Risdon & Co. to erect