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it becomes tributary to the Union Pacific at Cheyenne, while it traverses a treeless, houseless prairie of nearly five hundred miles east of Denver. Engineers have been struggling for a passage through the Arkansas Cañon; thence through the Poncho Pass into San Luis Valley, and they have tried other routes, though they knew that if they succeeded they would find beyond the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains an uninhabitable country, more than one thousand miles wide. The present move would seem to be toward Cariboo, in the building of the Boulder Valley Road, that coal may first be obtained, and then that the mining region may be reached before the Union Pacific should consider whether the prize is worth seeking. But there is more than this still behind. Boulder Pass is between Cariboo and Central, and here, the snowy range crowds so far to the east that it is but a few miles through to the head-waters of the Colorado of the West, whence a passage into Salt Lake Valley will be easy. When this shall be accomplished a grand scheme will be developed. The Central Pacific, which meets the Union Pacific at Ogden, seven hundred and fifty miles east of Sacramento, will clasp hands with the Kansas Pacific, and the Union Pacific will see passengers and freight take this new route, which is said to be one hundred and fifty miles nearer to New York.
Leaving these pictures of extensive possibilities, it is well to return to the immediate needs of the principal mining districts of the Territory; and these, I do not hesitate to say, will be best, since most speedily, served by the construction of narrow-gauge railways. In a subsequent chapter of this report some further information on the subject will be given.
The erection of smelting-works for the treatment of Colorado ores is a matter closely connected with the question of railway transportation; and the public spirit, outrunning, as usual, the actual progress of industry, has projected such works in numerous localities. An establishment of the kind is erecting at Omaha, under the charge of Mr. Balbach, of the Newark (New Jersey) Works, and there has been much talk and some action concerning similar enterprises at Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City. It is also proposed to establish works on the Union Pacific, among the Wyoming coal-fields, and at Golden City, or somewhere else at the base of the mountains, among the Colorado coal-fields. The relative natural and commercial advantages of all these localities have been subjects of lively discussion; but I fear that the full relations of the subject have been but partially investigated. Letters are frequently addressed to me as commissioner, requesting my opinion whether this or that town "would be a good place for smelting works," as if general opinions on such a point could be proper bases of action. I can only say, in general, that the most thorough and elaborate preliminary estimates as to the cost of construction and operation, the character and amount of the certain supply of ores, and the margin of profit in their treatment, are of course indispensable. But after all these have been obtained, the assurance of success is not complete. The multiplication of smelting works and the limited supply of ores, so far as Colorado is concerned, will bring about a fierce competition, in which natural advantages, and even metallurgical skill, may go down before heavier capital and shrewder business management. The production of the mines may be gradually stimulated by the increased facilities of reduction; but this cannot have an immediate effect, and meanwhile financial strength, the ability to pay high cash prices for ores, and-what is more important-the ability to stop and stand still when prices do not permit profitable work, will give decisive advantages to some works, while others, less fortunate in these respects, are forced to follow the lead of rivals, putting prices up or down to get business, not daring to suspend ope rations, lest the suspension should be final, yet finding it equally ruinous to go on. I have seen this drama played repeatedly, till the curtain fell upon a sheriff's sale.
The success of smelting-works at a distance from the mining districts,
depends moreover upon the good will of the railroad companies, who may favor one or another locality in the prices of transportation. The question of establishing such works at points near the Rocky Mountain coalbeds is affected directly by the metallurgical value of the coal-a matter which needs more thorough and extensive study than it has yet received. Again, smelting-works at accessible commercial centers, drawing their supplies from many different quarters, have a great advantage over those which depend directly upon single districts; yet this advantage may be neutralized by some of the causes enumerated above, or in the course of time by the establishment of other works, intercepting in detail the supplies from each quarter. Thus the extensive works of Swansea in Wales possess a commercial supremacy, long established and acknowledged, but precarious in its particular elements.
It is, therefore, impossible to predict which works of the many now projected east of the Rocky Mountains will survive and flourish. 1 refer in this connection to enterprises which are expected to be permanent. There are numerous small establishments springing up from time to time in connection with the discoveries of productive mines, paying for themselves in a few months, and dying when the mines, even temporarily, give out. They belong commercially in the same category as stamp-mills.
The stamp-mills of Gilpin County, old and new, number about seventy, with more than 1,300 stamps. Probably half this number of stamps have been in operation more or less steadily during the year, crushing about 100,000 tons of quartz, with an average yield of $12 to $15 per ton. The average number of stamps running throughout the year was about 400. A large portion of the rock crushed was custom-rock. Some of the most productive mines were closed for months on account of quarrels between companies. Among the lodes which have been worked with more or less steadiness are the Fiske, Milwaukee, the California and its extension, the Gardiner, the Roderic Dhu, Kansas, Camp Grove, Flack, Prize, Sudeburg, Jones, Fairfield, Kent County, Bobtail, Burroughs, and Gregory. The Coaley mine at Black Hawk, the only silver mine worked, so far as I know, in that vicinity, produced some $20,000 of silver during the first half of the year.
The bullion shipment from Gilpin County (gold) for the year ending July 1, 1870, was as follows:
The bullion shipments for the twelve months previous to July 1, 1869, coin value, were $1,267,900.
In December, 1870, the following mills were running in Gilpin County, mainly on custom-rock, or under lease. It will be seen that the number of stamps in operation is very high for the season, and above the average for the year, an encouraging fact.
It is an illustration of the incompleteness of the first returns furnished
by the assistant marshals under the census law, that the total production of stamp-mills reported to the Census Bureau from Gilpin County for the year ending June 1, 1870, was but $486,429, or about three-tenths of the actual shipments of gold for the same period.
In addition to these there were several other mills, unknown to me by name, raising the aggregate number of stamps to more than 500.
In view of the limited extent of the productive gold-district of Gilpin County, the number of stamps which it keeps in operation is unequaled, except by the Comstock Silver district, in the history of American mining. But this number would be much greater under a proper system of mine ownership and management. I take from a pamphlet by Colonel G. W. Baker the following statement, showing how the most celebrated lodes of Gilpin County are subdivided among different owners. The table suits my purpose all the better, because it was not published in condemnation of this system, but to show how many companies had failed to develop their mines successfully, even upon veins of acknowledged value. I quote it to prove that the great number of these companies was one of the principal causes of failure.*
*The subdivisions of some of these lodes are given differently by Professor Hague, whose account is quoted below. I am not able to explain the discrepancy.-R. W. R.
The Gregory lode and its extension are divided among the following
This is considerably more than the known length of the lode. So much the worse for the remoter claims. The shafts sunk upon this lode and its extensions have an aggregate depth of between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, some of them being 500 feet deep. Certainly half this amount of shafting has been required by the divided ownership merely. The vein could have been equally well developed without it.
Shafts will aggregate nearly 3,000 feet. Many of them 400 feet deep