The State of California has a length of nearly seven hundred miles, and a breadth of over two hundred miles, its area being estimated at 154,000 square miles. The State is divided into forty-nine counties, and in twenty-four of these counties mining is carried on to a greater or less extent.

The principal mining region lies on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, near the central portion of the State, but several importaut districts are found in the extreme northern and southern parts of the State, as well as on the eastern slopes of the Sierras.

The collection of information and statistics relative to the mining interest over such an extensive area is a task attended with great difficulty and expense, and its satisfactory performance would require a much larger expenditure of money than it has been within the power of the Commissioner to devote to any one State or Territory from the small appropriation made by Congress for this purpose, as the scope of his duties embraces all the extensive mineral region of the country west of the Rocky Mountains, extending from the borders of British Columbia to the Mexican boundary, and embracing the large Territories of Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona, in all of which exploration is being carried on and important discoveries are being made yearly, requiring attention and investigation.

As it is impossible, for these reasons, to personally visit and examine more than a portion of the State each year, an effort has been made to obtain information from those districts not visited through the medium of correspondence.. This has not proved as successful as was hoped, through the want of interest felt by the mining community in the labors of the Mining Commissioner and his agents. This indifference is to be attributed to the want of knowledge as to the objects of the commission rather than to an unwillingness to impart information. Strange as it may seem in a country where public documents are printed and circulated by the Government with such profusion as in the United States, it happens, with respect to the reports of the Mining Commissioner, that but few copies have reached the class of persons most interested in their contents; and the various editions, both public and private, are already virtually out of print. During the travels of the writer in various parts of the mining region of California, for the past three years, he has not seen more than a dozen copies of the various reports of the Mining Commissioner, though there is a continual demand for them by persons interested in mining. Could these reports be distributed more liberally and judiciously the results would be beneficial to the mining interest, not only by the diffusion of the information contained in them, but it would materially assist in the collection of valuable statistics and information for the future. The recipients of these reports have ever manifested a willingness to aid in the collection of information, and much valuable data have been obtained through their observation and investigation in their respective districts.

In 1869, a set of blanks, five in number, embracing under appropriate headings the class of information desired, were sent by mail and express

to persons engaged in mining in various parts of the State, accompanied by a letter explaining their objects and uses. Two hundred and thirty-four sets of these blanks were dispatched, and these elicited but thirty-one replies, though in some cases the returns were comprehensive and valuable.

In 1870, the deep placers of Nevada, Yuba, and Placer Counties were visited and described as thoroughly as limited time and means would permit. Mr. C. Luckhardt visited San Diego County and Inyo County, and much valuable information was gleaned from the returns of the United States census marshals.

During the present year a hasty trip was made through the southern mines, the results of which appear in this report, and letters and circulars soliciting information were sent to such mining counties as could not be visited by an agent. The following is a copy of a circular of which two hundred copies were dispatched to various addresses in different parts of the State, and to the secretaries of mining companies having offices in our principal towns:


37 Park Row, New York.

DEAR SIR: Being desirous of collecting for my forthcoming Annual Report on Mining Statistics (for 1871) as much trustworthy information as possible concerning the progress and condition of the mining industry in California, and being unable, with the limited means at my disposal, to examine, either personally or through agents, all the districts in the State, I take the liberty of asking your assistance, so far as your district is concerned, assuring you that anything you may be willing to do in this matter will be considered not only as a contribution to the welfare of the mining interest generally, but also as an official and personal favor to myself. I desire particularly the following information:

An outline of the history of your district for the past year, with notices of any improvements or important works, (such as mills, mining ditches, bed-rock tunnels, &c.,) either in progress or in contemplation.

A general statement of the condition and prospects of quartz, placer, and other mines in your district.

The (estimated) product of bullion for your district (or mine) for the year 1871.
The names, and brief notices, of the principal mines-quartz and placer-in your


A list of the stamp-mills in your district, with number of stamps, &c.

A statement of the ruling rates of wages in your district.

In districts or counties where the principal interest is gravel or hydraulic mining, the estimated area of ground (in acres) now being worked, and the extent of the auriferous deposits; an estimate of the yield of hydraulic ground, per cubic yard; and a statement of the yield and expense of milling per cubic yard (where stamps are used) in cement and gravel claims.

Superintendents and secretaries of mining companies, and proprietors of mining ground, are urgently solicited to furnish such details of the operations of the companies they represent, for the past year, as may with propriety be made public.

Unless you otherwise direct, your courtesy will be acknowledged in the report. Persons furnishing information, desiring a copy of my annual report, will be supplied, as soon after its issuance as practicable, on application to my agent in San Francisco.

Please send an early reply to this letter, stating whether I may depend upon you in the matter, addressing your reply to my assistant, Mr. W. A. Skidmore, Box 1513, San Francisco, Cal., to whom also your notes (in any form that may suit your convenience, whether rough and hasty, or written out in full) should be sent as early as practicable. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. Commissioner Mining Statistics.

No more than twenty-four replies were received to this circular, and of these more than half were of no value. Without exception, the foreign companies operating in California-mostly in gravel-mining-have neglected to answer the circular or communicate any information, though in several cases a second circular was sent, accompanied with a letter. Our own large companies have been equally negligent as a general rule. Of the circulars addressed to mining secretaries, but one received atten

tion, though in many cases I have procured the annual reports of the respective companies, when they have been printed.

On the other hand, some replies have been prepared with care, after patient investigation, and contain much valuable data. Of this class is the information furnished by Mr. J. Rathgeb, of San Andreas, Calaveras County, and by Mr. W. M. Eddy, of French Corral, Nevada County. The latter gentleman, at my request, instituted a series of experiments, extending over a period of several months, with a view of testing the yield of gravel, and the expense of treatment by mill process, at French Corral. I am also under obligations to Messrs. Cronise and Crossman, and to Dr. Henry De Groot, of San Francisco; also to Mr. Lyman Ackley, of Smartsville, Yuba County, and Mr. E. N. Strout, of Placerville, El Dorado County.

Condition of the mining interest.-The business of mining for the precious metals has for the past two years made very marked advances throughout all parts of the Pacific slope. Never within a like period has this pursuit so strengthened itself in public confidence, or undergone so great territorial expansion. At first regarded with distrust and suspicion, it has achieved the favor of capitalists to a large degree, and can now enlist their aid more readily than almost any other interest. Mining, instead of being proscribed, as it was at one time, is now not only recognized as a legitimate pursuit, but is fairly regarded as entitled to precedence over most others. Purged of its follies, and with many of its errors corrected by experience, it opens now not only a more profitable but a safer field for investment than any other of our leading industries. In no other department of business on the Pacific coast have the gains for several years past been so liberal or so certain as in this, nor does any other hold out such flattering prospects for large profits in the future. Many of the mineral developments made of late have been enormous, and successful Never has the business of prospecting been pushed so far, nor been attended with such happy results, as during the past few years. From Mexico to Alaska important discoveries are announced, while the opening up of one rich district seems only to point to another still further on in the distant interior. Stimulated by the aid of modern enterprise, silver-mining is being quickened into a new life in our sister republic of Mexico on the south, while the latest accounts from the far north speak of valuable mineral discoveries having been made in our recently acquired possessions in that quarter.

With all these rich discoveries and such a large measure of success, our mining communities have for several years past been comparatively free from those unwholesome excitements that formerly resulted in so much mischief and suffering. Exploration has indeed been exceedingly active, but, having been prosecuted in widely remote and opposite directions, and having been nearly everywhere attended with fortunate results, the discoveries made in one place have, to some extent, neutralized the effects of those made in another, and thus tended to preserve the public mind in a state of equilibrium and prevent a sudden migration toward any particular locality. The hard experience of our mining population has also, it is to be hoped, had something to do in restraining them, during a period signalized by so many important events, from being drawn into one of those precipitate movements that have so often heretofore hurried them away to distant and unremunerative fields of labor. It is also the case, that, while mining enterprise has been greatly stimulated of late, it has not, to such an extent as formerly, been misdirected or overdone. Very rarely have recent undertakings

« ForrigeFortsett »