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this ore bad been extracted and milled by inexperienced men, and under the most embarrassing circumstances, from the want of capital necessary to perform what is termed the “dead work” in quartz mining, and these embarrassments had the tendency to produce contentions and strife among the operators, and to destroy confidence in traders and others upon whom they were more or less dependent for credit to push forward their enterprises. The camp has not yet recovered from these embarrassments, though much is still being done by way of developing the fact that many of these leads can, with capital to properly open them, be made productive of profit to the investinent. Upward of $125,000 in gross have already been taken from the few leads which have been worked, and one lead is now being worked with success.
During the past two years several leads have been discovered in Elk City and Oro Fino districts, where surface prospecting is fully equal to those of the Warren's Creek. In Florence camp one 5-stamp inill was erected, which developed the fact that the quartz of that district is good, though the veins are not numerous, and are smaller than those of Warren's. The millmen became embarrassed, and the inill is at present idle.
These districts are so isolated from the great thoroughfares of travel, along which men of capital pass in making their tours of observation, that none visit these districts except upon a special mission for the purpose, and these kind of missions are fewer than angels' visits.
In conclusion it is fair to presume that these northern districts, if they do not receive the immediate attention of mining capitalists, which their prospects warrant, yet it is to be hoped they will constitute a reserve of rich mining territory for Idaho, when other portions have become exhausted.
According to all accounts the water has held out unusually well in the northern placer mines during the year.
In regard to Warren's camp mining enterprises, during the past year, my correspondent says:
The Rescue quartz mine is worked now by a new company, known as the Rescue Mill and Mining Company. It is paying well; they take out on an average of $2,100 a week. As I attend to the company's outside business, I know that there is $1,000 a week clear profit. The company have a 10-stamp steam-mill on the ground. The mine is worked by an incline, about 200 feet deep. The best ore is in the bottom of the lower level. All the ore worked averages about $22 to the ton, the fineness of the gold being about .680. I assayed from the ledge since September 4, 1871, $19,673.37. Nearly half that time they bad only five stamps running. The machinery is very imperfect, as the company bought first a small 5-stamp mill, and afterward rented a 5-stamp battery from parties here, that have a 10-stamp watermill.
The Rescue is the last ledge discovered in this camp. There are some 250 recorded, but very little work has been done on them. Still parties all over North Idaho are very much encouraged with the present prospects of quartz in this camp. The price paid for labor in the mine and mill is from five to six dollars a day, so it is easily seen what an advantage it is to men, who would otherwise have to lie idle all winter, to get employment here. It has been tried to work some ledges as good, if not better than the Rescue, but the owners had to pack the ore on mules to an arrastra, and pay from four to eight dollars a ton freight, and about $20 dollars for crushing. 'About & ton in twenty-four hours could be crushed, and so people came to the conclusion that it would not pay.
Early in the spring of 1872 Mr. R. Hurley sent me the following esti: mate of last year's production of the placer mines in Northern Idaho, which I insert as the best obtainable : Warren's camp.
$160, 000 00 Florence camp.
100, 000 00 Oro Fino camp Elk City...
100, 000 00 Clearwater Station and Newsome Creek.
180, 000 00 Salmon River..
40, 000 00 Snake River.. Moose Creek, east of Oro Fino...
30, 000 00 Other small creeks, about...
200, 000 00
15, 000 00
50, 000 00
875, 000 00 Eastern Oregon.—The number of workmen in the mines (principally placers) of Eastern Oregon has decreased perhaps 10 per cent. during the past year; but the increased facilities for working, such as hy. draulic pipes and derricks, have made up the deficiency, and the yield is probably not far from that of former years.
Cañon district and Dixie bave fallen off slightly in their yield, as compared with 1870, while Olive and Burnt Iron districts have increased fully enough to make up this deficiency, and Granite and Elk districts have about held their own. Camp Watson, or Spanish Gulch, has been added to the list, with a fair yield, hydraulic mining having paid well in that locality during the year. The quartz of that district, which is supposed to be rich, still lies untouched. There are no quartz-mills running in Grant County, the Prairie Diggings Mill having been closed, in the course of the summer, for reasons unknown to me. I do not an. ticipate activity in quartz mining so long as the placers hold out, and communications are so difficult and expensive.
An effort was made near Cañon City to penetrate the cement underlying the gulch diggings, and commonly called bed-rock. The shaft was sunk nearly 300 feet, and abandoned without reaching the real bedrock.
It is believed tbat this region will soon have communication with San Francisco, by way of Winnemucca and the Central Pacific Railroad, a much sborter route than the present one via Dalles City and Portland. At present the gold product goes to San Francisco via Portland. The high express and insurance rates over this route, particularly between Cañon City and the Dalles, favor the carriage of gold-dust in private bands, and its transmission in small packages through the mails. Hence I have made a larger allowance, over and above the express shipments, tban does the superintendent of Wells, Fargo & Company, in his statement, published in the appendix. I am indebted for most of the foregoing information to Mr. W. V. Rinehart of Cañon City.
The districts east of the Blue Mountains, being near the great overland Boisé stage-road to Umatilla, are more favorably situated as regards communications, and this fact has led to some activity in quartz mining, with promising results. Mr. E. W. Reynolds, of Baker City, has favored me with a few notes on the condition of affairs early in the present year.
The Virtue Gold Mining Company (on the old Ruckel mine) are making satisfactory progress. The 10-stamp mill, at Baker City, has been refitted with new pans and new machinery. The mine has also been greatly improved ; a fine steam-engine has been erected at the long tunnel-level (see my Report of 1870, page 231) for hoisting and pumping parposes, and the Rockafellow lode will be developed in depth. The rock crushed thus far, by the new company, maintains the average of former operations, (say $10 per ton.) Mr. Joseph Potthast is superintendent, and Mr. David Morrow has charge of the mine.
The Eagle Canal Company's ditcb, in the Kæster district, is completed, and that neighborhood, which contains a good deal of excellent placer ground, will be actively worked during this year.
The Olive Creek and Rye Valley silver mines are reported to give very encouraging returns for prospecting, and to have attracted some attention from San Francisco capitalists.
Western Oregon.-From the districts of Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas Counties, once famous, and still to some extent productive, I have been unable to obtain, for the last two years, any trustworthy details.
H. Ex. 211-17
The greater part of the mining districts of this Territory have been personally visited, during last summer, by Mr. Eilers, my deputy, or inyself, the former having traveled over the western portion of Montana, while I devoted myself to an examination of the eastern counties.
When it is considered with what difficulty and expense communication, travel, and transportation are maintained between the Territory of Montana and the rest of the world, it seems marvelous that any one should come there or stay there at all. The route by the Missouri River 'boats and Fort Benton is tedious and precarious, by reason of the low water, which stops navigation always before it is desired, and frequently before it is expected to do so. The only other route now employed is the road which leaves Corinne, Utah, on the Central Pacific Railroad, passes pear Fort Hall, in Idaho, and, crossing the vast basaltic plains of the Snake River, enters Montana by Pleasant, Sheep Creek, and Beaver Head Valleys. With four hundred and fifty miles of hauling to be represented, as well as the railway transportation, in the prices of all imported articles, (among which must be included'many of the necessaries of life.) Montana is heavily weighted in the race with other Territories; and the fact that she maintains prosperity, and is increasing in permanent population and sober industries, points to extraordinary natural resources.
First and fundamental are the agricultural capacities of Montana. A region which does not produce its own food must carry on every other industry at a fearful disadvantage. I know that the wonderful State of Nevada will be quoted as an example of prosperity, based almost exclusively upon mining; but this illustration really supports my proposition. It is not true, by the way, that there is no agriculture in Nevada;
still less that an extensive agriculture may not hereafter arise in the | valleys of that State. The sterility of the sage-brush country is an ex
ploded superstition. The land lacks only water, and irrigation has already, in many places, produced wonders. But granting that Nevada has been hitherto, and will long continue to be, devoted chiefly to mining, and that food, as well as other supplies, has been imported into the mining districts, it is a notorious fact that this condition of affairs has crippled the mining industry from the beginning. The profits of the mives have been much smaller than they would otherwise be; a scanty and wandering population has made labor both dear and hard to control; and, finally, the net gains of the industry have mainly gone out of the State, leaving behind as “improvements" stamp-mills, cheap temporary houses, and holes in the ground. The railroad, the steady growth of agriculture, and other causes, will doubtless improve this state of affairs; but thus far, it must be acknowledged, Nevada has bled at all her veins without gaining a healthy life from such phlebotomy. The southern part of Idaho belongs to the same category.
In traveling by the stage-road northward from Corinne, no sooner is the Montana boundary passed, than nature assumes a different face. The sage brush gives way to nutritious and abundant bunch-grass; the Vast, arid mesas are succeeded by lovely valleys; and instead of the barren brown ranges of the South, appear the pine-clad summits of the Belt
and Rocky Mountains. Abundant streams of clear, pure water traverse the fertile bottoms; and though, by reason of insuficient rain-falls at certain seasons, irrigation is a necessary part of agriculture, yet the means of effecting it are ample and easily available.
Corn is not cultivated with much success, and fruits have been raised by a few enterprising and skillful horticulturists only; but all grains and roots flourish amazingly. The heaviest wheat-ears I have ever seen were harvested this year in the valley of the Stinking Water, or Passameri.
The grasshoppers have been, for three years past, the most pestilential enemies of the Montana farmer. But this season they have disappeared. I found them in great numbers on the Union Pacific Railroad, in the neighborhood of Laramie, careering westward in fiendish glee, and whitening the air with their hosts; but they were too late to do much harm, even in Utah; and meanwbile Montana has escaped them altogether. To offset such occasional scourges as this, the ranchman of this Territory has the certainty of high prices for his product. At times flour is worth $26 a barrel, and oats are selling at over $2.a bushel. These are unusually high prices, though not quite so bad as those of early days, when, in one
of the first winters of the placer miners here, the Mormor wagoners demand $80 for flour, per sack. The usual price of oats is $1 per bushel, or about 3 cents per pound, and with all the growth of the production during the last few years, the supply has never yet exceeded the home demand. Probably there is no other region in the United States at present where such inducements are held out to farmers as in this Territory. Many immigrants are coming in now, in the good oldfashioned way, with their teams and wagons, and wives and babies, to locate in the valleys of Montana. But it is a long and tedious journey; and, at the end of it, one is shut out from the world. Make Montana as accessible by rail as is Utah or Colorado, and the tide will come in grandly.
Another hinderance to agriculture, which the railroad will remove, is the danger from hostile Indians. This does not at all affect the greater part of the fertile districts of the Territory. It is mainly in Gallatin Valley that the settlers suffer. During the last summer the Sioux of Sitting Bull, a noted outlaw chief, not under treaty with the United States, and mustering, it is said, a thousand braves, made a sudden descent, forstock-stealing purposes, in the region referred to, and got away with some 300 head of horses. They killed two or three persons in an incidental way, and successfully escaped to their mountain fastnesses. Without the facilities of transporting and concentrating troops, which a railroad gives, it is almost impossible to follow up and catch these bands, to say nothing of maintaining such a police as to prevent their depredations. The Sioux and Blackfeet are perhaps the most numerous and warlike of our red enemies. I am satisfied that the problem of dealing with them, like the minor problem of the Apaches in Arizona, will be settled finally by railroad, and in no other way.
It is to the stock-raiser, even more than to the farmer, that robbery, whether at the hands of Indian or wbite, is a frequent source of loss, and the raising of cattle and horses is pre-eminently the business for which large portions of Montana are fitted in a most remarkable degree. The bunch-grass, which grows here in such luxuriance as to lose, in some places, its characteristic distribution in bunches or clumps, and to cover the whole surface with coutinuous pasture, is already famous as a nutritions and fattening food for stock. Cattle and horses are turned out upon it at all seasons, even in the winter, and improve in condition
while grazing. This grass dies early, but retains its nutritious properties all winter. It thus constitutes a standing hay-only it is much better fodder than bay, and almost like grain in its effect. To be more exact, I might say that to pasture a horse on bunch-grass is like giving him plenty of good hay, with regular and liberal feeds of grain. There are a good many horses in the Territory now, but the breed has hitherto been poor. Now more attention is given to breeding; and in a a few years this Territory will furnish, I am convinced, a strain of serviceable blood, worthy of the great advantages nature has bestowed upon the stock-raiser here.
The grass to which I have alluded makes excellent beef also; the price during my visit was 25 cents a pound. The herds in some of the valleys amount to 5,000 or 6,000 head. There is a great demand still for oxen as well as cows; and Montana is importing cattle, as well as receiving into her ample grazing lands the stock of other States and Territories. The value of the dairy products of Montana is already over $500,000 annually; but that is only a feeble beginning. Like everything else here, except gulch mining, this business is in its earliest infancy. The Territory contains 23,000,000 acres of agricultural and 69,000,000 acres of grazing land; and these vast areas are merely dotted here and there with the cabins of perhaps 5,000 ranchmen, the rest of the population being gathered in the mining towns and camps.
There is as yet not much sheep-raising; but every wool-grower will see that this must be a country excellently adapted to that business. But there is at present no bome market for wool, because there are no home manufactures. However, the Territory is not yet ten years old; and everything cannot be done at once. When the time comes the mountains stand ready to offer abundant water-power and lumber.
All the industries I have mentioned will start into vigorous life when the railroad shall have opened the way to the civilized and commercial world; and behind them stands the great mining industry, the extent of which, even at the present time is quite astonishing for a Territory so isolated as Montana, and which must grow into vast proportions as soon as cheap communication with the outside world is established.
The amount of the gold and silver production of Montana is usually underestimated by the San Francisco_statisticians. Mr. Valentine, superintendent of Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express, in a statement which will be found in the appendix, gives the invoiced shipments of bullion for 1871 at $4,060,929, and adds to this sum but 20 per cent. for other conveyances.” This is certainly far too little. The proportion of bullion privately carried, and the undervaluation of the express shipments are always dependent upon the rate of express charges and insurance. To the circumstance that this rate is bigh in Montana, is added the facility for private shipments of ore, bars, and dust by the numerous empty returning freight-wagons. The Montana agents of Wells, Fargo & Co., themselves, (who must be supposed to know the facts more familiarly than the San Francisco superintendent,) have repeatedly declared that the invoiced express shipments are about half the actual product.
The following extract from a letter of William F. Wheeler, esg., United States marshal of the Territory, dated December 16, 1871, presents the case as clearly and as closely as it can be done, and corroborates my own personal observations:
I have procured in person, from the four principal places of shipment, the value of the dust and bullion sent away by express. The result is as follows:
From January 1 to December 1: From Helena.....
$2, 140,000 From Virginia City...