Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

Bulletin, presents a clear picture, and agrees well with my impressions derived from personal observation and from conversation with others:

The discovery of gold on tliis river is by no means a recent thing, having occurred, along its lower portions, soon after the opening up of the mines in the Boise Basin, and farther down, about Lewiston, somewhat earlier. The extreme fineness of the particles, however, it being what is denominated flour dust,” prevented these dig. gings being worked at that day, the means for saving this excessively fine dust having been less perfect then than at present; a further reason for their neglect being that much better wages could then be made almost anywhere in the mines of Eastern Oregon and Idaho than here. It has been the case, however, that small parties have for several years past worked occasionally on the bars in this vicinity, as well as a few points still higher up. In the summer of 1861, a well-appointed company left Boise to prospect the Upper Snake and its tributaries; but, meeting with resistance from the Indians, they were obliged to abandon this purpose, having only ascertained that there was at least a show of gold along the streanis in that region. Ever since these attempts have been annually renewed, only to end for the first two or three years in similar results, no considerable amount of work having been accomplished until last year iu that quarter. Through these persistent efforts, prosecuted both from the east and the west, the main stream has been traced and examined quite to its source, in the Wind River Mountains, while the most of its upper tributaries have also been pretty effectually explored. On nearly all the bars, both on the two principal forks, as well as the confluents, gold has been found-always excessively fine and generally only in limited quantities-nowhere in very great quantities.

Owing to dearth of water, and consequent difficulty in working the mines throughout Idaho last year, a larger number of inen than ever before were tempted to try their luck on this river, the most of whom located in this neighborhood, where several good bars ball previously been found. Arriving at a time when the water had reachell a tolerably low stage, and having the culling of the ground, the most of them made fair, and a few very large wages. Scarcely any of these men made less than $5, while quite a good many took out from $10 to $15 daily. Occasionally as much as $50 or $10 were worked out by two men with a single rocker, and it seems likely that the individual earnings of the forty or fifty men strung along this section of the river were not less than $7 or $3 per day. The Bascon claim, situato on the north side of the river, qnarter of a mile below this place, yielded at the rate of $20 per day to the land throughout the season; and two men are said to have taken out $175 in one day. This, lor. ever, occurred but once, and the claim in question is admitted to have been much the best of any in this vicinity or anywhere else along the river. The average earnings of those at work any considerable distance either above or below here aro generally estimated to have been about $5 per day; the entire number of men engaged in working last fall on bars above the old diggings having been about one hundred.

The water in this river reaches its lowest point late in the antumn, at which stage it remains until about the middle of April, when it commences to rise, and, going up slowly at first, and more rapidly after two or three weeks, reaches its greatest height toward the latter part of June, when it again begins to subside, going down at the rate of two or three inches daily thereafter. While it is true, as a general thing, that the lower the water the better the diggings, it is still the case that a few of the larger and more elevated bars can be worked to best advantage when the river is high, as at present, hence a small number of men are now engaged working on these exceptional spots, their earnings running, as near as can be ascertained, from $3 to $1 per day. On two or three claims, however, they have been doing better than this, the owners para ing their hands, in one case, $5, and the others $4 per day, with board. As the river recedes moro men are getting to work, though it will be three or four weeks yet before any considerable number of claims can be worked to advantage. Meautimo there aro a goodly number of men here out of employment; and being also out of means, some of them are dependent upon their neighbors for their daily food, and there would be no ditficulty in finding numbers of good hands willing to work for their board, were there any one desirous of employing them on those terms. Discouraged by this stato of affairs and a shameful monopoly of the best grounds by the early comers, held under claims of unusual dimensions and pretended sales, a great many have left the mines, the arrivals on the river at this point being just now scarcely in excess of the departures from it. In fact, there is nothing to be gaired in being liere at present, the middlo of August being about as soon as the river can be prospected and claims located to advantage. From what has beer, said it will be seen that the best season for work here extends from about the 1st of September to the latter part of November, during which the water is constantly receding. Early in December-thougl sometimes not before Christmas-the weather becomes too cold and stormy for successful operations, continuing so with short intervals till about the 1st of March, when work can be resunned and kept up without much interference from cold or high water till near the middle of May.

a

The seasons here are about the same as in the State of Nevada-hot and dry summers, with cold winters and deep snow on the mountains, though but little falls along the river or in the adjacent valleys. The autumn and later spring months are pleasant, with but little stormy weather. Miners can winter on the river without much hardship; and as a good deal of work can be done to advantage, it is likely that many will tarry here till spring, prolonging their sojourn till the next rise of water sends them away. Although there is no timber on or near this part of the river, enougl of driftwood can usually be obtained for fuel, and at many points also for the construction of cabins, although the latter can readily be made of rocks and other convenient materials.

The river, when high, is a large stream, carrying a volume of water equal to the San Joaquin or the Sacramento. For a good part of its course it flows through rocky and precipitous cañons, its banks for fifty or sixty miles in this vicinity consisting of nearly perpendicular walls of volcanic rock. Its current, wherever it is narrow and thus wallet in, is swift, being at many points hastened by falls and rapids. At Shoshone City there is a cataract 100 feet high, and four miles below another, the Great Shoshone Falls, 210 feet in height, with several violent pitches in the river immediately above them. There are no trees along this stream, except a very few cedars along the Great Falls, lower down the mountains whence it issues two hundred miles above. The country along it is also treeless-everywhere extremely barren. The bars in the canons, where only as yet much rich dirt has been found, are generally small and narrow, and being covered for the most part with rock, will afford but comparatively little auriferous earth, while they will be difficult to work. The river water is of good quality, and though cool earlier in the season, is now growing warm, owing to the great distance it has to traverse the hot and arid plains after leaving the mountains.

Everything considered, there would seem to be as many people now on this river as prospects would warrant. At all events, there is, for the reasons stated, no hurry about getting here just yet. The miner who was unable to come in time to avail himself of the opportunities afforded by the low stage of water in the spring may as well postpone his coming for another month or six weeks yet at least, as he will then arrive at a period when he can examine the mines with satisfaction, and soon determine whether it will do to remain or not. But little can be done and not much known of the diggings by actual test earlier than that. Meantime the weather here is dry and hot, provisions rather dear, and life in every respect about as cheerless and uncomfortable as it well can be. Without lumber, there are no houses to protect one from the sun which glares fiercely down the live-long day. It is difficult to ever find enough brush to constitute a shade, the best refuge from the heat being the caves, here numerous, or the shady side of a rock.

It is a peculiarity in affairs here that-all being impressed with the idea that their stay will be short and business evanescent-no improvements of a permanent kind have been, or seem likely to be, undertaken. No houses or other buildings are put up; no roads or ditches constructed; no farıning or mechanical pursuits engaged in; and, in short, no work of any kind, except mining, to be done, and just now we have seen but little of that.

Shoshone City, the largest hamlet on the river, consists of four canvas shanties and a tent, alì used as trading-posts. At present, they are, with two exceptions, located ''.) the high bluff overlooking the river, though the most of them are to be transferred, in a few days, below, nearer to the mines, a rude wagon-road having been gonged out of the cliff to facilitate the work of romoval. At the month of Dry Creek, fifteen miles above here, there are four stores and a restaurant, which, with some half dozen miners' tents, constitute the bulk of that town. There is also a storo at Clark's Ferry, twenty miles below here, there being three or four additional trading-posts scattered along this portion of the river. At these places miners' supplies of all needed kinds can be procured, and generally at fair prices; wherefore it is hardly worth while for parties coming here to encumber themselves with provisions or other luggage. I'resh beef and inutton can also be had at reasonable rates, while the river affords trout, salmon, and other inferior fish in considerable numbers.

The last statement in the above account I must take leare to doubt There are no salmon in the Snake River above the Shoshone Falls, nor, unless I am much mistaken, for a considerable distance below. I have caught trout and other fish immediately below the great fall. The absence of salmon in the Upper Snake is curiously connected with the celebrated expedition of Lewis and Clarke at the beginning of the present century. It will be remembered that these daring explorers ascended the Missouri to its sources, and Captain Lewis, crossing the divide, discovered the headwaters of the Snake River, which was called the Lewis River in honor of him for many years, (though the name of Shoshone

or Snake, bestowed upon it by the Indians, in allusion to its serpentine course, bas always been more commonly used by the inhabitants, and will doubtless survive.) Following this stream for some distance, Captain Lewis satisfied himself that it contained no salmon, and thit the tribes.on its banks were unacquainted with that fish. From this be reasoned that the river was not part of the Columbia, the headwaters of which he was seeking, or else that large falls intervened between the portion he examined and the sea. He consequently turned back and recrossed the divide; and the party taking a more northerly pass, reached the Columbia by another route. Lewis may be said to hare surmised the existence of the great American and Shoshone Falls, which he did not actually see. Subsequently Frémont crossed the Wind River Mountains, and passed down the Snake to a point which I judge must have been not far above the upper fall; but deterred by the gloomy barreness of the country, be forsook the river and struck northward to the Clearwater. The grand basaltic cañon of the Snake has thus remained but little known in literature. Some description of it uas been given in the foregoing account of the basaltic scenery of the Northwest. Doubtless mining operations on the upper part of the river, if successfully continued, of which there appears to be some doubt, will result in making the region better known both to tourists and to readers.

ALTURAS COUNTY.

The high prices of labor and materials have continued to exert upon the mining industry of this county an unfavorable influence. Wages are reported to be still as high as $5, 86, and $8 coin per day-a varden which no district could be expected to bear. The placer-mines especially, not being able to pay such wages, have fallen mainly into the hands of the Chinese, Rocky Bar, one of the most noted camps of the county, has suffered somewhat from the stampede to the bars of the Snake River; but has maintained, notwithstanding, a considerable production. The Idaho mine, now owned by Messrs. D. F. Settle & Co., is reported to have produced $20,000 during the summer. Small lots of the ore, amounting to twenty or thirty tons, are said to have yielded $200 per ton in mill.

Red Warrior district has been comparatively quiet. The Casco Company, owning the Wide West, (see my last report, page 248,) was idle during the summer, but was expected to resume work in the fall.

The Monarch Company, in Yuba district, was running for six months during the year ending June 1, 1870, and produced $50,000. The Atlanta lode, owned by this company, was described in my last report. It is reported to have been sold in London to an English company; and the appearance of a prospectus in the English papers confirms the report.

According to a correspondent of the Boise City Statesman, the scene of the most active development in the county during the summer was Bonaparte Hill, situated some seven miles in a southeasterly direction from Rocky Bar. The Bonaparte Company and the New York and Ohio Company are both working on this hill, and, it is believed, on the same lode. Four or five hundred tons of ore bad been extracted by the middle of August, and were awaiting the completion of a mill. The expected yield was between $75 and $150 per ton. The wages paid here were $2 50 to $3 per day, currency, “and found," for miners, and $6 per day for mechanics.

[ocr errors]

IDAHO COUNTY AND NORTHERN IDAHO.

The quartz mines of Warren's camp appear to have made but little progress toward steady production, though there has been considerable activity in prospecting. My correspondent, Mr. Richard Hurley, an assayer of long experience, and a gentleman well acquainted with the mines of Northern Idaho and the Upper Columbia, writes concerning this camp under date of February 4, 1871: “ All that I have to say at present is that the quartz mines which are now worked are paying well, averaging some $50 to the ton in gold, and the silver ledges averaging about $85 to the ton. They did not commence working till last October, so I cannot give much detailed information concerning them. I have assayed since that time about $10,000 from quartz, mostly obtained by prospecting merely on the different ledges. The prospects at this camp are very flattering."

For the year ending June 1, 1870, Mr. Hurley reported the sun assayed at $2,500. The average yield of the placer-claims reported from Idaho County was $5 90 per day per hand, wages being about $2 25. Washington district contains a number of claims which produced in the neighborhood of $10,000 each during the season of four or five months. In Florence district, the yield of single claims scems not to bave exceeded $6,000.

My correspondent at Lewiston reports the yield of the northern camps to have been about the same as usual. Shoshone County still maintains a considerable production in hydraulicas well as placer mining. The average yield of twelve hydraulic claims reported was $6 to $10 per day per band, the average wages being $50 per month. Mr. W. Shepherd, and Messrs. Campbell, Black & Co. have the largest claims, each producing over $10,000. The average yield from eighty-eight placer-claims was $2 80 per day per hand. Most of these claims were worked by owners, paying no wages. The average yield of a few claims paying wages at the rate of $10 per month was $6 63 per day per hand.

The total product of the cighty-eight claims was a little over $300,000 ; but this constitutes only a portion of the actual yield of the county.

LOON CREEK.

At the Loon Creek placer-mines, situated about one hundred and twenty-five miles northeast of Idaho City, (see my last report, page 251,) about two hundred inen have been at work. The extent of the diggings is about four miles along the creek. Being so near the mountain snows, this stream is subject to freshests and high water, which delay the commencement of tlie working season till about the 1st of July, except in dry years. Hence the production of such camps begins after work in the basin has well nigh ceased. The gold of Loon Creek is reported to be of fine quality, worth $17 per ounce.

CHAPTER V.

MONTANA.

I had intended to visit this Terntory personally during last summer, but the unavoidable delay in the public printing office in the publication of my last report detained me at the East until late in the fall, when cold weather had already set iu in Montana. The present chapter contains such imperfect statistics as I have gathered from correspondents and other reliable sources during last year.

It is a notable fact that many of the placer and hydraulic claims have not been enabled to keep up operations for more than a few months, the excessive drought which existed on the Pacific coast having extended into Montana. Still a large number of them have yielded excellently, and higher than the majority of the mines of this class in other States and Territories. The quartz mines, it appears, have not done as well as in former years, less of them being in actual operation. But the influence of reduced freight, owing to the Union Pacific Railroad, is begin. ning to be felt, and preparations which will materially increase the product of Montana are in progress. It is also notable that less speculation, and comparatively more bona fide mining, is the order of the day; and the enterprises of the latter class progress cautiously, and in a manner which shows that the present miners have largely profited from the experience of the past.

I estimate the product of Montana for 1870 at $9,100,000, as follows: Shipped overland per express .

$4, 800,000 Overland, in private hands Via Fort Benton and River..

800,000 Via Walla-Walla

1,500,000

2,000,000

9, 100,000

Although the governor of the Territory, in a recent letter, (February 17, 1871,) has given the bullion product as $12,000,000, I am still inclined to consider the above estimate more correct, though it may be somewhat lower than the facts will warrant. The exact sum is inore diflicult to ascertain than the product of any other Territory. The very high rate charged by the express company for the transportation of bullion, and the fact that most of the product is gold dust, lead to a heavy undervaluation of bullion by shippers, (from 25 to 30 per cent.,) and an extraordinary amount of transportation in private hands. The latter item is estimated by the express agents at half the product of the Territory. The invoiced amount shipped by express via Ogden and Corinne during the year was $3,937,720, representing an actual shipment of at least $1,800,000. The lowest estimates I have received in regard to the other routes justify me in crediting them with the amounts above named. As the cost of freight from the railroad on 18,000,000 pounds ot supplies hauled during the year amounted to $2,700,000, and the wages paid to miners in the Territory continued to be very high, it is difficult to conceive how the product of the industry of the mining population could have been less than the estimate here given.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »