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the different State and territorial legislatures have been obliged to step in and overrule the selfish, lawless, short-sighted, absurd, and contradictory whims called district mining laws. Sometimes, as in the case of California, true principles have been established and substantial jus tice secured; sometimes, as in the case of Nevada, the attempt has been a failure. Everywhere the lawyers have thriven, and both miners and capitalists have bitterly suffered from this state of things. I trust, before it is too late, the matter will be taken in hand by supreme power, and will be dealt with in the light of universal experience.
The two other great features of the proposed law are equally concerned in the foregoing remarks. They are, the provision for proper record and definition of claims, and the provision for a certain amount of work annually to maintain the possessory title. It is amazing that this great reform has not been effected before now. The investment of capital in mining, without such security as is afforded by certain title, is a farce to outsiders, but a tragedy to the parties concerned. Partic ularly disastrous hitherto has been the effect of the reigning confusion and corruption upon mine-owners of moderate means. Rich men who owned rich mines could afford to defend themselves at law, and, in many cases, to fee the jury as well as the counsel; but poor men, willing to put their little money and their great industry and energy into the actual development of mines, were liable to become the victims of blackmailers and pirates.
The records of location should be made in such a way that the prop erty can be found again. At present there is often nothing on the record but a date and a name. The essential point-identification of the lode-is dependent on the evidence of those who choose to "recog nize," out of a thousand holes in the ground, the particular one which bears, or once bore, the name on the record.
Records should be kept in suitable books, in suitable buildings and under the care of responsible officers. At present, the titles to property worth millions of dollars are to be found in loose sheets, pocketbooks, greasy, singed, torn and illegible old ledgers, or what not, kicking about miners' cabins, groceries, or bar-rooms. The recorders are not responsible, except to "Judge Lynch"; and he only interferes when his friends are wronged. For the Eastern or foreign capitalist there is too frequently neither security nor justice.
Again, and above all, the conditions on which a possessory claim is held ought not to be left entirely to the inhabitants of a mining district. The proposition is laughable when one considers what it involves. The individuals who claim something that belongs to the people of the United States are to fix the conditions on which the United States shall recognize their claim! No wonder that the local regulations of new dis tricts are so drawn as to favor the worst kind of speculation-speculation without capital. Thousands of feet of mining claims are seized and held for sale, without being worked, and honest industry is thus stran gled in its cradle.
I hold that the mineral deposits on the public lands are the property of all the people of this country; that the people, with wise liberality, have declared them free to the miner; and that any man who claims to own a mine which he has not bought and is not working, is interfering with that freedom of mining which the people have decreed.
Many districts are now languishing, with paralyzed industry, because all the ground has been covered with wild-cat locations, so that, if any one opens a mine, and by good luck and hard work makes it pay a
profit, some claimant is sure to start up, with documents and witnesses, to show that the present "Golconda" is the same as the ancient" Mary Ann," which he located once on a time and then abandoned, or which he bought from the original locator and abandoner, when the latter was "dead broke," and wanted to get to the States. This bill, if it becomes a law, will put an end to such mockery of mining within a year from its passage. It is not, indeed, to be expected that much actual development would be accomplished directly by requiring twenty-five dollars' worth of work every year on a claim; but it would no longer be possible for speculative but impecunious individuals to hold thousands of "feet" of mining property, without doing any work upon them. The door would be opened to honest industry, and slammed in the face of greedy idleness and fraud.
But it will be said that many of our mining districts have properly regulated these matters already, providing for due safety of titles, and requiring a certain amount of work to maintain the ownership of claims. This is true; and it is but right that all the districts shall be forced to do what these have done. The citizens of the United States or the capitalists of Europe, investing money in our mines, should be as much protected in one county or district as in another. What do they know of the differences of local regulations, which do not exist in any lawbook or official record whatever, and which may be changed at any time by a mass-meeting of interested parties?
But it may be said, further, that no universal rule could be devised to cover the points named. This I doubt. If it is true at all, it is true with regard to the amount of work required to hold a claim. The amount which would seem reasonable in one district might, it is said, prove burdensome in another. I think the amount need be little more than nominal; and the alternative of paying a small sum in lieu of the work would relieve the case from possible hardship. It is not the amount of work or money; it is the vigorous requirement of something, that I consider necessary. Let the United States at least declare that a claim is forfeited by total abandonment for one year. This was declared, some two or three years ago, on grounds of common sense and public policy, by Judge Beatty, at Austin, Nevada; and that decision seemed to me profoundly wise and immensely important. But the Supreme Court of Nevada has since reversed it; and the rights of the United States and of enterprising industry are again at the mercy of blackmailers, quartz pirates, and wild-cat operators.
By Senator Stewart's bill, the mining lands would be put, so far as the nature of the case permits, in the same category as the agricultural lands of the public domain. The Government says to both farmer and miner: "Occupy and use, and you may possess." But the miner, in consideration of the peculiar risk and hardship of his undertaking, is the more favored of the two. No limit is set to the amount he may occupy, use, and either hold in perpetual possessory title, or acquired as the privileged purchaser at a fixed, low price. It is only demanded of him that he shall declare his claims distinctly, not take so much in any one place as to exclude others entirely, and not defeat the object of all the mining laws by abandoning his work while still claiming the exclusive privileges attendant upon bona-fide work, and upon nothing else. With the liberal grants made to him, he ought to be satisfied. If he is really a miner, he will be satisfied. If he is merely a broken-down speculator, who calls himself a miner, but whose real business is to locate, or buy, hold, "stock," and sell, paper mines, he will probably grumble, because under this law his profits may be curtailed.
Doubtless some minor points in the bill would be found to require mod ification to insure its smooth working. Those may be left to the indications of future experience. In its main features it is an eminently wise and salutary measure. Senator Stewart has displayed both courage and judgment in its preparation, and has given new proof of intelligent, earnest devotion to the true interests of the mining industry.
*Since the above remarks were written this bill has failed, for want of time, in the Forty-first Congress, and has been introduced anew in the Forty-second. I trust it may receive prompt and favorable action. The evils which it is calculated to remove are the most pernicious of all which beset the business of mining west of the Missouri River.
THE GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF MINING DISTRICTS. Professor W. P. Blake, in a note to his Catalogue of California Minerals, pointed out that the mining districts of the Pacific slope are arranged in parallel zones, following the prevailing direction of the mountain ranges. This interesting generalization has been more fully illustrated and connected with the geological history of the country by Mr. Clarence King, who sums up the observed phenomena as follows: The Pacific coast ranges upon the west carry quicksilver, tin, and chromic iron The next belt is that of the Sierra Nevada and Oregon Cascades, which, upon their west slope, bear two zones, a foot-hill chain of copper mines, and a middle line of gold deposits. These gold veins and the resultant placer mines extend far into Alaska, characterized by the occurrence of gold in quartz, by a small amount of that metal which is entangled in iron sulphurets, and by occupying splits in the upturned metamorphic strata of the Jurassic age. Lying to the east of this zone, along the east base of the Sierras, and stretching southward into Mexico, is a chain of silver mines, containing comparatively little base metal, and frequently included in volcanic rocks. Through Middle Mexico, Arizona, Middle Nevada, and Central Idaho is another line of silver mines, mineralized with complicated association of the base metals, and more often occurring in older rocks. Through New Mexico, Utah, and Western Montana lies another zone of argentiferous galena lodes. To the east, again, the New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana gold belt is an extremely well-defined and continuous chain of deposits.
These seven longitudinal zones or chains of mineral deposits must not, in my opinion, be held to constitute a complete classification. The belts of the Coast Range and the west slope of the Sierra are well-defined, both geologically and topographically; but it is not so easy to separate into distinct groups the occurrences of gold and silver east of the Sierra. For instance, the gold of Eastern Oregon, Idaho, and Western Montana, together with such occurrences in Nevada as those of the Silver Peak and New Pass districts, and numerous instances of sporadic occurrence of particular ores of silver or argentiferous base metals, cannot be brought within the classification above given. Either more zones must be recog nized, or a greater mineralogical variety must be acknowledged in those already laid down. The latter alternative is, I think, the more reasonable. According to the principles set forth in a discussion of mineral deposits in my last report, it appears evident that the agencies which affect the general constitution of geological formations are far wider in their operation than those which cause the formation of fissures; and that the causes influencing the filling of fissures are still more local in their peculiarities than those which form the fissures themselves. Thus, of the area covered by rocks of a given epoch, more or less uniform in lithological character, only a small portion may have been exposed to conditions allowing deposits of useful minerals, even when such deposits are contemporaneous, as in the case of coal. Still more limited is the field for the formation of fissures; but it must be freely confessed that in the case before us, the corrugation of half the continent into parallel mountain ranges offers good grounds for the expectation of vast longitudinal systems of fissures. When we come to consider the filling of these fissures, however, it is evident that the mineralogical character of the vein-material must vary, to some extent, as to the gangue, but to a still greater extent as to the nature of the ores. Even single mines, in the course of extensive exploitation, have produced ores differing as
'widely as do those of the different zones enumerated by Mr. King. am, in fact, strongly inclined to consider freedom from base metals, for instance, a peculiarity due in many cases to secondary processes, and not to be relied upon as characteristic for single veins even, to say nothing of whole groups, districts, and continental zones.
Nevertheless, the generalizations of Professor Blake and Mr. King on this subject are highly interesting and valuable. The criticism here. made is not in opposition to their views so much as in qualification of a possible rash application on the part of the general public. The zonal parallelism does exist, though in a somewhat irregular way; and it is clearly referable, as these writers have shown, to the structural features of the country, the leading feature of which is the longitudinal trend of the mountain ranges.
Subordinate to this trend (or, more strictly, resulting from the same causes as produced it) appear the predominant longitudinal strike of the great outcrops of sedimentary rocks, the longitudinal axes of granite outbursts, and, finally, the longitudinal vents of lava overflows and the arrangement of volcanoes in similar lines. It is evident that in crossing the country from east to west we traverse a series of different formations, while, by following routes parallel with the main mountain ranges, we travel upon the continuous outcrops of the same general age.
Mr. King distinguishes in the history of the entire Cordillera two periods of disturbance which have been accompanied by the rending of mountain chains and the ejection of igneous rocks. Such periods would afford the conditions of solfataric action, thermal springs, and the generation of acid gases and metallic sublimates and solutions, and thus favor the formation of metalliferous deposits. The first of these periods, he says, culminated in the Jurassic, produced over the entire system a profound disturbance, and is, in all probability, the dating point of a large class of lodes. To the second, or tertiary period, he assigns the mineral veins which traverse the early volcanic rocks.
The expression "culminated in the Jurassic," merely refers, no doubt, to the fact that the cretaceous strata of California repose unconformably upon the upturned and metamorphosed Jurassic slates, having been themselves neither tilted nor highly metamorphosed. Perhaps it is well to remember, however, that the cretaceous is a weak point in the California series, at least, as determined by leading fossils; and perhaps the results of more complete stratigraphical surveys will indicate that there are gaps of no little significance, dynamically and chronologically, in this part of the geological record. At all events, the period of the folding of the Sierra Nevada (presumably that of the formation of many metalliferous deposits) was in some sense post-Jurassic, rather than Jurassic; and probably this is the meaning of Mr. King, who speaks of it in another passage as "late Jurassic."
The lodes which are referred to this period are of two types: first, those wholly inclosed in the granites, the outburst of which accompanied the upheaval of the earlier stratified group, or in the metamorphosed Jurassic and sub-Jurassic strata; secondly, those which occupy planes of stratification or jointure, thus following in general the dip and strike of the country rock, while they present in other respects the indications of fissure veins. The veins of the Reese River granite are examples of the first type; many gold veins of California, the Humboldt mines, etc., are given as illustrations of the second. The White Pine district, the mineral deposits of which are said to be inclosed conformably between strata of Devonian limestone, is declared to be "a prominent example of the groups comprised wholly within the ancient rocks."