« PrejšnjaNaprej »
ascertained, forbids the hope of any considerable expansion of iron production. Her comparatively unexhausted forests, however, give ground for the expectation of some increase in the production of charcoal iron. The same general remarks apply to Austria and to the States of the Zollverein. Italy, Spain, and Algeria abound in ore, which must be transported to the foreign coal-field for working. France imported, during 1867, 7,000,000 tons of coal and 495,000 tons of iron ore, thus confessing her indebtedness to foreign jurisdictions for both ele. ments of her iron industry, raw material and fuel. In Belgium the smallness of the coal-field and the vertical direction of the veins forbid any great enlargement of coal production, and rather indicate a decline from the present rates of production at no distant day. Belgium now produces as much coal as France, two-thirds as much as Prussia, and one-eighth as much as Great Britain, although her workable coal area is but 97 miles long and 12 miles broad, with veins not over three feet in thickness. She imports her ore and drives a very vigorous iron production, but external conditions forbid its great expansion. Prussia has a larger supply of coal than Belgium, and a remarkably good quality of abundant iron ore; but the probabilities are that she will scarce be able to supply the demands for iron of her own rapidly developing home industry. Upon England, then, will devolve for the present the task of supplying European industry with iron. •
The following table gives an approximate idea of the iron production of 1866:
From the above table it appears that Great Britain supplies nearly half the iron of the world's consumption. A careful survey of the sources from whence the British iron production is derived, shows that, in Wales, the local supply is not equal to the present consumption, and that large quantities are transported thither from all parts of the king. dom. It is the great local supplies of coal that attract iron importations into Wales. The Staffordshire region, by common consent, has reached its culminating point of production. The Scotch iron industry may enlarge, from the importation of ores, to meet its large supplies of coal. From all these regions, then, we can expect no very great expansion of iron production, especially such as will meet the increased demand which the world-wide extension of civilization, with its iron ships, its iron roads, and its iron machinery, will soon develop. The capacity of England, then, to meet this requirement, must be rested upon the continuance of productiveness of those two great iron districts, the Cleveland and the Cumberland regions. The Cumberland a red, hematite district, is now yielding about 1,400,000 tons per annum. There are no present signs of exhaustion in these deposits, yet geological facts are adverse to their continued productiveness. They are found in pockets in the rocks, in irregular beds in, or adjacent to, the limestone. The extremely good quality of this ore, and the value of the iron it produces, will always restrict it to those more important uses for which a high price will be paid. It will, therefore, come into but limited competition with the great mass of iron production. The Cleveland ores, however, are far more abundant, and no geological reasons have been ascertained for doubting their practical inexhaustibility. They are lean and inferior in quality, but by skillful and economical processes they are made to produce a sufficiently good quality of iron at a cost below that of any other region. The consequence of this fact is seen in the production of 1,000,000 tons per annum, rapidly increasing; since 1850, nearly 30 rolling mills, beside 150 furnaces had been built. A large number of rolling mills and iron ship-building yards are in operation, and cities have grown up around this industry with a rapidity which commands even the admiraof the western pioneer, accustomed to observe the rapid strides of civilization in the wilderness. There are no data upon which to assign any particular limit to the growth of this Cleveland iron production. The general consideration, however, which points to the practical limitation of British iron production is found in the enormous amount of coal production within a workable coal area but little exceeding 6,000 square miles. That production has already exceeded 100,000,000 tons per annum. The present indications, however, are not unfavorable to the idea that Great Britain will be able to advance her proportion of the iron production of the world pari passu with the general advance. But admitting the extreme possibility, the incapacity of the other iron-producing countries to maintain the same rate of progress will leave an immense deficiency, which American enterprise alone is competent to fill. Since writing the above, the statistics of later British iron production have come to hand, showing that the total product of pig iron for 1867 was 4,761,023 and for 1868 it was 4,970,206 tons, showing an increase of 440,000 tons, tons in two years, or nearly 5 per cent. per annum. The product of raw material of mineral industry in Great Britain for 1868 is given in the following table:
Total value of mineral, raw material, produced..
103, 141, 157 £25,785, 289 10, 169, 231 3, 196, 600 13, 953
770, 205 157,335
642, 103 95, 236
1, 150, 768 12, 781
39, 191 76,484
53, 636 1, 191
9,710 6, 692
7,650 14, 235
8,728 37,500 71,500 1,513, 840 927, 227 1,012, 479 317, 770
The absolute value of the products of British mineral industry in 1848, including raw material and the additional values of working ores into metal, was probably not less than £45,000,000 or $225,000,000, exclusive of slate, limes, building stones, and common clays. The iron produc. tion of France, during fourteen years, was as follows:
During the year 1867 Prussia produced 812,029 tons of pig iron and 458,946 tons of wrought iron. The total value of the mineral product for that year was $66,370,860. These statistics of foreign iron production prepare us for an intelligent estimate of the value of our own stupendous resources in this direction. It will be found, upon an intelligent survey, that we combine enormous deposits, both of coal and iron, in close juxtaposition, inviting the grandest development of iron industry the world has ever known. Our mineral treasures are gathered in a mighty elliptical bowl, the outer rim of which skirts the Atlantic coast to the Gulf of Mexico, and thence, crossing the Mississippi Valley, runs northward with the plains lying at the eastern base of the Rocky Mountains, and round by the great lakes to the place of beginning. The rim of this basin is filled with exhaustless stores of iron ore of every variety and of the best quality. In the midst of this great basin the carboniferous ores are fully as abundant as they are in England, but have hitherto been left unwrought in consequence of the cheaper rate of producing the richer öres from the rim of the basin along the Atlantic slope of the great Appallachian Chain of mountains. From the Iludson River to the heart of Georgia, the outcrop of magnetic ore extends 1,000 miles in length, traversing seven States in its course. Parallel to this is the great limestone valley, which lies along the margin of the great Appallachian coal field, in which lie buried masses of brown hematite, the abundance of which, especially in Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama, staggers the imagination. Again, within the coal basin itself is a stratuin of red fossiliferous iron ore, beginning in a thin seam in New York, and expanding in Alabama to a breadth of 100 miles, with beds often 15 feet in thickness. Beneath this bed, but still above water level, are thick coal seams exposed in mountain sides, which are covered with timber available for mining or for the manufacture of charcoal iron. West of the Mississippi is traced, through Arkansas and Missouri, a wonderful range of red oxide iron, outcropping often in mountains of almost solid ore, rising hundreds of feet above the surface, with deep and broad foundations, extending an undetermined distance downward into the carth. This range, crossing the Mississippi, culminates in ore beds which have excited the wonder of the world. Along the Adirondacks are beds of iron of the same character, completing the metallic circle to the magnetics of the Atlantic slope. Within this circle, and intermingled with the coal beds, are various local deposits of fossiliferous and hematite ores, the proximity of which to the coal beds
nas aroused the iron industry of the nation. On the Pacific slope, amid its glittering golden and silver deposits, iron has, as yet, been found in but limited quantities; yet, it is thought that a more careful survey of the mineral deposits of the Sierra Nevada will develop a respectable amount of iron ores, though probably not to be compared with the enormous resources of the eastern and middle slopes of our continent.
This rapid summary of our iron resources exhibits a latent industrial power, the results of which we can scarce conceive. We have, as yet, begun only to chip the rim of our great iron basin in a few places. The draught we have made upon these deposits amounts only to a slight abrasion of the mass, and yet our iron industry has begun to manifest something of its tremendous power of movement. The following figures from the “ Miners' Journal, Coal Statistical Register for 1870,” present the comparative production of pig iron in England and the United States from 1810 to the present time:
The following facts and figures, from the statistics collected by H. McAllister, esq., secretary of the United States Iron and Steel Association, exhibit something of the vast importance and value of our iron interest. The number of hands employed in the primary production of iron is thus estimated at 140,000 in all, divided as follows: At the blast furnaces
12,500 Preparing ore and fuel.
42, 000 At forges and bloomeries..
2,500 In rolling mills..
58, 000 Preparing fuel for rolling mills.
25,000 Add to these an estimated population of 800,000 engaged in the process of iron manufacture to its finished state, and we have a total of 940,000 producers, a population equal to that of our largest cities, and exceeding
that of some of our new States. The money value of crude and manufactured iron presents a still more imposing array of figures, and challenges the attention of even the most casual reader. Thus the value of the pig iron alone manufactured in the United States during 1869 will approximate $75,000,000; add to this the product of the rolling mills and forges, and we have a total of $138,000,000; while if the value of all articles comprised under the general head of “Manufactures of iron” is included, we have a grand total of $900,000,000 as the value of the iron trade for the year.
The estimated quantity of pig iron made in 1869 is given at 1,900,000 tons of 2,000 pounds, with an addition of 65 new furnaces. In the Mahoning Valley alone, an expenditure of nearly a million of dollars in furnaces has increased the capacity of that locality 91,000 tons. The advance in the Western States is correspondingly encouraging. Where within three years no furnaces existed in either Illinois or Indiana, there are now over a dozen in full blast and several new ones in progress of erection. Missouri has increased over 200 per cent. in production, and Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin each show a heavy increase.
In rails the production is tabulated per annum for the last sixteen years, showing the product in 1853 to have been 87,000 tons, while that of 1869 is 580,000 tons, an increase which, while gratifying, is but nominal as compared to the certain additional production of the next sixteen years. Of steel rails it is estimated that 50,000 tons have been laid during 1869, of which 35,000 tons were foreign and 15,000 tons were of American manufacture. It is estimated that by January 1, 1872, 150,000 tons of steel rails will be laid upon our American roads.
The manufacture of iron rails in the United States is comparatively of late origin. The home manufacture rose from 87,864 tons in 1853 to 580,000 tons in 1869. The importation of foreign rails has varied during the last twenty years, reaching as high as 358,794 tons in 1853, and declining as low as 10,186 tons in 1862. During 1869 it is estimated that the import exceeded 300,000 tons, or more than one-half the entire British export for that year. With such vast possessions of raw material, and with so fine a commencement of our iron industry, we may reasonably expect an enlargement of it during the coming advance of civilization which surpasses all present anticipation. In order, however, to estimate something of the availability of our iron resources, it will be necessary in the next place to study our immense deposits of coal, by which our iron ore is to be worked.
In the report of this office for 1867 will be found tabular statements of our coal resources, derived from the latest information accessible at that time. Since then, however, the knowledge of our coal deposits has been greatly increased by actual and official exploration. The result of this exploration has been the development of unexpected deposits on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, greatly transcending our previously known coal area.
In addition to our 200,000 miles of workable coal area, as reported in 1867, it is now ascertained that we have west of the Mississippi no less than 513,000 square miles of true coal, not lignites.