Slike strani
PDF
ePub

this ore to metal. This establishment is located near St. Helens, within a short distance of the Columbia river, in Oregon, where there is an exceedingly fine body of ore, conveniently located with reference to fuel and water transportation. Arrangements are in progress for the erection of similar works in other places. One is in course of construction in Sierra county, California, about fifteen miles ahove Downieville, where there is a very large body of ore, which assays from 60 to 75 per cent. There is some talk of erecting a smelting works in the vicinity of San Francisco for the purpose of reducing the grains of specular iron ore found in great abundance among the sand on the shores of the bay.

The consumption of pig-iron in California is rapidly increasing, as the demands for machinery multiply.

In 1859 the foundries at San Francisco consumed 5,000 tons.
1860... ..do...

.do...

6, 500 do. ..do..

do..

6, 500 do.
1862.
..do...

..do...

5,000 do. 1863., ..do..

do..

10,000 do. 1864.. ..do.

do..

14, 000 do. 1865.. ..do.

.do..

20, 000 do. 1866..

do..

20,000 do. There is probably as much more used in the interior of that State, Nevada, and Oregon.

1861..

[ocr errors]

...do.

LIST OF THE ORES OF METALS FOUND ON THE PACIFIC COAST.

Copper, silver, antimony, manganese, iron, lead, arsenic, magnesium, tin, zinc, bismuth, molebdenum, chromium, tellurium, mercury, nickel, cobalt.

NON-METALLIC MINERALS.

Marble, alabaster, sulphate of lime,' carbonate of lime, kaolin, pipe-clay, fuillers' earth, sulphur, borax, fire-clay, soapstones, asbestos, lithographers’ stone, petroleum, asphaltum, salt, alum, emery, coal, blacklead.

BUILDING MATERIALS.

Granites, sandstones, limestones and marbles, slates, brick clays, &c.

GEMS AND PRECIOUS STONES.

Diamonds, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, garnets, beryl, topaz, agates, jaspers, cornelians, opals, sapphires, egmarin, &c.

SECTION 8.

MINING REGION, POPULATION, ALTITUDE, ETC. 1. Mining region and mining population.—2. Main divisions.-3. Altitudes.-4. Climate.-

5. Capacity to maintain a large population.—6. Number of miners.-7. Timber.

1.—THE MINING REGION AND THE MINING POPULATION.

All that portion of our continent west of the Rocky mountains is, we may say in general terms, rich in minerals, and especially in gold, silver, and copper. The western slope of Mexico has produced more silver during the last three hundred years than all the rest of the world. Arizona has rich placers and valuable veins of silver and copper; Nevada has silver ; California, gold, silver, and copper ; Oregon, gold; Idaho, gold and silver ; Montana and British Columbia, gold. The lower part of the basin of the Columbia and the upper

H. Ex. Doc. 29-13

part of the basin of the Colorado are comparatively poor. The richest mines n the interior basin are of silver; the richest in the basins that open to the sea are of gold.

2.-MAIN DIVISIONS.

The American territory on the Pacific slope has an area of 900,000 square miles, and is divided by well marked topographical features into four main divisions :

1. The coast, which includes a strip about 150 miles wide, west of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains.

2. The basin of the Colorado, which includes all of Arizona and the eastern and southern parts of Utah.

3. The basin of the Upper Columbia, which includes nearly all of Idaho and portions of Oregon, Washington Territory, Utah, and Montana.

4. The interior basin, which includes most of Nevada and Utah and parts of Oregon and Idaho.

These divisions, or basins, are separated from one another by high mountain ranges, but the only divide which has been carefully traced and laid down on the maps is that east of the coast basin. The ridges which separate the interior basin from the Columbia on the north, and from the Colorado on the south, have not been precisely laid down. The interior basin is divided up into a number of independent minor basins, all of which are high, arid, and, in their natural condition, desolate; although there are a few valleys which by the hand of man have been irrigated and cultivated. Along the coast considerable quantities of rain fall; the surface of the earth is, in the low lands, covered by a deep mould, and there is a luxurious vegetation, especially in Oregon and Washington, where the forests on the mountains are so dense that there is little hope for the discovery of minerals among them. But in the basins of the interior, the upper Columbia and the Colorado, there is little mould or vegetation; the mountains are steep, the rocks are bare, and mineral veins are readily found and traced.

The poverty of the country in agricultural resources is the cause of one of its great advantages for mining.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The American mining regions of the Pacific slope, like most of those elsewhere, are mountainous. The gold mines of California are at various elevations-from 500 to 6,000 feet above the level of the sea. The 'Sierra Nevada rises in many places to a height of 9,000 feet, or even more ; and from the comb of the ridge to the level land of the valley, the distance in a direct line is from forty to fifty miles; and the descent of the streams, with all their bends, is more than a hundred feet to the mile. With the rapidity of current consequent on such a descent, they have worn very deep channels, leaving steep and high intermediate hills. It is on the side of the mountains thus cut into great cañons that most of the mining of California is done. The average elevation of the placers of the Sacramento basin may be estimated at 2,000 feet. The lowest mining towns never have snow or ice for more than a day or two at a time, while in the highest the snow lies every year four or five months; and racing on snow-shoes is one of the common winter amusements. The mines in the valley of Klamath river are at an elevation of about 2,500 feet. The silver mines of Kearsarge, in California, are 10,000 feet above the sea. The silver mines of Alpine county are 6,000 feet high. The mines on the Comstock lode are from 5,500 to 6,500 feet high. The Reese River mines have an elevation of about 7,000 feet. The Idaho mines vary in height from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. The mines of Arizona are at various elevations from 300 to 3,000 feet. Those on the banks of the Colorado river are probably as near the level of the sea as any in the world. The quicksilver mine of New Almaden is 1,0.00 feet above

the sea.

[ocr errors]

.

The following are the elevations in feet above the sea of some of the principal mining towns : Placerville.

1, 800 Auburn

1, 200 Dutch Flat

2, 943 Nevada, California

2, 573 Brandy City.

3, 592 Eureka, Sierra county

5, 223 Sierra Buttes mine

7,000 Nelson's Point..

3, 858 Quincy

3,500 Shasta City

1, 159 Murphy's...

2, 201 Silver Mountain

6, 516 Markleville

6, 306 Mogul

8, 650 Silver City

4, 911 Virginia City, Nevada ..

6, 205 Como, Nevada

6, 600, Colorado, at Mohave crossing.

356. Great Salt Lake city

4, 351 Herschel lays down the rule that the temperature sinks one degree of Fahrenheit for each 350 feet of elevation.*

[ocr errors]

4.-CLIMATE.

In the coal mining districts of Monte Diablo, and at the quicksilver mine of New Almaden, the climate is very mild and equable. The sea breeze is felt nearly every summer day, and a temperature of 90° is rare. The heat of the sun's rays is broken by the cool winds and fogs from the ocean, and the evenings are: invariably cool, so that though light cotton garments may be pleasant for wear at noon, woollen are in demand before sunset, and every night, even in July and August, good blankets are prized.

In winter ice is seldom formed, and not once in a year does it last through a. day, and if snow falls it is only on high peaks. Skating, snow-balling, and sleigh-riding are amusements which cannot be enjoyed here. Fogs are not uncommon in the summer, but they always disappear after the sun has been up a few hours, and two-thirds of the days of the year are cloudless. There is no rain from May to November, and during the rainy season the amount of water that falls is twenty-two inches, or about half of the quantity that falls at New York or Philadelphia in a year.

Thunder and lightning are very rare, and such violent electric storms as are frequent every summer in the Mis-. sissippi valley are unknown on the coast of California. It may safely be said. that no climate in the world is more favorable to the health and activity of man,, or more conducive to the comfort of the laborer.

As we leave the coast the moderating influences of the sea breezes are lost,, and the winters are colder and the summers warmer. At the lowest mining: camps east of Sacramento, although the winters are very mild, yet ice and snow in small bodies are often seen for two or three consecutive days, and the summers are intensely hot; and, indeed, in all the mining districts of California the summers are warm, even at high elevations, especially in the deep cañons,

* Physical Geography, by Sir J. F. W. Herschel, page 226.

where the breezes are not felt, and where the heat of the sun is caught by steep rocks and reflected down upon the mining camps below.

In the valleys and lower part of the mountains the heat is excessive from May to October, the thermometer standing as high as 850 or 900 nearly every day for month after month. There is no rain usually in that part of the year; the sky is almost cloudless; the bare earth appears to be perfectly dry during the summer and fall; heats are therefore higher than in many other countries blessed with abundant vegetation and frequent showers throughout the year in the same latitude. But the nights are always cool, especially after midnight; and as we rise in altitude on the mountain sides, we find neither frosts nor snows, and the summers are shorter and cool days more frequent. At Yreka, with an latitude of two thousand five hundred feet, frosts come even in July; and in the latitude of San Francisco, frosts occur every month at an altitude of about five thousand feet, and snow lies on the ground for seven or eight months of the year. In the higher mining camps of Sierra county the snow lies from five to ten feet deep, every winter, for months, and the miners shovel the snow from the roofs of their cabins to save them from being crushed by the weight; and cut tunnels under the snow from cabin to cabin, and provide snow shoes so they can travel over the surface of the snow if necessary. During a large part of the year the country is arctic in its appearance, and the climate is arctic in its temperature.

In the lower mining districts of the southern part of Sacramento basin the heat is almost torrid. Ať Millerton, in the San Joaquin foot-hills, the mean temperature for three summer months has been as high as 106°, and occasionally there are winds so hot that they blister the skin. The amount of rain in California increases as we rise in altitude and latitude. That is a general rule. Thus at San Diego, in latitude 32°, the annual rain-fall is 11 inches; at San Francisco, in latitude 370 43', it is 22 inches; and at Humboldt Bay, in latitude 4° 46', it is 34 inches. Those places are all at the level of the sea and on the sea-coast; five additional inches of rain may be added for each thousand feet of altitude. So it may be said that in the latitude of San Francisco places at the height of 2,000 feet on the sierra have 32 inches of annual rain-fall ; places 4,000 feet high have 42 inches; those 6,000 have 52 inches; and those 8,000 feet 62 inches. These are general deductions from numerous observations taken at different points ; but they must not be regarded as precise and invariable. The higher the altitude the greater the difference in the rain-fall of different years, and the stronger the influence of topographical features in determining the amount of fall within a limited area.

Much more water usually falls on that side of a mountain from which the storm comes than on the other. At an altitude of 3,000 feet, and higher, large. quantities of snow fall; but in the estimate of the amount of rain on the mountains given above, a foot of snow is equivalent to a little more than an inch of water. But north of California, or cast of the Sierra Nevada, we come into other climates. At Fort Yuma, 100 miles east of San Diego, only one-third as much rain falls as at the latter place, and most of the rains come, not in the winter, but in the summer. The rainy season of Arizona and the Colorado valley is the dry season of the coast of California. All through Arizona the climate is dry and the summers lot, but the winters are exceedingly cold in some of the higher mining districts.

Nevada and Utah are high, dry, arid, and desolate. The evaporation equals the rain-fall, and therefore no water can be spared for the ocean, but all is swallowed

up

in sinks or lakes, in basins surrounded by mountains on every side. If the fall exceeded the evaporation, the waters would rise until the basin would overflow, and at the outlet a channel would be worn through the mountains until much of the inner lakes were drained, and at the bottom of that lake large bodies of sand, gravel and loam would be deposited, suitable for the support of

4

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

vegetation, when at last it should rise above the water in consequence of the increasing depth of the channel at the gap in the mountains. The valley of the upper Colorado looks as if it had once been converted into a great lake by the elevation of the Cascade mountains, but the river cut a channel at the Dalles before a sufficient quantity of soil had been deposited over the basin, and so the greater part of it is desolate. There is much resemblance between the climates of Idaho and Nevada. The summers are very warm, the winters are cold, and the fall of rain scanty, but the rain-fall is greater in Idaho than in Nevada.

The following figures show the temperature for each month and for the year at various towns in or near mining districts :

[blocks in formation]

The following table shows the rain-fall at a few points and in inches :

[blocks in formation]

The cost of living is high in all the States and Territories west of the Rocky mountains. Flour and beef are usually sold in San Francisco for about the same price demanded in New York; but transportation to the mines is very expensive, and the commissions and profits of traders are large. To Austin the freight in summer by wagon is seven to ten cents per pound from Sacramento; to Virginia city, three and one-quarter cents; from Marysville to Quincy, two and one-quarter cents; to Grass valley, one-half of a cent; to Downieville, one cent and a third. The freight from San Francisco to La Paz, on the Colorado, is about one and a half cent per pound; and to the Idaho mines, about seven cents per pound. In the winter freights rise, and there is then no limit tą them, save the needs and the purse of the shipper. The mining counties of California now grow nearly all the fruits and vegetables, and some of the grain, consumed by the miners; but all the clothing, fine tools, fine furniture, and many articles of food are brought from the valleys or chief seaport.

In consequence of the bad condition of the roads in the winter and the un

« PrejšnjaNaprej »