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contradiction in themselves. The law of one point is not the law of another five miles distant; and a little further on will be a code which is the law of neither of the former, and so on ad infinitum, with the further disturbing fact superadded that the written laws themselves may be overrun by some peculiar "custom” which can be found nowhere recorded, and the proof of which will vary with the volume of interested affidavits which may be brought on either side to establish it.
Again, in one district the work required to be done to hold a claim is nominal; in another, exorbitant; in another, abolished; in another, adjourned from year to year. A stranger, seeking to ascertain the law, is surprised to learn that there is no satisfactory public record to which he can refer; no public officer to whom he may apply who is under any bond or obligation to furnish him information or guarantee its authenticity. Often in the newer districts he finds there is not the semblance of a code, but a simple resolution adopting the code of some other district, which may be a hundred miles distant. What guarantee has he for investment of either capital or labor under such a system ?
Again, under the present loose organization of districts, with their vagueness of boundary, it is often impossible to determine by which code of laws a location is governed. Cases of this kind have already arisen in several districts, and are liable to do so again in any part of the State; and, under the present system, there is no means of guarding against it, except by an actual survey of the bourdaries of every district—an incalculable expense.
2. As to permanency of regulations, even such as they are, there is now no guarantee even of that. A miners' meeting adopts a code; it apparently is the law. Some time after, on a few days' notice, a corporal's guard assembles, and, on simple motion, radically changes the whole system by which claims may be held in a district. Before a man may traverse the State, the laws of a district, which by examination and study he may have mastered, may be swept away, and no longer stand as the laws which govern the interest he may have acquired; and the change has been one which by no reasonable diligence could he be expected to have knowledge of. But if the laws be uniform, and registered upon the statute book of the State, he will have security in his tenure, and reasonable notice of any change therein.
3. As to protection to the miner and encouragement to the capitalist, the present system, or lack of system, affords neither. The cause of uncertainty of titles to land in our sister State did not, through fifteen years of her history, more paralyze her progress than the uncertainty of mining titles in the outside districts now retards our development. Five years ago a horde of greedy prospectors from every part of the Pacific coast swept over our State, leaving their notices of location on every “dip, spur, and angle, 66 thick as leaves in Vallam brosa;” and, after a year or two of feverish unrest, swarmed away again to the newer fields of Idaho and Montana, leaving nothing to mark their passage but their faded “ notices” mouldering on the hillside, their pitiful burlesque of development in the way of assessment-work, and the threatening terrors of the common-law' doctrine as to “vested rights. This is what the true citizens of Nevada, those who, never losing faith in her future, have adhered to her fortunes in sunshine and gloom, now reap from the ruinous system of unlegalized district laws. They see thousands of claims in which capital would be eager to engage, could satisfactory title be given, now lying neglected because there is no system of abandonment as yet, or sufficient legislative or judicial sanction to gain the confidence of business men. Such will not be satisfied with a “general belief,” or an “evident tendency of decisions ;” they insist on definite enactment or positive adjudication. In vain do our people relocate abandoned mines in accordance with the only laws which govern the matter. When such titles are presented to the capitalist his first inquiry is: “What is the authority for so doing? Has your legislature authorized it? Has your judiciary sanctioned it ? If not, where is the security for investment ?"
As an instance of the manner in which the mining regulations are changed and the mining records neglected, the experience of North San Juan, one of the most prosperous and permanent mining towns, may be given here.
The Sweetland mining district was organized and a series of regulations adopted for it in 1850, when claims were restricted to thirty feet square. In 1852 the size was enlarged to eighty by one hundred and eighty feet, and the regulations were changed several times in other respects. In 1853 the Sweetland district was subdivided into three smaller districts, of which North San Juan is one.
This latter adopted a set of regulations at the time of its organization, and adopted the set now in force a year later. A mining recorder was elected in 1854, but he has been absent from the district for five years, and no one has been chosen to fill the place. The regulations are treated by many persons as if they were no longer in force--at least, as regards certain points ; and in many cases it would be difficult to ascertain whether there is any good title to claims under the regulations.
2.–NEED OF CONGRESSIONAL MINING LAW.
I would suggest that the act of last session should be so amended that, in the granting of patents, State and territorial statutes in regard to the size, possession, working, and abandonment of claims should be regarded as of higher authority than the “ local custom or rules;” and I venture to recommend further that a congressional act should be passed prescribing the manner of taking up, recording, working, and abandoning mining claims so long as the title remains in the United States, so that uniformity shall prevail throughout the whole country. Such an act, based on the laws and regulations of which copies are given on subsequent pages, would, I am confident, give general satisfaction to the miners, as securing their equal rights. As it is now, there is great diversity.
The following list shows some of the differences in the size of the claims :
Tuolumne county, California, miners' regulations, 150 feet on the lode and 150 feet on each side.
Sierra county, California, miners' regulations, 250 feet on the lode and 250 feet on each side.
Copperopolis district, California, miners' regulations, 150 feet on the lode and 250 feet on each side of the lode by 300 feet wide.
In most districts of Nevada and in many of California a miner may claim for each person in his company 200 feet on the lode, but he acquires no exclusive right of possession to the adjoining land, except in so far as he may have to occupy it in his mining operations. In Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, and some districts of California and Nevada, the mine may take a considerable tract on the sides of the lode. If we compare the size of the claims simply in relation to the length on the lode, we see that, taking the space allowed to the miner in Nevada county, California, as the unit of measurement, the miner in the State of Nevada gets twice as much, in Oregon thrice as much, and in Arizona six times as much. There is no good reason why the claims should not be of the same size in all these places. The act of Congress provides in section 4“ That no location hereafter made shall exceed two hundred feet in length along the vein for each locator, with an additional claim for discovery to the discoverer of the lode, with the right to follow such vein to any depth, with all its dips, variations, and angles, together with a reasonable quantity of surface for the convenient working of the same as fixed by local rules : And provided further, That no person may make more than one location on the same lode, and not more than three thousand feet shall be taken in any one claim by anv association of persons.” These provisions reduce the length of the claims to be located hereafter in Arizona and Oregon to two hundred feet for each person ; but they do not authorize any enlargements of the claim in the districts where the limit is less than the two hundred feet. And yet justice and sound policy require that a miner should be permitted to take up as large a claim in Nevada county or in Tuolumne county, California, as in Oregon or Arizona.
3.-THE CUSTOMARY LIMITATION OF SIZE.
The limitation is, however, more apparent than real. If John Smith supposes a lode to be rich, he selects a portion three thousand feet long, puts a stake at each end, with a notice, and files with the recorder of the district or county, a notice that he and fourteen ass: ciates have taken up that claim. If he imagines that there is some rich ground outside of the three thousand feet, he takes another claim of three thousand feet, in the names of fifteen friends not mentioned in the first notice. He may have no authority from those persons to take claims for them, but no one objects in such a case. If John Smith now desires to own more than bis two hundred feet, he goes to the men whose names he lras put down, and requests them to give him a bill of sale for one hundred feet, or one hundred and fifty feet each, and as they owe their claims to him, they cannot refuse. Then, instead of being the owner of only two hundred feet, he can become, with little trouble or expense, the owner of three or four thousand feet. He can bold as many feet by purchase as he pleases. There is no limitation in any county to the amount of mining claim that can be held by one person by purchase; but in Mexico no company can locate more than four times as much as the claim of a single individual, and there is less opportunity for the abuse of which mention has been made. It would be advisable, in my opinion, to amend the act of last session so that no claim for any company shail exceed sixteen hundred or two thousand fect in length. The Mexican law fixes the limitation at two hundred varas, or about twenty-two hundred feet. I would recommend further that, in the proposed change in the length of claims, each individual should be entitlea to hold by location not more than five hundred feet. The valuable claims are usually found by solitary miners, or by small parties of not more than three. When such, or a miner or party, finds a place in a rich lode, there is no good reason why he or they should be compelled by the law to give most of it away to friends, as is done under the present law and
Three locators get only six hundred fett out of three thousand, or onefifth. They may request their friends to convey to them one-half of the remaining four-fifthis, but oftentimes they fear that such request would give offence, and if the claim turns out to be valuable, most of the benefit goes to persons who have done nothing to discover the mine. It would be better to offer a larger reward to the miner, and not compel him to give so much to his friends. Two hundred feet is not enough on ordinary lodes for a mining enterprise; the paystreak of rock may run down obliquely lengthwise in the vein, and the miner wants to know that he can follow it for a considerable distance in his claim. If two miners should find a rich place in a quartz lode, alid could trace it for eight hundred feet along the lode, and were satisfied that the mine would prove profitable from the start, and were doubtful whether any part of the lode beyond the eight hundred feet would pay, it is evident that they would rather own the eight hundred feet by location than be compelled to give half of it to other persons. The knowledge that location could acquire more than two hundred feet by location would encourage prospecting. If, on the other hand, the lode contained only a moderate quantity of valuable ore, and could not be made to pay until after an investment of more capital than the two had at their command, then they could make up the original company of eight persons, with one hundred feet to each ; or they could take up the claim in their two names, and each could sell or give away portions of his sliare to friends who would furnish money. By increasing the amount that each individual can hold by location, the miner has everything to gain and nothing to lose. If the mine will pay from the start, the profit goes to the man who deserves it; if the mine requires outside capital for its development, the miner can obtain it as readily as at present. The Spanish law which was framed in 1783, after an experience of two hundred and fifty years, and is now in force throughout Spanish America, allows each locator to hold two hundred varas, or five hundred and fifty feet. The quartz regulations of California were most of them framed about 1852 and 1853, with no experience, and under the influence of persons familiar only with the small claims customary in the placers. It is true that many of the regulations have been reenacted at later dates, but the old influences have not been broken
There is now a disposition to find fault with the California regulations, and to prefer the provisions of the Mexican law, as to the size of claims.
4.--PROPOSED WIDTH OF CLAIMS.
A claim should cover not only the lode but a certain area on both sides. The act of Congress allows a reasonable quantity of surface for the convenient working of the same, as fixed by local rules." Here again the “ local rnles” alone are recognized. What is å "reasonable” quantity of surface ? In Arizona it is three hundred feet on each side of the middle of the lode ; in Oregon it is twentyfive feet on each side of the lode ; in Idaho it is a tract one hundred feet wide ; in Tuolumne county, California, it is one hundred and fifty feet on each side of the lode; in Sierra county, California, it is two hundred and fifty feet wide on each side; in the Copperopolis district it is three hundred feet wide; in the State of Nevada, Nevada county, California, and in many other counties of California, it is all the land that is actually occupied by the works of the company or miner, and no more.
Under the customs in those districts in which the miner obtained no fixed quantity of surface, he never laid claim to any portion outside of his lode, except as he occupied it for his tunnel, shaft, mill
, dwelling, ditch, dump, reservoir for tailings, or something of the sort ; if he had all his works at one end of his claim, he had no title to any of the surface of the other end; any other miner night then take up another lode within ten feet of his and work it. The law of Mexico, the statutes of Arizona, Oregon and Idaho, and the regulations of Tuolumne and Sierra counties, authorize the miner to occupy a specific amount of surface, and all the minerals within that area belong to him, whether he has discovered all the lodes within it or not. It often happens that large veins have branches or spurs, which at the surface appear as if they were parallel veins, and when the main vein is open :d and found to be rich, outsiders, if not forbidden by the laws or regulations, make a custom of claiming the spurs and branches, in the hope that they may prove to be independent lodes, or in the expectation of making money out of them before the connection can be proved, or for the purpose of compelling the owner of the main lode to buy them out, and thus save the expense of litigation. Such claims upon spurs, and the litigation resulting from them, have beert among the most important facts in the history of Virginia City, and they have been common in many of the quartz districts of California. They are among the greatest evils that beset lode mining in certain counties. It was mainly to prevent this kind of fraud, for it is scarcely possible to give any other name to it as generally practiced, that the law of Mexico authorized the niner to hold a tract five hundred and fifty feet wide at
right angles to the course of the lode, and thus he could cover any ground which he found interlopers might want to claim. The purpose was not so much to give lim room for working, as to secure his title and protect him from litigation and troublesome neighbors. Under every set of regulations, customs, or local rules, and under
code of mining law, the owner of the main vein under the first location owns all the spurs; but he may not be able to prove for years that it is a spur. This was the case in several important suits in Virginia City, where the spur was not traced to its union with the main vein until the miners had gone down five hundred feet, and they did not reach that depth till after years of working. There may be, and no doubt are, cases in which two valuable and independent lodes are found within two hundred feet of each other; and in such instances it would perhaps be injurious to the mining interest to let the first claimant have both lodes, but such cases would be very rare. As a matter of fact there is no complaint among miners of any evil caused by giving a claim to a fixed area of surface, whereas there is great comp aint about tlie license of taking claims on spurs within a few feet of the main lode. The latter evil is common; the former is almost unknown ; the general sentiment among the miners favors the recognition of a surface claim at least two hundred feet wide across thie lode.
5.-WORK REQUIRED TO HOLD CLAIMS. One of the greatest evils that besets lode mining at present is that a vast number of claims are held without being worked, and without any expectation on the part of the claimants of working them. Most claims are taken up merely as a matter of speculation, and not for the purpose of mining; and many of the claimants are persons who have never done any regular work at quartz mining. When a rich vein is found, a multitude of persons rush to the place, and each one gets a claim, if possible, in every vein in the district. He puts down the names of enough associates to make up a claim a thousand or two thousand feet long, and thus all the lodes of the district are soon appropriated. Two or three of the associates may be present with him or perhaps not one of them has ever been near the place. He has taken his claims and he now waits for others to develop the district and prove that they are valuable. If by the opening of the adjacent mines, his claims are proved to be rich, he sells out at a handsome profit; if not, he has lost little. Then if a miner goes into one of the quartz mining districts and wishes to prospect a vein thoroughly, he will find that most of these lodes which he would prefer to work are held as claims, though no substantial work has been done in them. He cannot afford to buy, because lie might have to buy dozens before finding one that would yield anything before being examined ; and he cannot afford to prospect before buying, because any discovery that he might make would enhance the price, and be to the profit of the claimant. The system that recognizes the validity of uworked claims is a great check to mining industry and to the development of mineral wealth. The individuals who profit by it are usually of a class who thrive at the expense
of the industrious and enterprising. The miner desiring to get a claim with the intention of working it has everything to lose and nothing to gain by the system. It is true that the local regulations require the claim-holder to do a cer. tain amount of work every year to secure his title, but this requirement is in most districts a mere form,* and it is evaded by shamf work, or the require
*The San Francisco Mining and Scientific Press, a recognized authority among miners, says in its issue of the 14th of July, 1866:
“With regard to the performance of labor to perfect a title, every miner knows that the rule, as at present established, is a mere farce.”
Governor McCormick of Arizona, in his message delivered to the territorial legislature on the 8th of October, 1866, says: