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THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY,
A report upon the mineral resources of the States and Territories west of the Rocky Mountains.
JANUARY 8, 1867.-Referred to the Committee on Mines and Mining and ordered to be
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, January 8, 1867.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit a preliminary report upon the mineral resources of the States and Territories west of the Rocky mountains by Mr. J. Ross Browne, who was appointed special commissioner under a provision of the appropriation act of July 28, 1866, authorizing the collection by the Secretary of the Treasury of "reliable statistical information concerning the gold and silver mines of the western States and Territories."
An introductory communication from Mr. Browne is also enclosed, which will indicate the scope of the report, with some suggestions in regard to the future prosecution of the inquiry into the situation and prospects of gold and silver mining in the United States.
The commissioner has evidently availed himself of the best experience of the State of California, especially in the department of geological and mineralogical observation; and the present compilation of its results cannot fail to be a welcome contribution to the public information.
If Congress shall make the necessary appropriation for this object, it is the purpose of the Secretary to secure a similar body of scientific and statistical information in regard to the mining districts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Montana. A report upon the production of gold and silver in those Territories, and in the Vermillion and Alleghany districts of the United States, by Mr. James W. Taylor, will be forwarded from this department to the House of Representatives at an early day.
I am, very truly, your obedient servant,
Hon. SCHUYLER COLFAX,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
H. McCULLOCH, Secretary of the Treasury.
LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, August 2, 1866. SIR: In entering upon your duties as special commissioner to collect mining statistics in the States and Territories west of the Rocky mountains, it is important that you should clearly understand the objects designed to be accomplished by this department and by Congress.
The absence of reliable statistics in any department of the government on the subject of mines and mining in our new mineral regions, and the inconvenience resulting from it, induced Congress at its last session to appropriate the sum of ten thousand dollars for the collection of information of all kinds tending to show the extent and character of our mineral resources in the far west.
The special points of inquiry to which your attention will necessarily be directed are so varied, and embrace so large a scope of country, that it will scarcely be practicable for you to report upon them in full by the next session. of Congress.
I entertain the hope, however, that you will be enabled by that time to collect sufficient data to furnish, in the form of a preliminary report, the basis of a plan of operations by which we can in future procure information of a more detailed and comprehensive character.
The success of your visit to the mineral regions, in carrying out the objects contemplated, must depend in a great measure upon the judicious exercise of your own judgment, and upon your long practical acquaintance with the country, your thorough experience of mining operations, and your knowledge of the best and most economical means of procuring reliable information.
The department will not, therefore, undertake to give you detailed instructions upon every point that may arise in the course of your investigations. It desires to impress upon you in general terms a few important considerations for your guidance, leaving the rest to your own judgment and sense of duty.
1. All statistics should be obtained from such sources as can be relied upon. Their value will depend upon their accuracy and authenticity. All statements not based upon actual data should be free from prejudice or exaggeration.
2. In your preliminary report, a brief historical review of the origin of gold and silver mining on the Pacific coast would be interesting in connection with a statement of the present condition of the country, as tending to show the progress of settlement and civilization.
3. The geological formation of the great mineral belts and the general characteristics of the placer diggings and quartz ledges should be given in a concise form.
4. The different systems of mining in operation since 1848, showing the machinery used, the various processes of reducing the ores, the percentage of waste, and the net profits.
5. The population engaged in mining, exclusively and in part; the capital and labor employed; the value of improvements; the number of mills and steam-engines in operation; the yield of the mines worked; the average of dividends and average of losses, in all the operations of mining.
6. The proportion of agricultural and mineral lands in each district; the quantity of wood land; facilities for obtaining fuel; number and extent of streams and water privileges.
7. Salt beds, deposits of soda and borax, and all other valuable mineral deposits.
8. The altitude, character of the climate, mode and cost of living; cost of all kinds of material; cost of labor, &c.
9. The population of the various mining towns; the number of banks and banking institutions in them; the modes of assaying, melting, and refining bullion; the charges upon the same for transportation and insurance
10. Facilities in the way of communication; postal and telegraphic lines; stage routes in operation; cost of travel; probable benefits likely to result from the construction of the Pacific railroad and its proposed branches.
11. The, necessity for assay offices and pubiic depositories; what financial facilities may tend to develop the country and enhance its products.
12. Copies of all local mining laws and customs now regulating the holding and working of claims.
13. The number of ledges opened and the number claimed; the character of the soil and its adaptation to the support of a large population.
Upon all these points it is very desirable that we should possess reliable information. Whatever tends to develop the vast resources of our new States and Territories must add to the wealth of the whole country.
I am extremely solicitous that the information collected should be ample and authentic.
Trusting that you may be enabled to make such a report as will be of great public utility, and at the same time promote the interests of the miners to whose industry and energy so much is due,
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. ROSS BROWNE, Esq,
H. McCULLOCH, Secretary of the Treasury.
Washington, D. C.
J. ROSS BROWNE,
SPECIAL COMMISSIONER FOR THE COLLECTION OF MINING STATISTICS,
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA,
November 24, 1866.
SIR: I had the honor to send you by last steamer a preliminary report on the mineral resources of the States and Territories west of the Rocky mountains. Congress, at its last session, appropriated ten thousand dollars "to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to collect reliable statistical information concerning the gold and silver mines of the western States and Territories," &c. Under a letter of appointment, dated August 2, 1866, and in accordance with detailed instructions of same date, I entered upon the discharge of the duties assigned to me, immediately upon my arrival at San Francisco, September 3, ultimo.
The views of the department as to the impracticability of reporting in detail by the next session of Congress were fully realized when I came to consider the magnitude of the subject and the immense scope of country over which the inquiry extended.
You were pleased to express the hope, however, that I would be enabled to collect by the meeting of Congress "sufficient data to furnish, in the form of a preliminary report, the basis of a plan of operations" by which information of a more detailed and comprehensive character could be procured in future.
To obtain any geological or statistical data whatev, within the brief space of two months, precluded the possibility of a personal visit to the mineral regions prior to the transmission of my report. The experience of Mr. William Ashburner and Mr. A. Rémond, members of the State geological survey, satisfied me that it would be utterly impracticable to examine the mines of a single district, much less of all the States and Territories west of the Rocky mountains, within that time. Mr. Ashburner spent eight months in procuring data for a single table, showing the operations of the principal quartz mills in Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, Eldorado, Plumas, Sierra, and Nevada counties. Mr Rémond spent three months in visiting the principal mines and mills in that part of Mariposa and Tuolumne counties lying between the Merced and Stanislaus rivers, and three months more in preparing tables showing the results of his observations.
Under these circumstances, and in view of the fact that I had already visited nearly every mining district within the range of my instructions, and was familiar with the topography of the country and the general condition of the mining interest, I deemed it best to avail myself of such reliable sources of information as were immediately accessible. San Francisco being the central point of trade and commerce for the Pacific coast, afforded facilities in the way of statistical data and scientific aid which could not be obtained elsewhere. From this point nearly all the capital radiates, here the records of all mining enterprises are kept, and here centre the products of the mines.