Slike strani
[ocr errors]

of from 1,000 to 5,000 each; and of the mining towns are Placerville, Sonora, Columbia, Nevada, Grass Valley, Downieville, Red Bluft's, Shasta, and Yreka, with a population of from 1,000 to 4,000 each.

It is difficult to exaggerate the commercial advantages of California, situated in a temperate climate inidway between the northern snows and tropical heats, inviting to our shores the products of the arctic and torrid zones, confronted by the rich and populous empires of China and Japan, with over 400,000,000 of inhabitants, the commercial intercourse with which must swell into vast proportions. Occupying a position in the direct line of travel, by the nearest route, between Europe and the East Indies, California must command the trade of the Northern Pacific Ocean, and the cosmopolitan city of San Francisco must become the key to a great commerce, whose ramifications will penetrate every portion of the civilized world.


[ocr errors]

which lies south of Oregon and Idaho, west of Utah and Arizona, is bounded on the west by California, extending south from the forty

ond parallel of north latitude through seven degrees, or 483 miles, and is at greatest expansion from east to west, on the twenty-nintli degree of north latitude, 423 miles. Nevada was placed under terri. torial government per act of March 2, 1861, and by act of May 5, 1866, its area was increased by 12,225 square miles on the south, that extent having been detached from Arizona, and with these limits was admitted into the Union as a State under the act of March 24, 1864, by proclamation of the President dated October 31, 1864. Nevada embraces an area of 112,090 square miles, or 71,737,741 acres, being the third State in the Union in point of size.

The area of the State is naturally divisible into agricultural, mineral, grazing, timber, mountain ranges, and water surface. The surveyor general has made an estimate, based upon comparison of surveyed sections of the State with those unsurveyed, so far as the unsurveyed sections have been fully explored, and places the area of meadow land bordering upon lakes, rivers, and mountain streams, and the better class of sage-brush lands in close proximity to water-courses, as suitable for the purposes of agriculture, at 27,514 square miles; a region equal in area to the States of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The grazing lands are supposed to approximate 37,498 square miles, large areas of which might be made available for agricultural purposes with the aid of irrigation, being a surface about equal to the State of Kentucky, and for the most part clothed with a fine growth of nutritious bunch grass and wild sage.

Mineral deposits are found in greater' or less quantities in all the mountain ranges, extending into every quarter of the State, while the area ex. clusively mineral in character is estimated to be not less than 8,806 square miles, a surface equal to the State of New Jersey.

The area of lands embracing alkali flats and sand plains now unproductive is believed to approximate 3,361 square iniles.

Timber occurs almost exclusively on the inountain slopes, and the area covered by forest is now estimated at 642 square miles. The Sierras, which occupy a narrow belt along the western boundary adjoining California and attain an altitude of 7,000 to 13,000 feet above the level of the sea, are covered with forests of the several varieties of evergreens found on the Pacific slope, attaining gigantic proportions. In the whitepine region, in the eastern part of the State, timber is found of good size and in considerable quantities, consisting of white pine and white

[ocr errors]

fir. It also occurs in various sections in the interior, generally along the larger water-courses, where it consists of cottonwood, birch, willow, dwarf cedar, nut pine or piñon, and a few other varieties, all of small growth and soft texture, but valuable for fuel.

The whole area covered by water approximates at 441 square miles, and the swamp or wet surface is estimated at 74,480 acres, which may be reclaimed and made productive. The mountain system extends in meridional lines from Humboldt River to the Colorado on the south, and from the Humboldt northward to the Owyhee, being generally rocky and sparsely covered with vegetation. One of the most remarkable features in the physical geography of this State is the uniformity with which mountain and valley succeed each other throughout the whole extent of the State, imparting picturesque grandeur to the landscape.

The principal river in Nevada is the Humboldt, which, rising in the northeastern part of Lander County, flows by a general westerly course of 250 miles, receiving from the north the Little Humboldt; thence it courses southwest 50 miles through Humboldt County into Humboldt Lake, situated on the line between the counties of Humboldt and Churchill. 'East Walker River rises in the Sierras, courses easterly, thence northerly, till it unites with the West Branch. The Main Walker is formed by the junction of these branches 35 miles southeast of Carson City, emptying, after a course of 45 miles, into Walker Lake. Lake Tahoe, situated on the line between California and Nevada, in the Sierra Nevadas, 6,000 feet above the level of the sea, has an outlet through Truckee River, which flows northeast, into Pyramid Lake, in Washoe County, watering in its course a portion of Placer County, California, and the counties of Storey and Washoe, in Nevada. Carson River, likewise, has its source in the Sierra Nevada, south of Lake Tahoe, and in its general course runs northeasterly to Carson Lake, in Churchill County, receiving several tributaries and watering portions of Douglas, Ormsby, Lyon, and Storey Counties. The water-power of this river is estimated at 1,000 tons daily. Besides these streams are King's and Quin's Rivers in the north, Reese River in the interior, and Muddy and Franklin Rivers in the southern part of the State, each collecting the water from a considerable area of country. These streams are shallow and unnavigable, flowing through broad valleys, often with swift currents and occasional small rapids. The water of the streams, as well as of the lakes, is generally pure, fresh, and palatable, abounding in mountain trout and other excellent varieties of fish. Some of the streams terminate in beautiful lakes, while others disappear from the surface of the earth in their course through the sand, loam, and loose subsoil, appearing again suddenly a few miles further on, while sometimes disappearing after a course of a hundred miles. This peculiarity also characterizes some of the streams of Arizona, New Mexico, and of the Great Basin in Utah.

Lake Tahoe is surrounded in part by abrupt mountains, whose peaks are capped with snow the greater portion of the year, while the slopes are covered with extensive forests of pine, spruce, and fir timber. The waters of this lake attain a depth of 1,500 feet.

Pyramid Lake, northeast of Lake Tahoe, is 33 miles long, having a width of 14 miles, and Walker Lake, nearly as large, southeast of Lake Tahoe, are represented as of great depth. Carson and Lower Carson and Humboldt Lakes, which lie in a line directly north of Walker Lake, are shallow, and united by small sloughs or streams. There are numerous smaller bodies of water in different sections of the State, among which are Preuss Lake, partly in Utah; Goshoot Lake in the northeast, east of

the Humboldt Mountains; Ruby and Franklin Lakes in Ruby Valley, east of the same range; Pahranagre Lake in southeast, east of Silver Canon Mountains; Guano Lake in the northwest; and Lower and Middle Lakes on the line between California and Nevada, near the north boundary. In the valleys and plains, in nearly all parts of the State, during the wet season, extensive areas become covered by water, which disappears by evaporation, or sinks in the sand during the dry season. Many of these sheets of water are strongly impregnated with alkaline solutions, leaving, when evaporation takes place, an alkaline incrustation, and are known as alkaline flats. This State abounds in a great variety of springs, discharging cold and thermal waters, some of which are highly charged with medicinal properties, a few of these being noted for their curative qualities. These springs are found at all elevations, in size varying from 1 to 30 feet in diameter, and with depths varying from 2 feet to 200; springs widely differing in chemical composition within short distances, denote peculiar geological phenomena.

Nevada has twelve counties, those in the southwest being small; those in the north and east embrace several thousand square miles. Roop County, in the northwest, contains some fine valley land on Snake Creek, Middle and Lower Lakes, and in Surprise Valley, but as yet the county contains but few settlers. Humboldt County, joining Roop County on the east, has 150,000 acres of agricultural land, which may be largely increased by irrigation, and 650,000 acres of grazing land. This county is traversed by numerous ranges and spurs of mountains, among which are Humboldt, Trinity, Hot Spring, Cottonwood, Golconda, and Eagle Mountains. Stark Peak, in the Humboldt Range, attains an altitude of 10,000 feet above the level of the sea. Humboldt River enters this county on the east, flowing northwest, thence southwest to Humboldt Lake on the southern border of the county, which is further watered by the Little Humboldt and Quin's River, with their affluents. Paradise Valley, through which the Little Humboldt flows, Quin's River Valley, Grass and Pleasant Valleys, Big Meadows, and the Humbold section enabrace a large and valuable agricultural district, with an extensive region for grazing. The Central Pacific Railroad crosses this county along the Humboldt, a distance of 200 miles. The northeastern part of the State is included in Lander County, the greater part being watered by the Humboldt. Reese River drains an extensive area in the southwestern part of this county. The principal mountain ranges are the East Humboldt, Shoshone, Toiyabe, and Diamond Ranges. This region contains land which may be rendered available for agriculture; it has also extensive areas suitable for grazing. Considerable quantities of timber are found on the mountain slopes, and vast deposits of minerals. The Central Pacific Railroad crosses this county also, in a north easterly and southwesterly direction. White Pine County lies between Nye and Lander, and includes the famous White Pine mining region, in which some of the richest silver mines in the State have been developed. Lincoln County occupies the southeastern part of the State, and borders on the Rio Colorado of the West for 75 miles, into which stream all the rivers of this county flow. The most important ranges in Lincoln are the Pah Rock, Pahranagat, and Spring Ranges. Broad valleys intervene between these mountain ranges, some of them destitute of vegetation, except sage brush and occasional tufts of grass.

The surface of those plains is covered with drift and gravel, frequently interspersed with alkali flats. Esmeralda County, in the southern part of the State, west of Nye, has an area of over 6,000,000 acres, embracing a considerable quantity of land available for agriculture and grazing.

Along Walker River, around Walker Lake, and in Fish Lake Valley, timber is found in considerable quantities on the mountains, being principally piñon or nut pine. The chief value of this region consists in the rich deposits of gold, silver, copper, and lead found in nearly every mountain range. Douglas County, with an area of 576,000 acres, lies between Lake Tahoe and Esmeralda, and contains a considerable area of arable land and extensive facilities for irrigation. Carson Valley is 25 miles in length, through which Carson River courses and with its affluents fertilizes a large area. This county is strictly an agricultural and grazing region. Ormsby County embraces an area of 98,000 acres, of which one-twelfth is available for agriculture, a fifth is covered with timber, the residue consists of sage brush plains and barren mountains. Wherever the land in this county could be properly irrigated abundant crops have been produced. Churchill County lies north of Esmeralda and embraces an area of 42,000 square miles. Its western part includes Carson and Lower Carson Lakes and Carson River, while its eastern part is traversed by the Shoshone, Silver, and Augusta Mountains. A portion of this region is one of the best stock ranges in the State, a branch of industry receiving considerable attention. This county contains some rich mineral deposits. Lyon County, west of Churchill, with an area of 480 square miles, is rough and mountainous, with a dry soil. The agricultural and grazing lands are mostly found in Carson and Walker River Valleys and around Dayton, the county seat. A very considerable area of the sage plains may by irrigation be made to produce fine crops of cereals and vegetables. The mountain slopes and foot-hills are covered, in part, with a heavy growth of piñon and cedar timber. A great many ledges of gold, silver, and copper have been here discovered, some of which have been worked successfully. Storey County lies north of Lyon and west of Churchill, having an area of 400 square miles. Virginia, the capital of the State, is here situated. This county embraces the Comstock Lode, a rich and most extensively developed mineral region. About one-half the area, 1,620 square miles, of Washoe County has been surveyed. It is watered by Washoe and Pyramid Lakes, Truckee River, and Steamboat and Antelope Creeks. This county also is crossed by the Central Pacific Railroad from east to west on the north side of Truckee River.

The capacity of Nevada for grazing is attracting attention in all sections of the State, this branch of industry being there destined to be of great value. The foot-hills and mountain slopes are clothed with nutritious growth of bunch or buffalo grass, while white sage abounds in the valley. Sand-grass is found to cover large areas of the arid plains, and is exceedingly nutritious. It grows one foot in height, much resembling buckwheat. The white sage, while growing, is bitter and resinous, but upon being touched by the autumnal frost becomes sweet and tender, with the taste of barley. It is very nutritious, and sought after by stock in preference to hay. Extensive herds of horses, cattle, and sheep are fed by these native pastures on the mountain slopes and in the valleys all the year without artificial shelter. A drought has prevailed in some parts of an adjoining State during the present season, in consequence of which, it is estimated by the surveyor general, 100,000 head of sheep, 50,000 cattle, besides large droves of horses, have been driven into Nevada for pasture. The general surface of the State reaches an altitude of 4,000 feet above the level of the sea, and although the climate is varied, the mountain air is pure and somewhat rarified, but fresh and invigorating, the whole region being generally healthy. Febrile and epidemic diseases are scarcely known in the

! 1



State. Owing to the altitude and geographical position of the State, it has insufficient rain-fall during the season of growth for the highest development of vegetation, without the aid of irrigation, except in some small area advantageously located with reference to lakes or large bodies of water. In the early settlement of the State miniug was almost the sole pursuit of the population, who were attracted there by the rich deposits of the precious metals. In the progress of events the lands contiguous to some of the mountain cañons, and on the lowest flats upon some of the largest streams, were found suitable for the culture of crops of grain and vegetables. But even these tracts, often of small area, were regarded as valuable only when situated in close proximity to some prosperous mining camp. Within the few years past great changes have been wrought in the agricultural prospects of Nevada. The peculiarities of the soil and climate are becoming better understood, and lands beretofore considered barren and irreclaimable are now in many instances rendered highly productive by means of irrigation. The sage-brush land is easily cleared. Those tracts covered by the heaviest growth of it have been found, with the aid of irrigation, to produce the best crop of cereals. Thus far, in the experience of the agriculturist of Nevada, the most successful crops are now found to be wheat, oats, and barley. Vegetables and all root crops are produced in perfection with irrigation and proper care. Large orchards, producing abundant crops of apples, peaches, pears, and plums, exist in the older settled localities in the western part of the State.

The soil along most of the streams, including the swamp or tule, or overflowed lands, is light and friable, consisting of rich alluvion, composed of clay washing, disintegrated rock and vegetable debris, and is rich, containing in some certain localities and during certain seasons sufficient moisture to render it productive without the aid of artificial irrigation. The tule land sustains a heavy growth of indigenous grass, thousands of tons of which are now annually cured for hay. The soil of the arid plains is found to possess elements of fertility, only requiring irrigation to render it productive. Where the waters of lakes and rivers are inarlequate for the purposes of irrigation and mining it is believed that artesian wells will be the best means of relieving the deficiency. The seasons are wet and dry, although these changes are not strongly marked. In the northern and interior sections of the State the wet or winter season commences with January, and continues, with occasional intervals of fair weather, until May. Within this period the mercury ranges from zero to 150 or 200 below; snow falling high up in the mountain slopes, while rain descends in the valleys. During the dry or summer season, the average temperature at mid-day is 90° F., descending to 700 during the night. In the southeastern section of the State the temperature is higher in winter, there being but little frost or snow; but the summers are longer, and the mercury ranges considerably higher than in the northern part of the State. The autumns are beautiful everywhere throughout Nevada.

Mining will be the leading interest in Nevada. Valuable metals occur in all sections of the State, while in many places extensive deposits of lead, copper, iron, salt, and sulphur abound in greater or less quantities. Besides these, cinnabar, gypsum, manganese, plumbago, kaolin, soda, piter, alum, magnesia, platinum, zinc, galena, antimony, nickel, cobalt, and arsenic exist in various sections of the State. Clays, suitable for the manufacture of pottery and fire-brick, as well as sand for glass, prevail in abundance. Limestone, sandstone, and granite, suitable for

, building material, exist in nearly every part of Nevada ; marble and

« PrejšnjaNaprej »