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of the ditches now contemplated, our mining population and gold product should be from three to five times greater than heretofore.
So far we have no more than cracked the shell of our mines, the core and heart still lying in the hills and old river-channels, and we have only been slowly but surely developing this fact. In the Blue Mountains, on the head of Grande Ronde River, good land has been found, and indications of extensive bill-mines. Good copper and coal have been found in Union and Baker Counties, on Snake River. T. J. Carter, W. H. Packwood, and Isaac and John Garrison expended several thousand dollars in prospecting for coal on Snake River. Sufficient work was done to show the existence of good coal deposits of a bituminous character; but as there was no demand except for blacksmiths' use, it would not pay them to continue work.
Our quartz interests are in their infancy. So far the Rockyfellow lode has been worked more than any other vein or lode in Baker or Union Counties. This lode has been worked for the past five years, paying, we are informed, well and regularly. The present owners, Messrs. Brown & Virtue, are down about 400 feet, have a well-defined lode from 20 to 30 inches wide. The quartz yields them from $40 to $60 per ton. The gold is worth $19 50 per ounce. The owners have a ten-stamp mill at Baker City; obtain their power to drive the mill from a ditch from Powder River. The lode is situated about seven miles from Baker, on the divide between Powder and Burnt Riyers. This lode has gielded thousands of tons of good rock, and from present indications is inexhaustible, and the mine probably contains wealth sufficient to pay for working for ages to come. E. M, White, at Auburn, is down over 110 feet on what there is every reason to believe is a true vein. The vein is almost perpendicular, with well-defined wall-rock. The rock contains fine gold. The vein is from 6 to 30 inches wide, and improves as they go down. Mr. White intends soon commencing a tunnel, calculated to tap the lode about 200 feet below the surface. He has taken out in sinking his shaft, almost beyond doubt, quartz sufficient to pay for erecting a mill, which he intends doing this summer. The rock has been worked in an arrastra, and yielded nearly $90 per ton. Quite a number of other ledges have been found in the same vicinity. Up on South Powder a number of fine ledges have been found.
Near Pocahontas a ten-stamp mill is now being erected by Messrs. Olds & McMurran, and is to do custom-work. Water, for milling, and wood, for steam, are abundant, and cheap living can be had, as Pocahontas is situated in the edge of one of the best farming districts in Eastern Oregon. Quartz is abundant in the foot-hills and mountains back of Pocahontas. Many lodes are partially opened. Some have been worked with an arrastra, some with hand-mortars, and the results are extremely favorable. In fact, the rock was so well known that I understand that Messrs. Olds & McMurran havé more than rock sufficient engaged for crushing from responsible parties to pay the entire cost of erecting a mill. The Young America is about 4 feet. A tunnel is being run to strike it deep down in the hill. The Gunboat is near 2 feet wide 30 feet down, and the rock is, without doubt, extremely rich. On Salmon Creek, in same vicinity, a ledge has been found recently that 12 feet down is nearly 4 feet wide, and from which we have seen as ricb rock as we ever saw from California. In Rye Valley a large number of ledges have been found in which silver predominates; so far no capital has been invested to develop them. At Hagern, Union County, a small mill is owned by George Carter and others, in connection with a number of ledges. On one ledge they are down about 130 feet with a tunnel. The vein is, in places, as much as 30 inches wide; rock is abundant; all the rock pays for milling, and in some places he has found rock that milled about $500 per ton. There are a large number of ledges forind in that county that prospect well.
As I said before, no capital has been invested in Baker and Union Counties for the purpose of developing mining interests, except the amount named from Portland. Our placer and bill mines and quartz are of such a character as to require capital and labor united to develop them properly. When developed, as they will be sooner or later, they will be found to contain onbounded mineral wealth, and to be as certain, safe, and reliable counties for good paying returns on investments of that character, as can be found from Colorado to the Pacific coast. The population of Union and Baker Counties has probably never exceeded 12,000 persons, and has not, we think, been less than 8,000 since 1862. The climate of the country is healthy, equal to any part of the Pacific coast. Both counties have extensive farming land and grazing country almost unequaled, and in fact not surpassed, in Oregon or California. Both counties have been wholly dependent on Portland for merchandise, but the completion of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads has given Portland competitors for our trade in the enterprising merchants of Chicago.
Last fall a Chicago merchant shipped a fair stock of merchandise to Eldorado, and we learn he is so well satisfied with his venture that next spring he will ship a large stock to Eldorado via Kelton and Boise City. This competition will be of great benefit to the people of Baker and Union Counties. Portland having had a monopoly of our trade, we have been taxed as high, and higher on an average, for merchandise than the same sold in Idaho, from one to three hundred miles farther inland than we were from Portland. We trust our Senators and Representatives may induce Congress to pass a bill for a railroad to connect the Columbia River and Central Pacific or Union Railroads, such as to insure its early building. Such a road would naturally and necessarily run very near the center of both counties, and would, by giving means of transportation for our products, lead to the settlement of millions of acres of land valuable for farming and grazing purposes. With such road completed, we do not know of any part of the Pacific coast that would offer better inducements to the emigrant for permanent homes than in these two counties., Nor do we believe that, with railroad facilities, any two counties in the great basin from the Rocky Mountains to the Sierras or Cascades offer to the capitalist mining investments of a more permanent character, on which certain, safe, and speedy returns can be expected. From 1862 to 1871 our imports have been paid in gold from our mines; with increased facilities for transportation we could pay in wool, flour, bacon, butter, cheese, beef, and many other articles of produce that now depend solely on the mines for a market. The gold yield should not be one million, but from three to five million dollars yearly from these two counties, and from agricultural and grazing products a like sum. The same may be said of Umatilla and Wasco Counties as to health, grazing, and farming, but their mineral resources are limited. These five counties—Baker, Union, Grant, Umatilla, and Wascoembrace what is known as Eastern Oregon, an area of.country equal in extent to many of our largest States.
This Territory manifests a considerable decrease in its product of gold and silver, as may be seen from the following detailed estimate • for the calendar year 1870, kindly prepared for me by Mr. W. A. Atlee,
agent of Wells, Fargo & Co., at Boise City. Mr. Atlee has taken great pains in the preparation of this table, corresponding with all the express agents of the Territory, and perfecting his estimates slowly and laboriously. His position, experience, and intimate acquaintance with the field entitle his work to confidence. *
In this list, the production is arranged according to points of shipment. Placerville....
$184, 428 Centerville
249, 839 Pioneer City..
250,000 Idaho City
2, 000, 584, Boise City
332, 101 Owybee...
812, 935 Lembi County
702, 613 Wallula.
57, 500 Walla-Walla..
280,000 Loon Creek, Dead Wood, Snake River, and other diggings 150,000
Walla-Walla, Wallula, and Umatilla are outside the boundaries of the Territory; but' a great portion of the Idaho treasure finds an outlet through these places to Portland. The bullion from these points, together with that from Lewiston, making altogether some $1,790,000, is included in the express and private shipments from Portland.
The decline in the production of Idaho is due to the exhaustion of the creek and gulch claims of the older placer-mining districts of the Boise Basin. The greater portion of these claims have been turned over to Chinamen, who are content with small earnings, and who will maintain, Do doubt, for many years to come, a moderately productive industry in these abandoned fields. Many experienced miners express the opinion that the ground in creeks and gulches which has been worked over already has since accumulated a second crop, as it were, of gold. This is doubtless true of certain peculiarly situated localities; but such a rapid regeneration of mining ground cannot be predicated on a large scale. As Mr. Atlee remarks, however, in a letter to me on this subject, many patches of auriferous earth and gravel, rich in gold, were passed over undisturbed by the early miners; millions of cubic yards of surface material have been “stripped off” in search of the best “pay dirt;" vast amounts of auriferous earth have been sluiced from hill-sides and side-gulches into the main streams, and the accumulations of débris from all these sources have been exposed to disintegration and concentration under the action of the elements and the flowing water, constituting new deposits, which can only be exploited by means of bed-rock tunnels and flumes.
* It will be observed that the estimate of $8,000,000 for 1869, credited to Mr. Atlee, on page 234 of my last report, was reduced by me to $7,000,000. Certain items in that estimate were assumed, and I therefore took the liberty of altering the total. The prese estimate is carried out in greater detail; and I accept it as the best possible.
The quartz-mining industry has made little progress outside of the Owyhee district. Unwise and sometimes dishonest speculations have led, in Boise and Alturas Counties, to a distrust on the part of capitalists; and to this evil influence must be added the disadvantage of geographical position with reference to the railway communication, which has added so many facilities for the development of districts more favorably situated. When the difficulty and cost of obtaining communications, machinery, supplies, and labor were felt in common by all the mining regions of the interior, they operated with less discrimination against particular localities. Now that a portion of the country has
relieved from this burden, the crying necessity is everywhere realized. “What we require,” says Mr. Atlee, “is railroad facilities.”
Brief notices of such districts in the Territory as seem to require particular mention will suffice to complete this general statement of its condition and prospects.
OWYHEE COUNTY. The placermines of this county have been diligently worked during the past two years by the Chinese, who have operated hydraulic claims as well as ordinary placers. Four hydraulic mines are reported as worked by white men. Three of these were old claims. The fourth is a claim about half-way up the side of Florida Mountain, near Silver City. Water has been brought by a ditch, four and a half miles long, constructed in the autumn of 1869, from the head of Jordan Creek. The product of one hydraulic claim was nearly $20,000.
The product of the mines of Owyhee district for the year ending July 1, 1870, was as follows:
Average from quartz, (principally silver,) 814 59.
The item of "prospecting” in the foregoing table includes the opera. tions of many parties with little capital, who bring in from time to time small lots of ore to the mills. Under this head is ranked also the product from Flint district, where, perhaps, twenty men have been at work slowly developing some of the lodes of “ fahl-ore.” The results have been highly encouraging, considering the scale of operations. Some of the rock crushed has yielded $200 per ton.
The slimes and tailings reported in the table were worked at the mill of the Owyhee Mining Company, which treated more than half of the aggregate amount of ore reported, or 7,129 tons out of 13,982. The tailings, however, were from a pile some four years old. The slimes or slums are collected from the battery-waters in separate reservoirs, and subsequently are mixed with dry tailings to give them the necessary consistency for reworking. This is the only mill in the district having reservoirs for slimes alone. The cost of working the slimes is $5 per ton.
The amount of ore worked during the year referred to is nearly 1,000 tons in excess of that reported for the previous year ending July 1, 1869, while the bullion product is about $375,000 less. This falling off is due to the decrease in bullion from the Golden Chariot, Ida Elmore, and Poorman mines, amounting to $373,000. On the other hand, the closing of the Kising Star mine, in Flint district, and the cessation of pullion from that source, is almost made up by the increase in placergold and the yield of other lodes.
The Ida Elmore looked badly during the first part of 1870, and in the autumn an assessment of $50,000 was levied. At the close of the year, however, a considerable improvement was manifest. The product of the mine during the calendar year 1870 was $238,532.
In the Golden Chariot mine, work has been pushed with vigor. About the 1st of July, 1869, the ore began to depreciate in value, and for the months of August, September, October, and November of that year showed an average yield of only $10 per ton. Then a new level being opened, much richer ore was exposed, and this good quality has been maintained ever since. The lowest level in December, 1870, was 470 feet below the surface, and showed a splendid vein, three feet in width, of very good ore. Mr. Cassell, formerly in charge of the Oaks and Reese mine, in Mariposa County, California, is now superintendent of the Golden Chariot and Ida Elmore. He has introduced Giant powder and the single-hand drill, on the system described in my report of 1869, page 33. Without repeating the account there given, and the estimates of advantage attached to the system, it is sufficient to say, on Mr. Cassell's authority, that he has taken out from the Golden Chariot and Ida Elmore twice as much ore for the same amount of openings as was formerly done with common powder and large drills, while the cost of mining has been reduced at least one-third. All the leading mines of
. the district, following this wise example, now employ single-hand drills.
The secretary's report for the year ending February 1, 1870, gives the following information in regard to the business of the Golden Chariot: Receipts from bullion
$279, 381 Bills payable Other items..
34, 716 Cash on hand February 1, 1869..
372, 857 Expenditures ...
339, 559 including $109,503 for labor; $17,334 for supplies; $61,286 for milling; $14,895 for hauling.