banks of rivers and streams where the water is free, or else the water is con-
veyed to them by a flume from some neighboring ditch and sold at a price
which is generally the result of special agreement.
In the case of steam mills the fuel is always a principal item of expense.
Wood either pine or oak is universally employed, and costs from $2 to $4 50
and even $5 per cord. Oak, when the two can be obtained and are equally
convenient of access, generally costs one-third more than pine and is regarded
as being nearly twice as valuable for steam purposes. The mean amount of
fuel consumed in the steam quartz mills of California is not far from 0.164 cord
for each ton stamped. The prices paid for labor in the mining towns is still
very high, and in many cases operates as an effectual barrier to the working of
some quartz mines. First class miners receive from $3 to $3 50, and in some
cases as high as $3 75 per day, while ordinary laborers receive from $2 to $2 50.
In the milling of quartz the item of labor is generally from 60 per cent, to 75
per cent, of the total expense. In mining the proportion which this item bears
to the whole cost is much greater, so that it is easy to perceive to what an ex-
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, 49
tent a reduction of wages would operate in favor of the quartz mining interest
of this coast.
The mercury that is used in the process of amalgamating is derived entirely
from the California mines, itnd generally costs the miner about sixty-five cents
per pound ; very little, however, is lost in the mills when proper care is observed,
and this item of expense is insignificant, for it rarely exceeds six ounces for each
ton of quartz treated, and frequently falls below this amount.
The average cost of milling quartz in the various mills of California may be
stated as follows :
In water mills, when water is free $1 22 per ton of 2,000 pounds.
In water mills, when water is purchased 1 60 per ton of 2,000 pounds.
In steam mills 2 14 per ton of 2,000 pounds.
It is very difficult to state, even approximately, what is the present average
yield of the quartz from the California mines. It is probable, however, that it
has not varied much within the last five years, and in 1861, taking the returns
from those mines which were at that time believed to be profitable concerns, it
was at the rate of $18 50 per ton. The two extremes were a mine in Grass
valley, which was yielding at the rate of $60 per ton, and another at Angels,
in Calaveras county, where the quartz only paid $5, and was still being worked
at a small profit.
I remain, very respectfully, yours,
J. Ross BROWNE, Esq., Statistical Commissioner.
CONDITION QF GOLD AND SILVER MINING ON THE PACIFIC COAST.
1. Decrease of yield. 2. Export of treasure from California. 3. Receipts from northern
and southern mines. 4. Comparison of receipts and exports. 5. Quartz yield increasing.
6. Uncertainty in quartz mining. 7. Professor Ashburner's statistics. 8. Esmond's
statistics. 9. Pulverization of quartz. 10. Amalgamation of gold. 11. Sulphurets and
concentration. 12. Chlorination. 13. Gold in loose state. 14. Placers. 15. Cement
mining. 16. Hydraulic mining. 17. River mining. 18. The Haquard quartz mine. 19.
Sierra Buttes mine. 20. The Allison mine. 20^. The Eureka mine. 21. Smartsville
Blue Gravel Company's mine. 22. Profits of mining generally. 23. Difficulties of
getting good claims. 24. Comstock lode, the most productive in the world. 25. Corn-
stock mining companies. 26. Quajtz mills in Nevada. 27. The pan. 28. The Wheeler
pan. 29. The Varney pan. 30. Knox's pan. 31. Hepburn pan. 32. The Wheeler
& Randall pan. 33. Estimated yield of various mines. 34. Assessments levied. 35.
The Gould & Curry mine. 36. The Ophir mine. 37. The Savage mine. 38. The
Yellow Jacket mine. 39. The Crown Point mine. 40. The Hale & Norcross mine.
41. The Imperial mine. 42. The Empire mine. 43. Productive mines of Reese river.
44. Yield of various silver districts. 45. Improvements in silver mining.
1. DECREASE OF YIELD.
The first fact in the condition of gold mining in California is that the yield
is and for the last thirteen years has been decreasing. We know this by the
concurrent testimony of the miner, by the^decrease in the traffic of crude
bullion, and by the decline of the exports of gold. No record is kept of the
amounts taken from the mines, and our best evidence in regard to the produc-
H. Ex. Doc. 29 4
50 RESOURCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES
tion is furnished by the reports of the receipts and shipments by express and
steamer. From these we can get an approximation sufficiently near to serve
all general purposes. The gold yield of California reached its culminating
point in 1853, and the exportation of treasure, which rose in that year to
$57,000,000, gradually fell until 1861, when it was $40,000,000. Then the
silver of Nevada and the gold of Idaho began to come in, and the amount of
the shipments rose again.
2. THE EXPORTATION OF TREASURE FROM CALIFORNIA.
The following table shows the amount of treasure manifested for exportation
from San Francisco :
1849 $4, 92 1 , 250
1850 ..... 27, 676, 346
1851 42, 582, 695
1 852 46, 588, 434
1853 57, 330, 034
1854 51, 328,653
1855 45, 182, 631
1856 48, 880, 543
1857 48, 076, 697
1858 47, 548, 025
1859 47, 649, 462
1860 42, 203, 345
1861 40, 639, 080
1862 42, 561, 761
1863 46, 071, 920
1864 55, 707, 201
1865 44, 984, 546
Total 740, 832, 623
It is well known, however, that this sum is far less than the total production
of the coast. In the first place about $45,000,000 must be added for the amount
of gold and silver now in use in the Pacific States and Territories for currency ;
that amount being the estimate made by experienced bankers.
A second allowance must be made for gold jewelry and silver plate made in
the country, and for specimens of nuggets and rich ores, the value of which
may be $5,000,000. Many of the miners in remote camps bury their gold
dust until they are ready to return to the Atlantic coast, and $5,000,000 may
be laid by in that manner. But the greatest variation between the production and
the manifested export was caused by the custom, common among passengers
bound eastward, of carrying their dust or coin on their persons, so that no one
knew how much they took. Thus there is no manifested export for 1848, and
less than $5,000,000 for 1849, and less than $28,000,000 for 1850, while the
actual production and exportation of those years was about $100,000,000. We
can safely put down the amount carried away in sixteen years unmanifested at
$200,000,000, and by this calculation we shall have a total production of about
$1,000,000,000 from the coast up to the end of 1865. Of this sum all has
come from the mines of California, save about $100,000,000 contributed by
Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, and British Columbia. The
accounts, however, of the contributions from these States and Territories have
not been accurately kept, with the exception of Nevada, so it is impossible to
give any precise statement of them.
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
3. RECEIPTS FKOM NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN MINES.
The express company of Wells, Fargo & Co. transport nearly all the treasure
produced on the coast, and they could, from their books, show the shipments
of coin and bullion from every large mining town west of the Rocky mountains ;
but they have considered it advisable to allow the publication of the receipts of
treasure at San Francisco only from the principal districts since 1860.
The following table shows the receipts of treasure, coined and uncoined, from
the northern and southern mines of California :
$26, 346, 431
28, 138, 021
36 292 723
3 841 088
1864 * ...
22, 804, 677
6 858 153
29 662 830
24 557 570
6 428 960
30 986 530
Of the treasure thus received at San Francisco, about $4,000,000 annually is
in coin, leaving the remainder to indicate the value of the dust and bars.
The "northern mines," as mentioned in the above table, include all those
districts which send their treasure to San Francisco by way of Sacramento, or,
in other words, all the interior of the State north of latitude 38 30', while the
"southern mines" include those districts which send their treasure by way of
Stockton. To express it differently, the term "northern mines," as here used,
means the counties Siskiyou, Shasta, Trinity, Plumas, Butte, Lassen, Sierra,
Yuba, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento, and parts of Calaveras and
Amador, while the term "southern mines" means Tulare, Fresno, Inyo, Kern,
Stanislaus, Mono, Mariposa, Tuolumne, and parts of Calaveras and Amador.
The extension of the railroad from Sacramento to the vicinity of Placerville, in
1863 and 1864, drew to Sacramento some trade that previously went to Stock-
ton. The receipts from the southern mines show a marked and steady decrease.
During the first nine months of 1866 the receipts from the southern mines were
Receipts from Nevada and the northern coast.
The receipts from other places are the following :
$2, 275, 256
6, 247, 047
12, 486, 238
2, 156, 612
1864 ... .
15 795 585
8 052 968
15 184 877
7 495 766
1 709 390
The "northern coast" means those mines which send their treasure to San
Francisco by ocean steamers plying to ports of Northern California, Oregon,
and Vancouver island. The term "foreign ports" excludes Victoria, and in-
cludes Mazatlan, Guaymas, La Paz, Honolulu, China, and Japan. San Fran-
cisco stands on a long peninsula, and all the traffic with the gold and silver
mining regions is done across water. The yield of the northern mines is
brought by the Sacramento steamers; the yield of the southern mines by the
Stockton steamers; the yield of the northern coast by the northern coast
steamers, and the imports frorr foreign ports are brought by other vessels.
RESOURCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES
The sources of the receipts are classified according to the vessels in which
they are brought. These receipts are, however, not all in the precious metals
as they come from the mines and mills, but portions are in coin.
Thus the coin included in those receipts was $9,363,214 in 1861, $5,593,421
in 1862, $6,383,974 in 1863, $5,743,399 in 1864, and $4,961,922 in 1865.
No accounts have been kept of the coin sent to the interior; but all this coin
received must have gone from San Francisco, which has the only mint of the
coast, and is the point at which nearly all the passengers and treasure arrive.
4. COMPARISON OF RECEIPTS AND EXPORTS.
The following figures show the exports, the receipts, and the difference be-
tween exports and receipts for the last five years :
$40, 639, 080
$2 752 680 gain.
42, 561 , 761
6 813 701 "
52, 953, 96J
55, 707, 201
55, 228, 907
478 794 loss.
44, 984, 546
55 467 573
10 483 027 gain
The total amount of coin receipts for the five years was $32,045.928; and
the excess of receipts over exported during the same period was $25,952,655.
A large part of the coin received must have belonged to the regular circulation
of the country, going and coming with the current of trade. The receipts of
treasure at San Francisco during the first nine months of 1866 were $3,000
less than in the -corresponding period of 1865.
The year 1862 was unfavorable to mining in California because of a great
flood, and 1863 because of a great drought; and some special unexplained in-
fluence may have operated to reduce the production and shipment in 1865; but
the annual gold yield of California cannot now be safely estimated at more than
$27,000,000. Several millions of each year's produce of the precious metals
may be retained on the coast for purposes of currency, ornaments, and table-
5. QUARTZ YIELD INCREASING.
The yield of the quartz mines is increasing slowly, as we know by the gen-
eral testimony of the miners and by the increase of quartz mills ; but there are
no statistics to show the rate of increase. Although some mines have paid
steadily at about the same rate for the last ten years, the business generally is
very uncertain. Thus it appears from a report made by Mr. Eemond, State
geological surveyor, that of sixty-three mills built in TuoJumne and Mariposa
counties, between the Merced and Stanislaus rivers, thirty-eight were not running
when he visited them between August and November, 1865, and in many in-
stances the veins had ceased to yield quartz rich enough to pay. And so it is
in every part of the State where quartz mills have been built a considerable
portion of them have been abandoned as very unprofitable investments. And
yet every week new and valuable veins are discovered, and they cannot be left
unwoiked ; and though many quartz miners fail, yet others are deriving princely
revenues from their claims.
Grass valley, the chief centre of the quartz mining of California, is becoming
richer every year. It is safe to estimate that the capital invested in quartz
mines* and mills is yielding an average profit of twenty per cent, per annum, and
that the average yield is at least three dollars per day for the men regularly at
WEST OP THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 53
work on mines which have been fairly opened. There are in the State a multi-
tude of men engaged nominally in quartz mining who really spend much of their
time in prospecting and lounging about, unwilling to work hard for ordinary
wages, but preferring to ramble over the country in the hope of striking a for-
tune. As to the well-known mines, the yield on some of them is more than
twenty dollars per day to the hand the year round.
6. UNCERTAINTY IN QUARTZ MINING.
There are certain elements of uncertainty in quartz mining not found in farm-
ing or manufacturing. The farmer, on looking at the soil, knows that it will
produce grain enough to support him ; he can ascertain precisely what it will
cost him to transport his grain to a market, and so can calculate how much
money he will receive from an ordinary crop. There is a possibility of a great
drought or a great blight, but he has, perhaps, a little capital as a reliance in
such a case, and he makes his estimates on the basis of an average season. If
he cannot afford to risk anything, he does all his work with his own hands, and
he cannot lose more than his time.
The manufacturer is uncertain about the price which he must pay for the raw
material, but he knows the world will have the goods, and will pay as much to
him as to anybody else, and if he can manufacture a little cheaper than others
he is certain of his profit. If he is incompetent to manage the business success-
fully, some one else can afford to buy him out at the cost of the building and
machinery and make it pay. When a manufacturing establishment is once
erected by a person of judgment and experience, it is presumed that the business
will go on steadily for generation after generation. The supply of the raw ma
terial and the demand for the manufactured article, at least if the goods are not
of the sort required by fickle fashion, will remain constant.
But with gold mining it is different. Auriferous quartz lodes have paying
quantities of metal only in spots or streaks. The law of the distribution of the
precious metals in veins is yet unknown. The quartz may be traced for miles,
but only here and there will it pay to work. No mineral lode anywhere is
worked, I believe, with much profit for more than two continuous miles, and it
is seldom that the pay-rock extends more than one thousand feet along a vein.
The great quartz lode of Mariposa, called sometimes the mother vein of Califor
nia, has been traced, it is supposed, for thirty miles or more ; at least croppings
of a large lead of the same quality of quartz, nearly in a straight line, ^re seen
at various points between Bear valley, in Mariposa county, and Angels, in Cal-
averas county ; and it is assumed that these croppings all belong to the same
lode. In some places this vein is very rich, but the rich spots are not long, and
are far apart, and in the intervals the rock is nearly or entirely barren. The
miner may find quartz containing ten dollars to the ton, and he knows if the
supply is abundant he may make a fortune from his claim ; but to explore the
lode requires a large capital, and there is no certainty of any return. The rock
is too poor to work without a mill, and there is not enough in sight to justify the
erection of a mill. If he takes the risk, and the pay-rock is eoon exhausted, his
mill, in that position, becomes worthless, and he loses the cost of all his frame-
work, roads, and ditches, which, with the transportation, is frequently greater
than the cost of the machinery proper. The manufacturer knows that his sup-
ply of cotton, wool, iron, leather, or wood, will not fail altogether, and if it be-
comes scanty he can raise his price so that his work will still be profitable ; and
the farmer knows that his soil will produce grass and grain as long as he lives ;
but the quartz miner does not know that the supply of his pay-rock will keep
steady, and if it runs short he cannot expect the price of the precious metals to
rise so that he can sell his produce for a higher pace per pound.
There is, again, a great diversity in the facilities for quartz mining at different
54 RESOURCES OF STATES AND TERRITORIES
places. The farmer or the manufacturer usually goes into a level country with
open roads, and after ascertaining the distance to the market and the cost of trans-
portation, he can decide whether he can afford to go into business. Perhaps he
would find fifty places within a range of ten miles, all equally good for his farm
or his factory. But with the miner the case is different. The mines are usually
found in the mountains, where there are no roads, water is not conveniently ac-
cessible, and wood is scarce. The rock in one part of the lode is hard, in another
soft; in one there is much sulphuret of iron, in another little. It is relatively
cheaper to work a wide streak of pay rock, other things being equal, than a nar-
row one. The mill may be far or near; it may be above the level of the mine,
or below it; the water for washing the pulverized rock may be obtainable for
only part of the year, and the gold may be found in thick masses so that the
workmen can conveniently pilfer considerable quantities. Many of the mills
are in secluded places, where men of wealth do not like to live, and thus the
property is put in charge of hired men, who lack the zeal and care of a pro-
prietor. These are some of the points in which there are serious variations. It
may safely be said that a farmer owning a hundred acres of rich soil on a prairie
within twenty miles of any large town of Illinois is certain of being able to
make a very comfortable living ; but a miner with a vein of auriferous quartz
yielding ten dollars to the ton, within ten miles of a California town, is not cer-
tain of anything until he has examined the vein, its position, its size, the char-
acter of the vein-stone and accompanying minerals, and the proximity and quan-
tity of wood, besides a number of other particulars.
These are some of the diversities of circumstances which beset quartz mining
in different places, and render it impossible to give a statement of the expenses
of taking out rock, building a mill, and reducing the ore, applicable to the ma-
jority of the mines. It is useless to attempt to convey any precise idea about
matters -in which the variations are so great between the workings of different
mines, and between the workings of the same mine at different times. All that
can be done is to collect the facts in regard to the operations of the mines and
mills of which we have reports, so as to show the range.
7. PROFESSOR ASHBURNER'S STATISTICS.
In 1861 Professor TV. Ashburner, connected with the State geological survey,
prepared a tabular statement of the operations of the principal quartz mills then
running in California. Of these there were four in Mariposa county, eight in
Tuoluinne, three in Calaveras, seven in Amador, three in Eldorado, two in
Plumas, two in Sierra, and nine in Nevada thirty-eight in all.
It appears from his table that in seven of the mills the stamps weighed 400 and less
than 500 pounds each; in eight mills the weight was 500 and under 600 pounds;
in eight the weight was between 600 and 700 pounds ; in eight it was 700 and
less than 1,000 pounds ; in two it was 1,000, and in one 1,500.
The height to which the stamp was raised when allowed to fall varied from
eight to fourteen inches. In ten mills the height was ten inches ; in six, twelve
inches ; in five, fourteen inches ; in four, thirteen inches ; in one, eleven inches ;
in one, eight inches' ; in one, nine inches.
In thirteen mills the speed of the blows was from sixty to sixty-five inclusive
per minute ; in ten mills it was from fifty to fifty-eight ; in three mills it was
from forty to forty-eight ; in three mills it was seventy ; in three mills it was
eighty ; and in one mill it was thirty-two per minute.
In six of the steam-mills the consumption of wood for ten tons of ore crushed
was from a cord to a cord and a half; in eight mills it was from a cord and a
half to two cords ; in two mills it was from two to three cords ; in three mills
it was less than a cord ; in one mill it was over three cords, and in another five
The loss of mercury is reported for twenty-nine mills, and in two the loss is
WEST OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS. 55
less than a pound in working one hundred tons of quartz ; in twenty-one the
loss is less than a pound in working ten tons ; and in six the loss is over one
pound in working ten tons. The lowest loss is seven pounds in working one
thousand tons, and the yield of the rock there is reported to be $25 per ton, and
the highest is one hundred and ninety-eight pounds for one thousand tons ; and
in that case the rock is reported to yield $17 14 per ton. The general rule is,
however, that the higher the yield of gold, the greater the loss of quicksilver per
ton, because more must be used.
The cost of extracting the quartz is reported for twenty-eight mines. In
eight, it is $2 and less than $3 ; in four mines it is $3 and less than $4 ; in two
mines it is $4 and less than $5 ; in five mines it is $5 and less than $6 ; in three
mines it is $6 ; in two mines it is less than $2 ; in three mines it is between $7
and $14; in one mine it is $15; in another $20 ; and in another $26.
The average yield per ton was $5 and less than $10 in four mines ; $10 and
less than $16 in eleven; $16 and less than $55 in five; between $25 and $40,
inclusive, in seven ; between $50 and $75 in four, and $80 in one.
In seven mills the cost of stamping per ton was 50 cents and less than $1 ;
in seven $1 and less than $1 50 : in five $1 50 and less than $2 ; in four $2
and less than $3 ; in three $3 and less than $4.
In thirteen mills the total cost of treatment (which includes crushing, amal-
gamation, and all the handling after the delivery of the quartz at the mill, and
loss of quicksilver) was $2 and less than $3 per ton; in seven mills it was $1
and less than $1 50 per ton ; in four mills it was over $1 50 and less than $2 ;
in two mills it was less than $1 ; in five mills it was between $3 and $4; and in
three mills it was respectively $4 59, $6 27, and $8 31. The cheapest tr^at-
ment was that of the Badger mine, in Amador county, where the cost was only
67 cents per ton.
a ESMOND'S STATISTICS.
In the months of August, September, October, and November of the year
1865, Mr. A. Remond, in the service of the State geological survey of Califor-
nia, visited all the quartz mines and mills in operation, or that had been in op-
eration, in those portions of Tuolumne and Mariposa counties lying between the
Merced and Stanislaus rivers. The following is a list of the mines and mills
thus visited :
No. Mine. Mill.
1. French Mary No mill.