same number of stock than in a blue-grass country, as the grass makes
but one growth per year, not renewing itself after being eaten off.
From all these facts it will be apparent that Wyoming never can sus-
tain a very large population.
New Mexico ? Well, I must as candidly as may be admit that I was
rather disgusted with it â€” that is, for any thing else than mountains and
scenery.. Bear in mind that the central portions of New Mexico are
really older country than Ohio. Santa Fe was founded a hundred and
fifty years before Cincinnati. All the good land in the valleys of the
Rio Grande and its tributaries was long ago occupied, and the grazing
lands of the central section are taken up. West of the Rio Grande
the country is practically worthless to a man used to the system of
622 WESTERN WILDS.
living in Ohio. The Territory has all the faults of an old country,
and few of its virtues. As a stock-rancher you have but two chances
of success. The one adopted by most live Americans is to go in part-
nership with one of the nobility. If you have business ability and a
partner who can furnish the blue blood, respectability, local prestige
and land, you may in time become a capitalist, and marry ten or
twenty thousand sheep, with an incumbrance in the shape of a lady
whose priest will rule her, and her fiither insistf; on an ante-nuptial
contract that the children shall be reared in the " Holy Catholic fiiith."
The other plan is to go with money enough to buy a thousand sheep
and a herd-right â€” that is to say, be a capitalist yourself. But do n't
think of going to New Mexico to build up a fortune by hard work.
The common fellows there can work for fifty cents a day, and live
on jerked mutton and flour.
If you want to lead a wild harum-scarum sort of life for awhile,
free from social restraints, where chastity is not a requisite for 'good
society, and morals in general are somewhat relaxed. New Mexico is a
splendid place to sow your wild oats. As to the crop to be reaped, I
refer you to a very ancientT authority. But if you think much of
youi'self, better set up your sheep ranche in Colorado or Wyoming,
where there is not such an oppressive atmosphere of gerdefina^ and
where the owner of two sheep is still one of the boys, and can dance
with the daughter of the man who owns a thousand. In south-western
Arizona a progressive community has been built np of late years^ and
though the fertile area is small, there is still room for thousands more.
Colorado I have described at some length in a previous chapter. It
is, in my opinion, the most enlightened and pi*ogressive of all the fiir
western communit^ps; though I doubt if it can ever have the popula-
tion that Dakota will some day contain. Idaho I know very little
about, and of Montana practically still less. But it is universally
agreed that they are not agricultural Territories. There are valleys
in both which contain considerable good land, and large grazing
tracts ; but mining will be the leading interest of both for some time.
Taken as a whole, and allowing for every possible improvement in
methods of farming and reclamation of desert lands, the whole vast
interior, between longitude 100 and the Sierra Nevadas, can never
:iverage one acre in ten fit for the farmer; and not more than half the
rest is of any value for timber or grazing.
And can such a region ever be filled by prosperous States, which
shall rival those of the Mississippi valley? Never. All calculations
as to the shifting of political power, made on the basis of new States,
WHERE SHALL WE SETTLE 623
rich and populous, are sure to miscarry. That section has an area
greater than that of all the States east of the Mississippi ; but its pop-
ulation fifty years hence will not be greater than that of Massachu-
setts. Only in the Senate will the relative power of the East and
West be changed in the future ; and probably very little there. Col-
orado was only admitted aflÂ«r a ten years' struggle. Nevada ought to
be set back to a Territorial condition to-day, if there were any consti-
tutional way of doing justice. The cjhild is not born that will live to
see her with population enough for one Congressional district. Here
is a liberal estimate of the maximum population these divisions are
likely to have in the year 1900:
Colorado, ........ 250,000
Wyoming, . . 100,000
. Washington 125,000
New Mexico, ....... . 160,000
Montana, ....... . 100,000
Nevada, ........ 75,000
Arizona, .:..... . 50,000
Extraordinary discoveries may enable some one of the mining re-
gions to get ahead of the others, but the grand total can not be greater
than here set down; and only the most favorable contingencies can
make it so great. The influence which this may have upon our social
and national life opens a wide field for discussion. The good land at
the disposal of our Government is nearly exhausted. But a few more
years and there will be no more virgin soil awaiting the immigrant.
Then the half desert lands must be won with great toil, or we must
turn back and fill up the comers which have been overrun in our rush
for the best spots. Our surplus population will then have no rich
heritage to look to, where a homestead can be had for the taking.
The paternal farm in the East must be divided again and again, if all
the boys are to have a share. What will be the effect on our discon-
tented classes? Will it add a new strain to republican government,
and will the troubles which menace the old world monarchies then
come upon us and find us unprepared to treat them rightly? or is
there yet room in the Eastern States for us to grow harmoniously for
another century? These be momentous questions.
Certain theorists have further troubled themselves about the silver
supply ; and timid editors and politicians have suggested that if more
624 WESTERN WILDS,
bonanzas are discovered, silver will soon be " cheap enough to manu-
facture into door-hinges." To such I guarantee comforting proofs.
Let them invest heavily in undeveloped silver mines, and before they
get their money back they will- be convinced that silver is still a
precious metal â€” hard to get at and correspondingly valuable when
got. One Ohio editor says : " Suppose they should discover a mount-
ain of silver!" Suppose they should discover a mountain of ice-
cream in August! The one supposition is just as reasonable as the
other. In fact the latter phenomenon would violate fewer of the
laws of nature than the former. Unchanging law decrees that, even
in the richest mineral region, there must be many million times as
much dead rock â€” "attle," "rubble," and "country rock" â€” as silver-
bearing rock. Let silver permanently cheapen but 5 per cent., and
two-thirds of the mines in the world would cease to be profitable.
For another class there is comfort. Poet and romancer, as well
as hunter and tourist, have lamented that in so short a time the wild
West would be a thing of the past ; that soon all would be tame, dull
and common-place. Let them be reassured. The wild West will
continue wild for centuries. There will be a million square miles of
mountain, desert, rock and sand, of lonely gorge and hidden glen, of
walled basin, wind-swept caflon and timbered hills, to invite the tour-
ist, the sportsman and the lover of solitude. The mountain Terri-
tories will long remain the abode of romance; and "Western Wilds"
will be celebrated in song and story, while generation succeeds genera-
tion of " the men who redeem them."