J. H. (John Hanson) Beadle.

Western wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... online

. (page 58 of 62)
Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 58 of 62)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

must have one wall of that rock. The carbonic acid has been ab-


' sorbed by, and has changed the character of the ore, solid galena hav-
ing been changed to carbonates ; and mines are occasionally found in
which this process is not quite completed.

And here we may appropriately indulge in a little popular science.
The miner has his own name for each variety of ore known to him,
while the chemist, or metallurgist, has his; but for the commoner
varieties these names are the same, and are formed on a curiously con-
venient system. If the term ends in yde, ide, or id, it means a com-
bination of oxygen or some gas with the metal. Thus we have oxide
of silver, etc., and chloride of silver, a chemical union of chlorine and
silver, very rich and easily reduced, it being already in favorable com-
bination with salt. If the termination is uret, it means a union of the
actual substance with the silver, as sulphuret, a combination of sulphur
and silver; sulphuret of zinc, zinc and sulphur, etc. If it is ate, it
means the acid combined with the mineral, making an entirely new
compound; and of all these, carbonates of lead and silver are most
familiar to the miner, and generally most welcome, being so easily re-
duced. Of the carbonates of the Ophir District, it is said that they
" run through a smelter like molasses," and those of Leadville are re-
ported even more tractable, where there is lead enough in the com-
bination. Many mines there have an additional element of iron,
which is said to add to the ease of treatment. Galena, in miners'
language, simply means lead in the ore ; galeniferous, carrying lead,
and argentiferous carrying silver. The bulk of ore from the large ore-
bodies in Utah is simply argentiferous galena, and Gentile Utah is
often spoken of poetically as Utah Argentifera.

As aforesaid, the received opinion is that all carbonates were once
galena, or some other solid ore; and not very long ago, as nature
counts time. In the Emma Mine, Utah, while shoveling up carbon-
ates as loose as sand, one often comes upon a solid chunk of galena;
but in the Ophir District, the carbonates are bright and free from
other ores. A pile of ore just from some of the mines there looks
very like a mixture of sand and lime the chemical union is com-
plete. Galena is among the heaviest ores, and can nearly always be
reduced by ordinary smelting, the lead and silver in combination sink-
ing to the bottom, while the melted gangue, being lighter, rises and is
drawn off as slag. Of course the bullion so obtained is nearly all
lead, and the silver and lead must be separated by refining. Galena,
when sufficiently pure, crystallizes in beautiful cubes; those, when
crushed, break again into cubes, and so on indefinitely. In all the
vast work-house of nature I know of nothing more marvelous than the


crystallization of minerals. One forms a cube, another a hexagon,
another a tetrahedron, and still another a dodecahedron ; some com-
bine with faces at certain angles, and lines of cleavage parallel there-
with ; others at just half that angle, and still others in multiform fig-
ures for which geometry has no name, but all symmetrical beyond the
power of art to surpass. And no matter how broken, each crystal fol-
lows the law of its cleavage; the cube breaks into cubes, the hexagon
into hexagons, etc.

Sulphuret is the generalname of all silver ores in combination with
sulphur. They are generally rich, mostly in hard rock, and always
more or less rebellious. Nearly all the rich ores of eastern Colorado
are of this class. The combinations are almost endless, and the pres-
ence of zinc, iron, or copper pyrites, antimony, arsenic, etc., presents
a perplexing series of problems to the mill men. Sulphurets yield
from $200 to $10,000 per ton, one mine sometimes yielding several
different grades. Here and there on the face of an ore-seam are some-
times found little accretions of pure silver, Avhich miners speak of as
" the fat of the vein." It is supposed that there was more silver than
the other materials could hold in chemical union, so it overflowed in
these nibs, which hang on the face of the seam like leaf-lard. Ac-
cording to their purity, or the minerals mixed with them, such nibs
are known as wire silver, horn silver, ruby silver, silver glance, azurite
or tetrahedrite. A change of less than one per cent, in the accompa-
nying chemical will often change entirely the color of such ore.
Azurite is a combination of silver with blue carbonate of copper, and
yields anywhere from $500 to $10,000 per ton. Tetrahedrite is so
named from its crystallizing in tetrahedrons. Sulphurets of other
metals are constantly met with, and greatly increase the difficulty of
reduction. " Black-jack," or zinc-blend, a sulphuret of zinc and cop-
per, is a very troublesome combination. Chunks of it have been
found assaying $500 per ton, but no man is anxious to find it in his
mine for all that. It looks like a lump of black wax turned to vitre-
ous stone, and is spoken of as " horribly rebellious." I have seen a
lump of stuff from a sulphuret mine, no larger than my fist, which
was shown by assay to contain twenty different minerals. Iron pyrites
is a sulphuret of iron, protean in appearance, jocularly known as
fool's gold. Most of the reported discoveries in the eastern states
are due to this cheating mineral.

In conclusion it may be said that from the differences herein de-
scribed some important political consequences follow. First, that
placer mines are almost a curse to a country, while lodes requiring


deep mining are a permanent blessing. For the placers attract a
swarm of eager adventurers who hasten to exhaust the supply, often to
demoralize the country, and then abandon it, while lodes require a
vast outlay of capital and years of honest industry. The plant re-
quires from $20,000 to $100,000 in capital and labor, and no good
silver district is really developed in less than ten years, while for gen-
erations thereafter work goes on with improved methods. Thus, per-
manent towns and cities are built up, a good market is created, and
the adjacent lands are brought under high "cultivation ; trade is very
active, and local manufactures are brought into existence. A thousand
miners buy three times as much as a thousand farmers, for they pro-
duce nothing they can use. Thus the old placer-mining counties of
California are bankrupt and almost deserted, while the mineral devel-
opment of Utah has more than doubled the value of real estate, and
the mines of Colorado have made that State rich in' farming and
grazing. This distinction is worth considering if the reader thinks of
making a settlement in some of the mining territories.



MAY, 1869, was rendered memorable by the opening of the first
through railway line across the Continent; the spring of 1881 wit-
nessed the opening of the second ; but it passed almost unnoticed,
while that of 1869 was the occasion of a national jubilee. In a
former chapter the reader will find some account of the projected 35th
parallel road .and my journey over a portion of its line. The Northern
Pacific is of national fame. The Texas Pacific, or 32d parallel, road
was to run near the boundary between us and Mexico. But all these
were outdone by the Southern Pacific of California, which was started
to give San Francisco direct railroad connection with Arizona and
New Mexico, and once fairly started was pushed forward towards
Texas with amazing vigor. Meanwhile, the Atchison, .Topeka, and
Santa Fe line was pushed on from La Junta, Colorado, its objective
point being Guayamas, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Thus its line
crossed that of the California road, at an acute angle, in the Florida
Pass, New Mexico; and at that meeting they decided to make it one
line for through business. So the first train, from ocean to river, on
the new trans-continental, reached Kansas City almost unheralded
and unnoticed. It is but a question of a few years when both roads
will be completed to their original destinations, and the Northern
Pacific will be pushed through ; then four lines will connect us with
the Pacific, and nearly one-half of the Wild West be abolished.

Scarcely had the two roads touched their boundaries when the
mineral wealth of New Mexico and Arizona was shown to be great;
but other matters are of more immediate interest. First to be noted
beyond La Junta is Trinidad, and sixteen miles beyond it a tunnel
2,000 feet long, through which the railroad penetrates the Raton, over
which I staged with such difficulty^!! 1872. Here the formation is
carboniferous, and from immense mines coal is loaded on the cars at
eighty cents a ton. Thence straight southward to Las Vegas, near
the old stage line, the road running conveniently near to the great
Hot Springs, which have already acquired fame as a sanitarium.
From Galisteo a branch road runs up a canon to Santa Fe ; and so
the queer old city has a railroad at last, though I was positive, in

1872, from its position, that it never would have. From Albuquerque

MINING IN 1882. 587

a branch runs along the old Atlantic and Pacific line to a point nearly
a hundred miles west; so all that long dry way I journeyed with
United States mules, is now traversed by rail, and the sad-eyed
Zunis and strange old Pueblos are brought within four days ride
of Cincinnati! Whither shall the enterprising traveler now go for
wild adventure? From Albuquerque the road continues down the
Rio Grande over 100 miles and bears off to Florida Pass, where, as
aforesaid, it now connects with the California Pacific. Thence south-
ward it will continue so the sanguine projectors assure us down to
Mexico City, sending off branches eastwardly to El Paso, and west-
wardly to Guayamas. Already the work is being pushed rapidly
from the Mexican ends of these lines, and the long criticized unenter-
prising Spanish-Americans seem stirred into wonderful activity by the
Yankee railroad builders. These wonderful schemes, so near comple-
tion, almost force us into rhapsody; our most eloquent praise is a
plain statement of what they have done and are doing. The coffee
lands of Mexico are brought within a week's run of Boston; the
Orient is at our back door ; Australasia is our near neighbor.

From the San Francisco end of the Southern Pacific we run rapidly
southward, and soon emerge on the awfully barren sand plains and
red deserts of southeastern California. By common consent the
Mohave and Yuma Desert, running away up into Utah and Nevada,
is considered the most uniformly barren of any large tract in the Far
West. Making all possible deductions for oases and green vegan, it
contains at least 80,000 square miles of irreclaimable desert. A nar-
row line of faint green relieves the eye at Fort Yuma, where we cross
the Colorado, to Yuma City on the east side, and soon after enter on
the Gila Valley. This has an occasional oasis, but the Pueblos unite
in testifying that from the date of their oldest traditions moisture has
been decreasing and barrenness growing; and the local evidences
prove it, the country being thick-set with the ruins of abandoned
towns. First is the noted Casas Grandes, a vast pile of ruins with
form enough to show that it is the remains of many immense adobe
buildings all terraced and run together like those I described at
Moqui. Smaller ruins are found by hundreds; by digging in them
one can always find the floor of an old Aztec house, and under the
hearth one will almost always find human bones, showing that they
buried their dead there. In the Salt River valley are the remains of
a canal nearly a hundred miles long, which once brought water from
the Verde River to irrigate a large tract. Now the miners and pros-
pectors are rapidly developing a new civilization on the tombs of the



old, and in a score of districts new mines are opened. That part of
Final county north of the Gila is almost covered by mining districts,
among which the Globe and the Pioneer districts lead. In the


former is the noted Silver King, which is in many respects the most
remarkable mine in America.

Years ago, when the murderous Apaches held this region, an escap-
ing Mexican brought into Tucson a large piece of pure native silver,

MINING IN 1882. 589

which he said he broke from an immense outcrop as he toiled on his
devious way through the mountain passes. Great was the fever
thereat, and many loose-footed men wanted him to guide them back ;
but dread of the Apaches prevented. At length came a truce ; a rush
was made, the mine was found, and the Mexican's description proved
literally true. The ore was so rich that immense profits were made,
before machinery could be brought in, by simply picking it by hand,
sacking the best, and shipping it to San Francisco by mule-back and
freight- wagon. The ore is peculiar, and the formation a puzzle to one
who sees it for the first time. An expert sent from San Francisco to
report thereon, condemned the mine as a flyer that is, a mere freak
of nature, without sign of permanence; but it has since that time
yielded $1,200,000, and is still doing well. Globe City is new, but the
district has forty mines within six miles of a common center. The
town supports a newspaper and a branch telegraph down to the main
line ; and already a branch railroad is projected to connect this group
of mines, or rather this series of mining districts, with Tombstone and
other more southern districts, crossing the Southern Pacific and
traversing some good belts of timber.

The Southern Pacific follows the general course of the Gila for a
hundred miles or so to Maricopa, thence strikes straight southeast nearly
a hundred more to Tucson, thence eastward to the rocky San Pedro,
w r hich it crosses in the midst of savage grandeur and sandy desolation.
Here we will leave the railroad for awhile and stage it, southward, up
the San Pedro, to the really marvelous district of Tombstone. There
is enough even in the town to make a week's visit pass pleasantly if
not profitably. In fact, the disagreeable feature will be found in the
stage ride coming from the railroad station of Benson, about twenty-
six miles distant. Large numbers of heavy freight teams are con-
stantly coming and going, and every new road that the stage company
makes to avoid the dust and chuck holes is almost immediately appro-
priated, by the freighters. The jolting is almost severe enough to dis-
lodge a man's eyes from their sockets, while the dust is simply fright-
ful. A passenger alights from the coach with eyes, ears, and mouth
almost obliterated, while his hair and whiskers are turned to a creamy
white by the villainous powder known as alkali dust. He would not
be recognized by his own wife. There is an opposition stage, both
lines running a double daily, in addition to cages carrying baggage
and treasure. The fare is four dollars for the trip, and all the coaches
appear to run full. Eighteen passengers is not considered by any
means a large load.


The road follows up the San Pedro River bottom and bluffs on an
easy and imperceptible grade the entire distance. In places where the
road crosses the creek, the scene is pleasant and agreeable, as this
stream is the only living water the traveler will notice after leaving
Yuma, a distance of about three hundred miles. Arriving at night the
first impressions of the town are very favorable. The two long lines
of streets, including the cross streets, are brilliantly illuminated,
saloons particularly. They and the hotels run all night, while most
of the stores are open up to a very late hour. As in all new mining
camps, everybody is in a hurry to get rich, and the merchants form
no exception to the rule. They think it necessary to take down their
shutters at day-light in the morning and do not put them up again
until from nine to eleven P. M.

The town is located on a kind of " hog's back," with the principal
streets running parallel along the center on an almost even grade,
while on either side there is a gentle slope, making a system of sewer-
age easy of accomplishment. The majority of the buildings in the
center of the business portion, are all two-story, and quite a number
of new business houses are being erected, the material used being
adobe, with brick fronts and finishing. Although lumber is compara-
tively cheap, there being an abundance of timber in the mountains,
about thirty miles distant, where a sawmill is located, very little is
used to construct frame buildings, for, owing to the limited supply of
water now brought in from the river, about eight miles distant, it is
important to have fire-proof buildings. The mines on the ridge over-
looking the town have struck pure water, which will be brought into
reservoirs, giving an unlimited supply for all purposes. At present
the supply is barely sufficient for drinking purposes, and we doubt if
it would go around but for the innumerable saloons which furnish
beer and whisky at a bit (12| cents) a drink, the two bit (25 cents)
places being the exception.

The banking houses, merchandise and general business establish-
ments, are in a more prosperous condition. One bad feature of Cali-
fornia is omitted here entirely, and that is the stock-gambling board.
Nearly all the mining property is in the hands of corporations, and if
you want to buy stock you can see the property and get just what you
pay for. Money is more evenly distributed, there being none of that
terrible gathering up of all the loose change the community has for
the benefit of the wealthy mining stock manipulators.

One may safely say that the merchandise business of the town is in
the hands of old San Diego people, and the judiciary likewise. The

MINING IN 1882. 591

mines are owned in Boston, and the miners and prospectors come from
Nevada. So the place is pleasantly composite. At the time the town
site was located, no one supposed there was ore beneath. Now
miners work continuously under the street, and in the still hours of
the night you hear the constant exploding of giant powder blasts,
which is a trifle jarring to the nerves of the property owners on the
surface, whose claim to the ground is disputed by the mining locator.
There are half a dozen claimants to the ground. These conflicting
claims do not seem to seriously trouble the business men, who get the
best title they can and go ahead with their improvements. Possession
is the most valid claim. It was so in the case of a shoemaker here,
who, after paying three months rent to the supposed owner, on the
fourth collection day declined to make any further payments, stat-
ing that he had possession of the building and lot, also a shot-gun
receipt, and would not stand any annoyance from collectors or

The town is strictly American ; there is none of the Spanish ele-
ment. In fact, one seems to have passed entirely out of Arizona
when he reaches here. The streets are wide, nicely graded, and laid
out at right angles, with sidewalks in good repair. The hotels are
good, although small, and the attention and table are equal to any in
Los Angeles. Table vegetables are raised also in the neighborhood,
and do much to make the fare tempting as compared with other Ari-
zona towns, where everything is brought from Los Angeles. On the
river at Charleston, nine miles distant, is an ice machine, and every
morning the ice wagon goes its rounds, distributing a generous supply
of cooling solid. The price is seven cents per pound, but these people
have money and patronize the industry liberally. Two companies are
on hand wanting a city franchise for lighting the streets with gas and
electricity, and also one for a telephone system. When the matter of
the franchise is settled, the town will be lighted and telephoned more
in proportion to its population than any city on the coast. The busi-
ness men located here are ambitious and enterprising, and are willing
to pay for all the latest and most advanced improvements of modern
civilization. Concerning the mines which have made this town what
it is in two short years, and mapped out a great future, they are claimed
to be among the most extensive yet discovered. As yet this ore body
is only prospected enough to know that it will pay, but mining men
concede that in the few mines being worked they have probably six
years' ore in sight, and beyond that no one can tell the extent of it.
Years ago prospectors knew of rich deposits somewhere in this neigh-


borhood, and made desperate attempts to secure the prize, as can be
seen by the wreck of the old adobe building which is on the road to
Charleston, and which the miners built sixteen years ago as a common
rendezvous and fort of protection against the Apaches. It is here
that eleven of them perished so miserably by the hands of the red-
skins. The present locations do not appear to have been the objec-
tive point of these early prospectors, and the supposition is that other
and richer deposits are yet to be found to the south and west.

The bullion output for May, 1881, was set down at $482,106, but
had the whole amount of custom work at the mills been cleaned up
and added in, as the -returns show, the amount would have reached
$502,000. This result is enormous when one considers the limited
facilities, there being only six small mills on the river. All the ore had
to be hauled by team from nine to eleven miles. The hoisting works
and machinery are of a very primitive nature, mostly hand windlasses or
a whim and horse power. Only from a very rich quality of ore could
any such result be obtained. True, it is not like the Comstock
bonanza. The very rich streaks are small in extent, but the ore aver-
ages well and there is little or no waste. When a ton of ore is
hoisted to the surface it can all be put into the wagon and sent to the
mill, when it will yield from $95 to $150. It is easily mined. One
man, with the proper facilities, in one day of eight hours, will hoist to
the surface one ton of ore ready for the mill. This is speaking in a
general way of the average ore and what can be done when a mine is
being worked fair and square. There are about a thousand miners
employed, and the mines, for wages and milling expenses, disburse
about $125,000 per month. There is also quite an army of freighters,
blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and other laborers who follow on the heels
of the freight teams.

The surrounding country is both a farming and grazing district.
Beef cattle and farm produce are in demand. Prospectors are going
out daily. Capital is coming in and being invested. A destructive
fire occurred at Tombstone, June 22, 1881, causing a loss of $250,000.
Hundreds were rendered homeless. The fire department and officials
worked hard, buildings being pulled down by mule teams and men,
and the fire was checked. Much to the credit of Tombstone no panic
ensued, as is generally the case in such disasters.

So much for Tombstone ; and we have detailed its common life fully
because it is just now the objective point of thousands. Let us return
down the wild valley of the San Pedro, go on to the Gila, and thence
northeastward to scenes we visited in 1872. The first fact to attract

MINING IN 1882. 593

attention is the amazing difference in climate and vegetation between
this region and that north of the divide, in which we wandered ten
years ago. We are away down on latitude 32 and 34, and the
strange tropical and desert flora give us the idea of a new creation.
There are over one hundred varieties of the cactus, which is the plant
of all the far southwest. There is the cereus giganteus, which has at-
tained a height of sixty feet and a diameter of three ; the maguey, with
a bulbous root as large as a half bushel ; the hedge cactus, with which
Mexicans fence their fields ; the amole, used for soap, and many others.
All bear fearful thorns and some a most exquisite fruit. From the
maguey a very strong liquor is distilled, containing fourteen fights to
the gallon. A good table syrup is also made from this plant. There
is a great variety of flowers, and in the growing season the landscape
often presents a gorgeous sight. About two-thirds of Arizona is cov-
ered by mountains, fit only for grazing, timber, or mines; half the
other third is a complete desert, and still there are at least 2,500,000
acres of ^ood land lying in position to be reclaimed by irrigation.

Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 58 of 62)