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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]


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1 occurrence of roughing it
[Clear Hits]




BY and by I was smitten with the silver fever. “Prospecting
parties” were leaving for the mountains every day,
and discovering and taking possession of rich silver-bearing
lodes and ledges of quartz. Plainly this was the road to fortune.
The great “Gould and Curry” mine was held at three
or four hundred dollars a foot when we arrived; but in two
months it had sprung up to eight hundred. The “Ophir”
had been worth only a mere trifle, a year gone by, and now it
was selling at nearly four thousand dollars a foot! Not a
mine could be named that had not experienced an astonishing
advance in value within a short time. Everybody was talking
about these marvels. Go where you would, you heard nothing
else, from morning till far into the night. Tom So-and-So had
sold out of the “Amanda Smith” for $40,000—hadn't a cent
when he “took up” the ledge six months ago. John Jones
had sold half his interest in the “Bald Eagle and Mary Ann”
for $65,000, gold coin, and gone to the States for his family.
The widow Brewster had “struck it rich” in the “Golden
Fleece” and sold ten feet for $18,000—hadn't money enough
to buy a crape bonnet when Sing-Sing Tommy killed her
husband at Baldy Johnson's wake last spring. The “Last
Chance” had found a “clay casing” and knew they were
“right on the ledge”—consequence, “feet” that went begging
yesterday were worth a brick house apiece to-day, and seedy
owners who could not get trusted for a drink at any bar in the
country yesterday were roaring drunk on champagne to-day


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and had hosts of warm personal friends in a town where they
had forgotten how to bow or shake hands from long-continued
want of practice. Johnny Morgan, a common loafer, had gone
to sleep in the gutter and waked up worth a hundred thousand
dollars, in consequence of the decision in the “Lady Franklin
and Rough and Ready” lawsuit. And so on—day in and day
out the talk
pelted our
ears and the
waxed hotter
and hotter

I would
have been
more or less
than human
if I had not
gone mad
like the rest.
Cart-loads of
solid silver
bricks, as
large as pigs of lead, were arriving from the mills every day,
and such sights as that gave substance to the wild talk about
me. I succumbed and grew as frenzied as the craziest.

Every few days news would come of the discovery of a
bran-new mining region; immediately the papers would teem
with accounts of its richness, and away the surplus population
would scamper to take possession. By the time I was fairly
inoculated with the disease, “Esmeralda” had just had a run
and “Humboldt” was beginning to shriek for attention.
“Humboldt! Humboldt!” was the new cry, and straightway
Humboldt, the newest of the new, the richest of the rich, the
most marvellous of the marvellous discoveries in silver-land,
was occupying two columns of the public prints to “Esmeralda's”


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one. I was just on the point of starting to Esmeralda,
but turned with the tide and got ready for Humboldt. That
the reader may see what moved me, and what would as surely
have moved him had he been there, I insert here one of the
newspaper letters of the day. It and several other letters
from the same calm hand were the main means of converting
me. I shall not garble the extract, but put it in just as it appeared
in the Daily Territorial Enterprise:

But what about our mines? I shall be candid with you. I shall express
an honest opinion, based upon a thorough examination. Humboldt county
is the richest mineral region upon God's footstool. Each mountain range is
gorged with the precious ores. Humboldt is the true Golconda.

The other day an assay of mere croppings yielded exceeding four
thousand dollars to the ton.
A week or two ago an assay of just such surface
developments made returns of seven thousand dollars to the ton. Our
mountains are full of rambling prospectors. Each day and almost every
hour reveals new and more startling evidences of the profuse and intensified
wealth of our favored county. The metal is not silver alone. There are
distinct ledges of auriferous ore. A late discovery plainly evinces cinnabar.
The coarser metals are in gross abundance. Lately evidences of bituminous
coal have been detected. My theory has ever been that coal is a ligneous formation.
I told Col. Whitman, in times past, that the neighborhood of Dayton
(Nevada) betrayed no present or previous manifestations of a ligneous foundation,
and that hence I had no confidence in his lauded coal mines. I
repeated the same doctrine to the exultant coal discoverers of Humboldt. I
talked with my friend Captain Burch on the subject. My pyrhanism vanished
upon his statement that in the very region referred to he had seen
petrified trees of the length of two hundred feet. Then is the fact established
that huge forests once cast their grim shadows over this remote
section. I am firm in the coal faith. Have no fears of the mineral resources
of Humboldt county. They are immense—incalculable.

Let me state one or two things which will help the reader
to better comprehened certain items in the above. At this
time, our near neighbor, Gold Hill, was the most successful
silver mining locality in Nevada. It was from there that more
than half the daily shipments of silver bricks came. “Very
rich” (and scarce) Gold Hill ore yielded from $100 to $400
to the ton; but the usual yield was only $20 to $40 per ton—
that is to say, each hundred pounds of ore yielded from one
dollar to two dollars. But the reader will perceive by the


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above extract, that in Humboldt from one fourth to nearly
half the mass was silver! That is to say, every one hundred
of the ore had
from two hundred
up to about
three hundred
and fifty
it. Some days
later this same

I have spoken
of the vast and
almost fabulous
wealth of this region—it is incredible.
The intestines of our mountains are
gorged with precious ore to plethora. I
have said that nature has so shaped our
mountains as to furnish most excellent
facilities for the working of our mines.
I have also told you that the country
about here is pregnant with the finest
mill sites in the world. But what is the
mining history of Humboldt? The Sheba
mine is in the hands of energetic San
Francisco capitalists. It would seem that
the ore is combined with metals that render
it difficult of reduction with our imperfect
mountain machinery. The proprietors have combined the capital
and labor hinted at in my exordium. They are toiling and probing. Their
tunnel has reached the length of one hundred feet. From primal assays
alone, coupled with the development of the mine and public confidence in
the continuance of effort, the stock had reared itself to eight hundred dollars
market value. I do not know that one ton of the ore has been converted
into current metal. I do know that there are many lodes in this section
that surpass the Sheba in primal assay value. Listen a moment to the calculations
of the Sheba operators. They purpose transporting the ore concentrated
to Europe. The conveyance from Star City (its locality) to Virginia
City will cost seventy dollars per ton; from Virginia to San Francisco, forty
dollars per ton; from thence to Liverpool, its destination, ten dollars per ton.
Their idea is that its conglomerate metals will reimburse them their cost of


Page 197
original extraction, the price of transportation, and the expense of reduction,
and that then a ton of the raw ore will net them twelve hundred dollars.
The estimate may be extravagant. Cut it in twain, and the product is enormous,
far transcending any previous developments of our racy Territory.

A very common calculation is that many of our mines will yield five
hundred dollars to the ton. Such fecundity throws the Gould & Curry, the
Ophir and the Mexican, of your neighborhood, in the darkest shadow. I
have given you the estimate of the value of a single developed mine. Its
richness is indexed by its market valuation. The people of Humboldt
county are feet crazy. As I write, our towns are near deserted. They look
as languid as a consumptive girl. What has become of our sinewy and
athletic fellow-citizens? They are coursing through ravines and over
mountain tops. Their tracks are visible in every direction. Occasionally a
horseman will dash among us. His steed betrays hard usage. He alights
before his adobe dwelling, hastily exchanges courtesies with his townsmen,
hurries to an assay office and from thence to the District Recorder's. In the
morning, having renewed his provisional supplies, he is off again on his
wild and unbeaten route. Why, the fellow numbers already his feet by the
thousands. He is the horse-leech. He has the craving stomach of the
shark or anaconda. He would conquer metallic worlds.

This was enough. The instant we had finished reading
the above article, four of us decided to go to Humboldt. We
commenced getting ready at once. And we also commenced
upbraiding ourselves for not deciding sooner—for we were in
terror lest all the rich mines would be found and secured
before we got there, and we might have to put up with ledges
that would not yield more than two or three hundred dollars
a ton, maybe. An hour before, I would have felt opulent if
I had owned ten feet in a Gold Hill mine whose ore produced
twenty-five dollars to the ton; now I was already annoyed at
the prospect of having to put up with mines the poorest of
which would be a marvel in Gold Hill.