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For a time, my opinion was very unsettled as to the actual amount of lead now annually produced in the district. The merchants of Galena, when the question was put to them, calculated the total in Wiskonsin and Illinois (where about nine-tenths of the lead is made) at from ten to twelve millions of pounds only. Mr. Legate, of Galena, formerly agent of the United States to collect the revenue from the lead-mines, thought that a full estimate. But I soon became convinced, even from a particular inquiry as to the amount actually produced at a very few furnaces, that this was far below the truth. I found, for instance, from actual returns, that the lead turned out from the furnaces at three diggings alone, (to wit, the Platteville, Snake, and Dubuque,) already exceeded ten millions of pounds. An estimate of the number of miners, collected from the best sources, multiplied by the probable amount of lead raised by each, also showed that the estimates made at Galena must fall very far short of the actual amount produced in this region.
Since my return, I have received several letters in reply to inquines ad. dressed to the most intelligent smelters throughout the district. These, and the personal inquiries I made in the course of the expedition, enable me to furnish, with considerable confidence, the following statement of the amount produced at thirty-four furnaces—not quite three fourths of the whole number which are at present at work in the district :
Statement exhibiting the amount of lead made at the smelting furnaces is
Iowa and Wiskonsin Territories, and the northwestern portion of the State of Illinois, in the year 1839, as reported by the smelters themselves, together with a list of the diggings from which each furnace is supplied.
Species of surnace.
700,000 Blast. 850,000 Cupola.
400,000 Reverbatory. 1,050,000 Reverbatory.
Pilling & Gregoirecook spring mines.)
| Vinegard .
(Supplied with ore from the Platteville mines.)
Craig 17 | Taylor
Hañ & Co. -
(Supplied from the Snake diggings.) Hamilton
(Supplied from Hamilton's diggings.) Drummond -
(Supplied from White-oak spring mines.)
(Supplied from Whitesides or Stumpgrove diggings?) McNulty - .
(Supplied from the Shellsburg diggings.)
(Supplied from Vinegar-hill diggings,
(All supplied from diggings near the State
(Supplied from Apple river diggings.)
In addition to the above, I have ascertained that there are at least twelve other smelters, (probably more,) whose furnaces are either in full operation, or doing an occasional business, namely: Meeker, on Blue river, Bailly, and Dowling, at Mineral Point; Palmer & Co., at Platteville; Smith & Co., near White-oak Springs ; Champion, at New diggings; Wann & Co., Patch diggings; Binsinger, at Hardscrabble diggings; and Webb & Co., Green, and Cheny, near Galena.
From these I have no authentic returns; though I have taken some pains, by letters and otherwise, to procure them.
Although many of them are doing a heavy business, yet they cannot, perhaps, safely be averaged as high as those from whom we have actual returns; namely, at 725,000 lbs. each. It might be safe, and is probably below the truth, to average them at half a million pounds each ; making, for the twelve, six millions of pounds.
This added to the amount in the foregoing table, gives, as the total of the lead produced in the year 1839, from the lead-mines of Iowa, Wiskonsin, and Northern Illinois, upwards of thirty millions of pounds.
This result was unexpected by me, yet cannot, I think, be far from the truth. The smelters, so far as I could judge, had no interest in decening me, and appeared frank and caudid in their statements.
Again : the number of miners in the district is variously estimated at tross two to four thousand ; not employed, however, on the average, probably more than half their time. The medium between the two estimates (say three thousanı) may be near the truth.
As to the average amount which each miner can raise per day, it is difñ. cult to estiinate it with accuracy.
One of the most experienced miners and smelters in the district writes to me: “Two men can raise something near five hundred pounds a day, from veins of average richness. Two men have raised as much as twenty thonsand pounds a day from the richest veins.”
At McKnight's diggings, near Mineral Point, three men (miners from Cornwall, England) were seen by one of our party at work on a rein of three inches thick, in the solid rock. This did not seem to be considered much more than an average vein ; and they were then raising,* oa the average, fitteen hundred pounds per day; that is, five hundred poucos each.
It would seem, then, to be a very low and safe estimate to calculate each miner's daily work, on the average, at one hundred and fifty pounds of ore.
Now, supposing that of the three thousand miners estimated to be at work in the district, one third are engaged in “prospecting," and other ucproductive preparations, and only two thousand actually employed in tis. ing ore, and that these two thousand work but one hundred and fifty d. 53 in each year; we have the following result :
Each miner will raise, annually, twenty-two thousand five hundred pounds of ore.
The two thousand miners will raise, annually, forty-five million poʻlids of ore; and this, at seventy per cent., which is rather below than alore the average yield of the galena of this district, will give thirty-one milion and a half pounds of lead, as the annual produce of these mines.
If this should still seem an overestimate, I may add a few ad litingal facts which came to my knowledge, regarding the yield of the Wiskorsin mines. Some of them are unparalleled in the history of mining.
From a spot of ground not more than fifty yards square, upwards of three millions of pounds of ore have been raised.t
A drift in Major Gray's diggings near Mineral Point, in a crevice twelve feet wide, was filled in with clay and ore. When I was there, nine cubic yards only of the contents of this crevice had been excavated; and out of that amount of excavated clay and ore, thirty-four thousand pounds of ore had been obtained.
At the new diggings near the source of the west branch of the Peccaton. nica, two men can readily raise two thousand pounds of ore a day, and these diggings are not more than twelve feet deep.:
* It may be remarked, that raising ore means not only excavating it, but also elevating it to the surface of the earth.
+ Communicated by Mr. Drummond, of White oak Springs, one of the most experienced * miners in the district; to whose kindness I am indebted for much valuable information
I The facility with which, in some locations, ore can be raised, is remarkable. Two ways of twelve and fourteen years old, were seen by us, near Mineral Point, at work, with a liar ynd lass and bucket. They had earned a hundred and filiy doilars in the last six monihs, buka they complained of having had “no luck!" in striking a productive lode.
Were ihe difficulties and labor and expense of raising the ore as grear here, as they n'T24 in the mining countries of Europe, I doubt whether, in the entire district, a single mine wood at present be found in successful operation.
At Hamilton's diggings, in township two, and range five east, of the fourth principal meridian, from two and a half to three million pounds of ore were raised from a four-acre lot, working to the water, which was to an average depth of twenty feet.
In township one, range one east, of the fourth principal meridian, five thousand pounds of lead ore have been regularly raised per day by two men. On section seventeen of this township, ten thousand pounds have been raised by two men in a day. At Shaw & Gennett's diggings, on sec. tion twenty-eight of this township, fifteen thousand pounds have been raised by two men in a day. On the northeast quarter of section thirty-one of this township, two men raised sixteen thousand pounds in a day. On the northeast quarter of section twenty-one, and the southeast of section thirty-two, two men raised regularly three thousand pounds a day. On the southwest quarter of section thirty-two, a lode excavated horizontally from the face of a cliff to a distance of only one hundred and fifty yards, yielded a million pounds of ore, which was carried out in wheelbarrows. And on the northeast quarter of section twenty-eight, ten million pounds of ore were raised from a single lode, hardly extending across the quarter section.*
These particulars were obtained on the spot, from the miners themselves, by one of my sub-agents.
In the above township there are seven furnaces at work. They probably average, in their turn-out, with the furnaces of which the produce has been given above. If so, this township alone produces annually more than five million pounds of lead.
An experienced smelter from an adjoining township writes to me, in re. gard to the above township: “ There are about one hundred and fifty miners generally at work on that township; but I suppose a thousand might find profitable employment.”
In the Snake diggings, not extending over more than a township, the number of miners was reported to me at about four hundred. Their produce is probably greater than that of the township just alluded to.
Upon the whole, I cannot resist the conclusion that the foregoing estimate of the amount of lead now produced in this favored region is as like. ly to be below as above the truth.f
* Some of these rich lodes sell for very high prices. Thomas Harrison struck a valuable lode in the Dubuque district. Aller raising ore to the amount of ten thousand dollars, he then sold a tract of len acres, comprising the lode, for sixteen thousand dollars, lo Messrs. Jones & Kilburn. From this small lot, these gentlemen cleared thirty ihousand dollars, over and above the sixteen thousand dollars of purchase-money.
Mr. Legate informed me that the produce of the Wiskonsin (then called Fever river) and Missouri mines, from the year 1823 10 1829, was as follows. As a Government duty was then levied on lead, this statement (based on the smelters' returns) cannot be imagined to exceed the truth:
Fever River Mines.
1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 1829
380,590 pounds. 1,374,962
910,380 « 1,205,920 . " 1,198,160 "
If, then, we assume the annual amount of lead obtained at thirty millions of pounds, we are furnished with the data of comparison between the produce of this region and that of the miuirg countries of Europe.
The amount of lead produced in the island of Great Britain, in the year 1828, was, according to a statement made by Mr. Taylor, in his “ Records of Mining," as follows: North of England mines
• 56,070,000 poucis. Derbyshire and Shropshire
· 10,080,000 Devonshire and Cornwall
- 4,200,000 Flintshire and Denbighshire
• 25,200,000 Scotland .
• 2,100,000 Ireland, Isle of Man, &c.
Total Great Britain and Ireland
- 98,700,000 pounds.
The exact amount of lead produced in the rest of Europe I have not, in my library, the means of ascertaining. But, in an article on lead, with many statistical details, given in the Penny Magazine, it is stated that - Eng. land produces, annually, nearly three times as much lead as all the other countries of Europe put together.” This would make the annual produce of the rest of Europe about thirty-three millions of pounds.
If these data be accurate, it follows: 1st, that the Wiskonsin lead region already produces nearly as much lead as all Europe, with the exception of England ; and, 2dly, that it produces nearly one-third as much lead as Eng. land, hitherto the great miner for the civilized world.
If such be its actual produce, it is difficult even to set a bound to its capabilities. A thousand obstacles have hitherto opposed its progress. The unsettled character of the country—some of its land not yet in market, and much of the rest engrossed by speculators; the migratory habits of the set. tlers; until within a few years, the Indian disturbances; and, more recently, the temptations offered by the high wages given in Illinois to laborers on the public works of that State : these, and many other causes, have deranged the regular working even of proved mines, and greatly retarded the discov. ery of others.
I have already quoted from a letter of an experienced miner, who, after stating that a hundred and fifty men were employed in a certain towuship, adds, “ a thousand might there find profitable employment."
Another gentleman, writing to me from Blue-river mines, (where probably the number employed does not exceed that engaged on the above town. ship,) remarks :“ There are mineral lands sufficient, already prored as such. to engage profitably a thousand more men in this section of the Territory."
But again : this expedition has furnished data regarding the depth and durability of the mines, more trustworthy than the mere opinions of any in. dividuals, however intelligent and experienced. In the southern and western portion of the district, the lead-bearing rock, by Dr. Locke's observations, has attained to a thickness of upwards of three hundred feet; gradually becoming thinner as it approaches the northern limits of the district. Now, even in that northern portion where it is thinnest, the mines are not yet, in any instance, exhausted. It may be safely inferred, that, in the south and west, the supply is, for many years, if not for ages to come, inexhaustible,