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Independent of this abundant mineral treasure in lead, there are reported to exist rich supplies of copper, iron, and zinc ores, at present worked io a very limited degree.
Sone general idea of the purity of the copper ore of Wiskonsin may be derived from the fact mentioned by Dr. Owen, that it yields " from onefifteenth to one-third more than the celebrated mines of Cornwall, England."
The value of the lead-mines is rendered unequal from sundry causes, and depends upon the dimensions of the vein, its depth and extent, the richness of the ore, the facility of dislodging and raising it to the surface, the comparative cost of conveying the ore from the mine to the furnace, (which, for the convenience of procuring fuel, may be at a greater or less distance from the mine,) and thence to the depot for shipment to market. From the operation of all which causes, it will be readily perceived that it is next to impossible to affix any general present value to the lands upon which mines have already been opened, and much less to those that remain to be discovered and fully developed ; and many instances which illustrate this fact will be found under the head of “ Statistics of the lead region," connected with the report.
It appears that the lead-bearing rock covers nearly the whole surface of the region examined by the geologist, but that the present discoveries are confined within narrow limits; and the geological indications seem to warrant the belief in the existence of numerous inexhaustible mines where no actual discovery has yet been made. Hence a very important and, indeed, insuperable difficulty exists in determining what lands shall be treated as mineral lands, under existing laws, unless some mode be prescribed by law for that purpose, which shall be progressive in its ope. ration.
There is no doubt that, throughout the region where the lead-bearing rock abounds, there is a very large proportion of land which is principally valuable for agricultural purposes; and that even within the limits where actual discoveries of lead have been made, and mines worked to a greater or less extent, there are known to be lands wherein the mineral exists in quantities so small as to render them more profitable for agricultural than for mining purposes.
It will be perceived that the explorations which have so far been made, pursuant to the resolution, have been confined particularly to the surveyed lands in Illinois, Iowa, and Wiskonsin, where lead mineral was supposed to exist, as the time allowed for this purpose did not admit of the exam. inations being further extended, and particularly as the surveyed lands would be the first operated upon by any plan for the disposal of the leadmines which Congress might see fit to prescribe by law. But it is known, from various official sources, that large districts of country, containing valuable deposites of lead and copper ore, exist in the Northwestern Territory, between the Missouri river and Lake Superior, a part of which it is designed to have surveyed for market, under the general appropriation for surveying for the present year; any provision of law, therefore, for the disposal of mineral lands, differing from that of other public lands generally, would render it necessary to provide, at the same time, a mode by which the tracts containing mineral may be ascertained and discriminated from other lands; and such examination, with little additional expense, might be so extended as to embrace all public lands remaining to be brought into market, at least in those districts where valuable
metalliferous deposites are suspected to exist; and the outlay would, it is believed, be abundantly repaid by the early sale and settlement of the lands, although no further advantages were to accrue.
The observations made by the deputy surveyors are necessarily restricted to the mineralogical indications on the immediate lines of the public sur. veys, and are consequently of little value as regards the intermediate lands.
The prices paid for surveying are not sufficient to warrant the expectation that, even were the deputy surveyors possessed of the requisite science and practice, their mineralogical observations in the midst of their survey. ing labors could be made with sufficient minuteness for all useful purposes.
The only efficient means that occur to me, whereby to obtain the inform. ation requisite to discriminate mineral lands from those valuable exclusively for purposes of agriculture, is the appointment, by law, of an officer well skilled in the sciences of geology and mineralogy, with authority to employ the necessary assistants from time to time, to explore all the public lands wherein minerals are suspected to exist, which have been surveyed, or are in process of survey; and to inake reports that will enable the land officers to identify the same on the township plats of survey, and reserve them from sale accordingly.
It will be seen that Dr. Owen, in his analyses of the soils of the district of country explored, reports as the result thạt he “knows of no country in the world, with similar mineral resources, which can lay claim to a soil as fertile and as well adapted to the essential purposes of agriculture."
Believing that it would be a useful accompaniment to the report, I have caused to be prepared connected maps, in sheets marked A to I inclusive, of the townships explored in Iowa and Wiskonsin, on a scale sufficiently large to admit of receiving thereon all the various annotations of mines, diggings, settlements, &c. exhibited by the geologist, on numerous detached township plats; and beg leave to submit them in lieu of such detached plats.
To avoid further delay, this report is presented in advance of the plan for the disposal of the public mineral lands called for by the resolution, yet in process of preparation, and which will shortly be laid before you.
I flatter myself that the propriety of this course will be approved, by reason of the essential bearing which the very important information now fur. nished will be found to have in enabling Congress the more advisedly to pass upon such a plan when submitted.
In conclusion, I would beg leave to invite attention to the various interesting illustrations and maps connected with the report; and, concurring with Dr. Owen in opinion, that the publication of them is indispensably requisite to a correct understanding of the report itself, would therefore respectfully recommend their publication. All which is respectfully submitted.
· JAS. WHITCOMB, Cornmissioner. Hon. LEVI WOODBURY,
Secretary of the Treasury.
The accompanying documents are as follows :
Dr. Owen's letter of 2d April, 1840, transmitting his report.
Dr. Owen's statistics, No. II.
the same, between Nos. IV and V.
Also, the following in separate bundles, labelled as follows : Geological maps Nos. I, II, and III, referred to in Dr. Owen's report. Geological maps and sections, magnetic charts, &c. (ten in number,) referred
to in Dr. Locke's report, forming a part of Dr. Owen's report. Connected maps of the township plats in Iowa, accompanying Dr. Owen's
report, marked A to E, inclusive. Connected maps of the township plats in Wiskonsin, accompanying said re
port, marked F to I, inclusive.
New HARMONY, INDIANA, April 2, 1840. Sir: I have the pleasure of transmitting to you, by this post, my report on the mineral lands of lowa, Wiskonsin, and Northern Illinois, with the accompanying documents, completed.
In doing so, permit me to invite the attention of the department to some of the principal results imbodied therein.
1. An inspection of the chapters on the “geological character” and on the “lead-mines” of the surveyed district, will show its close resemblance, both in the character of its rocks and in its geological position, to the cele. brated mining district of the north of England, the most productive lead region in the known world.
2. The chapter on the statistics of the lead mines" affords proof that, even under the numerous disadvantages to which this American lead region has hitherto been subjected, it probably produces at this moment nearly as much lead as the whole of Europe, with the exception of Great Britain alone; and that it has indisputable capabilities of producing as much lead as all Europe, Great Britain included.
3. The chapter on copper ore," and the appended analysis, prove that the copper ore of Wiskonsin is richer and more valuable than the copper ore of Cornwall, the greatest copper district in Europe, or the world ; exceeding that ore in its yield by from one-fifteenth to one-third ; and that this ore is found in abundance, and can be raised with the same expense as lead ore.
4. That zinc is also abundant, and the zinc ores of excellent quality.
Thus, that the materials for the manufacture of brass exist in profusion over the district.
5. That iron ore, equal in quality to the Tennessee ores, is found throughout the district in such quantity, that iron-works, to any desirable extent, might profitably be established there; and, upon the whole, that the district surveyed is one of the richest mineral regions, compared to its eflent, yet known in the world.
The chapter on "soils" also shows that, unlike most other mineral regions, it is fertile, and capable of yielding to the farmer a liberal reward for his labor.
I think it probable that in every township of the tract marked off on the chart as the productive lead region, valuable and productive lodes of lead will be discovered.
The report is accompanied, as my instructions required, by a detailed list of the principal localities of metallic ores throughout the district.
It is not my province here to remark upon the great and evident importance of these results, or their utility in aiding the President (to employ the words of the resolution which gave rise to the expedition) in “causing to be prepared, and presented to Congress, a plan for the sale of the public mineral lands, having reference to the amount of revenue to be derived from them, and their value as public property." Without an exploration conducted as minutely in detail as that upon which I have reported, no one would have ventured to state, or would have been believed if he had stated, results showing that these lands possess a value not heretofore attributed to them even by the most sanguine.
The further I have proceeded in the task, the more I have felt, not alone its interest to science, but its extreme importance in a pecuniary point of view to a Government which is the owner of public lands amounting to hundreds of millions of acres, and doubtless containing incalculable and inexhaustible mineral resources within their confines.
These considerations would have induced me, under other circumstances, not to hurry through my analysis of ores and ore-hearing rocks and soils, and my report of the various interesting results of the exhibition, as I have done, but to bestow upon these the time and consideration which they justly merit. The wording of the resolution, however, requiring that the President should report on the subject “to the next Congress, at an early day," together with the repeated desire expressed by the department that every possible economy consistent with the due performance of the duty assigned to me should be used, have urged me to complete the whole ; and I now transmit it to you in a hasty manner, and, I fear, in but an imperfect form.
To effect this, I have employed two of my sub-agents-one in the laboratory, of some practical experience in chemical manipulations; and the other in my office, to copy the charts, diagrams, tables, and report, with its various accompanying documents: the time of both has been constantly occupied; and as without them I must have given my own time in their place, the saving to the department by this arrangement has been the difference between their per diem and my own, besides the advantage of having the report completed some months sooner than 1, without their aid, could possibly have completed it. Indeed, the very object of this report, so far as regards the action of the present Congress on the subject, would, under the latter arrangement, have been defeated.
From the wording of the resolution already referred to, I infer that, when the President causes to be submitted to Congress a plan for the sale of the mineral lands, he will also lay before that body the report I now transmit, as a portion of the “further information” he was requested to collect and to communicate to Congress.
If so, and if the House (as I trust they will) should order the report to be printed, the cffect incidentally produced by its circulation will, I cannot help believing, be very advantageous as regards the settlement of the pub
lic lands in the north west by an enterprising and useful class of settlers. Should it be noticed (as, from its official character, it is not unreasonable to presume it may) by the scientific writers of Europe, it may be the means of attracting capital and enterprise from across the Atlantic. This would result not only in advantage to the country, but in direct pecuniary gain to Government, under any plan which may be adopted for the sale of the mineral lands.
If the report be printed, it is indispensable to a correct understanding of the same that the illustrations should be printed along with it.
I respectsully invite your attention to that chapter in my report which refers to the report of Dr. Locke. You will perceive, from looking over that chapter, that so much of Dr. Locke's report as relates to objects of mere curious research, and the examination of which was not included in my instructions, is offered gratuitously, and without any cost to Gorernment.
It has been my constant endeavor, throughout the conduct of this expedition, to observe the strictest economy that was consistent with a faithful attainment of the great objects which I was instructed to accomplish. And I trust that, when the extent of territory to be explored, and the necessarily minute character of the exploration, are borne in mind, it will be admitted that my endeavors have not been unsuccessful. The per diem fixed by the department was, I believe, the lowest at which steady and efficient subagents and assistants could have been engaged. And, in order to aid in making the men satisfied with their wages, after organizing for them a system of purveyance, I charged them the bare cost of the supplies, without even a percentage for the risk I myself incurred, and the loss to which, by that risk, I was exposed.
In regard to the specimens collected, they were in a great measure indispensable, to enable me to make not only my general but my special reports with fidelity and exactness. I have, in accordance with your recently received instructions, meanwhile retained them here; and shall strictly attend to any future instructions which may be forwarded to me regarding their final disposition.
The vouchers for the small amount still outstanding to complete the cost of the expedition shall be forwarded to you by next post, togeiher with an abstract of the entire accounts of the expedition, from its commencement to its termination.
As this letter contains a brief synopsis of the results exhibited in my report, I suggest the utility, if that report is laid before the President, of accompanying it with a copy of this communication.
The report is enclosed in a tin box, and the accompanying charts, &c., in a tin case; and both are mailed to your address on the same day as this letter. I am, sir, your obedient servant,
DAVID DALE OWEN, Principal agent to explore the mineral lands of the United States. Hon. JAMES WHITCOMB,
Commissioner of the General Land Office.