SAN FRANCISCO BULLETIN, November 30, 1866
I have recently returned from a missionary trip to the interior. I have nothing new to report concerning Sacramento; it was rather warm there. They haven't got the grade finished yet. The grade has proven of high sanitary importance to Sacramento; nothing else could have so happily affected the health of the city as the new grade. Constant exercise on a dead level is too monotonous--the human system eventually ceases to receive any benefit from it. What the people there needed was a chance for up-hill and down-hill exercise, and now they have got it. You see, they have raised some of the houses up about eight or ten feet, to correspond with the new grade, and raised the sidewalks up accordingly; the other houses remain as they were before, and so do the sidewalks in front of them; the high walks are reached from the low ones by inclined staging similar to the horse stairways in livery stables. This arrangement gives infinite variety to a promenade there, now. The more the grade progresses the more the people are exercised and the healthier they become. The patience, money and energy required to prosecute the work to a successful completion are fearful to contemplate, but I think the citizens are equal to the emergency. Sacramento, with its broad, straight avenues, shaded by stately trees and bordered with flower-gardens, is already handsome, and some day it will be beautiful.
The new Capitol is a slow coach. I would like to be Superintendent of it for life, with the privilege of transmitting the office to my heirs and assigns forever.
This is the most generally well built town in California--nothing in it, hardly, but fine, substantial brick houses. I found there many a man who had made his fortune in Washoe, and didn't have the shrewdness to hold on to it, and so had wandered back to his old Marysville home. It is a pity to see such a town as this go down, but the citizens say the railroads are sapping its trade and killing it. They are a sociable, cheerful-spirited community, and if the town should die, they would hardly die with it.
Reminded me somewhat of Virginia in her palmy days. There are a great many old time Washoe miners there, and some are doing remarkably well. There are ten dividend-paying mines in the camp, (some of them very heavy concerns in this respect,) and a dozen more that are in a fair way to come under the same head. The bullion shipments are large and gradually increasing. Grass Valley is an old quartz mining camp--one of the oldest in the State--and it has always been the wise policy of thoughtful business men to preserve the prosperity of the place from injurious effects of exaggerated newspaper reports and mining excitements, and the plan well as a general thing. Still, business promises to be overdone there, notwithstanding. The place can very comfortably support its present population, but additions are made to it every day, and there is a disposition to open two stores and two shops where one would suffice for the present. Miners, also go there from various parts of this State and Nevada, to apply for work, and they are not likely to get it, because none but men like Cornishmen, who are used to working in extremely hard rock, are much account there.
In so short a letter as this will be, I can say but little upon any one subject, but I will give a specimen of what a good mine can be made to do when economically worked. The Eureka is doubtless the best mine in Grass Valley, and is also the most prosperous. It was purchased, (together with its 20-stamp mill,) something over a year ago, for the sum of $400,000, and it paid for itself in 13 months. I got permission to take some figures from the official books of the Eureka. The product of the mine for the ending September 30, 1866, $536,431.41. After deducting stores, repairs, labor and all other expenses, a net profit remained of $368,042.18. The average yield of the rock, ton, was $47.15. The total cost of mining and working it, per ton, was $13.75. The mill was not running full time during the greater part of the year. The rock grew much richer during the last four months; the mill ran full time and this is the result: Gross yield for last four months, $255,072.35; nett. $187,751.72. Latterly, the rock paid $65.33 per ton, including the sulphurets. There are about $5 worth of sulphurets in a ton. These are separated, stored away and sold to the agents of a Swansea establishment for shipment to England. A ton of clean sulphurets is worth from $300 to $400. When I was at the mine a contract was about being entered into for the sale of a large quantity at $320 a ton. The mine and mill together employ 175 men, and the expenses of the establishment are about $17,000 a month. The shaft was down about 400 feet; the lowest working level was 320 feet. The Eureka stock comprises 20 shares; one-fourth is owned in Grass Valley, and, (if I recollect rightly,) a fourth in San Francisco, and the remaining half in the East. Prof. Silliman is the possessor of half a share. The mine is now paying princely dividends, and is ably and economically managed.
The Ophir Hill mill is the Gould and Curry of California. It is a superb affair, is as neat as a parlor and cost $125,000--but it has been a month since I was there, and if I can remember how many stamps it has got I wish I may be shot--thirty, I think. They had just struck a rich place in the mine, and I saw chunks of quartz as large as a child's head, which were plastered nearly all over with gleaming leaves and plates of the purest gold; jewelers had already bought a handful or $600 worth, to work up into watch-seals, cane-heads, etc.
I only visited one other mine--the Ione (the printer will please not put that Jones,)--owned by five or six Washoe men. It is said to be doing well. Its shaft was not well arranged for visitors, and I did not go down.
The thing that touches a traveler's heart nearest, is to come drearily into a strange place and find himself at home in a good hotel. I found such in Grass Valley, and also in
There are plenty of good mines around this camp, but I know very little about them. I took more interest in the people and the town than in anything else. I enjoyed myself rather too well to bother much about statistics. Nevada is the capital of the county, and within it is collected a notably refined and intelligent society. But just here I am reminded that between Grass Valley and Nevada (they are pretty close together) began the series of practical jokes with which I have been assailed lately. I have paid the jokers back faithfully every time, and never lost my temper but once, (and then only for a short time,) and I will pay this one off if I live long enough. I had a letter of introduction to Hon. A. A. S., of Nevada, and I went up there from the Valley, one day, purposely to present it, and then got to talking to a young man there by the name of Blaze, who keeps petrified wood, quartz specimens, and other attractions, in his establishment--and forgot it. As the coach left Grass Valley the next day, with the Orphan in it who traveled with me, I ran and handed him the letter, and told him to give it to Mr. S., and say I would call on him soon. An apparently feeble-minded, unprepossessing-looking man on the back seat said:
"Who did you say it was for?"
"Very well--I'll take it!"
"Are you Mr. S_____?"
"That is my name."
I handed him the letter and said: "Well, by George, I'm glad to see you! You must excuse me for my seeming impertinence--but that's all right, you know--I'm exceedingly glad I met you!" (and I thought to myself, "What infernally cheap material they make honorables out of up here in this part of the country!")
The next afternoon I was in Nevada, and a gentleman approached the group I was conversing with, and was introduced to me as Hon. A. A. S_____. I said to myself, "Well, this looks something like an honorable," and then I began to inquire into things. The truth soon leaked out. One of the party said, "Why that fellow in the stage was Duell--he don't know enough to come in when it rains!" I said that was what I thought in the place, but after, that was much intelligence as a practical joker requires--any idiot can tell a lie, and no practical joke is anything than a spoken or acted deception. You can carefully analyze the best one you ever heard of, and you find that that is exactly all it consists of.
The letter had passed some fifty hands, and when Mr. S_____ received it it was about worn out. However, I accepted the harmless joke, and some time or when an opportunity offers, I will try to "get even" on the festive ass they call Duell. I will not tell his celebrated law case now.