Virginia, Nev. May, 13, 1867.
Editor Memorial and Rock:-- Time rolls on; and the days, months, and years, like so many chips, still go ever floating onward, ceaselessly borne on the bosom of the great broad tide which empties into the illimitable sea of eternity. The mighty Mississippi still pours its vast volume of many stenched waters into the blue Atlantic, Hobbs' Hole Brook and Eel River continue to contribute their aqueous torrents towards the general good and welfare of this mundane world, as they did in ages past, when ye gentle savage roamed undisturbedly in all his primeval innocence along their grassy banks, fishing for trout and herrings; and so, too, I in course of time resume the thread of my somewhat chronic correspondence. (How's that, now, for a starter?)
I am pleased to be able to say that our juvenile state of the silver star - Nevada - still remain politically sound. There are, it is true, many copperheads and disloyal men dwelling among us, but they stand no more show of obtaining a controlling interest in the affairs of the country and the nation at large, than they did during the dark days of the rebellion. Political trickery and combination has occasionally smuggled a copperhead into office, but less now than formerly. At our county election three or four months ago, we elected good Union men to the various county offices, which for the last two years had been filled by copperheads elected through an unfortunate though temporary split in the Union ranks. A few days ago we held an election for city officers. The copocracy were out in full force, and we had a good square fight of it, but we shipped them handsomely, the entire Union ticket being elected by between two and three hundred majority, with the exception of the Mayor who was beaten by nearly that much of a majority. The secret and explanation of this strange result, is simply that the Union candidate for Mayor was a very unpopular man, injudiciously placed upon the ticket, while his antagonist was a very popular one, receiving, consequently, strong support from the Union ranks. The whole thing was so palpable that the Democrats did not claim it as a victory at all on their part. There was a time, only a few weeks ago, when they did claim a victory, and copperhead stock rose high in the figures everywhere on this coast. This was when the result of the election in Connecticut was flashed over the wires. The cops waxed jubilantly hilarious over the disgraceful news. In San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton, yea even in Mud Springs, they fired ecstatic salvos of artillery or anvils in their affluent rejoicings. Confound them and their news! Don't you think Connecticut ought to be expelled? What do they think they are doing down there? If they don't do a little better next time, the loyal people of Washoe will see that Connecticut is scratched off from the map of the United States - rubbed out altogether.
There is a great revival in religion progressing here in this city at present, the greatest ever known or thought of in the land of sagebrush. It was inaugurated a week ago yesterday, since which time they have run it mighty strong in the way of daily and evening services, prayer meetings, and all that sort of thing, all the churches of the city uniting in common cause together. Rev. A.B. Earle, a great revivalist preacher from your section of uncle Samuel's big ranch, is the instigator of all this religious commotion. For several months past, he has been operating in California and Oregon, creating a big religious furore wherever he has set his stakes for the purpose. He proceeds systematically to work, with programme arranged according to allotted time, and the way he brought the “web-foots" of Oregon, or the farmer folks in the California “cow counties'' down upon their marrow bones and elbows, was truly jolly to contemplate. He corralled the sinners by scores, by fifties and by hundreds, bringing them to a realizing sense of their iniquitous proclivities and consequently to repentance. Even in some of the mining towns he made numerous converts, and caused many a hardened case to gather himself into the fold of the faithful, and like Topsey, to exclaim, “Oh! golly, I’se so wicked." Here in Virginia, however, Mr. Earle has not met with near so good success thus far as he anticipated or that his success elsewhere, as heralded in all the newspapers far and near, seemed to warrant. He finds us an unusually worldly-minded squarely practical, common-sense dealing people, and expresses himself as considerably discouraged at the immediate result of his arduous labors in behalf of our spiritual welfare, although his meetings are constantly well attended, the church being filled to overflowing. Last Evening (Sunday) he preached to an audience of between six and seven hundred, and many left, unable to get into the church. I have attended and listened to all his sermons thus far, and was generally well pleased with the majority of what he said, but on this occasion I must confess to a great degree of disappointment, notwithstanding this was previously announced and anticipated as his best effort. His subject was "The Unpardonable Sin.” This he represented to be the failure on the part of every one to come forward, sit in the "anxious seats," and at his bidding kneel, pray, and otherwise signify their full and complete acceptance of Christ, resigning all the sinful pleasures of the world for the service of their Redeemer. This rejection of Christ he distinctly gave his hearers to understand was demonstrated by all who obstinately kept their seats and did not come forward when he called upon them to do so. This was the unpardonable sin which God neither would, nor could forgive, and all such sinners he stated would be infallibly and hopelessly consigned to hell. Now this proposition may be all well enough in its way, but its terrible, uncomfortable and unsatisfactory, unless one merely looks upon it as simply Mr. Earle’s opinion, and lets it go for what 'tis worth. Allowing he is right, the figures in the matter would sum up about thus: The population of this city is supposed to be about twelve-thousand, including numerous Jews, Chinese, and others who do not believe in Christ at all, therefore are a dead loss to start on. Of the Christians, Mr. Earle will probably succeed in converting - in his way - to Christ, nearly or quite two hundred - no more than that. According to his theory, these are to be the only ones saved, consequently all the rest of the twelve thousand are bound to roast. Allowing that Mr. Earle has succeeded in converting and saving ten thousand people on this coast, and ten times that number in the Atlantic States, in view of the many hundreds of millions of - to him - unconverted sinners there are in the world, Hell will be pretty well crowded, and Heaven a decidedly unpopular place. Indeed, accepting Earle's illiberal, narrow-minded theory as true and conclusive, the chances of getting into Heaven are insignificantly small as to be not worth contending for. Notwithstanding his eccentric and peculiar views on the subject, however, Mr. Earle is evidently an earnest, sincere, true-hearted worker in the Lord's vineyard, and he deserves the best of success in whatever he promulgates that is right. He continues his revival during the present week, at the expiration of which time he goes on his mission elsewhere. There are probably many sinners here who will yet come forward and "experience religion" under him, among whom even I, case-hardened as I am, may be included, notwithstanding my present view of the situation, "for while the lamp holds out to burn,” etc.
The great and far-famed Comstock ledge, passing and situated immediately beneath where I am now sitting as I write this letter, continues its enormous yield of the precious metals - principally silver - as in the past. It supplies some eighty mills with the requisite ore to work, the yield being about 1600 tons per day, from which the yield of bullion averages $25 per ton - $40,000 per day; $1,200,000 per month of thirty days; $14,600,000 per year - luscious and desirable figures for a poor man to ponder over, ain’t they? Nearly all this vast amount of bullion is from only a small extent - less than a mile - of this ledge. It is worked for a distance of three miles or more, but it only pays in favored localities. The past winter was a very severe one, the snow in this city being at one time from three to five feet deep in the streets, so you may be sure we had some of the gayest old sleighing imaginable for a while, but the closing week in April brought with it the finest of spring weather, which still abides with us, consequently prospectors and miners interested in the development of outside districts, who have remained housed up with us all winter are now starting out daily in some direction or other on their regular spring expeditions. Silver Bond, or Philadelphia District, situated in Nye county, two hundred miles east of this city, is attracting much attention at present. It was discovered and some of the ledges opened out last season. Considerable silver bullion is already being brought in from there. Wilson's and Washington districts, situated on the forks of Walker river, some ninety miles south-east from here, were discovered last fall and winter. In the first-named district, the ledges are very small and narrow, but rich in gold, with but a slight proportion of silver. Washington district contains several good-sized ledges of silver ore which is said to be very rich. Both these districts are also attracting quite an emigration thither, and are anticipated to yield well, as soon as properly developed, and with the requisite mills erected for the reduction of the ores. I feel sure that there are already mines of silver and gold discovered within the borders of this State enough to last for the next seven hundred and twenty five years, to say nothing of the new discoveries still constantly being made.
The Great Pacific railroad is progressing at a highly satisfactory rate, and within three years it will extend entirely across the continent, uniting the Atlantic and Pacific ocean with a band of iron which may never be broken. From Sacramento the road was completed last fall ninety-two miles to Cisco, a small town within fourteen miles of the summit of the Sierra Nevada, when the deep snows of winter stopped all further operations at that point, and a force of about 2000 laborers, principally Chinese were transferred to this side of the mountains below the snow line. The snow is rapidly disappearing now, and the work of grading, etc., is consequently much facilitated. In the course of two months, fifteen miles of the track will be laid, from the lower portion of the eastern slope, at the California State line, towards the summit, and by the time the winter snows fall again, the cars will be running entirely across the Sierra Nevada. Progress farther east will be comparatively easy, the country being of a level character, and the mountain ranges lower and easily passed. The main tunnel at the summit of the Sierra will be completed in September next, and will be 1,700 feet in length, there are three other tunnels of the respective lengths of 400, 350, and 200 feet, each tunnel being made wide enough for a double track. Thus it will be seen that the great question of the possibility of a railroad across the Sierra Nevada is already practically decided in the affirmative, yet from the experience of the past winter, I anticipate that it will be found a very difficult matter for the cars to cross the mountains with any degree of regularity during the prevalence of the deep snows in the most elevated regions. The snow falls there to the depth of from ten to twenty feet, therefore all familiar with the operations of a snow plow on a railroad, can easily realize the difficulty of keeping the track clear in a region where snow storms are a daily occurrence, and furious winds drift the snow already fallen, into all roads, tracks pass-ways and crevices, filling them up at short notice. Stage routes are all right in that respect, for the sleighs pass over the snow with the utmost facility, regardless of the depth, making fully as good travelling time as in midsummer. Thus, for weeks at a time last winter, our travelling communication with Sacramento was completely cut off, by reason of the deep snows preventing the cars from running on the most elevated section of the road; (5,000 feet above the level of the sea,) yet the balance of the route, from the terminus of the rails to this city, by sleighs and coaches was all right. The telegraph informs us that the eastern portion of the great railroad is progressing in this direction with great energy and rapidity, the rails being laid at the rate two and a half miles per day - not a particularly high rate of speed for a locomotive, but fast time in railroad construction. That portion of the road was also considerably obstructed by snows last winter.
This telegraph is certainly the greatest and most wonderful contrivance known of in the world. Time and space are literally nowhere - annihilated - wiped out. We know here all about what they are doing in London just as soon as the cockneys themselves do; yes, even sooner we may say. For instance, owing to the difference of latitudinal time, should Smith "butt Brown in the snoot," near the Queen's palace, we receive the full account with all the aggravating particulars, by telegraph, and have it published in the evening papers some hours before the thing has happened at all, or the pugilistic Smith has even begun to wax belligerent. In fact we are even better posted as to the New York and Boston news that you Plymoutheans are, for we read them every morning in the daily papers, and you don't. Speaking about news this is a glorious country to make up a newspaper in. We have plenty of exchanges, all prolific and constantly pregnant with matters of interest, and the local department is always very readable, containing items in profusion relative to new and exciting discoveries, sensational accidents, choice robberies, elopements, rich mineral yields, etc. Our readers however, in addition, require a goodly supply of blood-curdling news items every day, such as will induce their eyes to protrude with horror, and their hair to rise on end in a healthy manner; single murders, double suicide, whole families with throats cut, aggravating rapes, sensational seductions, wholesale burglaries, bank robberies, startling rascalities and all that sort of thing. For these we scissorize our eastern exchanges and never fail of a plentifully desirable supply to suit all. Why bless you, we are a much more moral, decent, peaceable, and upright people than you of the Atlantic side. When we do manage to dish up an original shooting or cutting scrape, a big dog fight, a stage robbery, or even a real murder among us, we feel that we have struck a rich lead, and publish glowing accounts thereof, well displayed, with sensational headings in big type, exclamation points, etc. Rev. Mr. Earle has a much better field for his peculiar operations the other side of the Rocky Mountains than he finds among us unsophisticated innocents. He'd better go back.
Any person not conversant with the magnitude and extent of the mining and milling operations carried on in this County alone, would feel astonished and horrified at the frequency of painful, or fatal accidents occurring here to those engaged therein. They form a frightful source for items in the newspapers. Every day we read about some reckless engineer or mill hand losing more or less of his fingers by sticking them in among the cogs or other critical portions of the machinery. They are having quite a mania for that operation now-a-days, and it is perfectly refreshing to see how well they stand it and follow it up., In the mines, too, the boys manage to keep up the supply of jobs for the surgeon, or peg out in the endeavor. If they don't succeed in smashing up their arms, legs or heads among the hoisting machinery, or by caves in the mine, they contrive to drop down some shaft a few hundred feet or so, an average of about one dead miner a week being furnished gratuitously in this way. Familiarity with the dangers, makes them heedless of their presence. Old miners are the only ones who get badly hurt or killed; green hands never. A few days ago, little Joe, employed for a long time past as the pick and drill boy in the Savage mine, got hurt some. His business is - when on duty - to keep the miners throughout the mine supplied with sharp picks and drills, in the prosecution of which duty he is continually passing through some of the many shafts, drifts, and passages with a shoulder load of sharp tools from the blacksmith shop, or returning with dull ones. He knows where every dangerous hole is, but so well that he goes gaily hopping and whistling past them, as though they did not exist at all. On this occasion, though he unluckily happened to trip, and with his load of tools pitched head first down a gangway some fifteen feet into a chamber below, driving his little cranium with considerable force among a pile of thirty dollar ore. He describes the sensation as astonishing, and has been picking little chunks of quartz out of his scalp ever since. The picks and drills escaped uninjured.
The small pox made its appearance here some six weeks ago, direct from San Francisco, and before effectual measures were taken to prevent it, it had spread to the extent of fifteen cases, only one, however, - that of a child - proving fatal. When Bro. Earle carne with his revival this loathsome disease immediately subsided and changed into the "very Oh Lord." By the way, speaking of Bro. Earle, he makes the revival business pay. In Marysville, Cal., he made $6,000; in Sacramento, $6,500; Placerville, $2,500; and proportionate amounts in other towns and cities of that State and Oregon. He will probably clear $3,000 in this city. He opens at Gold Hill next, after which he will go through the sinners of Silver City, Dayton, Garson, and other places. He is doing well. Our markets are supplied now with plenty of vegetables, green peas, new potatoes, strawberries, last years' apples, oranges, bananas, pineapples and the various other tropical fruits now in season. All these good things come from across the Sierra, but are sold at reasonable prices. We have lively times here in the way of balls, dances, festivals and other amusements, and the spacious theatre is crowded each evening. An excellent dramatic company from San Francisco is performing there at present. There is one other Plymouthean, (E. H Morton) a fixture in this City besides myself, and let me assure you that the Memorial and Rock comes to us as a familiar and welcome old friend. We receive it with all reasonable regularity, and always read it through from beginning to end, advertisements and all. With its friendly pages to refresh our memories, we can never become in any degree oblivious of our childhood's happy home, or the loved friends and companions of our youthful days. In conclusion let me now bid you good-bye until you hear again from