LETTER FROM GOLD HILL.
[SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT OF THE HERALD.]
GOLD HILL (Nev.), June 3, 1869.
Signs of the Times.
In this, as well as all other well regulated communities, there are plenty of people who are always croaking about "dull times." Let things generally be ever so brisk, still they don't seem to "see it" or appreciate true prosperity when they find it. They are always speaking deprecatingly of the present as compared with the lively times of '63, or some other period of the past, never realizing that times are really good enough even now, if they would only bring their mind up to a due appreciation of the fact. How readily would they agree with me in saying that Gold Hill and Virginia never looked so dull as now—that the bottom had dropped out of the Comstock, and another year would see sagebrush growing in the streets; and yet how readily will they all see the point and agree with me now, when I say that Gold Hill and Virginia are more prosperous and possessed of better and more substantial present and future prospects than for five or six years past. The bottom of the old Comstock, so far from dropping out, is just now looking finer than ever, as witness the lower levels of the Yellow Jacket, Hale & Norcross, Savage, Chollar-Potosi and other noted mines. White Pine carried off a large portion of our floating population, which was really no loss; but even those who floated off in that direction have over half floated back again. In fact, our prosperity has, of necessity, to be rather of a regular order, as the monthly yield of our mines is about the same year by year. Just so many men find regular employment, and, consequently, just so much money has to be disbursed on the first of every month in the way of wages, salaries, etc. And all of this money is expended right here among us. The only serious drawback we have met with this season was the terrible calamity in the Crown Point, Kentuck and Yellow Jacket mines; but we have nearly recovered from that. The streets are constantly lively with people, passing teams, etc., and all places of evening amusement are well patronized. The circus, Opera House, and even the hurdy houses, all have full audiences. The merchants all speak of doing a good average business, and as new saloons are being started almost daily, there appears to be but little to complain of in that line, although they surely cannot all be getting rich.
In regard to our disabled mines I have but little news to report. The Yellow Jacket is all right and running a full force of men, tumbling out the ore at a very lively and satisfactory rate. The air is good throughout every part of the mine. The Kentuck is only getting out ore enough from the upper levels to supply the Sunderland mill. The Crown Point is unproductive at present, but they are actively drifting east at the two lower levels for the ledge; when they tap it, good ore will doubtless be found, and far beneath the burning region, which is above the 900 foot level near the line of the Kentuck. From the 900-foot level to the surface, every station is tightly blocked up in order to smother and confine the fire which is considered to be still burning, and may continue for months. No important developments in the way of pay ore are made recently in the other mines of Gold Hill. The Imperial yields about 130 tons of good ore per day from the upper levels, but the two lower levels show no sign of promise. The bottom of the shaft is on porphyry. They are mining a drift south from the Empire, at the 1,000-foot level, to prospect the claims in that direction at a lower depth than yet attained in either of them. The North American and the Overman are both yielding goodly quantities of fair milling ore, but no rich and extensive bodies of it are encountered at present. The Chollar-Potosi, Hale and Norcross, and the Savage are all three turning out huge quantities of high grade ore, and the lower levels are especially promising. The Gould & Curry shaft develops nothing good at the bottom as yet. The drift west, at the 700-foot level of the Ophir, is now in about 330 feet from the shaft, and the face is in hard blasting rock; but judging from its more favorable character and other indications, the front ledge of the mine cannot be far distant. The Virginia Consolidated Company, being a combination of the claims lying on the Comstock, between the Ophir and Gould & Curry, have commenced a large new shaft between E and F streets, and it is now about twenty feet deep. Ross & Co. have the contract for sinking the first 500 feet, and are actively at it.
The Sierra Nevada.
This famous mine is again mildly intruding itself upon the attention of the public, from its remarkably good yield of gold bullion. The clean-up for the last half-month's run yielded eighty pounds of retorted amalgam, being considerably better than any one anticipated, and the yield for the present month will be even better, for richer ore will be worked. The supply of this rich surface ore seems literally inexhaustible, and Mr. Smith, the Superintendent, finds his prospecting labors continually rewarded with the development of extensive and richer additions to what ore is already in sight. Five years' steady run of the mill will hardly make a perceptible decrease in the huge supply. The facility and very light cost with which this surface ore is mined and milled, is unequaled by any other mine on the entire Comstock ledge. The affairs of the company are in a very healthy and prosperous state, and I even hear a dividend hinted at, as to be declared before long—a decided novelty for the Sierra Nevada.
This loathsome and terrible disease seems to have nearly or quite died out, owing doubtless to the delightful weather we are at present in the enjoyment of. During the prevalence of the recent stormy, cold, disagreeable weather, there were several cases of it, including even your correspondent; but all are recovered, and I have not heard of a fresh case for nearly a week. Good riddance to the foul nuisance. It has been with us just about a year.
Fatal Mining Accident.
Last Saturday afternoon Daniel Miller, a young man working in the Savage mine, accidentally fell about seventy feet down a winze to the track floor of the 300-foot level. He was picked up insensible by some of his fellow miners and brought out. His left arm was broken above the elbow, his head was cut, and from his spitting of blood, he was doubtless injured internally. The worst injury, however, was to his back; the spine was broken a short distance above the small of the back, resulting in complete paralysis of the lower limbs, which still continues. The unfortunate young man cannot recover, but yet may live for several weeks or months. He is free from pain, has made his will—he leaving some property—and is now ready and willing to die. He is only twenty-three years of age, and a native of Lower Canada.
Only a day or two ago Gen. John B. Winters showed me the result of an assay made by the assayer of the Yellow Jacket works. It was a piece of rock from a newly discovered ledge some forty miles east of White Pine, and showed fine gold disseminated all through the specimen. The result of the assay was a showing of over $57,000 per ton. The ledge is about sixty feet wide, but is not all quite so rich as that. I saw an assay from the Empire ledge, over in Excelsior, two or three months ago, which went over $90,000 to the ton. Some of these gold ledges assay stunningly sometimes. They are also promising; very promising considerable more than they perform.
Speaking of Excelsior reminds me of the wonderful process for desulphurizing the rebellious ores of that district which was dreamed out by a Mrs. Burns about a year and a half ago. Mrs. B. and her husband had been living at Meadow Lake for some time, and like everybody else they were getting pretty badly discouraged. The ores were rich enough, there was no sort of doubt about that, but they were so variously and intimately combined with sulphur in some form or other, that all the ordinary and extraordinary processes adopted totally failed to separate the precious metal to any paying extent. They were talking of leaving, as many had already done, when one night Mrs. Burns dreamed that her brother, an old miner some time deceased, appeared to her and told her not to be at all discouraged; that fortune lay within her grasp, that the chemical materials for the cheap, easy and complete desulphurizing of the rebellious ones of the district she had always had by her in the house. In short he told her to use a little -----, and a little -----, in conjunction with a little -----, and the thing was done. She told her husband about it next day, and they tried it, and, sure enough, there was no nonsense about it; the desulphurization was actually accomplished, just as easy as rolling off a log. Next thing was to get a patent for the process. Burns was a poor man, and he found many obstacles in his way, but at length he has succeeded in getting his patent papers, and now is trying to bring the process into practical use. He claims that by the new process the most rebellious sulphuret ores can be desulphurized for $8 per ton and even less. Only a few days ago I saw fine samples of about a pound each from five of the most prominent mines of Excelsior, which had been subjected to this process. They were each of the rich rebellious sulphuret character which could not be made to pay at all by the ordinary processes, but after treatment their character was materially changed. They looked as though they had been burnt thoroughly, being dark-colored, soft and crumbly, and showing many particles of free gold. Rubbed to a powder and washed in a saucer, a good prospect in free gold was obtained every time. I understand that the Mohawk & Montreal Company in Excelsior are going to give this wonderful process a trial by a working test of a considerable quantity of their rich sulphuret rock. Oftentimes a new process works well enough on a small scale and yet totally fails to come up to practical requirements on a large scale. If the dream process, however, holds out as well as it promises, it is one of the "big things" of the age.
John E. Owens, the eminent comedian, supported by a very excellent stock company, will appear at Piper's Opera House for the first time to-night. "Everybody's Friend" and "Solon Shingle" are the plays to be given. How Owens will take here, of course, remains to be seen.
Hartz concluded his six night's engagement last Sunday evening. He did very well, but did not succeed so well as Heller did when he was here, or could do again. Heller has got more style and variety. The "Great Champion Circus and Zoological Institute," composed of James Cooke, the really excellent jester, Jack Lee, a lady rider, several good tumblers, a monkey, two camels and a buffalo, have drawn immense houses, or rather tents full, the last two nights, at Virginia, and they will have another densely crowded tent to-night, at lower Gold Hill. The horse opera always wins here. Let two horses and a wheelbarrow, accompanied by a base drum and a cornet, come over here performing in a tent, and call itself a circus, and it is sure of big houses for a week. The Piutes, Chinese, miners, merchants, in fact, everybody, high or low toned, will go to the circus.