SILVER REEF MINES, UTAH.
EDITOR ENGINEERING AND MINING JOURNAL:
SIR: Since the completion of the Utah Southern Railroad to this camp, the journey from Salt Lake City is rendered comparatively easy, and occupies but forty-eight hours, of which twenty-four are passed in the wretched mud-wagons (dignified by the name of stages) of Gilmer & Salisbury. At the railway terminus, passengers are started off in a pass- ably comfortable stage, with four horses; and at the end of the first fif-teen miles, a transfer is made to a canvas hack with two horses, or rather horse-skeletons; and after another thirty to forty miles, a change is again made to a still more degenerate vehicle, and sacks of mail matter and grain are placed under your feet, in order to bring your knees and chin into intimate contact; the grand object being to relieve the passen-gers of the luxury of stretching their limbs. In order to obviate the danger of falling out, a drunken man is occasionally thrown, who kindly places himself across your feet and legs, and affectionately pins you. You are not long in finding out that the conveyances are run for the con-venience of the drivers, who drive on or leave you at a wayside station according as it may or may not interfere with their private affairs. Any remonstrance is met with the statement that the stages are run to carry the mails, and if the passengers don't like it, they can walk. Some effort is making to combat the imposition, when two or three are traveling in company, by hiring a private conveyance, by which means the journey is easily made in two days, and a night's rest secured on the way. The work in this camp is confined to the operations of four companies: the Stormont, the Christy, the Barbee & Walker, and the Leeds.
The flourishing condition of the district is more largely due to individ- ual effort than to the influence of outside capital. It may be safely said that it has more than paid its way from the beginning, and that, too, un-der the most adverse conditions.
It will not, however, venture to anticipate the historical account which Mr. Rolker, the late Superintendent of the Stormont, will embrace in a paper which he is preparing for the August meeting of the Institute of Mining Engineers. The camp is to be congratulated upon having so able and conscientious a man as its historian; and it is no exaggerated state-ment to say that his departure is sincerely regretted, as was shown in the most gratifying manner by the large turn-out of the citizens to bid him God-speed on his departure yesterday.
Mr. Rolker, on his arrival, was confronted with the difficult problem of mines which had been robbed by "chloriders," and consequently abso-lutely devoid of any systematic exploitation. He has left them in a con-dition which reflects great credit upon his judgment and mining ability.
Mr. Rothwell's exhaustive report on the Stormont mine and the dis-trict leaves but little to be said. His summary of the geology of the dis-trict and the mode of occurrence of the silver ores I have been able to verify; though how the silver got into the sandstones, I think is a ques-tion still to be decided.
One of the most interesting geological questions which presents itself is that of the age of the sandstones, and one which even Mr. Rothwell has apparently not been able to settle. In the following remarks I will not venture to express a positive opinion, but merely to compare the re-sults of observations here and elsewhere, leaving the conclusions to be drawn by geologists; and I will here express the hope that Mr. Clarence King or Dr. Newberry will include this district in their explorations dur-ing this season. Mr. Rothwell dismisses the geological question in the following sentence:
"The silver-bearing sandstones and shales of the Silver Reef District are of Tertiary (?) age, and are parts of the beds which, cut through to the depth of thousands of feet, form the wild and frowning canons of the 'Colorado River of the West,' and its tributaries, the Rio Virgin, Kanab, etc." (The interrogation-mark is Mr. Rothwell's.)
No well-authenticated fauna have been discovered in the district, with-out which I believe it is difficult absolutely to determine the age of the rocks.
In 1876, I had occasion to examine the mines of the Russia Copper Company, situated in the Government of Orenburg, in Eastern Russia. The ores are sandstones, impregnated with carbonates of copper and chrysocolla, from faint stains up to 6 and 7 per cent; the average of the ore being about 3-5 per cent. The impregnated sandstones belong to the Permian formation, which, as has been shown by Murchison, has its largest development in the Government of Perm and along the western slope of the Urals. Von Cotta states that the formation corresponds in age with the German Zechstein and Rothliegendes, or the interval between the Carboniferous and Triassic.
A very full discussion of the Permian formation in Russia will be found in Prime's translation of Von Cotta's Ore-Deposits, from which I extract Murchison's description of the copper-bearing strata, which, although a description of the neighborhood of Yugofski and Motovilika, applies with equal force to the mines of Kargalinsk near Orenburg.
"The strata, which are pierced by shafts 35 to 100 feet deep, consist of thick, flag-like grits of gray and dingy color, rarely ferruginous, some-times of a greenish hue, and occasionally slightly calcareous, with layers of gray-ribboned marl and shale. The ores of copper are disseminated through all the beds; but in this district the sandstones are most cuprif-erous. The ores are principally malachite; also red copper, copper pyrites, tetrahedrite, and azurite. Plants of various species occur, and in some of the lower strata they are so numerous as to have given rise to thin seams of coal, exceptionally two to three feet thick. Concretions, often cupriferous, occur here and there; and they have been generally formed around carbonized stems of plants. Besides the copper ores described by Murchison, Planer mentions volborthite (a copper and calcium vanadate) as being very common in the cupriferous sandstone."
I always found the silicified wood and carbonaceous matter especially rich in copper, specimens frequently running as high as 20 to 40 per cent. Jointed rushes, apparently of the same species as those now found along the creek-bottoms, are an ever-present feature of cupriferous sandstones. The sandstone beds of Eastern Russia are undisturbed; whereas, in the Silver Reef District, they are tilted in places as much as 56 degrees. Otherwise, in their general appearance they seem to be the counterpart of the Russian Permian.
Here we have the same occurrence of reeds, silicified wood, and thin seams of brilliant coal; but silver, in the form of chloride and sulphuret, taking the place, for the most part, of copper. I say for the most part, because, in some of the mines on the Buckeye Reef, I have found carbon-ates of copper incasing twigs and impregnating the sandstone exactly as in Russia; and farther south, on the White Reef, copper is said to en-tirely take the place of silver. With the hope that this comparison of facts may lead to the determination of the geological age of the Silver Reef sandstones, I am, yours truly, GEORGE W. MAYNARD.
SILVER REEF, UTAH, May 30.
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