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plain, and all of the arid waste lands in Southern California, have long since been surveyed by the government, there are in the northern portion of the State, unsurveyed, many fertile valleys, well watered, and very desirable as homes for settlers.
It would greatly promote the well-being of the State if such places were as speedily as possible surveyed by the government, and such lands as are covered by valuable forests of timber should, by all means, be surveyed with as little delay as possible, as the only means of preventing the speedy destruction of the timber, since experience teaches that without private ownership it is impossible to preserve the forest lands from utter ruin.
Under this head, I would suggest to the department that the present appropriation for clerical and draughting service iu the office is far from being sufficient for the compensation of such a force as is absolutely necessary for the proper execution of the public work deinanded.
SURVEYS OF SPANISH GRANTS. The subject of Spanish grants has been prolific of many troubles in California ever since the organization of toe board of land commissioners, in 1851, for the settlement thereof; and the expensive delays incident to the contirmation or rejection of these claims before the courts of the United States, and to the settlement of boundaries by the courts, and by the Department of the Interior, have been very serious drawbacks to the permanent settlement and substantial improvement of the country, and to the development of the agricultural resources thereof.
This bas resulted from the want of experience rather than from any other cause,
The members of the board of land commissioners, although doubuless eminently learned in their profession, were unfamiliar with the habits of the people of the country and their manner of doing business, and, probably, not conversant with the language in which the original title papers of these grants were written; they had, therefore, to trast to such translators as they could obtain, who were, unfortunately, often unskilled in the use of either the Spanish or the English language.
From such data as generally crude, and often incorrect, translations of the original title papers, and the oral testimony of illiterate witnesses, given through the media of unskilled interpreters, the commission attempted to fix certainly the locations and boundaries of the claims before them for adjudication, without being aware of the fact that in a majority of the cases before them it was absolutely impossible to ascertain the boundaries of these claims, or the proper locations thereof, without an examination upon the ground by some one familiar with the language of the original title papers and the habits of the people of the country.
The result of this bas been that many of these grants have been, by decree, improperly located, including land not embraced within the calls of the title papers, and eccluding lands embraced therein. It will be many years before the evil effects resulting from these causes shall cease to be felt in this country; but although it is too late to remedy the miefortuues wbich, by this system of settling Spanish land titles, have been eptail-d upon California, the experience thus acquired may serve as a wholesome lesson for the future to those who may have the control of such matters in those portions of the territory of the United States in which are located ancient grants of land, made by the governments of Spain and Mexico, and which have yet to be adjudicated and locaten.
The titles of nearly all of the Spanish grants in this country have been finally either confirmed or rejected by the courts, but many cases are pending still on the question of survey, and many suits are pending before the courts of the country, and many more, resulting from the causes above referred to, will doubtless be commenced.
MINERAL LANDS AND MINING. Applications for mineral surveys have increased during the last year, caused, no doubt, to some extent by mining reverses in Nevada, which have induced capital to seek investments in California.
The result of this has been that not only many new mines have been located, but in many mines heretofore abandoned work has been resumed, all of which has given a new impetus to the mining interests of California.
In this condection I will refer to the “petroleum " interests of this country, wbich bid fair in the future to play an inportant part in the industrial enterprises of California.
Some fifteen years ago there was considerable excitement in the country in relation to the discovery of petroleam springs in different parts of the State, but princ pally in that portion of the county of Santa Barbara Dow embraced in the county of Ventura. A number of persons were engaged and some capital expended in prospecting for oil. After a little time, however, as nothing satisfactory resulted therefrom, these enterprises were abandoned. Recently this business has been renewed, and persons with experience acquired in the oil regions of the East have been employed in developing bose latent sources of wealth, and with the most satisfactory result.
In the Ventura district there are some eleven "roducing wells, and not one bore bas been inude that does not give evidence of petroleum.
On the edge of Tnlare Valley there is also a district of country wbich gives abundant evidence of being rich in petroleum, and for the development of which capital is now being invested.
I bave no doubt but that these enterprises will prove to be largely remunerative to the parties engaged therein, and will add much to the wealth of the State.
DESERT LANDS AND IRRIGATION. In the northern portion of the State the annual rainfall is sufficient generally, if not always, to insure a good crop, bence the eagerness with which the settler seeks a home in that region, since he can there locate with his family on a small tract of land without the constant fear of perishing from drought, while on the plains in the valleys of Southern California, no matter how fertile the soil may be, no prudent man will venture to make a permanent settlement upon land wbicb cannot be irrigated.
This region is subject to seasons of drought, during which the whole country becomes an absolute desert, except such spots as can be artificially watered. The ancient records of the country show that in Southern California seasons of extreme drought have been of frequent occurrence ever since the settlement of the country by the Spaniards; that often the stock have perished with hunger and thirst, and that sometimes, by order of the government, a large portion have been destroyed so that a remnant might be saved. Iudeed, almost the whole of Southern California, except such portions as can be irrigated, may properly be considered as desert lands, since the plains and valleys of that region, although iu fertility of soil they are not surpassed by the delta of the Nile, yielding in favorable seasons abundant harvests, are, in dry years like the present, deserts, as arid as that of Sabara.
The question, tben, of the irrigation of these comparatively desert lands is one of vital importance to this interests of this country, and one which is now attracting much attention among men of intelligent enterprise, it being by such persons considered practicable, by adopring such systems of irrigation as are in use in the older inhabited parts of the world, which, like this country, are subject to destructive dronghts, to cause these arid portions of California to be ever productive regardless of the character of the seasons.
This, however, cannot be accomplished by individual enterprise, the amount of capital required being probably greater than any individual capitalist would be able or willing to invest in such enterprise, by whom or however done it matters not; one thing is manifestly certain, that unless it should be done, those portions of California above referred to must ever remain comparative deserts.
Therefore, wbatever laws may be passed by Congress tending to encourage and promote the reclamation of these desert lands, by irrigation, will be beneficial, not only to this State but to the world at large, for the reason (to use an ancient Chinese proverb) that “whoever causes two blades of grass to grow where but one grew before, is a benefactor of and deserves the gratitude of mankind."
RAILROADS. These civilizers of mankind have been in California, as everywhere else, potent agents in developing the slumbering wealth of the country. Mountains have been bored, burping deserts bave been crossed, and valleys, almost ipaccessible to the agricultural pioneer, and remote from the bighways of commerce, have been reached by the iron horse, tbriving settlements and villages bave sprung up, and the cheerful voice of prosperous industry is now heard where a short while since the wild beast had his lair.
Probably nowhere on earth has the railroad builder shown so much enterprise and taken so many risks as in California.
Generally, railroads are only built through well settled countries, but in California, in many instances, they have been laid through regions almost destitute of population, the projectors trusting to the subsequent settlement of the country to make a profitable carrying business. This is especially true in relation to the Southern Pacific Road, which during the last year was completed as far as the Colorado River.
This road bas been constructed in the most substantial manner, and at immense es. pense, tbrough arid plains, over rugged mountains, and hundreds of miles across burning deserts, as far as the town of Yuma, on the Colorado River, through a country that can give but little carrying business until redeemed by irrigation from the dominion of desolation.
A large amount of the profits of the paying roads-of California must have been expended in the construction of this road, and large sums must still be expended in defraying the expenses of running the same before it can be made profitable by reaching the rich agricultural and mineral regions of Eastern Arizona. Very respectfully, &c., your obedient servant,
H. G. ROLLINS,
United States Surveyor General for California. Hon. J. A. WILLIAMSON,
Commissioner General Land Office, Washington, D. C.
A.-Statement of contracts entered into by the United States surveyor general for California wilh deputy surveyors, for the survey of public lands during the
fiscal year ending June 30, 1877, and payable out of the public appropriation ($23,500) for that year.
A.- Statement of contracts entered into by the United States surveyor general for California, 80.—Continued.
Name of deputy.
Date of con
Location of field work.
Amount of Returned
$ 150 00
Frid. T. Perris ....... Nov. 3, 1876 Complete the survey of fractional township 1 north, San Bernardino.
range 3 west; township 1 north, range 4 west;
Mr. Perris released at his own request
from that portion of this contract per-
Do. Survey completed; field notes on file.
T. II. Ward.......... Nov. 13, 1876 | Complete the subdivision of township 27 north, Mount Diablo ..
range 1 east; township 28 north, range 1 east;
township 30 north, range 1 east. W. A. Richards.... ... Nov. 13, 1876 Completo the subdivision of township 1 south,
range 16 east; township 1 south, range 17 east ;'
township 3 south, range 16 east.
range I east; township 1 north, range 1 west.
range 14 west ; township 12 north, range 13 west;
north, range 16 east.
rauge 18 west ; township 24 north, range 19 west;
1, 860 00 ..
I. N. Chapman........ Nor. 17, 1876 Complete the subdivision of township 29 south, ....do ..
range 36 east; township 29 south, range 37 east;
township 29 south, range 38 east.
township 29 south, range 39 east.
range 4 east; townsbip 17 south, range 5 east.
range 15 east.
range 15 west.
Survey made, field notes examined an
found to be incorrect; returned to de
partment for correction. Deputy in the field.
1. H. Sandford ........ Apr. 25, 1897Complete the subdivision of township 17 north, | Mount Diablo... 261 00 ..........
range 6 west. W.F. Benson.......... May 25, 1877 Complete the subdivision of township 9 south, ....do ..
2, 800 00
north, range 18 east.
bonndary of township 21 noith, ranges 9, 10, 11,
5, 000 00
range 4 east.
28 west ; township 12 north, range 30 west, and
H. G. ROLLINS,