Page images

assistants at a certain rate per month, giving them transportation to and from the locus of the contract, rations for the entire period, and wages from the time the work is commenced until it is completed. Now, suppose that when he arrives on the ground instead of five or six townships adjoining and easy to work, he finds only one or two that can properly be classed as surveyable. When the survey of these is completed, he must spend days in finding other townships to substitute, during which time his men are lying idle, but drawing pay. The temptation is great to proceed with the subdivision of townships included in his contract, irrespective of the character of the land, especially when, as has been the case for the last two years, the appropriation for surveys is made so late that the deputy cannot get into the field until long after the fiscal year commences, has to work in the late fall and winter, until the snow drives him in, and go out again to finish the work in the spring, when the weather is, if possible, worse.

The instructions require the survey of timber land to be confined to that which is non-mineral in character and “where depredations have been practiced or are liable to be carried on by unlawful parties.” This, in my judgment, is an unwise restriction, for the reason that timber on mineral lands is that first used for mining and milling purposes. It is true that by the act of Congress approved June 3, 1878, citizens and bona fide residents are authorized to fell and remove such timber, yet, if surveyed, such lands would be entered and purchased by owners of mills and mines, for the purpose of securing the timber thereon for their exclusive use. In this way mineral timber lands which now yield nothing to the government except the amount paid for the areas of mining claims would be a source of revenue.

The instructions forbid the survey of pastoral land. In this country it is almost always associated with agricultural land, on which are raised hay, oats, and vegetables, and it is with the greatest difficulty that an experienced man can tell what land is worthless, and what cannot be cultivated. The most worthless ground in this country can and does support sheep and cattle, with a little irrigation from the mountain streams, and it is only a question of a few years, if the necessary legislation can be had, when large tracts of land will be taken up for stock ranges. Anywhere on the table lands can be found swales covered with fine grass, and plenty of good land. The introduction of sheep culture into this country has completely revolutionized the ideas of the inhabitants as to land, and a great number of farms have been taken up as hay ranches, many of them on ground left unsurveyed as worthless.

Walter W. de Lacy, United States deputy surveyor, a gentleman of thorough scientific acquirements and long practical experience as a civil engineer and land surveyor, writes me relative to this subject, as follows:

* In 1863, I was one of the first to enter the Stinking Water Valley, on my way to the far famed Alder Gulch. I thought then that I had never seen a more desolate or worthless looking valley. It was covered with sage brush. Within two years this sage-brush land proved to be excellent farming land, and to-day the valley contains many thriving farms, well cultivated, has at least two towns and a large number of herds of cattle, horses, and sheep, besides mines on every side of it.

“I have seen the same thing in other places in this Territory, in California, in Idaho, and in Washington Territory. My experience has been a very varied one, yet withal I might survey land and declare that it was agricultural; it might be inspected by some one who had no experience in this country and rejected as such, and I might lose my time, my money, and my employment.

“The true way, in my opinion, would be to survey the whole country into townships, subdividing such as are found to contain valuable land. Let the township lines be run first. The surveyor, in returning surveys of exterior lines, should furnish notes of the different parts, as far as he has the opportunity to see them. The deseriptions should be as minute as possible, showing the character of the land embraced in the township. This would, in the first place, give a very good topographical idea of the whole country, and would also designate effectively the agricultural, pastoral, mineral, and timber lands. The department and the surveyor general could then act uwderstandingly in giving contracts and describing the country.

“ As for the surveyors to whom contracts are awarded, they should have a rigid examination in mathematics, use of instruments, calculation of areas and draughting, the method of making public land surveys, with regulations governing the same, and have had some previous experience. The only exceptions should be old and reliable surveyors who have already been long in service and proved their capability.

** There have been many bad surveys inade throughout the western country, but this is not wonderful. Many of the surveyors were men who were not educated to the business, who cared for nothing but making money ; there were no inspections, no accountability, and no punishment for wrong doing. With a different system the public surveys can be made a credit to the country.”

I thoroughly indorse the views of Deputy Surveyor De Lacy, as set forth in above letter, which was written at my request, and would add that, in my judgment, the prices allowed for field work are entirely too low to afford a fair compensation to the depnty surveyor for the thorough and faithful performance of his duties, and contrast very unfavorably with those paid by other governments. I could cite several instances to prove this statement, but confine myself to referring to the Province of Ontario, Dominion of Canada, as the one nearest at hand. There, under the contract system, the price paid to deputy surveyors for field work is seven cents per acre. In this sur veying district, as previously stated in this report, the amount paid is about two and eight-tenths cents per acre.


During the past spring and early summer, in accordance with the requirements of section 2223, United States Revised Statutes, I personally inspected a large portion of the work in the field, then under contract, satisfying myself that the same had been faithfully executed in accordance with the law and instructions. In this connection I desire to state that, in my judgment, the provision of law above referred to requiring the surveyor general, “so far as is compatible with the desk duties of his office," to “occasionally inspect the surveying operations in the field,” is a very wise one. Such inspections by the surveyor-general are a direct check upon any possible carelessness or neglect of duty upon the part of the deputy surveyor; his willingness, thus shown to all the employés in his district, to personally endure the discomforts and often hardships of field work, tends to increase the efficiency of the service; and it gives him an opportunity to acquire a personal knowledge of the wants of his surveying district, which could not be obtained in any other way. Deputy Surveyor De Lacy, in the letter above referred to, says, relative to inspections:

“The surveys should be thoroughly inspected. The inspector should come to the ground either when the surveyor is there or directly after, should test a certain number of lines, look at the corners, examine triangulations, and see whether the notes agree with the lines. A certain percentage of errors found should be sufficient to exclude the surveyor from future contracts. The mineral surveys should also be inspected; that is, a certain number should be examined in each district of those which are surveyed during the year. If the examiner did his duty there would very soon be a marked improvement in government surveys."


During the past fiscal year 118 surveys of lode and placer claims have been returned to this office, worked up and approved. The amount of deposits made for office work on mining claims was $3,150, and amount paid to clerks from that fund was $2,187.90, showing a surplus of $962.10.

During the previous fiscal year, ending June 30, 1877, 71 survey of lode and placer claims were returned to this office, worked up and approved. The amount of deposits made for office work on mining claims was $1,810, and amout paid to clerks from that fund was $4,075, showing a deficit of $2,265.

This comparison is respectfully submitted for the purpose of showing that no part of the deficiency of $853.93 now existing in special deposit fund, as per Exhibit J, was incurred since I assumed charge of this surveying district, and also that, during the fiscal year, 118 surveys have been workeil up and approved, at a cost of $2,187.90, as against 77 surveys worked up and approvedl, at a cost of $4,075, during the previous fiscal year ending June 30, 1877.


A detailed statement of the work performed in this office during the fiscal year is given in Exhibit P. In addition to the regular work tberein enunerated, much time and labor have been spent in arranging the records of this office, which were, and are still to some extent, in an inconvenient and incomplete state. The work has been promptly, carefully, and thoronghly executed.

STATEMENTS, The following statements are transmitted as a part of this report, viz: A. Showing condition of appropriation for surveys of public land in the Territory of Montana during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

B. Showing amount of special deposits for office work on mining claims in Montana for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

C. Showing description of public land surveyed in Montana Territory during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

D. Showing condition of the public surveys contracted for by the surveyor general for Montana Territory, under appropriation by Congress for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878,

E. Showing condition of appointments made for the survey of mineral claims in Montana, under acts of Congress during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

F. Showing the description of land for which township plats and descriptive lists have been furnished the Helena and Bozeman land offices during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

G. Showing the condition of the appropriation for the salary of the surveyor general for Montana during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

H. Showing the condition of the appropriation for the clerks in the office of the surveyor general for Montana, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

I. Showing the condition of the appropriation for incidental expenses for the office of the surveyor general for Montana, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

J. Showing the condition of the account of special deposits for office work on mining claims in the office of the surveyor general for Montana during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

K. Showing the number of plats maile in the office of the surveyor general for Montana, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

L. Showing the number of acres of public land surveyeil in Montana Territory from the inception of surveys to the close of the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

M. Showing the number of linear miles run, the rate per mile, and the total cost of surveys, in the Territory of Montana, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

N. Giving names, nativity, &c., of the surveyor general and the employés in his office at Helena, Montana, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

0. Showing the number of letters recoriled in the office of the surveyor general for Montana, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

P. Showing the work performed in the office of the surveyor general for Montana, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.

Q. Estimates for surveying services and office expenses in the district of Montana, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1881).


My estimate for field work is based upon what I regard the actual necessities of this district, and the prices named are those established by law, with the exception of meander lines, which I have estimated at $10 per mile, same as standard. The work of running, measuring, and marking meander lines, and the office work of the deputysurveyor on same, is far more difficult than standard lines. As it will be necessary to do a large amount of meandering in this district, in the near future, I trust that Congress, in justice to the deputy surveyors, will increase the rate from $6 per mile to that named above.

My estimate for my own salary is based upon that paid my predecessors up to July 1, 1877, and in view of the work and responsibility required, and the cost of living in this Territory, it is, in my judgment, as small an amount as should be paid for the services rendered. The same remark will apply to the salaries of the clerks.

The estimate for incidental expenses is the same as allowed during the present fiscal year, and it is only by the exercise of strict economy that it will cover the actual necessary expenses of the office,

The estimate for binding and preserving the original records of surveys has been so often made and indorsed by the Commissioner and, as often, stricken out of the appropriation, that it seems almost useless to ask for it again, yet I deem it my duty to once more call attention to its necessity.


The land under cultivation in this Territory comprises only a very small portion of that capable of being so used, and this important branch of industry can searcely be said to have kept pace with the wants of the people. This is not a strange state of affairs in so new a country, originally supposed to be valuable only for its minerals. Within the past year or two there has been a marked increase in the amount of agricultural products, and this will doubtless continue until the supply equals the demand.

The climate of Montana has undergone a marked change during the past four years, the rain-fall increasing from year to year, and many lands supposed to be utterly worthless for agricultural purposes are now bearing fine crops of hay, grain, vegetables, &c.

PLACER MINES. Although the days for making large fortunes in placer mining have probably gone by, it is still an important source of wealth and, owing to the increased rain-fall, more ground is now being worked than for several years previous.

There is a vast amount of placer-mining ground in this Territory which would pay from $1.50 to $2 per man per diem, and, with an increase of population and reduction in the cost of living, this will undoubtedly all be worked.

New and rich mines are said to have been discovered in the Bear Paw Mountains, but, as yet, sufficient work has not been done to prove their permanence or value.

GOLD LODES. There has also been a marked increase in the amount of gold ore worked in the Territory. The exceedingly rich body of ore struck in the Penobscot mine, situated in township 11 north, range 6 west, has caused great excitement, not only in Montana, but also throughout the East and on the Pacific slope, among those interested in mining. An official report from the mining superintendent states that the value of the product from January 1, 1878, to May 25, 1878, was $80,797.62, the total number of tons of ore milled being 685. Included in this product was one bar of gold, the largest ever produced in this country, valued at $54,235.62. The milling facilities are very imperfect, but the owners are now engaged in erecting a 15-stamp mill, and it is their belief that, when completed, it will be able to earn $50,000 per month, working ores from the Penobscot and Snow Drift mines. This rich strike has diverted the public attention from other gold lodes of former prominence, which, however, so far as heard from, are all being steadily worked, with an increased product over that of former years.

SILVER LODES. It is impossible, within the necessary limits of this report, to note in detail, or even make reference to, the producing silver lodes in this Territory. After passing through the usual phases of undue inflation, followed by unwise investments and extravagant management, producing great depression, silver mining may now be considered as one of the steady industries, resting upon a permanent basis.

The operations at Butte, the present great center of silver-mining and milling were interrupted for some weeks by labor troubles, now, apparently, happily adjusted. In Philipsburg, Vipond, Trapper, Boulder, Jefferson, and other prominent mining districts, work has continued without interruption.

During the past fiscal year the facilities for reducing ore have been largely increased throughout the Territory, and many mines, formerly mere prospect holes, are now being skillfully developed in such a manner as to prove their permanence and value.


Many valuable copper mines are known to exist in Montana ; some have been partially worked, and shipments of ore are made. The cost of transportation and the fact that there are no facilities here for reducing such ore have prevented any extensive development of these lodes. The same causes, in comection with the low price of lead, have, in a lesser degree, retarded the mining of galena ores, except where they carry a large percentage of silver. It is only a question of time when these obstacles will be overcome, and the product of copper and lead will then be a very important item in the mineral wealth of this Territory.

COAL AND IRON, Large bodies of coal of good quality have been discovered in various parts of Montana and several mines are being worked in a small way.

Iron ore has also been found and will some day prove valuable, although at present no inducements exist for working it.

SHIPMENTS OF GOLD AND SILVER. The value of the gold and silver shipped from this Territory during the past fiscal year is as follows: By Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express, gold .....

$2,060, 511 By Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express, silver...

1, 119, 635

$3, 180, 146 By private conveyance, estimated

500,000 Ores and base bullion, estimated

800,000 Total value of shipments ...

4, 480, 146 During the same period the United States assay office at Helena, Mont., handled :

$331, 460 51 Silver

385, 277 90



716, 738 41


The number and value of the stock assessed in Montana during the Territorial fiscal year ending December 31, 1877, is as follows:

Number. Value. Horses and mules...

34,984 $1, 164, 757 Cattle

142, 659 2, 027, 037 Sheep..

79, 288 234, 864 Hogs

5, 144 29, 390 The return from Custer County gives only the value of the stock, omitting the number, and it is safe to say that the above figures are an underestimate of the number and value of the stock at the time the assessment was made, in the summer and fall of 1877.

Stock men are paying more attention to the improvement of the quality of their stock; the increase this year is much larger proportionately than that of previous years, and large numbers of stock of various kinds have been brought into the Territory since the above assessment was made. As her magnificent natural facilities become better known and utilized, Montana will take rank among the foremost stock countries in the world.

As previously stated in this report, the time will soon come when stock men will find it requisite to lease or buy large tracts of land for grazing purposes, and it is earnestly hoped that the necessary legislation on the part of Congress may be had at an early date.

POPULATION. The population of Montana, for a long time transitory, and composed mainly of men, has assumed a permanent character, and during the past year many families have been added to its number.

The citizens are intelligent, enterprising, and industrious, fully alive to the advantages of education, cheerfully consenting to comparatively heavy taxes to promote its advancement, and, thus far, the evil of tramps is unknown.

More people are needed to develop the resources of the Territory, yet the labor market may be said to be fully stocked. As capital is invested in the various industrial enterprises, more labor will be required, but at present what Montana most needs is an influx of intelligent, industrious men and women, who will take up the public lands, and have means enough to support themselves for a year or two until agriculture or stock raising yields them a livelihood. To such Montana offers a home in a beautiful, healthy country, education for their children, and, in the near future, a competence as the result of their economy and industry.


If I have dwelt at too great length in this report upon the matters relative to surveys, it is due to my earnest desire to see the surveying service made, in all respects, a credit to the country. The present system is in the main a very good one in theory, and it only needs a few changes, easily made, and the earnest efforts of the surveyorsgeneral and the deputy surveyors to make it thoroughly so in practice.

The suggestions embodied in this report are respectfully submitted with the earnest hope that, in connection with those of others of longer standing and more experience in the service, they will receive careful consideration and have due weight in determining future legislation regarding this important branch of the public service. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


United States Surveyor General for Montana. Hon. J. A. WILLIAMSON,


A.-Statement showing condition of appropriation for surreys of public land in the Territory of Montana during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1878.



[blocks in formation]

1877. 76 Nov. 28 76

Dec. 4 77 Dec. 20

1878. 79 June 19 78 June 28

July 12 79 July 19 78 Aug. 1


George F. Marsh.
De Lacy & Kellogg
Demas L. McFarland
George F. Marsh.

610 35 1, 129 54 4, 218 35 2, 639 89 1, 383 84

296 47

17, 700 00

17, 700 00

ROSWELL H. MASON, United States Surveyor General for Montana.

« PreviousContinue »