Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/758

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734
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

will have. They expect to meet occasionally such "intelligent prejudice" as is exhibited by Mr. Herbert Spencer, whose contribution to the discussion of the subject is sure to be considered in the years to come as altogether the most remarkable to be found in any time or tongue.


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NEVADA SILVER.

By CHARLES HOWARD SHINN.

A THIRD of a century ago the surface bonanzas of the Comstock began to yield their treasures. Californians long skilled in gold mining were rushing by thousands into the newly discovered silver districts, and prospecting the mountains and deserts east of the Sierras. In fact, the whole Pacific coast was ringing with shouts of "On to Washoe!" In a few years this obscure, long-neglected corner of western Utah became the State of Nevada. It developed a multitude of mining camps besides the Comstock; it created new forms of mining skill, maintained vast dependent industries, contributed revenues to distant cities, sent forth new groups of millionaires, gave to the world new types of frontier character, and added a dramatic chapter to the story of American commonwealths.

The land itself is worth a moment's attention. It is a high plateau, gridironed by short, parallel mountain chains, the most noted of which is the Washoe Range, separated from the Sierras by a line of small Alpine valleys, and rising, in Mount Davidson, to a height of 7,827 feet. East, south, north, extend weary miles of desert, relieved by a few oases. The scanty rivers of Nevada soon lose themselves in alkaline basins. According to an old frontiersman, reported by Dan De Quille, "the Almighty once started out leadin' a number of small rivers along, meanin' to unite them into one large one, and take it to the Pacific. But before he had more than started it grew late Saturday night, so he tucked the ends down into the sand, where they have remained ever since."

Stephen T. Gage, of the Southern Pacific Railroad, tells an interesting story of Horace Greeley's journey across the continent. The distinguished editor had reached Placerville, California, and had been met by a few ardent followers on horseback. The boisterous mountain town was politically opposed to Greeley, but when the group of young men, of whom Gage was one, brought him out on the plaza for a speech, a great crowd assembled.

"I believe," said Greeley, "that God never made anything without a purpose. But the wilderness that I have crossed is