Page:U.S. Department of the Interior Annual Report 1875.djvu/43
faithful execution of such work. In no country is this more true than in our own. Congress, recognizing this fact, has, for some years past, made liberal provision for geological and geographical surveys west of the Mississippi. The surveys of this class now progressing under the direction of the Interior and War Departments, are, and for the future presumably will be, carried on in the same general region where the public land surveys are being made; one ought to supplement the other, and can be made to do so, to the ultimate saving of expenditure, to the prevention of frauds upon the Treasury through the acquisition of title to mineral lands under agricultural proofs, and to the better assurance of all the desirable results which ought to be insisted upon in a project involving so much expense. I do not mean to be understood as advising that any of the salient features peculiar to geological and topographical surveying proper be added to the land survey system. But, in grouping the results sought to be obtained by the comprehensive purposes of nearly all the civilized nations now engaged in that work within their own territories, it is seen that to general geographical, geological, and topographical features, is added the special feature of marking on the ground and delineating upon the completed maps the boundaries of individual and public possessions, and it is this most useful feature which it is insisted might and would be furnished ready to the hand of the explorer, were the land surveys executed with scientific accuracy, and their leading monuments properly and securely placed. The astronomical positions could then be determined by means of connections made with the triangulations of the coast and geographical surveys, thus compensating for the cost by avoiding, as to all future work, the necessity of a resurvey, either by State or national authority, which will some time surely arise as to much of the work done in the past. The further advantage will also be assured through such a connection of the systems that a principal monument of the public surveys, destroyed from any cause, can be re-established with absolute accuracy of position by reference to the connection-lines of triangulation.
General legislation respecting the disposal of the public lands has, from an early day, contained clauses of exception reserving mineral-tracts from ordinary sale. The acts approved July 26, 1866, and May 10, 1872, (to develop the mining resources of the United States,) and the act approved March 3, 1873, entitled "An act to provide for the sale of the lands of the United States containing coal," among other things, constitute these lands a distinctive class, subject to conditions of sale, and affixing prices, differing wholly from the requirements, in these respects, as to other lands. For coal lands the price fixed by law is "not less than ten dollars per acre." For mineral lands other than coal the price fixed is $2.50 per acre for placer, and $5 per acre for lode-claims. The responsibility of carrying into effect the discriminations thus created by law, devolves upon this Office. The means of discharging that duty are of the most meagre character. As has already appeared, the Land Office surveys are not in any sense explorations, hence large tracts now known to contain valuable mineral-deposits—notably deposits of coal—have, since the passage of the coal land law, passed to private ownership, under pre-emption proofs, at the price of $1.25 per acre. This state of the law, and the already noted lack of information upon which to proceed for the protection of the Treasury, have not only resulted, and will continue to result, under existing conditions, in a necessarily ineffective administration of the provisions of the several enactments intended to be protective of the Treasury and preventive of undue