Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/237

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STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEYS.

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vestigations connected with and growing out of them. Much of the best talent of the time was engaged upon these stupendous labors, and around the eminent chiefs were gathered bands of enterprising students, whose methods of scientific work were formed beneath the eyes of masters. The assistants of earlier surveys are the directors of those now in progress, and the crude sketches of former times are replaced by huge volumes filled with exhaustive details and magnificent generalizations.

Great as has been the work accomplished, the question may nevertheless be asked, whether the State geological surveys are, or have been, organized in such a manner as to exert the greatest possible influence upon the scientific progress of their respective States. As heretofore constituted, they have consisted of a director and a number of assistants, who have drawn their salaries and prosecuted their labors until the State appropriations have been exhausted. In some instances the work of the assistants has been appropriated by the director in such a manner that the geological survey has appeared to the public to be entirely represented in the person of its presiding officer. Granting that this officer is better qualified than any one else, it is evident, nevertheless, that a geological bureau, thus constituted, must reject a large part of the available talent of a State. Still worse, by taking possession of the field, and by closing the columns of the report to all but the paid officials of the survey, many whose labors might be of great value are rendered indifferent or hostile to the work. A bureau framed in the manner above described is proper enough in the survey of Territories still largely occupied by Indians, but it is by no means suited to the condition or needs of a densely-populated State. When a dozen flourishing colleges exist within the boundaries of a State, is it well that a general geological survey should be made in such a manner as to apportion little if any of its work specifically to them? A survey so constituted tends to encourage a disposition, unfortunately only too prevalent among our collegiate professors, to regard their entire duty as performed when the labor of teaching is accomplished. A few days ago an eminent civil engineer, who in his moments of leisure has collected one of the finest cabinets of minerals in this country and has made himself a practised mineralogist, complained that, after twenty years of disappointments, he had grown wearied of sending doubtful specimens to professors in colleges for determination, and of receiving no answers after the lapse of many months. As a final resort, he has determined new species himself, and had the chemical analysis performed by a hard-worked chemist in a manufacturing establishment. A large part of the work of a geological survey should be assigned to the colleges in a State, and should be voluntarily performed by their professors. Every State from Maine to Florida should be divided up into collegiate districts, the scientific development of which should be more immediately under the care of the particular