Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/238

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

228

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

college in the midst of each. There is no reason why a system of joint effort, which from time immemorial has accomplished such wonderful things for religion and social order, should not be equally efficacious in scientific matters. A feeling of honorable pride should induce the officers and students of each institution to illustrate the flora and fauna, the mineralogy and geology of its collegiate district, more perfectly than any stranger could. The amount of intellectual labor which is utilized, and the number of valuable data collected each year, form but a small proportion of what is annually lost to the community through lack of organized effort. In a tersely-written letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania, urging the need of a new survey, Prof. Lesley says: "A most important function of a geological survey is, to preserve knowledge for future use. Science is cumulative. It makes slow and painful advances. It is obliged to collect an abundance of facts before it comes to true conclusions. Pennsylvania has lost enormously during the last twenty years by having no bureau of statistics, no corps of observation and publication, to observe and preserve, collate and relate, the facts of its geology and mineralogy, as they have successively made their appearance. No commonwealth can afford to be without such an apparatus for preserving from loss and forgetfulness the discoveries and investigations of private persons, even for one single year of its existence. Thousands of most valuable facts have been lost to us, during an interval, which cannot be recovered. How many openings on coal-veins are now covered up, no one being able to give any reliable information about them. Twenty thousand oil-borings have been made, and not one hundred of them are on record, if discoverable. Hundreds of gangways have been driven and abandoned, and cannot now be studied, many of which woidd disclose the nature of faults and disturbances which affect neighboring properties, and overlying and underlying beds not yet worked, where certain knowledge is preserved to govern the future mining-engineer in his plans for getting at the mineral. He must work as completely in the dark as if his knowledge had never been got, and often paid for at a ruinous expense. The sooner a geological survey is established, the better for the future interests of the State, as well as for its present necessities." At the height of the oil-fever in Pennsylvania, appreciating the wonderful opportunity which the sinking of innumerable wells afforded for obtaining complete geological sections of a vast area, I spent a long time in endeavoring to obtain from the superintendents engaged in boring, by personally visiting hundreds of wells in succession, the records of their work, and specimens of the penetrated strata. Printed circulars, asking for copies of such records in the interests of science, were sent to the secretary of every oil-company within our knowledge. Partly from the disgusting greed which possessed the oil-speculators to the exclusion of every higher feeling, and partly from an insane dread that the possession of such knowledge would be-