Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/239

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229
STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEYS.

stow an infallible talisman for striking oil, these attempts were in but half a dozen instances successful. Is it wonderful that such crass ignorance should have entailed ruin upon thousands? Nothing but the publication of exhaustive geological reports, continued year after year, and printed both in full and summarized into short popular forms, can save the community at large from the repetition of similar follies. One single mining-fever costs the State more than all the appropriations needed to discover and universally diffuse the truths of geology. The ignorance spoken of above finds a parallel only in the methods which were pursued in treating the crude petroleum after it had been sent to market. The director of the principal chemical manufactory in Western Pennsylvania informed the writer that they first attempted to refine crude petroleum by throwing hundreds of pounds of bergamot and other perfumes into it, to take away the smell. If the reader says that this story is incredible, I can only repeat, "Yes, it is incredible."

It may be urged that few men are placed in such positions, or provided with such appliances, or possessed of sufficient leisure, to contribute any thing of value to the general stock of geological knowledge. But there are hundreds who would shrink from publishing a lengthy article or reading a paper before a learned body, and yet are acute reasoners and accurate observers, and whose abilities could be made available by a good system of collecting and collating their fragmentary labors. I have met many school-teachers and pastors in Switzerland whose parochial duties confined them to obscure valleys among the mountains, and who still had found time to collect the fossils, plants, and minerals, of their poverty-stricken hamlets, and to make careful maps of the rock-strata. They did so for two reasons: In the first place, the topographical map of General Dufour, on a scale of 1 to 100,000, previously accomplished by national aid, rendered it possible for them to locate their observations of strata, etc., with precision; and, secondly, because their contributions were utilized by the professors at Zurich, Bern, Geneva, and elsewhere, and incorporated in their published geological reports. A State survey, so organized as to make every intelligent school-teacher, every country-surveyor, every civil and mining engineer, chemist, amateur or collector, one of its working corps, would, we believe, do the work better, more cheaply, and with vastly more benefit to the material and intellectual prosperity of the State, than any present organization. This would be a school of science indeed, unincumbered by the dead weight of expensive school-buildings, whose laboratory and museum would cover every square foot of the State's surface.