COAL AND SALT


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Besides its gold, silver, copper, and lead, Arizona possesses immense coal-fields and large salt deposits. The latter article is an important factor in the reduction of silver ores, and a prime necessity for their successful treatment. Arizona, in this respect, is endowed beyond her neighbors, and nature, while scattering in profusion her mineral wealth throughout the Territory, has also provided the agents for its successful working. About 100 miles above Phœnix, on Salt river, there is a high bluff composed almost entirely of salt. From this bluff, several springs highly impregnated with saline matter, flow into the stream. The river above this point is pure and clear, but below it has a strong brackish taste. The salt is of a fine quality, being remarkably free from soda, gypsum, and other impurities. An effort to erect a factory, and bring the article into market, has not proven a success, owing to the expense and difficulty of getting material on the ground. This deposit is an extensive and valuable one, and will yet prove a lucrative investment for those who have the requisite capital. Near Camp Verde, in Yavapai county, there are several large salt bluffs or hills. This salt carries large quantities of soda and magnesia. It is used by cattle raisers for salting their stock; the supply is almost inexhaustible, and the salt could easily be freed from its impurities, and made to answer all purposes, dairying, table use, or the working of ores. Salt lagoons are met with in several places in Apache county. The principal lake or lagoon is near the line of New Mexico. About 1,000,000 pounds are taken yearly from this lake, and with proper facilities it could be made to produce an almost unlimited supply. The salt is precipitated to the bottom of the lake, wagons are driven into the shallow water, and the glittering crystals shoveled in. This is one of the most valuable salt springs on the continent, and besides supplying cattle raisers in Apache and portions of Yavapai, furnishes large quantities for the working of silver ores. The Atlantic and Pacific railroad, passing within a short distance north, will be the means of providing a larger market for this valuable article.

Next to the great fields of Pennsylvania, there is no portion of the Union which can show such immense coal measures as Arizona. This coal region embraces the northern division of Apache, and that portion of Yavapai north of the Little Colorado. The coal-field extends into New Mexico on the east, and Utah on the north; competent geologists have estimated its


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area at over 30,000 square miles, or more than half the coal measures of the United States. The beds vary in size, from two inches to thirty feet. A gentleman who visited these coalfields in 1873, writes of them as follows: ‘‘Close to Fort Defiance a vein exists nine feet thick, and it seems to possess all the qualities of excellent bituminous coal, and to rank next to anthracite for domestic purposes. * * * I see no reason why it should not be pre-eminently useful for generating steam and for smelting ores. * * * This description will apply to all the coal in the great Arizona coal basin. * * * The next great bed of coal encountered is situated about twenty miles north-west from the Moquis villages, and close to the northern verge of the Painted Desert. * * * It is twenty-three feet thick and boldly crops out for a distance of three miles. This coal is close, compact, and close burning; melts and swells in the fire, and runs together, forming a very hot fire, and leaves little residuum. It resembles, in external appearance, the Pennsylvania bituminous coal. * * * The trend of the coal-beds is north and south, and overlying this great deposit is drab clay, passing up into areno-calcareous grits, composed of an aggregation of oyster shells, with numerous other fossils which must have existed in this great brackish inland sea about the dawn of the tertiary period, probably in the eocene age.’’

A peculiarity of this great coal region is the number of petrified trees which are found all over its surface. Whole forests of these petrifactions are met with in all directions, proving that in ages past the country was covered with a dense growth of timber. Some of these trees are three feet in diameter and from fifty to sixty feet in length. The railroad on the thirty-fifth parallel will pass south of this immense coal deposit, and a branch will no doubt tap it. There is here coal enough to supply the United States for ages to come.

Bituminous coal of an excellent quality has recently been discovered on Deer creek, a tributary of the Gila, and near to the point where it enters that stream. The mines are in Pinal county, and about twenty miles east of the mouth of the San Pedro. The field, as far as has been ascertained, is about three miles long and two miles wide. The veins are from three to eight feet thick; the coal makes an excellent coke, and for domestic purposes it is said to be unequaled. The coal-beds are about sixty miles north of the Southern Pacific railroad, and arrangements are now being perfected for the running of a branch which will open a market for this valuable deposit. Coal of a fine quality has been found near Camp Apache and at other points in the eastern part of the Territory, but no effort has yet been made in the way of development.

It will thus be seen, from this hasty glance at the coal-fields of Arizona, that there is here abundance of the article, and of a good quality. If anything was wanting to make this Territory the greatest mining region on the globe, these vast coal deposits supply that want, and contain an inexhaustible fuel supply for the working of its ores, and for all other purposes to which it may be applied.

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