Page images
PDF
EPUB

from him. In the darkness the vio- snake became less rhythmical, conlin called and sobbed and called tortionate; it hissed again, and the again, and in

answer came the light in the little red eyes grew weary, lagging pressure on the mat. bright. The forked tongue darted Armstrong felt a sudden dread of in and out; it licked the woman's something, he did not know of what hair; it touched her hand !

-a sudden desire to be out of the Another scudding cloud was hurwater jar, but its slippery earthen rying past the moon; already the walls held him fast.

light was growing dim, uncertain. The cloud was passing; through Armstrong, in an

agony, leaned its frayed edges the moonlight fil- from his prison, and something tered again. Armstrong leaned for- clicked against the water jar. It was ward. There were—yes, surely, the butt of his revolver; he had forthere were two heads! Then, as if gotten it. by the stroke of a giant brush, the The two were very close together cobwebs were swept from the moon now, and still

the

violin sang. and light flooded Singhi Mountain. Could his aim be true? The light

Armstrong's heart contracted. was growing faint. The room "God!" he cried.

seemed filled with swaying, flat, Something sinuous, brown, had brown heads. Armstrong gathered reared itself out of the shadow; it himself together, and three bullets was swaying very close to Florence. whizzed in the air. He saw the white breast, the drawn hood of skin, the eyes glowing red When Florence opened her eyes, like tiny danger lights. He saw the sun was smiling through the the smooth, lithe body turning-re- camphor trees, and her husband was treating-advancing, and was pow- kneeling beside her.

— erless!

"Why, Warren," she asked, "Florence!" he called.

“what is it? I feel so—queer. Am The cobra drew his hood erect I ill?” and hissed, but the violin sang on. “Just a little, dear," he said, but Florence did not hear; her eyes he covered her hand with kisses. looked unseeingly ahead.

"And, Flossie," he went on, with a "O God!” he cried, "what shall I brave show of unconcern, “I've do!"

cabled to the 'L. & D.' to send out His voice rang like a discord in another man. We're going home, the melody. The movements of the please God!"

*

*

FEARLESS

By MAY SPENCER
Little shell, fragile shell, low on the shore,
Have you no fear of the ocean's roar,
Lest his pitiless waves should bear you away
Ten thousand leagues from this peaceful bay?

Ah, no! ah, no! O question strange!
Why should I tremble at storm or change?
Life's joy that was mine is forever lost,
What matters to me the shore where I'm tossed ?

The Borax Industry and Its Chief Promoter

but only as incident to finding a good mine or some opening where he could make a fortune. Like thousands of others he had been engaged in teaming, contracting for the delivery of wood to the mills and timbers to mines; but his worldly possessions to this date, as he humorously says himself, consisted of two or three wood ranches, a band of pack animals, and the usual variety of wild-cat claims to mines. He was living in a good, comfortable cabin in a narrow gulch which commanded a fine view of the outlying country. From the timberlandis he could see the Columbus borax marsh, which was then being worked, and Teel's marsh glistening

like beds of snow in the desert beMr. F. M. Smith.

low. It was not known, however,

that at that time there was any HE borax industry in the borax in Teel's marsh. United States may be said to The outlying marshes of the

have had its real beginning in West differ very much in apthe discovery of borax in Teels

pearance from what is

known Marsh by Mr. Francis M. Smith. in the East as a marsh. In the West

The character of Mr. Smith is em- they are not necessarily very soft bodied in the three words, energy, or watery. They are generally dry foresight, and shrewdness. Born at lakes or lagoons covered with a Richmond, Walworth County, Wis- crust of alkaline in some of its consin, fifty-seven years ago, he has forms. They occupy the low depressolely by his own efforts, made him- sions in the bottom of the desert, and self one of the leading capitalists receive the drainage from a large of the West. This is more remark- surrounding area, and the saline able from the fact that he built up matters accumulating, give them his fortune in the very heart of the a light, whitish appearance. After worst desert on

this continent, a local storm or cloudburst, they where there was everything seem- may be wet and soft for some time, ingly to contend with.

but when their waters evaporate, The fall of 1872 found him in the they glisten like fields of snow. wood camps about ten miles from At the time when Mr. Smith disColumbus, Nevada. From 1867 he covered the borax it was a dry seahad been following the various min- son, and the alkaline areas were ing camps of the West, accepting all more than ordinarily extensive. available employments that offered From the hilltops he could see the

[graphic]

T

[graphic][merged small]

gleaming white Teel's marsh, and samples at Columbus, and who had taking two wood-choppers with been sent out to locate borax dehim one day he visited the marsh posits. Guided by the camp on the and found a heavy incrustation lake, this man found Mr. Smith's which seemed rich in borax on test- men, and remained with them over ing. It appeared afterwards that night. Before long, he asked Mr. he had by chance stepped upon the Smith where Teel's marsh was, and richest portion of the marsh first. was told that there was an alkali He was so impressed with the ap- fiat about twenty miles from there, pearance of the marsh that he took and that he could take one of the a small quantity of provisions and men as a guide to accompany him. some pack-animals from the wood- The visitor left early the next camp, returned to the desert, and morning, accompanied by one of Mr. made a dry camp on the edge of the Smith's choppers, and was gone dry lake, and at once located several three days. It is scarcely necesthousand acres, most of which after- sary to say that by the time of his wards proved to be worthless. return, Mr. Smith had the Teel's

Leaving the men at work on these marsh property thoroughly located locations, Mr. Smith started on a and the foundation for his fortune round of visits to his wood-ranches and for the borax industry of the and thence to Columbus. Before Pacific Coast secured. A few days reaching Columbus, the certificates later, he put in an appearance, and of analyses were handed to him, Mr. Smith staked out a good lostating that the samples he had sent cation for the chemist himself, and from Teel's marsh were the finest put him on it, a pleasing gift, though specimens of borate of soda that perhaps hardly deserved. Uniting had been found up to that time. In with his brother, a Chicago comColumbus he enlisted two associ- pany was organized, a small plant ates, laid in fresh supplies, and put up, and the production of borax started back for Teel's marsh, un- was begun. conscious that his fortune hung up- Borax was first discovered on a slender thread, but his indomi- January 8, 1856, by Dr. John A. table energy led him aright, for he Veatch, who was boiling some of the was so anxious to anticipate any at- water of Tuscan Spring in Shasta tempt on the part of others to locate

County and set the water aside to the deposits that he made a night cool, when it happened to be concenmarch across the desert, guided only trated enough for the borax to crysby the camp-fires of his laborers, tallize out. The first borax proreaching camp long after mid- duced in the United States was night. Here he found a friend in made at Borax Lake, at the south the chemist who had analyzed his end of Clear Lake in Lake County,

on

California, in 1864, and twelve tons cators, and in clearing up all adwere produced, worth 39 cents a verse claims. The property then pound, or $780 per ton. On learning passed to the sole ownership of Mr. of the discoveries of Dr. Veatch, Smith, who transferred it to the one William Troup, a Virginian, be- Pacific Coast Borax Company about gan to look for borax, and in 1864 twelve years ago. From that time and 1871 cottonballs were found in on, the growth of the industry has different parts of Nevada. This so- been rapid. The product in 1864 of called cottonball, which is really a 12 tons was worth $780 a ton or borate of lime, is boiled with water 39 cents a pound. In 1874, 914 tons, and carbonate of soda. The two worth 14 cents a pound. In 1884, minerals change partners, and the 1019 tons, worth about 10 cents a

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

carbonate of lime and the carbonate pound. In 1894 the product was of soda or borax

or borax are produced. 5,770 tons, worth 7 cents a pound. Many small plants for the produc- In 1901, 10,815 tons, worth 7 cents tion of these cottonballs were erec- a pound. In other words, during the ted, and their output created a spec- first ten years the output increased ial stir. Borax was still worth 30 from an average of a ton a month cents a pound when the Teel's to 76 tons. In the next decade this marsh deposits were discovered, was increased to 85 tons. In the and a rush was started that almost third decade it was increased to ruined the market.

480 tons, and at the present time The Smith brothers finally ob- the product is over 1000 tons per tained sole control of Teel's marsh month. While the Teel's marsh was by buying out over one hundred lo- important, it was probably the de

a

ve

velopment of the borax fields of factor in bringing this great reDeath Valley in 1880 that brought source of the desert into the homes Mr. Smith the reputation which

of this nation. Thirty years ago made his name a household word borax was an expensive luxury. Toall over the world.

day it is so cheap that it is an ordiIt is impossible to give a pen pic- nary household necessity. What has

a ture of the difficulties encountered. been procured at an outlay of so The bottom of Death Valley is much physical discomfort and at so nearly 400 feet below sea level. great a cost in many of the drearIn 1880 the operating point was iest portions of the universe, is one over 250 miles from San Bernar- of our greatest labor-saving and dino, the base of supplies. In that health-preserving agents. distance there was scarcely a spring Borax finds innumerable uses and or a drop of water, yet lumber, a

these are ever-increasing. It is exhorses, wagons and supplies had tensively used in assaying and in to be taken through. Houses were the metallurgy of ores and in the built fast, the work of making smelting of copper; it is said to borax went right on, and the “Twen- be an excellent insecticide; it is emty-Mule Team" became

house

ployed in the preservation of meats hold word. The wagons usually

and fruits; it has been largely apused for bringing borax from the plied to the manufacture of the pordesert were the largest and most celain-coated utensils known geneconomical ever built, holding ten erally as granite ware; and the tons each, and drawn by eighteen white-enameled bath-tubs, so commules and two horses, and steered mon everywhere, their clean by a single “jerk” line. This “jerk" and

and beautiful surface mainly line or single rein by which the gi- borax. It is used in the manufacgantic team was guided was one ture of pottery and earthenware as hundred and twenty-five feet long. a glaze; it is put up in packages for Two of these wagons held a carload the household, and borax of the of borax. In the picture of them, "Twenty - Mule - Team - Brand" is familiar to everyone, will be seen a known the world over; it is widely huge water tank trailing along be- used in the home and in laundries hind. The route of this wagon was on account of its great cleansing over one of the most rugged and properties; it is a valuable cosmetic, precipitous mountain ranges in the rendering the skin soft, and it is world, namely, the Panamint Moun- claimed it will prevent a great many tains.

skin diseases. Cotton goods satuFor eight years, or until 1888, the rated with a solution of borate of work was maintained. With the ammonia and dried, become inflamdiscovery of colemanite in the Cal- mable. It is used in making tough ico Mountains, near Daggett, the grades of glass and for glass stainscene of operations was changed. ing and in caustic tiles; it is needed This colemanite, which is a borate in the manufacture of "strass," the

" of lime, lies in veins and is mined basis of artificial gems. Varnishes just as gold quartz would be mined. are made of it, and substitutes for Owing to the scarcity of water at gum. It is used in tanning when Daggett for manufacturing pur- wools and furs are treated, as it poses, the crude material is shipped cleans, softens and prevents the to the Alameda Refinery for sup- hair from falling out. It is known plying the Pacific Coast market, and extensively in medicine. to the huge refinery at Bayonne, The use of borax and various New Jersey, which supplies the en- borates in chemistry would make tire borax trade in the East.

a still longer list. In fact, the use Mr. Smith has been a public bene- of borax is mainly in the household

a

« PreviousContinue »