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The Real Cobalt
Cobalt Lake and its surroundings

AS I shall from time to time speak of the various mines, let’s sit down in the office of the Cobalt Lake Company—or better still, let’s get out in that naphtha launch in front of the office and I’ll point out to you where are some of the principal mines. We will take this as the viewpoint, for the “Cobalt Lake” seems to hold the “centre of the stage.’

Now listen while I tell you things. The lake runs along the railroad, or as it was here first, the railroad comes into town from the south along its west bank. The lake is like a long, high-top boot with the foot at the south end, across which the railroad cuts, leaving the severed toes on the west side of the track. The lake is long and narrow, and contains 53 acres. Cobalt—built-up Cobalt—is along the west side of the railway. Wish I could incidentally describe the town, but I can’t—it’s that mixed up.

It hasn’t a whole street. It has a “square” just to the west of the depot. “Square” in name only, for it runs as it pleases, with streets running out—two to the north, one to the west, and that one which runs down along the track to the south.

“Main” Street has so many names that it’s all owing to the man you ask, who can tell you where it is. I asked the Mayor and he said he didn’t know—but then he’s only been here four years. Like “Broadway,” New York, so called bccause it is so narrow, “Main” Street, Cobalt, is so called because it runs off to the side, toward the east. I could once have jumped across it, it’s that narrow. Two waggons might pass abreast, if one went in front, as Patrick would say, but would sure lock wheels if they went together. None of the roads are worked. Nothing seems to be “worked” in Cobalt but the people, and that keeps everybody busy. They told me, before I came, that there was no water in Cobalt. It’s all wrong. The day I landed there was lots of it, but it was all worked into the soil and got into your system over the tops of your shoes. This was uncomfortable for those who do not like water—and I met more of that kind in one week than I saw in New York City in seventeen years—not in Cobalt, as one must take water or go dry in this temperance town—unless—but that is also “another story,” which you may hear told the second day after you land. One of the O-boys I met must have heard it the first day. He seemed so happy. Said he’d found a small menagerie up Main Street. He had only a vague notion of the animals, and all that he could remember was a little pig, and it was “blind”—poor thing! He wanted me to go see it, but I’m so tender-hearted that I cannot endure to look upon affliction, even in an animal, and I refused. Next time I saw him—an hour or two later—he couldn’t have seen a pen of “pigs,” he was that “blind” himself. I don’t know, but some one said he was “paralyzed.” And incidentally I’ve never before seen so many cases of “paralysis” in a healthy camp as in the Cobalt district, covering a distance of twenty miles. Some days the sound man is the exception. Newton, Kansas, in the Seventies, had more, and the difference was that in Newton they used powder guns to do the “shooting”; here they use superheated uncompressed “air”—lots and lots of it, and so full of “sulphur” that “His Majesty” might start a new “camp” with the output.

And yet Cobalt, notwithstanding, is unique in the mining camps of the world. No intoxicants are allowed, by law, to be sold; it has fine schools, many churches, and is fast coming out of the chaos of its earlier years.

But about Cobalt’s topography, of which it has so great a variety—stumps predominating. You start up one street with a waggon, and you’ll have to go around through some other street or you’ll never get there, unless you go ’cross lots. The Government sells and takes out of one of its towns all it can possibly get and then leaves the town in the mud. It, or they, as you choose, has taken out nearly two million dollars from sales of lots and mining rights in and around Cobalt, and has returned towards street improvement the munificent sum of two thousand dollars.

Governments are the same the world over. They take from them who need help the most and give to the localities where votes are most needed to the party—no matter which—in power.

The Wichita Congressman

I am reminded of an instance in my own country. A member of Congress from Wichita, Kansas, asked for $20,000 to make the Arkansas River navigable from Arkansas City to Wichita. He had been very kind in voting for his brother members’ pet schemes and of course, got the twenty. He spent the money (SOME of it) in sticking in, along the banks, cottonwood brush. His party papers praised him, while the opposition papers were so glad to have so much money come into the community that they said nothing about it, and the rest of the country never heard of it. “Was his scheme successful?” you ask. Oh, yes, Very, very successful. He went in next time with a largely increased majority, but I could have waded across the river just as easy as I could before. All parties and all Governments are the same. But that does not change the fact that Cobalt should be given a part of the wealth taken from it by the powers that be. Same with Latchford and Englehart, but I’ll let them do their own talking.

Locations of Principal Mines

About two blocks back from the station (Cobalt’s), the steep hill begins, and to get up you must drive sideways or not reach the top, on which so many of the great mines are located. Yes, right in town. See those shaft houses? Let’s count those within a half mile of the station. Begin there at the south end of town, and count them in their order. Townsite, with the Silver Queen just below; power-house of the Cleveland-Cobalt, with mines a mile and a half to the west, to which compressed air is piped from here; City of Cobalt, Nancy-Helen, Buffalo, Coniagas, Trethewey, the many mines of the great Temiskaming and Hudson Bay Company, and others to the north and west, just beyond the hill, out of sight of where we are sitting.

So much for the town and mines along the west side of the lake. Now look to the north of where we sit in front of the Cobalt Lake Company’s office, and we’ll count those in near view. There’s the Larose, surrounded by the Chambers-Fer-land; the O’Brien, to the east; the Right of Way, the strip running down along the railway; the Nipissing, just here to our back; the next, joining the “Nip” on the south, is one of the best known of all, by reason of its great value and much optioned early history, the McKinley-Darragh. This brings our vision to the south end of the lake and up to the railway, beyond which, to the west, I have already named the mines in sight.

Now, there,have you the “lay of the land” in mind? Before coming up to see for myself, I could never get Cobalt and its mines fixed rightly. I’d look at the map and still it was all hazy. But sitting here and looking around with the lake as the centre, it is so plain that I wonder that I should not have seen it all before.

I wondered if it were hilly, and if so, how hilly. The west and east are both a high ridge, in places running down to the lake’s edge, while to the north and south is a valley through which the railway passes on an easy grade.

The mines of note, about which you hear so much, lie mostly in the district named around the lake. But many others are scattered in all directions save to the south. The Gillies Limit shuts off mining in that direction.

Gillies Limit

A report says that the Government was offered $15,000,000 for the Gillies Limit. I do not believe it. I have too high an opinion of the wisdom of the men who run it. They may make errors in management, but their judgment would not allow them to refuse an offer far above the value of a thing, and that sum is far above what this tract of country is worth. Just now they are putting its value to a test, by sinking a shaft. Although far down, they have, besides the shaft, sunk only money. They have, ’tis true, found some


which leads up to the story of the tenderfoot who, shortly after his arrival, asked in all simplicity: “Which is the more valuable, calcite or silver?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Why? Well, I hear so much about calcite that I have come to look upon it as the most valuable of minerals. Every-body^tells me: ‘I’ve struck a splendid calcite vein,’ and he’s prouder over it than any one I’ve seen after shipping a car of silver ore that has brought him a hundred thousand dollars. Yes, calcite must be most valuable!” He later learned some things, and calcite’s real worth was one of the things.

You, too, no doubt, want to learn some things, so let’s talk about some of the mines. We won’t talk of all of them. I’ve seen a lot of them that would come under the definition of the man who said: “A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar on top.” This is more true than elegant. I could appreciate the fact one day when I went hunting for a wonderful mine (?) which a newspaper, in a big edition, had lauded to such a height that I expected to find a great plant with a hundred men bagging rich ore. Among my pictures you may see what I found.

The Liar Wasn't There That Day

A friend had asked me to go and look over the property and tell him if the newspaper story were all true. It took me over a month to find where the thing was located. Even the men I met on an adjoining claim could not tell me where it was. I put in the afternoon, as I was determined to find it. Finally, I found some men chopping wood in a clearing. I thought it was a chopping bee, but instead, they told me that I had discovered the “ mine ” about which so many great things had been said in praise. I didn’t want to lose the afternoon, so I took a photograph of a water-filled hole. I was sorry that the rest of the “mine” wasn’t there. It may have been as well that “he” wasn’t, as I was not in the best of humor after my long tramp through the briers, weeds and holes, hunting for “him” and “the hole in the ground.” The company said they’d like to have me visit their mine and tell you about it. I have done so. I have even given you a photograph of it.

“Zay Got Ze Good Education ”

It is the real mines about which I mean to tell you. Mines which are being honestly worked. They are not all “shippers” yet, but as a French woman, at a little country soft drinks cabin, said to me one day, as I asked, pointing to a nearby mine, that had closed down: “Why did they close?”

“Zay finds ze silver, now zay want find ze buyer.” Pointing to another which had also closed, I asked: “Did they find the silver too?”

“No, but zay got ze good education.” Same with the mines of which I shall tell you. They may not all have found silver, but they have good indication. The French soft drinks lady had innocently told a truth that many a mine-worker will too sadly appreciate, as the claims up here are not all silver mines, as I had thought they were before I came. Yes, I thought you could find silver lying loose about the whole country. You can’t, though, and must be content to find it after much hard work, good management, and a good bit of outside money.

Do you think that it is found by simply digging into the ground? I did. I thought that you only had to dig and blast at random. Not so. You first hunt till you find a vein and then go down. You may find it near the top, as a few have done, or you may have to go down a hundred or more feet, and even then fail to get other than “ze good education.” Men have spent their last dollar, given up, heart-broken, and later learned the sad fact that one shot more would have made their fortune, which reminds me of

The “Other Foster's" Story

“An Irishman,” said Foster (who starting in Ohio has been in possibly every mining camp on the continent, finally turning up in Cobalt), “out in Colorado had a gold claim. He used to work this claim until his money gave out, then mine for others until he had another ‘stake,’ when he’d go back to his own. Well, he finally gave up in disgust, and abandoned the claim. Another took it up, and in just two feet struck a fabulously rich vein, and at once had a great mine. Later, the Irishman, on seeing what he had lost, said: ‘Oi’ve moined for forty years, and if Oi moine for a hunerd more, Oi’ll niver, niver, stap in a shaft till Oi’ve gan two fate further.’”

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