« AnteriorContinuar »
An excellent epitome of their results will be found in the first volume of Mr. (now Sir Charles) Lyell's Travels in North • America ;' where, as well as in his Second Visit to the • United States, most instructive views are given, with admirable distinctness, of American geology in comparison with that of Europe. At present we must content ourselves with referring to these publications, and to the masterly original memoirs of the Messrs. Rogers, in the reports of the Associated American Geologists and Naturalists, published in 1843.*
One of the prominent facts connected with the coal seams of this remarkable country, is the prodigious extent, throughout which some of them have been ascertained to be continuous. Thus the great bed of Pittsburg stretches nearly through the whole length of the Monongahela river, having been traced throughout a great elliptic area of nearly 225 miles in its longest diameter, and of maximum breadth about 100 miles,- the superficial extent of this seam being thus about fourteen thousand square miles ; and Mr. Rogers considers these vast dimensions as bearing actually but a small proportion to the ancient limits of the stratum, which he supposes to have been at least 34,000 . square miles;' a surface greater than that of Scotland or Ireland: the thickness of the bed diminishing gradually from twelve or fourteen feet, to two feet.
It is, however, to the comparatively small Anthracitic region of Pennsylvania, that the greatest interest seems to be attached by the author of this volume; and it will, perhaps, surprise some of our readers, accustomed to the firesides of England and the cheerful blazing of our bituminous coal, to know that, in America, Anthracite, or stone coal, which does not flame, but has the great advantage of not producing smoke, — is held in much higher estimation
• We now pass,' says the author, 'to the great deposit of anthracite in Pennsylvania, the only one, in fact, of material value on this continent. Here we have the most interesting assemblage of isolated coal basins that the world has yet produced, or the geologist investigated. The physical features of this anthracite country are wild, its aspect forbidding, its surface broken, sterile, and apparently irreclaimable. A century ago a large portion of this wilderness had received, upon the maps, the not unapt title of the “wilderness of “ St. Antony." Three-fourths of a century after, when a great part of this area was still in stony solitude, a few tons of an unknown.
• An Inquiry into the Origin of the Appalachian Coal Strata, ' &c.,' by Henry D. Rogers, pp. 433–474.; and 'On the Physical • Structure of the Appalachian Chain, &c.,' by W. B. Rogers, and H.D. Rogers, &c., 1841 and 1842, pp. 474–531.
combustible were brought from it to Philadelphia, where its qualities were to be tested, and its value ascertained. But the miner has now entered into this wilderness of St. Antony, and canals have penetrated it, and railroads have traversed it. Basin after basin of this combustible have been discovered in it, tract after tract have supplied productive collieries in it, until, in a single year (1847), it had furnished the surprising amount of 3,000,000 of tons (an aggregate of near 19,000,000 of tons of anthracite within the last quarter of a century); and 11,439 vessels cleared from the single port of Philadelphia in that season, loaded with a million and a quarter of tons for the service of the neighbouring states. Such then is the anthracite region, and such its rapid progress in production. To Pennsylvania, in relation to the future, its value, in connection with the corresponding advance of her manufacturing industry, surpasses the power of computation.' (Pp. 19, 20.)
The proportions of the superficial coal areas in the principal coal producing countries of Europe and America, are illustrated by diagrams, which the author considers as more impressive than the dry statement of numbers.
Diagrams of the superficial Coal Areas of rarious Countries.
437 sq.m. United States of America
3. Bituminous Coal Area
124,735 sq. m. E. of the Mississippi river. 8,397 sq. m. west of the Missouri river.
France. 1,719 sq. m.
Belgium. 518 sq. m. 1-220
Great Britain and
Ireland. Bituminous coal, Anthracite and culin, 8,139 sq.m.
3,720 sq. m.
On comparing these figures with those which follow,-expressing the relative production, or amount actually worked out, in the different states, - it appears that Great Britain, with a coal area of less than 9,000 square miles, (that of the United Stat
133,132 square miles) produced 31,500,000 tons of
coal in 1845; the whole produce of the United States during the same period being only 4,400,000, or somewhat less than one-seventh of the British produce.
Diagrams of the relative Amounts of Production of Mineral
Combustibles in the Six principal Coal-producing Countries of the World, in the year 1845.
It may be satisfactory to our readers to have before them the relative production of Iron at the same period.
Diagram of the Production of Iron in 1845.
An investigation, conducted by Professor R. Johnstone at Washington, U. S.*, respecting the comparative qualities of coal for the use of steamers in the United States, has been published in America, and the results are quoted by the author. At the suggestion of Mr. Joseph Hume a similar inquiry has since been adopted in this country, and entrusted to Sir H. De la Beche and Dr. Lyon Playfair, by whom two elaborate reports have been recently presented, — the first containing a statement of the methods and apparatus employed in the investigation, the second giving the result of the experiments on various coals from different collieries. As the operations are not yet finished, we shall not anticipate their probable results; but the promptitude of the authorities in adopting the suggested inquiry, and giving it effect, has been very creditable and satisfactory. When the report has been printed, a comparison of the methods used by our reporters with those employed in America, as well as by some other experimenters in this country and in Scotland, and of their results, will form an interesting subject for practical chemists --- as well as for the owners and consumers of coal.
Before we quit the subject of American coal, it is but justice to the public spirit and foresight of the statesmen by whom the geological and natural-history surveys of the United States were organised, to point out the benefit conferred on their country in thus obtaining for mining operations, and measures of local im
Report to the Navy Department of the United States on • American Coals,' by W. Ř. Johnstone, 1844.
provement, the guidance of Scientific knowledge. A government which is influenced by such views well deserves to have at its disposal such a powerful instrument of good as the United States derive from their vast coal districts. And in carrying through the surveys of several of the principal States, they have. formed and brought into action a corps of practical geologists, who may compete with those of any of the older European countries. Coal Districts of Nova Scotia.
We have seen in the Diagram at p. 530. fig. 3. the very large space occupied by coal in British North America. Mr. Taylor states, that an association, generally known under the name of the Cape Breton and Nova • Scotia Mining Company,' as tenants of the Crown and of his late royal highness the Duke of York, are lessees of all the • mines and minerals in the province of Nova Scotia Proper and • the island and county of Cape Breton.' The lease is for sixty years from 1827, at a fixed rent of 3,0001. per annum, with the condition that a maximum quantity (since increased to 6,500 tons) shall be raised annually, and a royalty of 2s. per chaldron be paid for all beyond that quantity. The company, which also possesses 14,000 acres of land, had in 1845 only four collieries open and at work—two in Nova Scotia and as many in Cape Breton. The author thus observes upon this arrangement:• In reciting these details we, as well as our readers, cannot omit 'to remark the injurious magnitude of such gigantic monopolies as the one before us. In this case it covers an extent of more than 12,000,000 of acres, or three times the size of Wales. It is scarcely necessary to say, that its tendency is to impoverish the people, and to destroy all energy in cultivating the abun• dant natural resources of a fine country. On the continuance . of such a deplorable system, the rival coal proprietors of the • United States may well found their calculations of a remunera«tive internal trade in coal, with even greater certainty than on the influence of tariffs and the restrictions of international regulations. (P. 189.)
A singular statement of fact is connected with this subject, that the steamboats which run into Chignecto Bay are impelled by coals imported from Great Britain, - actually passing over the coal strata, which the inhabitants of Nova Scotia are not permitted to open! and up to the present hour they are compelled
* A chronological list of writers on American geology, given by the author, comprehends nearly a hundred names of men, of whom several have by their works already acquired high reputation in Europe. VOL. XC. NO. CLXXXII.