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California and its Mines.—The trustees of the California State Mining Bureau find in the increasing demands for their report evidence that the institution is fulfilling a public want and is growing in public favor. The edition of the sixth annual report is exhausted, and that of the seventh nearly so, while the edition of the eighth was nearly doubled. A historical fact of much significance is embodied in the statement that while in the early days the newspapers of the State teemed with notices of mining interests which were summarized at regular intervals in quarterly and annual reviews, the articles of that kind have been gradually curtailed as the relative importance of the mines diminished and other interests pushed themselves into prominence, till now they appear, if at all, as mere items. Hence the Mining Bureau has become the only center and the best source of information on the subject. A complete review of the mines and mining operations was given for the first time in the report for 1888. The report for 1889 assumes that the whole country owes very much of its prosperity to mining. Every State owes that industry something; the mid-continental regions almost their very existence. Mining investments are among the most profitable, notwithstanding an impression to the contrary prevails. The impression that the gold-mines of California are depleted below the point of profitable production is likewise mistaken. The gold taken out has exhausted but little of the auriferous wealth of the State, and the annual production has not heretofore much exceeded what it may be reasonably hoped to reach and maintain in the future. Besides its gold-fields and silver-bearing lodes, California possesses the more common metals and minerals in great variety. There is hardly a county in the State but has valuable mineral deposits of one kind or another, and the distribution of these products is pronounced remarkable. Fourteen of the fifty-three counties make a notable production of gold, and twelve of gold and silver; five produce quicksilver, two borax, two salt, four asphaltum, two petroleum, three copper, etc. Were California even poor in the precious metals, it would yet become a great mining State. It is asserted in the report that gold-mining has not yet reached even the stage of sturdy infancy.
Caprices of Soils.—The system of studying the adaptation of soils to crops has grown out of the failure of attempts to settle such questions in the laboratory. This work, as is shown in a Bulletin of the Ohio Experiment Station, is attended with great difficulties. "So great is the variation in natural fertility in soils that appear to the eye to be identical in composition, that the results of field experimentation are liable to be even more misleading than those of the laboratory. Take any single acre of ground for illustration. An open glade in the original forest may have permitted the wind to sweep away its winter coverlet of leaves, and they may have lodged in a thicket of underbrush adjoining, carrying stores of potash and phosphoric acid with them. Such a glade may have been for centuries the pasturing ground of deer. It would then accumulate nitrogen, but would lose potash and phosphoric acid through an additional channel, while the thicket would accumulate these in excess of nitrogen. The growth of a surface-rooting tree in one spot may have drawn upon the adjacent surface-soil for supplies of potash; that of a tree with a deep tap root in another may have drawn its support largely from deeper layers of the soil, and also have opened a way for drainage. A slight depression of the soil here may have received added fertility in the waste from a slight elevation there, and he who has studied the soil carefully, especially where its levels are shown by the melting of snow when the ground is frozen, will have detected irregularities of level unsuspected by the casual observer."