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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/777

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NEVADA SILVER.

paid in dividends. Extreme haste was necessary in extracting the ore, so great was the danger of a disaster. Mackay and Fair hardly rested day or night till the bonanza was exhausted. Outside, all the exchanges of the world were fighting over Comstocks. The two mines, rated in 1871 at $40,000, were rated in 1875 at $160,000,000. Thirty mines on the lode were now valued at about $400,000,000. So much money was withdrawn from legitimate business and flung into the stock market that when the inevitable crash came and the Bank of California failed, every industry of the Pacific coast was checked for years.

In the midst of the bonanza excitement Virginia City was swept by a great fire, the culmination of a long series of mining disasters, and in a few hours a territory half a mile square was a mass of ruins. The mining companies lost acres of supplies and lumber; Ophir, Consolidated Virginia, and California had all their buildings burned; two thousand stores, hotels, lodging houses, and dwellings were destroyed. The very next day men were at work in the ruins, on the rugged hillsides, in the ravines, by the monstrous waste dumps, clearing away, rebuilding on a still more massive scale the giant machine shops, hoisting works, PSM V49 D777 Adolph Sutro.jpgAdolph Sutro. and mills. The two bonanza mines lost $1,500,000, and yet they managed to keep up regular dividends at the rate of $1,080,000 a month!

All these years one indomitable mill owner and engineer, Adolph Sutro, had been fighting single-handed the men who controlled the Comstock. Away back in 1860 he had advised a deep adit, and in 1865 he obtained a franchise for the Sutro Tunnel Company, with Senator Stewart as president. The mining companies bound themselves to pay perpetual royalties after the completion of the tunnel. Congress, assuming the regulation of the immense mining interests involved, passed an act which, still further protecting the enterprise, made the very titles of the mining companies dependent upon the fulfillment of their obligations. Large subscriptions were made, and