The laws of nature are inexorable, and there is doubtless no more striking feature of human action than our natural slowness in appreciating the advantages that beset us on every side. Thus it is that we are unable to grasp the opportunities that are set before us at every step as we might. The history of this valley, which covers an area of thousands of miles in this great commonwealth, furnishes an apt illustration of this fact. Originally rich in its immense tracts of timber, it afforded the wealth from which was developed one of the most important sections of the Northwest. To this was added the inexhaustible deposits of salt, and the course of time the valley became the greatest lumber and salt producing region in the world. But the supply was limited, and, with the disappearance of pine and the consequent falling off of the supply of cheap fuel, the salt industry was also affected, and for several years the fate of the valley cities rested mainly on the development of the rich agricultural district surrounding them and the creation of new lines of industry.
Now comes nature again to the rescue with the discovery of coal throughout the valley, thus insuring a great future for this section. Although the industry is as yet in its infancy, there are now nine mines in operation with many others projected, and it is safe to predict that the Bay Cities will become one of the leading points on the Great Lakes.
The first coal mine in the valley was started on the Rifle River some years ago. Now there are being operated the mines of the Sebewaing Coal Company at Sebewaing, Huron County; the Monitor and Bay Companies, Bay County; the Saginaw Coal Company at Saginaw; the J.H. Somers Company at St. Charles; the Standard Company in Bridgeport Township; the Pere Marquette Company in Buena Vista; the Verne Company in Albee, Saginaw County, and the Saginaw Clay Manufacturing Company at Flushing, Genesee County.
Besides the above, there are many other companies engaged in securing leases and prospecting, and the indications are that a number of new mines will be opened before next spring.
THE STORY OF THE COAL FIELDS.
When it is considered that some of the leading cities along the Great Lakes and contiguous thereto owe their importance almost entirely to the accessibility to the iron ore regions of Lake Superior on the one hand and to the coal fields of Ohio and Pennsylvania on the other, the value of the development of the coal section of Michigan, supposed according to the state geologists to cover an area of 8,000 square miles, to the cities of the Saginaw Valley, which are the natural outlet for this extensive territory, can be appreciated. The city of Buffalo, for instance, lays claim to the fact that it is the leading point for the great lake carrying trade because of its proximity to the coal fields of the Keystone State and the ore regions of the Upper Peninsula. It is coal also that has made Pittsburg what it is. With the advantage of unexcelled water and the rail transportation facilities, there is no question but what the Bay Cities are destined to become prominent factors in the carrying trade and the scene of operation of great industries dependent upon coal for consumption and ore for production. In the first place, the ports along Lake Erie are obliged to ship their coal in from the fields of Ohio and Pennsylvania, while we have the product at our very door where it can practically be loaded from the mine into the holds of the steamers, and in the next place we are much closer to the ore mines than are the lower lake ports. The following table of distances is essential on this subject, the points selected being Marquette and Escanaba, the two great ore shipping ports of the Upper Peninsula.
From Marquette to
Buffalo .. . ..759
Ashtabula .. . ..651
Cleveland .. . ..609
Bay City .. . 395
Cleveland ... ..547
Bay City ...338
The above figures show the distance from the ore-shipping to the receiving points. As compared with Buffalo there is a saving in distance from Marquette in favor of Bay City of 364 miles, or on the round trip, which is the correct basis, of 728 miles; in other words the distance is almost doubled on a run from Marquette to Buffalo and return as compared with the round trip to Bay City. Then, again, it is a straight run in good water with plenty of sea room from Thunder Bay light in Lake Huron to the Saginaw River, while the navigating of the St. Clair and Detroit rivers is hazardous on account of the narrow channel, the shoal water and the hundreds of boats that are passed on the run through those waterways. There is at present a depth of 13 ½ feet of water to the docks along the river here, and with the necessity for only simple dredging a depth of 25 feet could be had if required. Coal has already been shipped by water from the Saginaw River. The first cargo, consisting of 350 tons, left port on the 27th of May for Marine City, where it was used in the manufacture of salt.
THE DISCOVERY OF COAL.
The first discovery of coal in the valley was made simultaneously with the discovery of salt. Through the influence of the late Dr. George A. Lathrop, the East Saginaw Salt Manufacturing Company was organized in 1859, and the first well was completed in May 1860. While the work was in progress Dr. Lathrop, who was a geologist, made a drawing giving an analysis of the mineral deposits through which the drill passed. This map shows that coal was struck in two places at a depth of over two hundred feet. The doctor then made the remark that the time was coming when coal would be drilled for all over the valley. The drilling was done by the late Amos S. Park, of Bay City, who was then engaged in blacksmithing up the river. The apparatus was crude and almost insurmountable obstacles were encountered, but the State Geologist assured the projectors that salt would ultimately be found, and with this encouragement they persevered until their efforts were crowned with success. While it is thus shown that coal was discovered many years ago, its value was not appreciated at the time, and it was left to a future era to stimulate the progress of this section in this direction.FIRST COAL IN BAY CITY
Capt. Benjamin Boutell says that the first discovery of coal in Bay City was made by Wm. Walker, a well-borer who came here in 1861 for the purpose of putting down a salt well, on the property where the Michigan Pipe Co.s plant now stands. H.M. Fitzhugh, James Fraser and D.H. Fitzhugh were members of the company that had the work done. Walker boarded at the Boutell House, of which Capt. Boutells father was the proprietor, and one evening he brought a sackful of coal secured in the drilling, and it was burned in the stove at the house. The incident created considerable interest at the time, but nothing was done about the matter, as the people were anxious to find salt, and there was an unlimited supply of cheap fuel to be had anyway. This was the first salt well put down in the city and it is still in use. The Boutell House stood at the northeast corner of Third and Water streets.
The First Coal Company
The first enterprise looking to the starting of coal mining was organized by Bay City capital in 1866. It was a stock company and was known as the Pioneer Coal Company. The late Major Miles Henry, a well-known salt manufacturer, was the president of the organization, and Frank Fitzhugh treasurer. Drilling operations were begun in Dolsenville, and after the expenditure of $2,000 the project was abandoned. A vein about two feet thick was found. Mr. Fitzhugh informed the writer recently that the outfit was of a primitive nature and he was satisfied at the time that they had not the proper means of telling how much coal they did find, so that the test was not satisfactory. As the vein was not a paying one the scheme was abandoned. The drilling was done by the late Capt. Welch.The Rifle River Mine
The Eureka Coal Company, which was started by Bay City capitalists in 1876 was the first company to engage in the mining of coal in the valley. The capital stock was $250,000,$62,000 of which was paid in. The officers were as follows: President, L.L. Culver; vice-president, Wm. Westover; secretary and treasurer, R. P. Gustin. These officers together with E. G. Sovereign and H. P. Merrill comprised the board of directors. The mine was located on the Rifle River in Deep River township, Bay County (now Arenac County), 40 miles north of Bay City, and about five miles from the Detroit & Mackinac and Michigan Central Railroads. The discovery was made by Ira Bennett, an old coal miner who had formerly followed the life of a miner in Pennsylvania and was then living on a farm in the neighborhood. "He said he knew coal was there by the taste of the water," said Mr. Sovereign recently while speaking on the subject. "We thought he was too visionary, however, but he insisted that he was certain as to that fact, and subsequently made the discovery. He dug from the banks of the river, 25 feet below the bed of the stream, and found deposits of coal. He brought a bagful to my lumber camp. Doubting the truthfulness of his story, and believing he had obtained it elsewhere, I went out nights in company with Mr. Culver unbeknown to Bennett, and to our utter astonishment we found coal ourselves. Then we organized the company, bought the land and commenced drilling operations. We drilled all of one summer, spending about $ 27,000 in prospecting and drilling. We put down a shaft about 30 feet, ran an entry about 600 feet and roomed out in various directions. Our vein proper was between seven and eight feet. We took out 4 ½ feet at the entry and then drifted each side, taking out about 4 ½ feet, which would leave a yield of about 5,500 tons per acre. The land was terraced. Where we put down the shaft it was the lowest level and only 75 feet from the river. From the highest and main level of the land to the coal bed was 140 feet. We mined and sent about 200 tons to different parts of the State. We shipped some to Jackson, and the gas company offered to take all they could use at the works for gas purposes. We abandoned the mine because the Michigan Central Railroad Company would not give us a line unless we guaranteed the shipment of 200 tons a day. We were new in the business and could not meet this demand. Besides there was no field here for the output because the saw mill industry was at its height and everybody found cheap fuel in wood. We had the same formation for the roof as they have at the Monitor mine. The coal was of a very superior quality, having less than 1 per cent of sulphur, and possessing 95 per cent of heating quality."
Mr. Sovereign owns the land now and it will doubtless be a question of only a little while when mining will be resumed and on an extensive scale.MANY YEARS AGO.
H.F. Ewald, of this city, states that coal was discovered on the Schade farm in Bridgeport Township, Saginaw County, abut 35 years ago. The discovery was made in digging a well for water. This deposit was found near the surface, however, and geologists aver that drift deposits were brought here in the glacial period and are worthless.THE COAL MINES. THE MONITOR MINE.
Coal was discovered in 1893 while putting down a well for water at a saw mill owned by Zill Bros. In Monitor Township, Bay County, five miles west of West Bay City. The matter was made public at the time, and different parties made an effort to lease the land from the owners, but without success.
About August 1, 1894, at the suggestion of Alex. Zagelmeyer, Christ Heinzmann, J.S. Lauderbach, H.S. Ward and John Van Giesen made a visit to the coal fields, had an interview with Zill Bros. and shortly afterwards leased the property, after which Frank Zagelmeyer was added and a company organized for the purpose of testing up the land leased. On June 18, 1895, they commenced sinking a shaft, which was completed in the middle of October, and has been in operation ever since. From the time of commencing prospecting until their coal was placed on the market, the promoters had many obstacles to overcome, and public prejudice was so great that they often met with ridicule and even with persecution. The enterprise was started in the time of the panic, and for that reason as well as others capital was loath to give an encouragement, so that the task was a herculean one. The gentlemen interested persevered, however, with the result that their efforts were crowned with success. Thus was the Monitor mine started as the first coal mine in Bay County. The corporation is known as the Monitor Coal Company and was organized in the spring of 1895 with a capital stock of $50,000. The present officers are as follows: President, Alex. Zagelmeyer; vice-president, George Penniman; secretary, E. L. Mather; treasurer, Frank Zagelmeyer. These officers with Christ Heinzmann, comprise the board of directors. The company began operations in the fall of 1896. The output up to the present time aggregates nearly 100,000 tons, and the daily output at present is 300 tons. The company is about to sink another shaft in the immediate vicinity and make other extensive improvements. The coal obtained from this mine has the reputation of being as fine a bituminous coal as was ever carried to this market. It is also credited with being a coking coal adapted for the manufacture of steel, and it is plants of this character that it is hoped will ere long line the banks of the Saginaw River with the advantage of coal from the mines adjacent and iron ore form the Lake Superior mines discharged at the docks from the big lake freighters. The new shaft will give this mine a capacity of 500 tons a day and make it one of the best in the valley. The company has a contact among others with the North American Chemical Company to furnish 50,000 tons with in a period of 18 months. They have shipped four cargoes by water already, the coal being taken to Marine City and used in the manufacture of salt.
Secretary Mather fully appreciates the value of the coal industry to the valley, and is satisfied that there is a great future in store for it. He believes it is beyond the comprehension of anyone as to the magnitude of the development to be made within the next few years. He thinks that we are destined to become a great manufacturing center as well as a leading shipping point for coal to the upper lake regions.
THE BAY MINE.
The Bay Coal Mining Company was organized March 16, 1896, with a capital of $50,000. The following officers were elected: President, Louis Moritz; vice-president, August Quintel; secretary, J.A. Etzold; treasurer, Leonard Eichow. The board of directors comprised the officers, together with George Grueber, John Vogtman and John Zill. The mine is now owned by the North American Chemical Company, the great English corporation which has recently invested so heavily in Bay City, the transfer having been made recently. The officers are as follows: President, M.J. Hammill; vice-president, H.M. Gillett; treasurer, Edward W. Clarkson; secretary and manager Alex. Zagelmeyer. The mine is located across the road from that of the Monitor Company and is on the Michigan Central Railroad, which ran a branch a distance of several miles from its main line to the mines. The present capacity is 400 tons a day. It is claimed that this, as well as other Saginaw Valley coal, gives more heat than the Ohio product and is also lighter. This coal has always found a ready sale, not only in the valley but throughout the State, and has naturally proven satisfactory.
The North American Chemical Company, besides owning this mine, has secured leases on 9,000 acres of land in Bay and Saginaw counties in order to insure fuel for their own consumption as well as regular operators. This means a great deal for the development of our coal interests, as the company has unlimited capital and has no interests in rival coalfields.
"No matter how much coal is found in the valley," remarked Secretary Zagelmeyer to the writer, " the demand will always exceed the output. There is no other coal producing center that can compete with us for the trade of the west and northwest."
The writer wishes to say in this connection that the people of Bay County owe Alex. Zagelmeyer a debt of gratitude that it is difficult to repay. He not only started the coal development, but it was also through his personal efforts that the North American Chemical Company decided to locate their American plant in Bay City.
THE SAGINAW MINE.
The Saginaw Coal Company, which is capitalized at $25,000, was organized in June, 1896, with William T. Chappell as president, treasurer and manager; S.T. Crapo, vice-president, and S.G. Higgins secretary. Directors: S.T. Crapo, H.C. Potter, Jr., Harry T. Wickes, S.G. Higgins and William T. Chappell. Operations were commenced in October, 1896, just across the city line from Saginaw with all modern improvements. About 12,000 tons is taken out monthly. The coal is of a most excellent quality, and is used for both steam and domestic purposes, the Flint & Pere Marquette and Grand Trunk Railroads using it extensively. The officers at present are: President, H. C. Potter, jr.; secretary, S. G. Higgins; treasurer, H.T. Wickes.
Mr. Chappell said recently: "I have drilled a great deal and can safely say that Saginaw Valley coal is far superior to any coal in Michigan. It is a free coal that burns up to a light ash without leaving clinkers, and is a coal of almost complete combustion, throwing out but very little soot, making it a first-class domestic soft coal. For steam purposes it compares very favorably with the Ohio product, more especially that from the Hocking Valley. There is a large area of the Saginaw Valley under laid with this coal; just how much will not be determined until the territory is drilled up, but enough has been shown already to make it a splendid inducement for manufacturers to locate here on account of this advantage."
THE SOMERS MINE.
The J. H. Somers Coal Company of Cleveland, which mines extensively in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with the largest interests in the latter State, was attracted to the Saginaw Valley fields about a year and a half ago. The company commenced prospecting in Albee Township, Saginaw County, at first, but not finding enough to satisfy themselves went to St. Charles, about 15 miles south of Saginaw. They now control 2,500 acres by purchase and lease in the immediate vicinity of that village. They commenced putting down a shaft in the village in November, 1897, at an investment of $45,000 and started mining in April last. The mine has the enormous capacity of 1,500 tons per day. They mine with electric machinery and have the most approved facilities for getting out coal. The mine is under the superintendency of Mr. Frank G. Benham, who is a member of the company and thorough coal operator as well as a most agreeable gentleman. The vein is 182 feet deep where it is opened and runs from 2 feet 8 inches to 4 feet 4 inches.
"As to the quality of the coal," Mr. Benham remarked to the publisher, "it is what I term a nice free burning domestic coal and is free from sulphur. It is best adapted for house use and steam purposes. It will make a splendid coal for fuel gas for glass works purposes or anything of that kind, but for illuminating purposes would not do so well, because it would not furnish the bi-product as other coals. By this I mean tar, ammonia, coke and other substances that are obtained from a gas coal. Owing to its being a free coal, free from sulphur, iron, phosphorus and other substances, the wear and tear on boiler flues and grates would be less than with other coal that carries more or less of these impurities. There is no doubt as to the success of Saginaw Valley coal. The product of the valley will be all right for an all-rail haul to points that give it an advantage geographically. One of the main advantages to the valley on account of cheap fuel will be the bringing of manufactories here, and I cant see why it would not be a good place for glass factories and pottery works. Our coal cant be beat for pottery, and I think you will find an abundance of clay for pottery, fire-brick, sewer pipe and terra-cotta work, as well as the discoveries for paving brick. I understand there is also silica sandstone in this section for glass-making. The coal would also be a good advantage to the salt works. I do not see why it would not put them in a position to compete with the salt fields of any other section. All the salt plants at Detroit and along the St. Clair River use coal that is shipped from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Now, with coal right here, the manufacture of salt in the Saginaw Valley can be done to great advantage.
"The poor quality discovered is accountable for the lack of interest taken in Saginaw Valley coal fields in past years. The first thing that attracted my attention to this section was a carload of coal taken from the Saginaw mine. Our coal at St. Charles is of the same formation as the Saginaw product."
The Somers mine is on the Michigan Central railroad as well as the Bad River, a stream navigable for light draft boats and tributary to the Saginaw River. The company has already sufficient coal to operate four shafts at least.
Capt. Boutell, of the Saginaw Bay Towing Company, speaks very highly of the quality of this coal. He says he has burned it on several of his tugs and there is no better coal to be had in the country.
THE VERNE MINE.
The first coal mine established in Saginaw County was started in 1894 and had a most modest beginning. Capital had not yet come to a realization of the fact that great stores of wealth were lying beneath the earths surface, awaiting the touch of its helping hand, and as a result energy was wasted, ambition blasted, and disaster frowned upon its far-seeing but ill-favored promoters. The plant is located in Albee Township, and originally bore the name of the Albee mine, but since coming into possession of its present owners has been re-christened the Verne mine, the name of the village near which it is located. It is 15 ½ miles from Saginaw and 2 ½ miles from the main line of the Cincinnati, Saginaw & Mackinaw Railroad, now a leased line of the Chicago & Grand Trunk system. The mine was started by four employees of the street railway company in Saginaw, who leased the land and invested all their earnings in the enterprise. Owing to lack of railroad facilities, they were unable to continue operations, and finally a stock company was organized, composed of Frederick Brueck, Jr., Joseph A. Partridge, Alex. Bradley and John Harrison, the two last mentioned having been among the original owners. When this company took hold of the property it was an heroic task to engage in as the old shaft, and crude affair, had caved in and the mine was filled with water. Nothing daunted, however, the young owners went to work with a will, and soon were mining considerable coal of a superior quality, which found a ready market in this city. Owing to the long haul by team, however, the expense of mining was found to be much more than would have been the case had the proper railroad facilities been available, and, in order to put the enterprise on a more favorable basis, an effort was made to enlist the interest of capital, but, while Hon. W.R. Burt and several others were willing to assist in the formation of a stock company, not enough moneyed men could be interested and the plans of the owners were again frustrated, and operations had to cease. It is unfortunate that the young men who took such and active interest in the development of our coalfields were unsuccessful, but they were lacking in means and the smiles of fortune were not reserved for their favor. If they had been lucky enough to strike coal where a railroad traversed, they would all be wealthy men to-day, as the coal was of a superior quality and they would have had a monopoly of the business for several years.
The mine is now the property of a company of Saginaw capitalists, who have every facility for the development of its resources. The present company is capitalized at $25,000. The officers are as follows: President, William T. Chappell; vice-president, John S. Porter; secretary, Rolla W. Roberts; treasurer, H.T. Wickes. These also comprise the board of directors. Though mining is now being done, a new shaft and complete outfit will be put in, giving a capacity of 500 tons a day. A siding has been put in to the Grand Trunk Railroad. This is the easiest coal to mine in Michigan, the coal being of a blocky nature and easy to get out. The depth of the shaft is only 56 feet, with a strong slate roof.
THE SEBEWAING MINES.
The discovery of coal at Sebewaing, Huron County, on the Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron Railroad, was made by Russell Brothers, well diggers of Unionville, about twenty years ago.
The Saginaw Bay Coal Company was organized in 1890 with a capital of $150,000. The original officers were William L. Webber, of Saginaw, president; John C. Liken, Sebewaing, vice-president; Richard Martini, Unionville, secretary, and James B. Peter, Saginaw, treasurer. Orville Hamm, of Indiana, was the first superintendent. The company put in all modern improvements and commenced mining in 1890 but ceased operations about four years ago. They still have a large acreage there, consisting of about 3,000 acres, and, while the present shaft has been abandoned, anticipate the resumption of operations.
The Sebewaing Coal Company was organized in May, 1890, with a capital of $80,000, and sunk the second shaft in 1892. The officers elected were as follows: President, Spencer O. Fisher, West Bay City; vice-president, John F. Seeley, Caro; secretary, treasurer and manager, William T. Chappell. The present officers are : President, John F. Seeley, Caro; vice-president, James Talbot, Saginaw; secretary and treasurer, W. O. Smith, Sebewaing. Directors, S.O. Fisher, West Bay City; Benjamin Burbridge, Bay City; L.A. Pratt, Bay City; Walter Coppie, Bay City; John F. Seeley, Caro; W.O. Smith, Sebewaing; James Talbot, Saginaw; William T. Chappell, Saginaw.
THE STANDARD MINE
The coal mining industry of Saginaw Valley is developing much more rapidly than is generally realized, and at the present rate of increase it will not be long before the name of the valley will be recognized throughout the country as a great coal mining section. Among the new mines in operation is that of the Standard Mining Company on the Cass-Sutherland farm, in Bridegport Township, Saginaw County, about a mile south of Saginaw and connected by a private switch with the Chicago & Grand Trunk Railway. The company was incorporated in 1898 with the following officers: President, Robert Gage; vice-president, A.D. Eddy; secretary, treasurer and general manager, Thomas B. Jones. The shaft was started in April last and coal was being mined in June, showing great activity in the sinking of the shaft. The vein is 140 feet below the surface and is 48 inches in thickness. The coal is of a very superior quality. The mine is equipped with the latest improved mining machinery.
The mine has a capacity of 600 tons a day. Manager Jones is a practical miner of many years experience, having previously been engaged in the business at Jackson for nearly a score of years.
The Standard Company has a large acreage under lease and its members are enthusiastic as to the future of the valley. Mr. Jones says that cheap fuel will not only bring manufacturers here, but our excellent transportation facilities will give us a splendid advantage for the coal trade of the northwest.
THE PERE MARQUETTE MINE.
This company was incorporated the past winter with a capital stock of $100,000. The officers are as follows: President, H. C. Potter, Jr.; vice-president, S. T. Crapo; secretary, R.M. Randall; treasurer, H.T. Wickes. The board of directors comprise the above named gentlemen, together with Mr. S. G. Higgins. A shaft has been put in on the Colclough farm, about a mile south of Saginaw, and the mine will be one of the best equipped in the valley. It will be operated with the latest improved electrical mining machinery and will have a capacity of about 1,000 tons a day.
NEW MINES PROJECTED
Notwithstanding the fact that the coal industry is comparatively a new thing in this county, a number of individuals and corporations have for some time past been making investigations in the way of drilling, with the result that a number of shafts will be sunk in the vicinity of the Bay Cities in the near future.
Handy Bros. Have been testing for about a year on their 400-acre tract of land, formerly known as the Horr farm, near the mouth of the river, and expect in the course of time to get a shaft down. This is the finest site in the valley for a coalmine. It is near the head of Saginaw Bay and has a river frontage of a mile with a depth of water of 18 feet. The coal could be dumped from the mine into the holds of steamers, affording an advantage such as is not possessed by any similar enterprise along the Great Lakes. They have a six-foot vein at a depth of 280 feet.
Foss & Jackson, who have prospected on an extensive scale and have invested thousands of dollars in their efforts to find coal veins, have been rewarded for their enterprise. They have had five drills at work during the summer. They have discovered a good vein at Oa-atka Beach on the shore of Saginaw Bay, where they will have the advantage of both rail and water transportation, and are now negotiating for machinery and timber preparatory to sinking a shaft, which it expected will be in operation before snow flies.
The Hampton Coal Mining Company have struck coal on George Pennimans property, at the mouth of the river, on the east side, just below Boyces mill. It is stated that they found a 4-foot vein at a depth of 110 feet, a 3-foot vein at 145 feet, and a 2-foot vein at 165 feet. This is another excellent location for a mine.
E.C. Hargrave found a rich vein a short distance southwest of the western terminus of the Inter-Urban bridge, and will sink a shaft there.
The Saginaw Valley Mining Co. will soon sink a shaft on the Holland farm, about one mile south of this city. A splendid vein of coal has been found to underlie the entire district, which the company controls by leases, and active mining operations will be commenced in the near future. The mines will be known as the Holland coalmines.
The deepest vein yet found was at a depth of 350 feet, and the statement is made that a shaft will be put down by the prospector within the next few months. The find is reported to be a rich one. The name of the Bay City gentleman who made the discovery has not been given out for prudential reasons, but the above facts were gleaned from a most reliable source and there is no question as to their authenticity.
The supposition is that the coal as a general thing lies deeper in this county than it does further south, and the idea is entertained that future explorations will develop veins all through this section. It is also claimed that in the deeper veins the richest quality will be found.SINKING A SHAFT.
The Northern Coal & Transportation Company, of which James W. Ellsworth, one of the leading coal operators of the country, is a member, is engaged in sinking a shaft at St. Charles, Saginaw County. This company has leases on about 50,000 acres of land in the coal belt of the valley.
AN INTERESTING STATEMENT.
Zachary T. Mason, the well-known salt-well borer, tells some interesting facts in connection with early coal discoveries in putting down salt wells. He has followed his business for the past 33 years and has sunk about 70 wells in the Saginaw Valley. He says that he put down a well at Melbourne, about five miles south of here, 15 years ago, and found a vein of coal 3 ½ feet in thickness. He drilled six wells on the mill property of Eddy, Avery & Co., the last in 1887, and found coal in all of them. The coal is located at a depth of 165 feet and is 4 feet in thickness. He discovered another vein at a depth of between 300 and 400 feet, but paid no particular attention to it, because, as he expressed it, "at that time it was get there on salt." In 1880 he sunk a well at F. E. Bradleys mill and found coal, the vein being the same thickness as at Eddy, Avery & Eddys mill. He also found coal while following the same pursuit a H. W. Sages mill, but has forgotten the thickness of the vein.
The more this subject is investigated, the more evident it becomes that this whole region is one vast field of coal, and it behooves those who wish to locate it to do a little more than "skim the land," as the drillers express itthey should persevere until they have gone deep enough to strike the veins.
THE ALKALI WORKS.
What is destined to become the most important industry that has ever been established in the Saginaw Valley will go into operation in Bay City this fall on the site of the old McGraw property in the southern part of the city. The corporation is known as the North American Chemical Company, and is practically the child of the United Alkali Company of England, with a capital of $42,000,000. Some months since representatives of the parent concern were sent to this country to seek a suitable location in which to erect a branch factory, and after making a thorough investigation selected Bay City as the place affording the greatest advantages for the purpose. The McGraw property was purchased, and under the supervision of M. J. Hammill, resident manager, and Mr. Duff, mechanical engineer, the work of erecting immense buildings of iron, brick and stone was commenced. The plant covers a large area of ground and the motive power will be furnished by two engines of 1,500-horse power each. The daily consumption of coal will be about 200 tons. The works will be operated the year around and will give employment to a very large force of skilled and unskilled workmen. The company is capitalized at $600,000 and is registered under the laws of Michigan. Under the articles of association the company has power to carry on a great variety of business undertakings, but it is understood that their main stay will always be the manufacture of chemicals. They have at their backs the accumulated experience obtained by the United Alkali Company in their extensive operations, covering a large variety of chemical products, both of the so-called "heavy chemicals" and of finer grades. The site was chosen chiefly on account of the facilities Bay City offered for the supply of cheap fuel. Since its inauguration the company has bought up the whole of the shares of the Bay Coal Mining Company; and is at present working that concern under the management of Alex Zagelmeyer.
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