Huger's arrival, and then to continue to collect such further information as may be useful.
The chief iron region of Texas lies in the northeast portion of State, beginning in Nacogdoches and San Augustine Counties, and running northwardly, increasing in value as it proceeds, and has been very successfully worked in Cass County, in the northeast corner of the State. From this main region the ore extends laterally toward the Trinity River, through Smith, Cherokee, Anderson, and a part of Henderson Counties, coming within 10 or 12 miles of the river in Anderson and the southern portion of Henderson County, with an abundance of timber for fuel. There a suitable location can probably be found, within between 10 and 20 miles of the river, which, I presume, will be a sufficient compliance with the spirit of the orders from the Ordnance Bureau.
My correspondents inform me that the ore increases in richness and extent as it approaches Trinity River; and the best guarantee of the success of the Government operations in that region is that two foundries and forces are now being established in Anderson County by private persons whose characters are such that they would not probably engage in anything of uncertain success.
From the tenor of your orders, and their reference to the papers in closed, it seems to have been contemplated that I should select the point for the iron-works. This I could not undertake to do. Having spent some time in the iron region of Pennsylvania, I know that the location of a furnace requires scientific qualifications and experience in mining which I do not possess. The ore must be assayed to determine its richness, and, I suppose, partially analyzed, to ascertain whether it contains substances unfavorable to its successful working. I have seen an extensive region in Pennsylvania, abounding with rich specimen of iron ore, which I was told could not be worked because it contained too much sulphur. Combination with phosphorus, I believe, and perhaps with other mineral substances, produces similar effects; and Dr. B. F. Shumard, the State geologist, reports some iron ore in Western Texas as useless from containing too much silex. Besides, the appearance of even rich specimen of iron ore on the surface is only slight presumptive evidence of the existence of what is necessary for a furnace. Explorations must be made, under the direction of experienced miners, to determine the size and extent of the veins, and sometimes expensive excavations are necessary. Even with all these precautions, I have seen iron masters suffer severely from the exhaustion or change in character of the veins on which they relied. I could not, therefore, undertake to select a site without the risk of involving the Government in the consequences of an improper location.
My assumption of such a responsibility seems to have been made unnecessary by the appointment of a special agent from the Mining Bureau, who doubtless possesses every qualification, and would prefer to make his own selection. It seems, therefore, that I can only hope to be useful by procuring such information as may enable him to determine where to commence, and in what direction to prosecute his examination with the best chance of success. To this I am now directing my particular attention, and hope to have obtained full and satisfactory information before it will be needed. I am also prosecuting inquiries with regard to the present state of forwardness and probable time of completion of the foundries being established in Anderson County, with a view of ascertaining whether they may be useful in furnishing iron to the Government, if needed, in advance of the successful operation of its own iron-works.