Several years ago, while living in a cabin in the heart of the Rocky mountains, the writer visited a miner who operated near by a gold mining and refining plant, and who kindly explained the various processes followed. From the depths of a tunnel which penetrated the mountain, large block of porphyry and quartz were brought to the mill at the foot of an incline and there dumped into large hoppers. Under these hoppers was set in motion a mass of ponderous, noisy machinery that quickly reduced the ore to a fine sand, and a stream of clear water constantly playing on this sand, washed the grosser, lighter particles of dirt down the steep, rocky gulch. The ore was indeed washed and was clean, but not all. There remained in the pans below what appeared to be a glittering, beautiful black sand, which we were told contained, though it was effectually hidden from our view, the rich yellow gold. This black sand was so near the weight and otherwise so closely resembled the gold, that mere washing was useless and a more drastic measure had to be employed.

This sand with its hidden treasure was, therefore, gathered into cups, or retorts, and placed in a furnace. As the fiery blast increased, that which hid the gold was seen to melt, then to be consumed, and issuing in vaporlike smoke above the cups' rim, was wafted away. When asked his purpose in gazing intently at short intervals into the top of the melting-pot, the operator explained that nothing could endure the blast except the gold, and even this was melted to a shining yellow liquid, which, when pure, was smooth and placid and reflected perfectly the operator's face as he looked in from above the crucible. When satisfied with the appearance of the molten gold, he removed the retort from the furnace. Then the precious metal was weighed, and was soon added to that vast treasure which forms the firm foundation of a government's credit and a solid basis for a world's commerce.

November 25, 1911

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