Pre-eminence Of The Iron Ore Trade -- The Marquette Range -- The Menominee Range -- The Gogebic Range -- The Vermilion Range -- The Mesaba Range -- the First Shipments Of Ore To Lake Erie -- Shipping Docks -- Unloading Ore At Conneaut -- The Iron Regions Of Lake Erie And At Chicago -- How Iron Ore Is Sold -- Consolidation Of Interests -- Investments In Ore Property -- Shipments From Each Range -- Statistics Of Shipping And Receiving Ports -- Price Of Ore -- Vessel Rates -- Future Of The Iron Trade.
PRE-EMINENCE in the traffic of the Great Lakes must be given to the iron ore. It comprises almost one-third of the entire trade of the lakes. Ore shipments date back to the opening of the Sault canal, and traffic has risen steadily in importance ever since, but only in recent years has it attained its present matchless proportions.
The Marquette Range. -- Iron ore was known to exist in the Marquette range, which lies wholly within the upper peninsula of Michigan, as early as 1830, but the white fur traders and the Indians, who saw the outcroppings, paid little heed to the mineral. A. W. Burt, a surveyor, in September 1844, while engaged in running the east line of township 47 north, range 27 west, in Michigan, observed "remarkable variations in the magnetic needle, amounting to 87 degrees from the normal." An Indian chief in 1846 piloted P. M. Everett, of Jackson, Mich., to the Jackson Mountain and to what is now the Cleveland mine. A few hundred pounds of ore were packed down the lakes. In the same year Mr. Everett and others incorporated the Jackson Company, which erected a forge on the Carp river, about three miles east of Negaunee, and operated it for eight years. Several other forges were erected in Michigan and supplied with ore from the Jackson mine.
Little progress, however, was made in mining until 1856, when regular shipments commenced by lake from Marquette to Ohio ports. The ore was at first carried by wagon from the mines over a plank road to the company's dock, and there conveyed by wheelbarrow to the hold of the vessel, which in those days carried from 150 to 500 tons.
The county of Marquette, Mich., includes nearly all the iron-mines that have been worked on the Marquette range, which stretches in a generally western direction from the mines at Negaunee, 10 miles from Lake Superior, to those beyond Michi-gamme, some thirty miles further. The geographical position of this range, nearer to eastern ports than the other iron-ranges, and its ready access from the lake, gave it for a long time a controlling advantage. The country in which the mines are situated is from 800 to 1,000 feet above the level of the lake, and is for the most part broken by steep hills, which rise from 100 to 200 feet; between these the land is rolling or swampy. The eastern part is on the water-shed between Lakes Superior and Michigan, affording good drainage.
Previous to 1846 the War Department issued warrants leasing mineral lands at a royalty, and a great number of such warrants were taken out. So far as is now known, the only work done on the Marquette range under these permits, previous to the discovery of iron, was the sinking of shafts on a small vein of silver-lead, in what is now Presque Isle park in the city of Marquette. President Martin Van Buren was interested in this enterprise.
The first attempts at mining in this district were made to supply ore for the Catalan forges erected near the mines and also in Marquette, the expense of shipment and the portage at Sault Ste. Marie preventing any but trial-lots of ore being sent away. Considerable iron was made at these forges, but always at a loss to those concerned.
In 1850 five tons of ore were sent to A. L. Crawford, of Newcastle, Pa. This was the first shipment of Lake Superior iron-ore to Lake Erie ports. In 1852 seventy tons of Jackson ore were sent to Sharon, Pennsylvania.
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie were completed in June, 1855, and at the same time a plank road was constructed from Marquette to the mines, and regular shipments were begun. In the following year the construction of a railway was begun, and it was completed in 1857.
This railway was the nucleus of the present Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic railway system; and extensions to Champion and Republic followed the discovery of these mines, the extension to L'Anse being built in 1872.
The first stimulus to the ore trade was the Civil war. There had been no returns to any of the capital invested in the district previous to 1862, when the Jackson Company declared its first dividend. From this time the yearly shipments increased from 124,169 tons to 1,162,458 tons in 1873 -- after which they gained slowly until 1890, when they reached the highest point, namely, 2,993,664 tons.
During the comparatively high prices that obtained until 1890, an enormous amount of exploring was done on the range; but since the opening of the Republic mine in 1872, there have been few profitable undertakings in new territory.
It was not until 1870 that the soft hematite ores of the district were considered to have any value, all the previous work having been done in the hard ores. But in the next few years a large number of pits were opened at the east end of the range in this grade of ore. After the discovery of the Menominee and later of the Gogebic, Vermilion and Mesaba ranges, the number of explorers on this Marquette range gradually diminished. Beginning in 1880, a number of pits in limonite ore were opened near Champion and also near Michigamme. This ore, which was apparently quite shallow, and in no case very clean or regular, could be mined with profit only while prices were higher than usual. But a short time after the abandonment of Catalian forges for smelting the ore, the building of charcoal blast-furnaces began.
The Menominee Range lies near the center of the upper peninsula of Michigan, with a few mines extending over into Wisconsin. The range is about 50 miles in length, 20 of which are east and 30 west of the Menominee river. Mining was first attempted in 1866 near Waucedah by the Breen brothers, but was unsuccessful. In 1872 Dr. N. P. Hulst, of the Milwaukee Iron Company, began to develop the range, but the panic of 1873 stopped operations. In the latter year the Breen, West Vulcan and Metropolitan mines were found.
The principal mine in this range is the Chapin, discovered in 1879. It has had a phenomenal record.
The Gogebic Range was discovered in 1883. Rumors were current that year that soft red hematite ore existed near the western boundary of the upper peninsula, and prospectors were soon at work near Ashland, Wis. Beneath the roots of a tree upon a hill south of Bessemer, Mich., were found signs of ore that led to the discovery of the wonderful Colby mine. Soon after A. Lanfear Norrie, of New York City, secured an option on lands near by, and the still more wonderful Norrie mine was discovered. These and other properties were rapidly developed.
The story of Mr. Norrie's success is most interesting and illustrates the hazards of the explorer's life: When Langfear Norrie first landed at Marquette, Mich., in the summer of 1882, he was about 22 years old. He had been for some time the recipient of an annual allowance of $10,000 from his father, Gordon Norrie, a New York millionaire. He decided to risk his annual allowance at the rather elusive game of mining, with nothing less than $1,000,000 as the stake for which he played.
In 1882 there was considerable excitement in the upper peninsula of Michigan over the big deposits of iron ore that were then being developed at the Chapin and other mines on the Menominee range, then in a fair way to rival the older Marquette iron range, where large fortunes had been made during the previous twenty-five years by explorers and mining investors. Norrie did his first exploratory work on the Menominee range, but the holes he caused to be sunk on various properties secured by him did not pan out well in pay dirt.
About that time reports began to reach Iron Mountain and other mining camps on the Menominee range of fair prospects for the discovery of deposits of iron ore about 50 miles to the northeast, west of Lake Gogebic and in the hills of the Penokee range, about 30 miles south of Ashland. Langfear Norrie was one of the first to start for the new district, which has since become known to fame among iron men as the Gogebic range.
Looking the country over for a few weeks, the young New Yorker decided to try his luck about a mile east of the Montreal river, the boundary line between Wisconsin and the western extremity of the Michigan peninsula. Norrie first secured an option for a lease on 160 acres of ground directly east of a piece of ground penetrated by the Montreal river, which at this point uncovered a formation of rock containing traces of iron. His option gave him the privilege of exploring the property, and provided that he should be given a lease thereof for thirty years in the event of his discovering a mine. No railroad penetrated the district at this period, and exploratory work was conducted under great difficulties.
After a year's work in the wilderness the outlook for winning $1,000,000 from the Norrie exploration was not very favorable. A large number of holes, or test pits, had been sunk at various points on the property, and the best prospects to be found was a mixture of slate with a low grade of iron ore, or a conglomeration of hard quartite and chunks of iron ore.
Just when young Norrie was discouraged over the prospects near the Montreal river a number of distinguished scientists visited the Gogebic range in the interest of a Pennsylvania iron company which contemplated the purchase of the Colby. The geologists and mineralogists condemned the entire country. They said that the small body of ore found at the Colby prospect was merely a "pocket" and could not possible extend to any great depth. They furthermore declared that no paying deposits of iron ore could possibly exist in the formation of rock to be found east and west of the Colby.
Ordinarily the judgment of these scientific men would have a disheartening effect upon a person of Norrie's training and disposition. It was otherwise with him, however. He had been thrown among many veteran explorers and had imbibed some of their habits of thought. According to the explorer most bonanza mines have been discovered in defiance of all known rules prescribed by geologists.
Langfear Norrie looked at matters though the eyes of an explorer, and decided to continue the work of exploration. Several shafts were sunk at a considerable distance to the south of those which had penetrated the earth when the exploratory work was first begun. The first went down in a mixture of rock and iron ore, and the immense volume of red water which impeded the work of sinking was taken as indication of the existence of a body of pure iron ore somewhere in the immediate neighborhood.
A shaft was then sunk about 100 feet to the east and a little further to the south, and after a month's work this exploratory hole landed on top a deposit of fine merchantable iron ore, that was almost without an equal for quality in the Lake Superior country. It was a body of fine, soft ore, and it did not require many weeks of sinking to a further depth to determine that a mine had at last been discovered which was likely to net the discoverer the $1,000,000 he had started out to win from the hills of the Lake Superior country.
A drift or tunnel was extended along the course of the ore body, at no great depth from the surface, and it was driven in a merchantable quality of ore up to within a foot of the hole which had been sunk in rock just prior to the sinking of the one in which the lucky strike was made. This merely indicates the uncertainty of all mining ventures and the phenomenal luck which accompanied the efforts of Langfear Norrie.
As the Norrie mine began to blossom out as a prospective bonanza Solomon S. Curry visited the wilds of the Gogebic range in the interest of the Metropolitan Iron and Land Company, composed of a number of Milwaukee men. Curry was a practical iron mining man and president of his company. He saw at once that the Norrie was destined to become a great property, and he entered into negotiations with young Norrie for its purchase. The New York boy was not at all solicitous to sell the property unless assured a fair share of its future profits. He finally disposed of the mine to the Metropolitan Iron and Land Company for a snug sum in cash, a large number of shares in the stock of the corporation and a percentage of the net profits of the company in addition to whatever dividends he might be entitled to. Langfear Norrie realized much more than $1,000,000 from his venture in the course of the next few years.
Control of this mine passed, during the summer of 1897, to individuals who were largely interested in the Carnegie Steel Co., and this valuable ore is now consumed by that company.
Excitement ran high in Gogebic mining circles during the early stages of development. Many mining companies were organized, and a craze spread throughout the lake cities to buy stock. Most of the companies proved worthless, and the reaction, which followed in due time, turned the properties over to practical men, under whose judgment and energies the range prospered, and, in 1892, became the chief ore producer on the lakes, a supremacy, which it held, however, for only one year, returning to the Marquette range for two seasons and then passing to the young Mesaba.
The Vermilion Range, lying wholly in Minnesota, was developed simultaneously with the Gogebic. Explorations had been undertaken as early as 1875 near Tower, Minn., by Mr. Stuntz, of Duluth, but although a seam of hard, clean hematite, 13 feet wide, was exposed, no practical results followed. Search was renewed in 1880 and 1881 under the direction of C. Tower and Mr. Munson, of Utica, N. Y. Black magnetite was discovered, and the ore is now the property of the Minnesota Company. The Chandler, Zenith and other mines were uncovered, 100 miles of railroad were built and docks constructed at Two Harbors.
The Mesaba Range, youngest and most lusty of the five, dates its existence from November, 1890, when soft hematite was discovered upon land now known as the Mountain Iron mine. Ore had been found in this range as early as 1875, but it was lean or banded with jasper, and experts pronounced against the field. Persevering explorers, however, in time unearthed two commercial ores, the soft hematite and the gothite or yellow ore, rich in metallic iron and low in phosphorus. The Mesaba range has been explored from the Mississippi river eastward to the Canadian boundary, a distance of 140 miles. Following the discovery at the Mountain Iron mine came those of the Biwabic, Cincinnati, Hale and the group surrounding the town of Virginia.
In a paper read at the Lake Superior meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers on the "Mining Methods on the Mesaba Range," C. E. Bailey, of Virginia, Minn., said :
"The ore-bodies of the range lie in a blanket formation varying in width from 200 or 300 feet to over half a mile, and in length from 500 feet to over two miles. It is practically horizontal in bedding, but in places has a dip of as much as seven feet in 100 for a quarter of a mile. The top of the ore is in most cases nearly level, although local rolls make the back (or top of the ore) vary to the extent of 10, or in rare cases 20 feet, and very frequently there is a general slope at the top of the ore, as well as the bottom, which makes it impossible to mine it all from one level. Taking the average of long stretches, the side-walls may be described as quite regular; but local deflections make it necessary to prospect for the wall-rock, and in drifting underground it is common to drive along the side-walls, uncovering them almost continuously, and thus making sure that no large pockets of ore are missed. The dip of the side-walls varies greatly, but an average is probably between 45 and 60 degrees, sloping inward at the bottom, making the general shape of the ore-body not exactly a basin, but more nearly a trough, usually with a longitudinal trend and sloping sides, and ore much the deepest at the center.
"The depth or thickness of the ore varies from a few feet to over 300 feet, but in rare instances exceeds over any large area 150 feet of continuous high-grade ore. As a general rule, the top-ore is poorer in quality, being especially high in phosphorus; and the same may be said of that near the side-walls, bottom and ends of the deposit, except that in these cases the percentage of iron is usually low as well. The best ore is in the heart of the deposit, and this mode of occurrence has led to a comparison with a watermelon.
"The ore is a soft hematite, but varies greatly in hardness in the different districts. The Hibbing district (especially at the Mahoning end) has a remarkably soft ore, capable of being drilled with an augur or loaded with the steam shovel without blasting. The Mountain iron-ore is but slightly harder; while the Virginia deposit has ribs of very hard ore, and the Eveleth formation is by far the hardest on the range.
"The surface consists of glacial drift from 10 to 150 feet in thickness. It is clay, well filled with granite boulders, except the last few feet above the ore, which is sand and gravel with some small boulders. It is an exceedingly hard material to handle. Most of it would be classified as hard-pan.
"The two systems of operating are the stripping or open-pit and the underground system. The stripping-mines are worked either by steam-shovel or the milling process.
"In underground work, the Fayal record of 57,000 tons in a month surpasses any single shaft-record I have happened to hear of. This was hoisted with skips holding a little over three tons. A milling mine, the Auburn, with a 6-ton skip, hoisted 67,000 tons a month. In steam-shovel work, the Mountain Iron records of 5,800 tons in 10 hours and 164,000 tons in a month, are unsurpassed, but will probably be exceeded very soon.
"Regarding costs, it is unwise to say more than that the milling-system probably puts ore on cars for about 55 per cent, of the underground cost, if stripping is included, while the total steam-shovel cost is probably nearer 33 per cent. of the underground. Regarding the future, it seems unsafe to predict much cheapening in mining cost, as economy is already practiced on every hand, the mines are equipped in a thoroughly business-like way, and the wage-scale ought to rise rather than fall. A few improvements can be made; but costs are about as low as ought to be expected, and managers may take some pride in having reduced them to the point they have reached."
The destination of the first considerable shipments of Lake Superior ore to the lower lakes was Cleveland, for this port was connected by railroad, the present Mahoning division of the Erie system, with the Mahoning and Shenango valleys, where small iron furnaces were then melting the black and iron ores found in that locality. It was a serious question for a while whether the Lake Superior ores could be successfully worked in these furnaces.
The Iron Trade Review, of April, 1897, contained the following historical account of the first use of Lake Superior iron ore in the Mahoning valley, in Ohio. It had previously been used in the Shenango valley, in Pennsylvania.
The first shipment of Lake Superior ore into the Mahoning valley was made by the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, next in age to the Jackson Mining Company. This was in 1856. Some inquiries recently made by J. H. Sheadle, secretary of the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, successor to the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, have brought out some of the particulars of this first use of Lake Superior ores in Ohio. It is established that the first shipment of Cleveland ore was made in the steamer Ontonagon, in 1856, and consisted of 269 tons. The steamer left Marquette on June 18 of that year and arrived at Cleveland on June 24. The first shipment of this ore to the Mahoning valley was made in 1857 and Charles T. Howard was the purchaser. The officers of the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, with whom Mr. Howard made his contract, were Samuel L. Mather, H. B. Turtle, W. J. Gordon and Dr. Hewitt. Mr. Howard is now living at Jamestown, Pa., and is 76 years old. Among other correspondence, Mr. Sheadle has the following letter from Mr. Howard, which gives interesting details concerning the particular matter under inquiry, and as well concerning the status of ironmaking in Northeastern Ohio at that early day:
"In 1847 or 1848 a company of Welshmen built a furnace in Summit county, Ohio, not far from a place known as the Old forge, near Akron, Ohio, and expected to get the coal from a mine that was being worked a little near Tallmadge, five miles from Akron. They put up a good stack and good machinery, but after several trials found out that the Tallmadge coal would not do for smelting, so they quit, gave up the whole thing as a failure, leaving machinery and everything standing there. I bought the whole thing for a small sum, took it down and moved it to Youngstown, built the Falcon furnace, and used the Welshmen's machinery and everything else I could use. I had saved up $700 from my salary with Captain Ward, and I thought I was rich enough to be an ironmaster on my own account. I found out later on that $700 was not anything like enough money to build and run a blast furnace; so after running one year I sold out to James Wood & Co., of Niles, Ohio, went to Massillon, Ohio, and built the first Massillon furnace for Marshall Wellman, who was president of the Massillon Bank.
"In 1854 I returned to Youngstown and built the Phoenix furnace in company with Lem. Crawford, of Cleveland. The firm was Crawford & Howard, and everything went along smoothly and would have continued so but Mr. Crawford had a son that represented him at the furnace. I could not get along with him, so I sold my interest to Mr. Crawford and bought back the Falcon from Wood & Co. I rebuilt the stack and made improvements of different kinds, but the iron made from the lean ores about Youngstown was not just what was altogether suitable for the Pittsburgh rolling mills in making iron and nails. That being the principal market, ore that would mix with the native ore and improve the quality of the pig iron was much desired and sought for. So, in 1857, when I saw a notice in the Cleveland Herald that the Cleveland Iron Mining Company had received a cargo of Lake Superior ore, and was prepared to supply blast furnaces and rolling mills on reasonable terms, I made a trip to Cleveland in order to see the ore and get some idea of what it would yield and what it would cost delivered in Youngstown. I met the president and Mr. Tuttle, who was secretary, and found them to be anxious to have the furnaces commence the use of their ore. They said they were prepared to furnish a steady supply; so I made arrangements with them to send me a few carloads at once. Let me say that the idea prevailed at that time amongst the furnacemen that Lake Superior ore could not be smelted with raw coal; that the ore would have to be roasted first and the coal made into coke before using. But there was nothing of this necessary. It worked nicely from the start, improving the quality of the iron by giving it body, and very much increasing the output of the furnace per day and making the cost per ton for labor less and the iron more salable as well.
"And from year to year,in watching the advance in the manufacture of iron in Northern Ohio, and how much it has added to the building up of the Lake City, all this growth being in a great measure owing to Lake Superior ore, it is pleasant to look back to the day the first cast was made from it at the Falcon furnace in Youngstown, and to know that it has continued in use through all these years."
Shipping Docks. -- For the shipment of the iron ore mined in the Lake Superior region, more than a score of docks, fitted with pockets, have been erected at a cost of nearly $7,000,000. Some of the older docks have been abandoned, and the newer ones embody improvements as to construction, heights, handling, appliances, etc., and although the details have been carefully studied out the cost is sufficiently great to make an appreciable charge for interest and maintenance on each ton of ore handled. The following figures will give an idea of one of the later constructions.
The dock at Marquette, with 270 pockets and very short approach, cost $237,000, and in round numbers a dock proper may be estimated at $1,000 per pocket, or $10 per ton capacity.
The ore shipping docks, although differing in length, width and height, are constructed upon one general plan, viz.: a series of pockets, supported on framing, which rests on piles, the pockets each terminating in a door to control the flow of ore into a steel spout weighing 2,500 pounds, which is let down so as to discharge the ore into the hatches of vessels. Over these pockets are the railroad tracks, on which ore is carried by drop-bottom cars.
There are now on Lakes Superior and Michigan twenty-two ore docks. These twenty-two ore shipping docks have a total of 4,624 pockets, with an aggregate capacity of 633,804 gross tons, which have cost $6,849,529. They are located as follows: Two Harbors, five docks, 729 pockets of 109,150 gross tons capacity, cost of construction, $1,650,000; Duluth, two docks, 576 pockets of 72,160 tons capacity, $860,021; Superior, one dock. 250 pockets of 37,500 tons capacity, $413,619; Ashland, three docks, 782 pockets of 101,776 tons capacity, $942,576; Marquette, including St. Ignace and L'Anse, six docks, 1,083 pockets of 125,000 tons capacity, $1,733,304; Escanaba, four docks, 810 pockets of 100,000 tons capacity, $800,000; Gladstone, one dock, 120 pockets of 17,000 tons capacity, $128,009.
The length of the iron ore shipping docks, independent of approaches, varies from 559 feet to 2,304 feet, the aggregate of all being about 27,000 feet, or, say, 5 miles.
The methods of unloading ore from vessels at the receiving docks were until early in the eighties very primitive, the ore being hoisted in wooden buckets by horsepower, placed in wheelbarrows, wheeled back on the dock and dumped upon stock piles. A revolution has been wrought in recent years, so that now all the docks are equipped with costly hoisting and conveying machinery for rapid unloading, and the largest vessels can be unloaded in twelve to fourteen hours.
There are four groups of three machines each in the plant. Each group is entirely separated and self-contained. The operators are in position to see all movements of the bucket except when it is under the hatch. Each group of three legs is self-propelling.
Each leg in this plant will handle from sixty to eighty buckets an hour under favorable conditions. With twelve legs the extreme capacity of the plant would therefore be nearly 1,000 tons an hour, but if only 900 tons an hour is figured on the total of seven hours' work would be 6,300 tons.
The iron-producing region tributary to Lake Erie has for years been the greatest center in the manufacture of this industrial metal in the country, and is now the greatest in the world. The second in the vastness of its product is the Chicago district, where the Illinois Steel Company is the great factor in this industry. The inception of the company dates back to May, 1857, when Capt. Eber B. Ward, of Detroit, a well known and wealthy vessel owner, resolved to construct, with the aid of a few friends, what was then known as Ward's rolling mill, on the north branch of the Chicago river. The capital provided was $225,000. All material for the operators was received by water, there being then no rail connection with the plant. A steamer was built to run on the Chicago river, somewhat after the model of a Mississippi river boat, with clear decks and a carrying capacity of 150 gross tons. The fuel used was delivered by sailing vessels in about 500 ton cargoes from Lake Erie ports, and the scrap iron consumed came from the various docks of the Chicago railways. Iron rails were rolled here in 1858 and the plant grew, becoming, in 1864, the Chicago Rolling Mill Company, with $500,000 capital. In 1869 two blast furnaces were added, other improvements made and the North Chicago Rolling Mill Company incorporated with $1,000,000 capital. In 1878 the Milwaukee Iron Company was absorbed, works were built at South Chicago in 1880, consolidation was formed with the Union Steel Company and by the purchase of the Joliet Steel Company, the Illinois Steel Company was created in 1889. It has now an authorized capital of $50,000,000, of which $18,650,635 has been issued. The output of Ward's rolling mill the first year was 4,500 tons of rerolled iron rails. The present output of the Illinois Steel Company exceeds 1,000,000 tons of iron annually. Nearly 2,000,000 tons of iron ore are consumed each year at Chicago.
How Iron Ore is Sold. -- The vast iron ore interests are handled by very few companies. A half dozen of the latter control, practically, the entire output. In early times the mining companies had headquarters in Cleveland, and sold ore by samples, which they kept for that purpose in their offices. Several of these old companies, including the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, the Jackson Company, still dispose in this way of the product of their mines, but most of the ore is now sold through agents, who have become the controlling factors in the vast commerce.
Consolidation of Interests. -- The various forms of property, essential to the production and transportation of iron ore from mine to furnace, have united under practically one management -- mines, railways to shipping ports, vast storage docks, immense freight carriers on the lakes, docks and machinery at receiving ports, railroads thence to furnaces, and lastly extensive iron works.
This consolidation of interests applies to the Carnegie Steel Company, which consumes about 40 per cent, of the iron ore now reaching Lake Erie ports, and to the Illinois Steel Company, which consumes, with the exception of ore for one furnace, the entire receipts at Chicago and Milwaukee.
Shipments from Each Range. -- The following table shows the amount of ore shipped from each range from the time mining operations began to the present:
The total shipments from the Marquette range to the close of the season of 1897 were 49,253,222 tons; Menominee, 24,931,441 tons; Vermilion, 10,498,716 tons; Gogebic, 23,047,023 tons; Mesaba, 12,355,456 tons; grand total, 120,088,178 tons.
STATISTICS OF SHIPPING AND RECEIVING PORTS.
The destination of ores in recent years is shown by the following table, compiled by the same authority:
The receipts "of other lake" ports were mainly at South Chicago. The iron ore receipts at South Chicago in 1897 were 1,731,014 tons; at Chicago, 89,198 tons; total for the city, 1,820,202 tons. In 1898 receipts of iron ore at South Chicago were 2,212,032 tons; at Chicago, 63,934 tons; total 2,275,966 tons.
Shipments of Lake Superior iron ore by ports in recent years have thus been compiled by A. I. Findley, editor of the Iron Trade Review:
The rapid growth of the iron interests of the Great Lakes relatively to the total output in the United States is shown by the subjoined figures, giving by years the total production of ore in the lake region and in the United States, and the per centage of of the former to the latter:
The following table of the price of ore at Lake Erie ports from 1856 to 1897, inclusive, was prepared by James E. Jopling, of Marquette:
Speaking of the present low price of ore D. H. Bacon, of Soudan, Minn., in a recent paper said: "As illustrating the cheapening that has been effected, ore is to-day sold at Lake Erie ports for one dollar per ton less than in early times it actually cost to mine it; and this is done without loss, and further economies may be expected. Young men remember sales of ore in Pittsburg at $18 per ton, or about the present price of rails." -- The Iron Trade Review adds: "It is within the recollection of gentlemen connected with one of the oldest iron mining companies, that a few small sales of Marquette ore, for mill fix, were made early in 1873, just before the opening of navigation, at $18, Cleveland. It is also a matter of memory that a small lot of Republic ore for fix, was sold early in the '70s at $16.25, Cleveland, the freight to Pittsburg being $1.50. The highest season's average we have found was $12.17, that being the record of the Cleveland Iron Mining Co. for 1873."
The following table of vessel rates per ton from Marquette and Escanaba from the time the Sault canal was opened down to the present year is from a paper on "The Marquette Range," read in the summer of 1897 by James E. Jopling, of Marquette, Mich., at the Lake Superior meeting of the American Institute of Mining Engineers:
A table of average rates of freights on iron ore to Ohio ports during the past twenty-two years has been prepared by the Marine Review. The averages of daily rates, or rates on wild cargoes, was made up by collecting from several shippers and vessel brokers their lists of charters during the season, from which a general list was prepared, that includes in nearly all cases actual charters for every day of the season. The sum of these daily rates divided by the number of days gives the average quoted. These averages are what may be termed daily averages, and not the figures at which the entire tonnage of either coal or grain was moved.
The year 1897 was remarkable in many ways, but perhaps in none more notably than in the unprecedentedly large iron ore traffic, accompanied as it was by the remarkably low freights. The many additions to the large freighters, and the completion of the deep water channel to Lake Superior combined to make this possible. But what of the future? Has the advent of the monster steel carrier crushed the life out of this trade of first importance to the lake marine? It depends upon the future of iron production in this country. For the first time in history the United States is entering the iron markets of the world. There is scarcely a limit to the extent to which iron may be used during the coming years. It is questionable if the domestic consumption can keep pace with the powers of production in the region tributary to the Great Lakes, though there is room for tremendous expansion even here. But the United States is developed in many ways far beyond other countries. It contains over 40 per cent. of all the railways of the world,
and as modern civilization is rapidly penetrating the dark continent of Africa, subduing the ancient civilizations of Asia, and rising to a new elevation in Europe the demand for iron and steel from all quarters of the globe is destined to increase amazingly. It is the plain mission of America to supply these needs. Already she is crowding the iron makers of Europe.
A recent English writer says: "At the present time there is no individual influence that is causing more apprehension as to the future of the iron trade of Great Britain than the growth of American competition. As yet, the danger does not appear to be serious -- not at any rate in its actual extent. Probably a large majority of those who have not had the opportunity of studying the conditions have hardly realized that there is any danger. The Carnegie Company alone produces nearly two million tons of pig iron per annum, which is almost as much as the total joint output of Germany, France and Belgium thirty years ago, and more than the total iron output of the United States up to the year 1872. The same works produce annually about a million tons of Bessemer steel ingots and 650, 000 tons of rails -- figures which exceed the annual output of all the works in Great Britain up to 1880 -- and the same firm has lately made arrangements to produce at Homestead about a million tons of open-hearth steel annually, which is more than the total open-hearth steel output of France, Belgium and Germany combined, and considerably more than the total output of this description of steel in the United States, as a whole, up to 1894. And this gigantic corporation does not stand alone. The Illinois Steel Company has also much larger resources of production than any concern in Europe. Of corporations in the second rank, but still important and formidable, the number is legion."
There is every assurance that the supply of iron ore in the Lake Superior region will be adequate to all needs for many years to come, even at a much more rapid rate of mining than that of the present.
D. H. Bacon, in June, 1897, thus expressed in general terms his faith in the future:
"A look at the past may tickle our vanity, but our interests are in the future. Can we maintain the present output ? Can we increase it ? For how many years can buyers depend upon Lake Superior for their supply? The discovery and quick development of the Mesaba profoundly affected the iron and steel industry of this country, and the effect may extend beyond our shores. The opening of the Mesaba does not mean idleness on other ranges, but does mean for them greater economies and smaller profits. The new range competes with itself as well as with others. But each era of depression brings a reward in the better methods which are forced upon us, and which, continued into days of prosperity, increase the volume of business and to that extent the profits. With the low prices that are here to remain, it is more than ever difficult to estimate the annual consumption. Speaking of the several ranges as one, the acreage of known ore is but a small part of the area that may contain ore. Discoveries are still being made in the Marquette district, the exhaustion of which was expected twenty years ago. And I may say, in passing, that the known ore under the bed of Lake Angeline is four times as great as was all the known ore in all of the mines of that county at any time prior to 1887. The past few years have not been such as to encourage prospecting; but given favorable conditions, we may confidently depend upon important discoveries. For forty years this region has met all demands; its resources are to-day, as compared with demand, greater than at any time past; and I believe that those who are now active will have stepped aside and will perhaps have been forgotten before this region will fail as an adequate source of supply."
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Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.