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Territorial Enterprise, ca. July 17, 1862



The stage will land you in Virginia City. Once you are here, all necessity for personal exertion is at an end. You need not fret your gizzard about where you will go or what you will do. A deputation of well-dressed, gentlemanly appearing citizens will receive you. You know little or nothing of ores; it's of no consequence -- your self-constituted body-guard will tell you what to admire.

Devote the first day of your stay to drinking with all who inform you that they are happy to meet you. Of course, you wish to see the Ophir. As it is thought probable that you are not sufficiently rich to buy stock in it, nobody objects to your seeing the mine. Accordingly you visit Ophir.

Spend your second day in dining and supping with those who have appointed themselves a special committee to protect you from imposition. If you get time, go and take another look at the Ophir.

The third day you will doubtless be invited to dine, or sup, or lunch somewhere. Go, by all means. You will be surprised at the amount of information the gentlemen you meet with can give you in regard to the richness of the claims in which they own. If you do not get time in the forenoon to go up and take a look at the Ophir, be sure to go during the afternoon. If you can go both in the forenoon and the afternoon, do so by all means.

The fourth day of your stay, get yourself invited to a public dinner, if possible; that is if there is no danger of your coming in contact with a different class from those you have been associating. Your bodyguard, however, will be likely to attend to this, and see that you meet with none but persons whom it is proper for you to know. This time spent in dining is not lost. Every day you will gain a great deal of astonishing information in relation to the mines owned by your friends -- while at the same time you are enjoying yourself finely. This you will find a delightful combination of pleasure and profit. There is not the least necessity of your going outside of town to look at anything. Be sure to go up and take a good look at the Ophir.

The fifth day, take dinner with your friends; go with them to such places as they regard worthy of being visited--that is, if you can do so without interfering with your usual visits to the Ophir. Let nothing prevent your going to the Ophir -- go there every day.

The sixth day, enjoy yourself with your friends; go up and look at the Ophir at least twice -- oftener if possible.

You are by this time well posted up in regard to the mineral wealth of Washoe, and if you have concluded not to invest in mining stock, get aboard the stage and go back to California. On reaching home you will be able to surprise your friends with your great knowledge of the wealth and resources of Washoe; you will be the oracle to whom all questions in regard to Washoe stock will be referred.


Strangers will be pleased to know that on landing in any of the principal cities of Washoe, they will find any number of men ready, should they desire to invest in mining stock, to lend them their advice and assistance. Cultivate the acquaintance of these gentlemen. It will be a good plan to let them know as soon as possible about what kind of speculation would suit you, and the exact amount of money you desire to invest. It will expedite your business wonderfully, and you will soon find yourself "into something."

You will not be long in discovering that the self-appointed special committee having you in their charge own in all the best claims. All "outside" is "wildcat." If you should ask after a mining or other enterprise, and are told that "little is said about it here," and "it don't amount to much," bother your head no more about it. It is a worthless affair, or your special protectors would, of course, have been in it, and could have told you all about it. Be very careful not to let anybody but the well-dressed, genteel fellows who constitute your body-guard know that you have money to invest in mines. If the laboring miners find it out they are sure to "take you in." If a working miner should be so presumptuous as to speak to you on the subject of mines, turn on your heel at once and leave him. It's your only salvation. If you believe a word these laboring miners say of their leads, you are duped, swindled. Listen and give heed only to the words of kid-gloved, gentlemanly dealers in mines. They, of course, are incapable of uttering a single word not strictly true in regard to the mines. Their only object is to see you get a "good thing." On the other hand the whole object and study of the "common miner" is to "take you in." The mines which these fellows will tell you of are utterly worthless -- they live wholly by their wits. Their working so busily day and night on their leads is only a blind; they have not the least confidence in these themselves -- all artifice. Remember that.

Never go out alone to look at mines. Always go with your body-guard -- they know where it is safe to take you. Should you go out among the various mines to look up something on your own book, ten to one you will fall in with some lying, thieving rascal, in clay-stained canvas overalls, who would prove beyond (he shadow of a doubt, that he had a good thing, but was too poor to properly develop it. You invent your menus in his mine and you are a ruined man. You
are a ruined man, because the moment you have invested your money your body-guard make it so evident that you have made an ass of yourself by not investing under their direction, that you immediately sell out for whatever you can get, and hurry back to California to hide your diminished head. No, stick by your protectors! They will show you nothing but what they can recommend as being good -- nothing but what they themselves own stock in. Invest with them as you value your peace of mind. You will then sit quietly under your vine and figure -- paying your assessment regularly year after year, without hearing a discouraging word to spend a chill of fear to freeze the joyous bubbles of hope rising so pleasantly upward in your calm imagination. In whatever direction the tunnel is running, you will always have the satisfactory assurance that it is fast nearing the lead. Be advised. Goodbye.


First, incorporate. Immediately after your incorporation, lay your plans to get rid of all the poor men in your company. They may be honest men; they may be industrious, enterprising, intelligent and good men, but they are poor. What right has labor to clog capital? Force the beggars to part with their stock, to yield the mine to capital. You want the whole mine -- take it. There may be men in your company who have been long years from home -- they have now struck a good thing; they wish to develop it; their families expect them; they are in haste to realize -- in haste to go home. Harden your heart; the mine is good; you want it; it is in your power to possess it; don't be silly, weak -- take it. We do not consider it necessary to enter into any elaborate argument intended to overcome your scruples in regard to ousting the working men -- the men of small means, who by some unavoidable accident are members of your company. If your mine is really a good one, we are certain that you will at once see and admit the necessity of the movement. We shall be at more pains, however, and give directions at some length, for the attainment of an object of such consequence; taking it for granted that your will to proceed in the work is good.

It is of the first importance that you require all assessments paid promptly in cash. Allow no poor man to hold an office in your company. Never allow a poor member of your company to do a single stroke of work about the mine. Start in to open your mine in the most thorough and expensive manner possible. If there
should be paying ore on the very surface, don't allow a pick to be struck into it. Start in to tap your mine at the lowest practicable depth -- though your tunnel should be a mile in length. Levy assessments. The moment you strike your lead, and find that it equals your anticipations, turn and run lengthwise of it. Pile on the assessments. Now commence building a large and costly mill; build a wagon road or a railroad from your mine to your mill. Raise the assessments. After you have run both ways from your tunnel for a sufficient distance cut through it and run along the other side of it; build a few ore-houses. Double the assessments. Now sink a few shafts to the depth of 50 or 100 feet; get up a story that the lead has "petered out"; sell some of your stock to friends whom you can trust, and who are in the secret, at a low figure; set the same friends to buying for you. You will by this time have frozen out the most of the poor devils owning in the mine. If a few have managed to live through all this, go at 'em again. Tunnel along both sides of your lead from the bottom of the main shaft -- treble the assessments. Cut your mine up into galleries ready for removing the ore; but don't bring a pound of pay-rock outside the mine. Buy a large amount of wood; buy a few dwelling-houses; buy 50 or 100 tons quicksilver -- quadruple assessments. By this time you have the whole mine. You may now hoist out your richest ore and start your mill. It is safe to allow the mine to pay now. If you should ever happen to meet with any of the poor devils whom you froze out, speak to them pleasantly; let them see that you are a true gentleman and cherish no animosity. Inquire when they last heard from their families and when they expect to see them. You might ask them to drink with you occasionally -- nothing like a well-timed display of little kindnesses. In this case it will show that you are of a very forgiving disposition.


You have your mill completed and ready to go into operation. To build it you have expended all of your own money and all you could borrow at 10 per cent per month. In building a mill you have done what is a great benefit to the country. As you have done so much for the country, you feel that the country should do something for you. What we purpose doing is to give you a few plain directions for the management of your mill, by observing which, not the country alone but yourself also will be benefited. The mode of operation we recommend is entirely new -- is a style of management which the great majority of the mill men of Nevada have never dreamed of adopting -- is something altogether novel.

As we said above, you have expended all your own money and are paying a high rate of interest on a large amount of borrowed capital. The first thing necessary to be done is to get back the money you have expended, and the next is to repay that you have borrowed. You must first make the country pay you back all that the mill has cost you. You wish to do this immediately, for fear of accidents. Your mill may burn up, the mines peter, or the whole country sink; if you have got back the cost of your mill you can then afford to take your chances. Your mind is at ease, and you can calmly drift with the current of events. You are first to get it firmly impressed upon your mind that you have done a great thing for the country in building a mill, as you will then have but little difficulty in making it plain to yourself that you have a right to expect great things of the country in return-in fact, that it is almost impossible for it to every repay you for the benefits you have conferred upon it.

At first you will do custom work altogether, as you have no money to buy ore or a mine. Until your mill is paid for you should be careful not to clean up your batteries. What is in your pans is enough for the owners of the ore; if the ore is very rich it is very likely that the pans contain more metal than the owners should have. A little acquaintance with the various ores of the country will enable you to decide upon the amount you should give the owners. Watch new claims closely. Go to them frequently and prospect the ore coming from them. If rich, manage to get their first lot of rock to test. These new leads are much better for a mill that is not yet paid for, to crush ore from than those well known. As you have not yet a mine of your own it is not best that these new leads should pay much -- when leads pay much the price goes up. Think how much you have benefited the country, and bother yourself but little about cleaning up either the pans or batteries. It is also useful to know that by an improved mode of working, which you can easily get up, tailings very frequently pay better the second working than the first. That they should is but right -- it is only what the country owes you. Folks very often accuse mills of stealing their amalgam; don't let this disturb you -- folks are so suspicious you know, and are always talking anyhow. It all amounts to nothing, and the most honest are often suspected. Consider that debts should always be paid -- the country, remember, is greatly indebted to you -- if you don't collect debts due you, who will? As a rule, do not let lots of ore from new leads pay for crushing. If the owners grumble much you can split the difference and lose half they still owe you. Once in a great while let a new lead pay a little above the price of crushing -- miners, as a class, are worthy of encouragement.

It is a good plan to have a hole cut through the floor of the mill near where you pan out into which you can throw dirty stuff. A very small speck of dirt spoils a large lump of amalgam. It is better to pan out your batteries near this hole occasionally so as not to allow too much metal to accumulate in them. Owners of ore are sometimes so disgustingly familiar as to forcibly look into batteries. When your mill is paid for you can afford to be less strict in the observance of the rules we have given above for your guidance. Vale. May you prosper.

[Reprinted in San Francisco Bulletin, July 24, 1862, p. 1. Reprinted in Mark Twain Journal, Spring 2015, pp. 57-63.]

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