Nature has secreted many of her most useful treasures in most forbidding places. The nitrates which fertilize so much of Europe are drawn from the fiercest of South American deserts, and the gold which measures American commerce is mined in the arctic wilds of Alaska or in the almost inaccessible scarps of the western highlands. The description of these regions and the portrayal of their relation to the rest of the world is the purpose of Part I of this book.
n inhospitable region, scanty in both animal and vegetable life, where climatic conditions call for heroic daring on the part of those who would search out its hidden mysteries; it is a land of death-dealing mirages, yet containing untold wealth for the miner, and likewise for the husbandman who can irrigate the fallow parched surface.
[Illustration: Mohave Desert, California. Buzzards' Roost]
The bold prospector has unearthed in many places of southern Nevada gold-bearing rock assaying thousands of dollars to the ton, the result being the building up of cities and towns and the construction of connecting railroads to meet the demands of the growing commerce. Until recently, silver was the principal metal sought and found in the State of Nevada; but now gold is king, and his throne has been shifted from one desert camp to another, each laying claim to his abundant presence, while new claimants are ever bringing new treasures into light.
The two most valuable deposits of the precious metal
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