Jackson Iron Compant - Its History and Resources
Lake Superior Journal 8-14-1850
We gather the following particulars in relation to the history and resources of the great Iron Mine of Lake Superior from John Western.
The Jackson Iron Company made their location in the year 1845, and commenced preparatory operations for working the ore in 1846. Erected their works on Carp River, about 4 miles east of their location, and commenced making Iron in the winter of 1846 and 7, which works are still in operation.
The ore is very rich in quality, works remarkable easy, and the iron made from it is thought to be equal, if not superior to even the Swedish Iron.
The location consists of one square mile, at least one-fourth of which is supposed to be covered with ore, appearing in the form of hills, often without any covering on the surface, and terminating in precipices varying in height, up to 150 feet, and apparently composed of pure ore from the bottom to the top, with every appearance of being easy to quarry.
A great extent of country in the neighborhood of the said location is found to contain vast quantities of iron ore, on portions of which locations have been made, and some of them are supposed to contain even a greater abundance of ore than the Jackson location, which gives us reason to believe that these beds of rock ore are inexhaustible.
A great portion of the country in the iron region is said to be covered by dense forests of timber, and a great part of it well adapted to the making of charcoal, and article by which the best quality of iron is made.
The iron region commences at the Jackson location, about 12 miles west of the Lake shore, to which a plank road can be made fore the purpose of conveying the ore, where it would b ready for shipment.
It is thought an effort will be made in Congress this session to get a canal made at Saut Ste. Marie, which, if successful, will make a water communication to the iron region from all parts of the shores of the Lakes below.
Steam power is applicable to the making of iron, and often preferred to waterpower, so that where wood is at hand, the requisite power and material for making the iron are also ready.
To give some idea of the resources of this region in the article of iron, we will mention that the ore on the Jackson location is visible in different places where it is believed to be above 100 feet high-the depth below the surface has not been ascertained-calling the ore on one acre 100 feet thick, and allowing 10 cubic feet of ore to the ton and w find that we have about 135,000 tons of ore on one acre of land.
With regard to wood, suppose the wood on a section of land will average 50 cords to the acre, and that 2 1-2 cords will make 100 bushels of coal and we find the section will produce 1,280,000 bushels of coal.
It takes about 200 bushels of coal to make one ton of iron in blooms, so that one section of land is found to produce sufficient coal to make 6,400 tons of blooms. The last blooms sold by the Jackson Company were sold in Pittsburgh at $67.50 a ton. Allowing the price of blooms to be $50 a ton when made, and the 6,400 tons will amount to the immense sum of $320,000 made from coal produced from one section of land.
Supposing that one half the timber be kept for the use of arms and other necessary purposes, and the other half made into coal, consequently, we should have only half the coal and half the iron, or 3,200 tons on a section.
Allowing that 100 acres only of the Jackson location is covered with ore in the same ration and we find that we have enough to use up the coal on about 930 square miles of land, and to produce nearly 3,000,000 tons of bloom iron on that location alone.
With regard to wood, if in addition to that in the locality of the iron ore, we take a circuit of the coasts around the lakes, bays, islands, &e., (to which water communication may be had after a canal is made at Saut Ste. Marie, ) of the depth of 4 miles which would be a moderate distance for the conveyance of coal, and we find that we have immense resources in the article of wood for the purpose of making ore into iron.
If the settler by clearing the land, could realize a handsome profit from the sale of his coal, and find a market for his supplies of crops, we think it would be the means of quickly settling a large portion of our country, which otherwise would not be settled, at least, for a long time to come, if ever.
All that is required to throw this iron region open to navigation, is the means to make a plank or rail road, over a district of country of about 12 miles to lake shore.
With a canal at Saut Ste. Marie, and a plank road to the Lake, we are perfectly satisfied that Michigan can be supplied with iron at two-thirds the price which the same quality of iron costs here at present, and with a fair profit to the Manufacturer.
The principal draw back in the successful operation of making iron at present arises from the bad state of the roads, occasioned by the dry state of the snow in winter, which prevents it form packing on the track, and in summer, partly from the nature of the soil, and the exclusion of the sun and air from the road by the density of the forest through which it passes. The agent at the works last spring made about six miles of new road to avoid a portion of the old road, which was impassable. He says that it was a hard day’s work for a span of horses to go to the Lake and draw back three barrels of flour to a load in one day, a distance of 8 or 9 miles only,-and that out of about seven tons of blooms made at the works in September last, only about one ton could be got to the lake during the fall, although they had two good span of horses there for the purpose of taking off the iron.
With ore in abundance, and a bountiful supply of wood for coal, no company ever had such facilities for making and marketing the best quality of iron such as is now found to exist in this State, and from the superior quality of the article, it will not affect the interests of our sister States-it coming in competition principally with the best article, imported from abroad, making it still a greater object of National wealth, and in due season, we have no doubt but soon, will be an article of export from, instead of import into the country.