Chapter 9


Page 6

Mr. Yard and the company contended that the Department of the Interior had no jurisdiction to determine the validity of the locations. The testimony at the hearing before the local Land Office at Susanville, California, showed that the 11,000 acres were covered with about 160,000,000 board feet of timber valued at about $320,000 and that although the claims had been held by Yard and the mining company for from two to five years, there had been recovered only about three dollars worth of gold, and this recovery was made during six months of prospecting after the hearing had been ordered.

The local office at Susanville on February 27, 1908 decided that the charges made by the Government had been sustained, and that the land did not contain such valuable mineral deposits as would subject them to entry under the mining laws. The decision of First Assistant Secretary Pierce now finally sustained the Commissioner.

The policy of the Government was to foster and encourage mining. The law permited prospecting for minerals upon National forests and allowed the perfection of mining claims upon National forests to the same extent as upon the vacant public land. The policy of both the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service was to foster and encourage legitimate mining operations, and not to attack mining locations which were believed to be in any way valid, as well as assist in the development of valid mining claims.

The law authorized, and the Forest Service did grant, the free use of timber to miners in the preliminary development of their claims, unless there was a sufficient stand of timber for that purpose upon the claims. The locations made by Mr. Yard and the mining company had retarded the timber development of a rich section of the country lying along the newly constructed Western Pacific railroad.

Since the claims were located in a more or less mineralized country in which successful mining has been done in the past, the locations for 265,000 acres have necessarily embraced some mineral lands, and as the claimants have carried on no mining operations these mineral lands have really been withheld from legitimate miners, and the mineral development of that section has been interfered with and retarded by the fraudulent claims. No effort had been made by the claimants to discover or develop minerals upon any of the lands.

The decision of the First Assistant Secretary of the Interior has established a policy which will enable the Forest Service to protect National Forest timber lands from fraudulent appropriation under guise of the mining laws. Both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture announce that there will be no difficulty to distinguish between the proper use of the mining laws. The benefit of every doubt is given to miners. The greatest care is used before any report adverse to miners is accepted by the General Land Office as a basis for charges against mining claims. Only claimants who are perverting and misusing the mining law for fraudulent purposes have anything to fear.

On July 26, 1909 Yard gave out the following statement that the recent decision of First Assistant Secretary of the Interior Pierce in declaring certain locations of the North California Mining Company to be invalid would have no effect whatever on that company.

“I have not received the full text of the decision," said Mr. Yard, "and know nothing of it except that which I have read in the papers. As I understand the decision it does not declare any locations invalid, but simply states that the locations should have been declared invalid. As far as the North California Mining Company is concerned we will proceed as if the decision had never been rendered and will absolutely disregard it.”

“What the United States should do is to go into its own shop and label the goods that it has to sell. If it is agricultural land let the government say so. If it is timber or mineral, let it say so. We who are buying public lands will be willing to go in and buy the land on the government classification."

The North California Mining Company in fact placed a crew of men in the field the following month doing assessment work on its mining claims and locations in Plumas County in the face of the recent departmental ruling setting aside the claims.

The ground for this stand was that the ruling was only a departmental one and not a court decision. The company further stated that for some time past it had been segregating its claims in Plumas County, and that those which were decided upon as likely to be unproductive were being abandoned. The desertion of these claims, the company averred, was not the result of the departmental ruling, but a decision not to hold unproductive claims.

The ruling by the department setting aside the Yard claims declared the property open to new locations.

Abandonment of claims thus began in November 1910 when the North California Mining Company filed a notice of the abandonment of 10,000 acres of mineral locations in Butte County, along the Feather River canyon. In the early 1900’s the location of 260,000 acres of mineral land in Butte and Plumas counties caused much surprise and speculation. Later the reason was obvious that they were located for the purpose of securing a right of way for the Western Pacific, with the object also of obtaining patents and developing the claims that showed mineral in paying quantities.

The North California Mining Company, one of the largest concerns operating in the northern part of the state, through its attorney, L. N. Peter, in November 1913 filed for record in the Recorder's office in Plumas county documents formally relinquishing and surrendering to the United States government its claims to over 100,000 acres of mining land situated in Plumas county.

The lands surrendered included a number of claims that were known as the "H. H Yard claims." In relinquishing the lands the company stated that it was in accordance with its policy to segregate its valuable and worthless mineral holdings and give up the latter, in all there were over 300.

The North California Mining Company would also abandon thousands of acres more of mining claims as soon as it was determined that they were worthless for mining purposes, but the company had many thousands of acres which may have good mineral prospects and those were to be developed.

On October 8, 1914 California lost one of the most enterprising men connected with its timber and mining interests when Henry Herbert Yard, passed away at his home in San Francisco, California. Born in Trenton, New Jersey on March 12, 1851, he was 63 years of age.

Mr. Yard received his education in the public schools of Trenton and Philadelphia, and in 1869 graduated as a Mining Engineer from the Polytechnic College of Pennsylvania, where he laid the foundation for his future achievements in mining, civil engineering and timber estimating. At the age of 18 when he graduated college he went to Colorado, where he was one of the pioneers in silver mining in that section, serving in every position from laborer to the higher lines of mining and metallurgy. In 1874 he left Colorado and went back to New Jersey, where he engaged in iron mining, smelting, banking and the subdivision of land. Mr. Yard promoted the land enterprises which resulted in the upbuilding of Belmar, Como, Spring Lake and Sea Girt, New Jersey and became the proprietor of a large hotel. During the twenty years, or more, that he was prominently identified with these enterprises Mr. Yard was the means of inducing a number of representative capitalists to make investments, and the popularity of those resorts was largely due to his efforts. Mr. Yard had also been engaged in iron mining in Virginia where he built a thirteen-mile railroad from Edinburgh, Virginia to his iron furnace and mines and also acquired timberlands in that state; gold and silver mining in Colorado, Utah, Montana and Mexico.

When Yard retired from active business life he began developing his own large holdings of timberlands and a redwood sawmill was established on the Russian River, in Sonoma County, and a white pine mill near Oroville, California. Mr. Yard's indefatigable industry, shown while carrying on his railroad and timber investigations, told upon even his iron constitution and his health began to show signs of breaking down, after the added strain of passing through the trying period of 1906, when the San Francisco fire destroyed his offices and many records. In 1912 his health became worse and for a time he was confined to a hospital. He was a big-hearted, generous man, who will be remembered by thousands in the East, as well an in the West, for his genial manner and his many unheralded charities.

Mr. Yard was a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, the Union League Club of Philadelphia, and of other associations. He was survived by his widow, Mrs. Catherine A. Yard, and his son, Carl A. Yard.

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