No. 78.
Mr. Young to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 121.]

Sir: There is no subject in which the western nations are so much interested, so far as China is concerned, as the introduction of railways. [Page 198]The history of the Woosung experiment at Shanghai, and the summary end of it, are well known to the Department. It is now believed that under more discreet and conservative direction the Woosung Railway would have been tolerated and other railways would have followed. No pains were taken, however, to consider Chinese prejudices. The result was, that the authorities bought the road from its owners at a price which gave them a good profit on their investment, tore up the rails and sent them to Formosa.

Since that time, the Chinese have resisted all attempts to introduce railways. The viceroy, Li, has memorialized the throne in favor of such a railway as would strengthen the defenses on the Russian frontier, and enable grain to be carried from the seaboard into provinces threatened with famine. Reaetionary influences have thus far prevented the throne from granting his prayer.

The legation learned some time since that in the province of Chihli, Li’s own dominion, a small railway had been constructed quietly, under the viceroy’s orders, to “assist in the development of certain mines.” It was generally understood, however, that the enterprise was intended by the viceroy to be the first step in a general railway system, and to be entirely under Chinese control.

Anxious to acquaint you with all the facts surrounding this most interesting and important experiment, I requested Mr. Zuck, our consul at Tien-Tsin, to visit the mines and railway, as they were near his post of duty, and make a report upon their prospects and management. This service Mr. Zuck has performed, and I inclose you his report. The Department will, I hope, regard it as a valuable contribution to the history of Chinese progress towards western civilization.

Trusting that my action will meet with the approval of the Department,

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 121.]

The Kaiping Mines and Railway.—Report by James C. Zuck, esq., United States consul.

The Kaiping mines are located about 71 miles north-northeast from Tien-Tsin, and the entire distance between the two points is a low, treeless plain, traversed by numerous rivers and canals.

The “Chinese Engineering and Mining Company,” or what is more commonly known as the “Kaiping Mining Company,” was organized some five years since. The present engineering staff is as follows: C. W. Kinder, chief engineer; J. M. Molesworth, second engineer; J. Stevens, third engineer; E. K. Buttles, chemist and mineralogist; R. M. Brown, secretary. The number of men employed by the company in its various operations is about 1,000, all of whom are Chinese but twenty.

The mines have been worked since the year 1877, but the present company only commenced operations about four and one-half years since, when shaft No. 1 was started and sunk to a depth of 200 feet. It was then stopped, and drifts driven through the stone, cutting various coal seams, previously explored by a diamond drill to a depth of 600 feet; after which the up-shaft, or No. 2, was started, and sunk to a depth of 300 feet, when another stone drift was driven. It is the coal lying between these two drifts that is now being worked. In the spring of 1881 work on No. 1 shaft was resumed, and at the time of my visit was down to a depth of 500 feet. Ingersol rock drills were used when the stone was very hard, but in the softer shales hand labor proved most economical. Musket powder of excellent quality, manufactured at the Tien-Tsin arsenal, was used for blasting purposes, and was ignited by means of electricity, as many as sixty holes being fired at one time. Owing to an accident with dynamite, the sinkers refused to use it longer in the shafts, which delayed the progress of the work fully one-half. These shafts are fourteen feet in diameter, and are walled with limestone, taken from the adjacent quarries of the company. The water met with at times has been very considerable, but the present daily average [Page 199]is not over forty cubic feet per minute. To prevent delays on account of the water, heavy pumps are provided, consisting of two twenty-inch bucket sets, and two twenty-inch forcing sets, the latter being the top-lift. These pumps are worked by two Davy direct-acting differential compressed engines of the most recent types. At the winding shaft, No. 1; a horizontal winding engine has been erected, capable of drawing 1,000 tons of coal per day. The head pulleys are twelve feet in diameter, and the drum eighteen feet, and manipulated by English winders. At No. 2 shaft a small geared engine is used, which raises about 300 tons of coal per day, but will soon be replaced by a direct-acting engine, now being built in the company’s shops, the upcast being provided with an air-lock.

The ventilation is provided for by a 30-foot Guibal fan driven by a compound engine with an auxiliary high-pressure engine, which can be attached in case of emergency. The steam for these engines is furnished by eleven boilers.

The repairing shops of the company are much more extensive than are usually required for a colliery, but it must be remembered that, owing to the isolated position of the works and the great necessity for immediate repairs, such works are absolutely necessary. Apart from this the railway, canal, and wharves draw largely upon its capabilities. Gas also is manufactured by the usual apparatus, entirely constructed on the premises. The offices and works are now lighted by gas, and arrangements are now being made to light the mining college, official residences, men’s houses, and main street of the village, which is rapidly growing.

The brick-works are quite extensive. The preparation of the clay is done by machinery, the molding plant not having arrived at the date of my visit. The hand molding heretofore has not been satisfactory, and has necessitated the use of machinery. It is also the intention of the company to manufacture paving tiles and pottery, for which there is a large demand.

The buildings of the company are mostly built of limestone, red, blue and white brick.

Following the line of the railway northward, about a half mile distant from the colliery, are found large quarries of limestone. It is intended to use machine drilling and the best appliances to secure a steady output of building stone, for which a large demand exists.

The coal at Kaiping lies at an average dip of forty-five degrees, and it consists of several seams divided by shale and sandstone rocks. The stone drifts up to date have already cut twelve seams, seven of which are at present workable. The quality of the coal, when compared with that found in America and England, is without exception inferior, and resembles more closely the coals found on the European continent. It is true that the coal from seam No. 5 is equal to Newcastle in purity, but unfortunately is too friable to stand rough treatment. It is nevertheless claimed to be a superior coal in every way to that procurable from the far-famed Takashima, of Japan. No. 8 is a hard coal, but leaves much ash. The seams now workable vary from four to twenty feet in thickness. At the present time the amount of coal raised is from 250 to 300 tons per day, but on completion of No. 1 shaft, an output of 500 tons per day can very easily be maintained.

During the winter months a native demand for small coal exists up to 150 tons per day, the superior coal being shipped to Tien-Tsin in the spring. The demand for coal at Tien-Tsin is more than the mine can furnish, and there would be no difficulty in disposing of 500 tons per day. Coke is also made by a modification of the native system, there being a fair demand for best qualities for foundry and domestic use. During the summer small coal is washed by means of special machinery of French type. There is also powerful machinery for the manufacture of compressed bricks made from small coal for fuel.


On the formation of the company it was intended to build a railway either to Petung or Sutai, a distance of some thirty or forty miles, but the authorities at Peking looked with so much disfavor upon the project that the company were compelled to abandon it, and a canal was reluctantly started over the low ground from Sutai to Shukow Chang, the present termination of the railway.

It was with great difficulty that the permission to build even this short line of seven miles was obtained, and had to be laid out several times before the land could be procured and various obstructions, such as graves, removed. It might be well to state in this connection that the sinuous course of portions of the canal is due to these same causes. This seven miles of railway was originally laid down for horse tracking, precaution being taken to make the bridges sufficiently strong to carry heavy locomotives at some future time. The question of adopting a light or heavy rail was a difficult one to decide, and, unfortunately, as present events now show, a light steel rail of thirty pounds to the yard, imported from England, was laid. If it had been deemed possible by the company that locomotives would have been so soon permitted, heavier rails would have been used. The country traversed by the road is [Page 200]quite level and required but little grading, and but one creek of any size is crossed, which is spanned by an iron bridge constructed at the works of the company. The road is of the ordinary gauge and is ballasted with limestone from Kaiping. The rolling stock consists of three ordinary coaches for passenger travel (each of which is divided into two apartments for the accommodation of second and third class passengers), which were imported from England, one first-class passenger coach built at Kaiping and intended for the use of high officials, in point of elegance reminding one of the Pullman palace car; fifty coal trucks, the frames and running gear imported from England, and set up and timbered at Kaiping, and having each a capacity ranging from 12 to 20 tons and three engines.

Engine No. 1, called “The Rocket of China,” was built at Kaiping. The history of this, the first locomotive built in China, may be of some interest, especially as it is also the first standard gauge (4 feet 8½ inches) ever used in China. Her dimensions are as follows: 8 inches outside cylinders, 15½ inches stroke, six 30-inch wheels, four coupled. Being hurriedly and hastily built she was not intended for a very long life, but was simply intended as an introduction to more powerful and better engines from abroad. She has safely run about 70,000 miles, doing the whole work of the company on the line for over one year. About September, 1882, engines Nos. 2 and 3 were imported from England and set up at Kaiping.


Six round trips are run daily; time, twenty minutes each way. Second and third class passengers pay seven and five cents, respectively, each way. The first-class coach is not in general use, but is run for high officials only, and no fare is charged. The passenger travel pays current running expenses of the train. An average of 135 to 150 tons of coal are daily carried over the road, 20 tons of coke, 25 tons of limestone, and, with other general freight, amounting in the aggregate to about 200 tons per day. There come up over the road timber, machinery, and general supplies for the company. At present no outside freight is carried, owing to the prejudice of cartmen, or rather it is not deemed advisable to interfere with local cart traffic. The Chinese residing in the vicinity of the road, outside of those whose land was taken, look upon it with much favor, and are disposed to patronize it. The engine is controlled by an English engineer, but all other employés are Chinese. All level approaches to the track, such as cart roads, are protected by gates and watchmen or gate-keepers, who act as signal-men, thus giving a continuous line of signals for the whole track. Midway there is a depot or station-house (built of stone and brick) and side track, and it is the intention of the company to run double trains as soon as the quantity of coal is increased. The cost of the railway cannot be estimated, for the reason that it was constructed with the development of the mines and other improvements at the works, and all accounts, also, being kept in Chinese.

As has been stated the present track is being extended about half or three-quarters of a mile northward to the limestone quarries. It has been often said, Why was not the material of the Woosung Railway, purchased by the Chinese, used in the construction of this road? But it is well to remember that the Woosung line had a gauge of only 30 inches, and that there was an intention to use what remained of it in Formosa. It would have been a very grave error to have used such a light road, as an extension of the present line is by no means improbable, when the obstruction of the authorities once ceases. There can be but little doubt that the establishment of railways in China may be regarded as a fixed fact, and that the present road will be the nucleus of a great system of roads, which will be built in the near future.

The fact that the company has expended so much money in the construction of the Sutai Canal, may delay the extension of the road for a little time, but it must be remembered that the canal was only constructed to meet a pressing necessity, and the railway can be extended in a direct line from Shukow Chang to Pe Tung, the seaboard, a distance of 30 miles, and over a good ground for its construction.

sutai canal.

This canal commences at Shukow Chang, the present terminus of the railway, and extends to Sutai, on the south, a distance of 21 miles, connecting with the Pe Tung River, from whence it derives its water supply. It is 66 feet wide at the top or surface of the ground, and 16 feet at the bottom; greatest depth of water 8 feet, and lowest 3 feet. One hundred boats are now being built for the transportation of coal on the canal, at a cost of $150 each, with a carrying capacity of 25 or 30 tons each. These boats are to be towed by steam barges. The canal is crossed at numerous places by bridges constructed of iron with limestone abutments. The gate to the canal is at Sutai, and is well and substantially constructed, and would be regarded as a very creditable piece of work in any western land.

[Page 201]

chemical and mineralogical department.

This department is located at Kaiping, where the company has but recently erected a number of substantial buildings built of stone and brick, and furnished with all the modern appliances for assaying and testing ores and metals. A school has also been started in practical chemistry and mineralogy. The class is now composed of the seven young Chinese students who recently returned from America. This department is under the superintendence and supervision of Prof. E. K. Buttles of Ohio.

telephone and telegraph.

In April of last year the work of electric communication was inaugurated.

The main line of the company from Kaiping to Tien-Tsin, ninety-nine miles, was completed as far as Sutai, a distance of thirty miles from Kaiping, in October, 1882. The remainder is to be finished early in the present season. This line will include five stations, all being on the company’s line of coal transit. The approximate cost of line is $100 per mile. The poles are twenty-eight feet in length, of Foochow wood, the wire “B. W. G. 8 English,” and the insulators are of English make. This line is to be used in connection with telephones for way stations and telegraphs for the termini. The telephones are of the Bell-Edison system, the telegraph on the American plan (closed circuit). The lino follows the railway, Sutai Canal, and Pe Tung River, Ku-Tung Canal, and Peiho River to Tien-Tsin. For twenty-seven miles the wire is hung on the poles of the Government lines. The local communication of the company comprises six telephone lines centered in exchange at the main office of the works. These lines are of the average length of about one-half mile each. System the same as the main line. These various lines were constructed and are under the management of Prof. E. K. Buttles, the electrical engineer, the labor used in the construction and maintenance of the lines, including operators, being Chinese.

United States Consul.

No. 79.
Mr. Young to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 150.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge your dispatch, No. 77, in reference to the right of Chinese laborers to transit through the United States, and your instructions as to the manner in which the legation should treat the question in discussions with the yamên.

I have read with care the opinion of the Attorney-General, and may venture the belief that the action of the Government will go far toward strengthening our position, “evidencing, as it does,” to quote your words, “our sense of justice to China.”

As I have had occasion to say in former dispatches, the question of emigration has never been alluded to in any of my conversations with the yamên, * * * and I prefer to believe that the Government here is satisfied that the action of Congress was dictated by a supreme necessity, and that nothing has been done by the American people inconsistent with a spirit of the sincerest friendship and good-will toward China.

I have, &c.,