National Geographic : 1898 May
CUBA In addition to the large estates of the planters, the island pos sesses many small farms of less than 100 acres, devoted to pro ducts for which there is a demand in the local markets. In 1895 there were over 100,000 farms, ranches, and plantations, valued at $20,000,000. MINERALS The mineral resources of the island are iron ores, asphaltum, manganese, copper, and salt. A little gold and silver were mined in past centuries, but never in large quantities. The silver mines of Santa Clara yielded in 1827 140 ounces to the ton, but were soon worked out. The iron mines situated in the mountains a few miles east of Santiago de Cuba are of importance. The pro duction of the Juragua Iron Company in 1890 was 362,068 tons, and constituted one-fourth of the total importation of iron ores into the United States for the same period. These mines were owned by an American company, which had invested extensive capital in them, but the production has been almost destroyed by the present revolution. The ores are mineralogically peculiar, being the result of replacement in limestone. They are mixed brown and red hematite (turgite). Asphaltum (chapatote) of unusual richness occurs in several parts of the island, in the beds of late Cretaceous and early Eocene age. At Villa Clara occurs an unusually large deposit of this material, which for forty years has supplied the material for making the illuminating gas of the city. American investors bought these mines the year preceding the revolution, and their investment up to date, which would otherwise have been profit able, has proved a total loss. Copper of extraordinary richness has been worked on the lee ward side of the Sierra Maestra range, 12 miles from Santiago de Cuba. In former years these mines yielded as high as 50 tons per day. Current report asserts that they are still very valuable, but are awaiting the return of peace and development. Salt of great purity is found in the cays adjacent to the north coast. No manufacturing industries except those of tobacco and sugar have been encouraged, the persistent policy of Spain hav ing been to promote the importation of manufactured articles from the mother country. In the writer's travels over the island only a single industrial establishment was seen, namely, a mill at Baracoa for extracting oil from cocoanuts and making soap.