We now found ourselves in control of a great amount of ore lands, from some of which the ore could be removed by a steam shovel for a few cents a ton, but we still faced a most imperfect and inadequate method of transporting the ore to market.
When we realized that events were shaping themselves so that to protect our investments we should be obliged to go into the business of selling in a large way, we felt that we must not stop short of doing the work as effectively as possible; and having already put in so much money, we bought all the ore land that we thought was good that was offered to us. The railroad and the ships were only a means to an end. The ore lands were the crux of the whole matter, and we believed that we could never have too many good mines.
It was a surprise to me that the great iron and steel manufacturers did not place what seemed to be an adequate value on these mines. The lands which contained a good many of our best ore mines could have been purchased very cheaply before we became interested. Having launched ourselves into the venture, we decided to supply ore to every one who needed it, by mining and transporting with the newest and most effective facilities, and our profits we invested in more ore lands.
Mr. Gates became the president of the various companies which owned the mines and the railroad to the lake to transport the ores, and he started to learn and develop the business of ore mining and transportation. He not only proved to be an apt scholar, but he really mastered the various complexities of the business. He did all the work, and only consulted me when he wished to; yet I remember several interesting experiences connected with the working out of these problems.
BUILDING THE SHIPS
After this railroad problem was solved, it was apparent that we needed our own ships to transport the ore down the lakes. We knew absolutely nothing of building ships for ore transportation, and so, following out our custom, we went to the man who, in our judgment, had the widest knowledge of the subject. He was already well known to us, but was in the ore transportation business on a large scale on his own account and, of course, the moment we began to ship ore we realized that we would become competitors. Mr. Gates got