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Cornell's Wisconsin Gambit

No, we're not talking about Biddy Martin. That was so two years ago.

As The Chronicle's blog, The Essentials, picked up today, Daniel Mansoor '79 has started a blog detailing the specifics of Ezra's original land grant of prime Wisconsin forests as part of the Morril Land Grant Act. He calls it In Search of Ezra's Pines, and the blog is apparently an aid in a book project on the same fascinating topic.

Given that we're dyed in the wool Cornelliana buffs here at MetaEzra, we'll be eagerly reading Mansoor's work. And he left us with one tantalizing nugget of speculation:

No secret to some in the Cornell administration (and quite a few folks in northern Wisconsin) – but a mystery to the rest of the Cornell community – when the University and Ezra sold the Wisconsin land and its trees (New York Times reported on May 21, 1902 that Jim Gates bought the last 56,000 acres), it retained the mineral rights to the property: probably not all 500,000 acres but possibly a sizable quantity...

What are mineral rights? “It is the right of the owner to exploit, mine, and/or produce any or all of the minerals lying below the surface of the property.”

Ok – now I’m just being annoying – but if Cornell still holds the mineral rights to, say, 25% of the original 500,000 acres, and this land yields a mere one one-hundredth of the Flambeau Mine totals, these holdings would be worth $40 billion.

$40 billion would put the $330 MM of the Marcellus Shale deposits to shame. And most other university endowments in the world.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on July 06, 2010 (#)

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