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100 Years Ago: May 1919

This is entry number fifty-two in my series of reviews of National Geographic Magazines as they reach the one-hundredth year of their publication.

The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “The Industrial Titan of America” and was written by John Oliver La Gorce, author of many previous articles including “The Warfare on our Eastern Coast” and “Roumania [sic] and Its Rubicon”. It has the lengthy subtitle of “Pennsylvania, Once the Keystone of the Original Thirteen, Now the Keystone of Forty-eight Sovereign States”. This is the first of a series of articles on Our States. It contains thirty-three black-and white photographs, of which thirteen are full-page in size. It also contains a full-page sketch map of Pennsylvania.

Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

More than a dozen countries have a smaller land area than Pennsylvania, and half the countries in the world have a smaller population. There are more people living in Pennsylvania that New England and the four westernmost states combined. The State has vast resources and immense industries. At the founding of the country, Pennsylvania found itself the center of the nation with six states to the north and six to the south, a Keystone State if you will.

It’s true that the commonwealth’s iron, steel, and coal industries demand many immigrants to meet production quotas, but analysis proves that Pennsylvania outranks every other State in the Union in the number of sons and daughters of native parentage. Even New York has a million fewer. Still, the State is distinguished for its great number of foreigners: more Welsh than County Radnorshire; more Austrians than the province Salzburg; and more Hungarians than in any two cities in Hungary excluding Budapest. It has as many English as the counties of Cambridge and Oxford combined; as many Irish as County Kerry; as many Scotch as County Clackmannan; and as many Russians as in Kharkov.

Pennsylvania has more homeowners than any other state. 700,000 families live under their own roof, and most of these homes are mortgage-free. Even with its large native and foreign-born population, the state has room for millions more. If the entire country were as densely populated as Pennsylvania it would be a nation of half a billion people.

At one-twelfth the U.S. population, the state produces one-eighth of the country’s manufactured goods and one-fourth of its minerals. The State has only one-thousandth of the earth’s land surface and only one-half of one percent of the earth’s population, but it produces one-sixth of the world’s pig iron and the same proportion of its coal.

With these massive concentrations, it is surprising that Pennsylvania has a greater diversity of industries than any other State, ahead of both New York and Illinois. The state forges the heaviest castings, makes the most delicate micrometers, fabricates testing machines that squeeze metal, and makes precision watches. The crafted steel that comes out of Pennsylvania spans most of the rivers of the world, and the clatter from its pig iron can be heard throughout the world. The state makes nearly half of the country’s cotton lace, more than a third of its carpets and rugs, more than a third of its chocolate and cocoa, nearly half of its felt hats, and more than a third of its silk. It produces more bluing, ice cream, hammocks, and leather than any other state.

With such a versatile industrial base, together with seemingly endless natural resources, it is not surprising that the property value in the commonwealth exceeds fifteen billion dollars. That is four billion more than all of New England and only five billion less than the national wealth of Italy. Even with its supply of iron ore dwindling, Pennsylvania’s manufacturing base is secure. More and more ore is shipped from Michigan and Minnesota to PA via the Great Lakes. This is because the state has almost unlimited supplies of coal and limestone, both key ingredients for making steel.

Location is also key to Pennsylvania’s success. It has navigable access to three great waterfronts – the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Delaware River, the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the Great Lakes on the shores of Lake Erie, part of that vast, unsalted expanse. The state forms a parallelogram except for the wandering course of the Delaware River on the east, the arc of Delaware State, and the jog up to Lake Erie. From the Maryland line to the New York Line the state is 158 miles north to south. It is 306 miles at it widest.

Southeast of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies one of the best agricultural regions east of the Appalachian chain. Then comes the eastern mountains, a wonderful succession of ridges and hollows with its anthracite mines, slate quarries, cement rock beds, and other resources. Further westward is the great Allegheny upland region whose deposits of bituminous coal are richer than all the gold mines of the world. A high plain, undulating in wide, low swells, and gently descending southward and southwestward, this area comprises more than half the state. While its oil and gas supplies have been nearly exhausted, its coal production goes on and on. The state produced more coal last year than the entire world produced at the beginning of the Civil War.

Blessed with plentiful navigable waters, it was natural that Pennsylvania would early on take steps to develop her inland waterways. One hundred million dollars were spent on a canal system to handle the state’s commerce. As railroad facilities improved, the canals could not compete. Now the canal-boats are mere relics of a bygone era. Traffic is now too great even for the splendid state railroad system to handle and there is a strong push to rehabilitate the canal system, and to extend it. Plans have been made to connect Pittsburgh with Lake Erie via canal. Another canal is planned to connect Philadelphia with New York waters.

As to public health, Pennsylvania has always been forward looking. By giving its sanitarians adequate support, the state’s death rate has dropped from 56.5 per 100,000 persons in 1906 to just 12.2 in 1915. The same can be said of tuberculosis. Its rate has dropped from 129.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 1907 down to 97.8 such deaths in 1915. Through its system of inspections of water supplies and sewage disposal; through its sanitoriums, its visiting nurses, and free medical help for tuberculosis patients; through its free antitoxin service in diphtheria and other diseases; and through the employment of all modern ways of keeping the people free from contagion, the state has won the gratitude of its citizens.

Just sixty years ago Pennsylvania was rich in forests. The logging industry has decimated areas of the state. To help save her upland soils, the state has planted millions of seedlings. Corporations, public schools, and many institutions have worked to restore every acre of wasteland back to the way it was before the woodman’s axe took its toll.

No state in the union has a broader or more comprehensive plan of highway building than the Keystone State. Under a law passed eight years ago, 7,500 miles of highway were taken over. Recently a bond was authorized for fifty million dollars for highway improvement and construction. With local and federal contributions, the total spending will total $125,000,000. Under the plan, three hundred routes are marked for improvement. As well as maintaining all intercounty and interstate highways, the state will furnish each county with half the funds for improving county roads.

State authorities admit that the elementary education system needs improvement. The governor and the legislature are addressing the problem. Adequate pay for teachers is one of the first items proposed. More than eleven thousand teachers receive a salary of less than $500 a year, far less than an unskilled laborer. While elementary education could be improved, Pennsylvania’s institutes of higher learning are excellent. Its many universities, colleges and technical schools are as diverse as they are excellent.

Pennsylvania shares in two great industries, coal and iron/steel. While their importance to the story of Pennsylvania cannot be overstated, to go into the details of each would be impossible with the space provided. Fortunately, both have already been described at length in previous articles in The Geographic, “Steel – Industry’s Greatest Asset” (August 1917) and “Coal – Ally of American Industry” (November 1918).

Another big industry in which Pennsylvania was a pioneer is the manufacture of Portland cement. The Lehigh district, above Allentown is where the cement rock is found. Alumina, silica, and calcium must be combined in a way that the produce will “set” according to specifications. Clay, quartz, and lime in this district are the source of these ingredients. Great beds of rock, some strata of pure limestone others of clay-bearing limestone are mined and these two kinds of rock combined in proper proportion and then crushed to powder. Coal is also crushed to powder and when mixed at high temperature in a kiln they melt into droplets. These are cooled and then crushed. The resulting powder is Portland cement. The product is then barreled or bagged.

In coal country around Wilkes-Barre, Hazelton, and Scranton, where heavy industry is largely closed to women, silk manufacture is essentially a woman’s industry. A woman can attend a loom as well as any man, or look after spindles, or supervise the quilling of thread. A full one-third of the silk made in America comes from this region. A pound of good quality raw silk would yield enough unspun thread to stretch 181 miles. Raw silk from Japan, China, or Italy is first steamed and degummed. The gum takes about one-fifth of the silks weight. Next comes the dyeing and throwing. Next, the silk is usually weighted. Silk has an affinity to tin so it is bathed in tin dissolved in hydrochloric acid. After this process the original pound of silk, reduced to 13 ounces by the degumming, now weighs anywhere from twenty to sixty ounces.

Glass manufacturing is another of the state’s industry. Sand, soda, and lime are mixed and then heated, turning to glass as clear as water, or even air. Glass is easily manipulated; depending on the temperature it is as free-flowing as water, as sticky as taffy, or as hard as flint. Small quantities of other materials are added to change the color or nature of the glass. Window glass is made from 8,000 parts sand, 2,200 parts soda sulphate, 2,500 parts lime, 50 parts arsenic, and 40 of powdered coal. The two methods of making glass are casting and blowing. Casting is similar to rolling dough on a dough board. A rolling pin spreads out hot, putty-thick glass. After it hardens it is ground down and polished. Blown glass was once a manual process where a “blower” and a “snapper” could produce a glass cylinder six feet long and nineteen inches in diameter, but now mechanical blower mass produce these cylinders of glass. Optical glass for a wide range of instruments is now produced in Pennsylvania. Before the war Germany had a monopoly on its production.

One of the largest groups of factories in America is Westinghouse Industries. One of these mammoth plants fabricates airbrakes. It has equipped three million cars and a hundred thousand locomotives with this life-protecting device. Another Westinghouse group make switch and signal equipment used by the rail industry. Still another is the giant electric machine company which makes everything electrical.

No state possesses so many thriving urban communities as Pennsylvania. With Philadelphia near two million in population and Pittsburgh with around three-quarters of a million people, there is insufficient space to go into these cities in detail. This task will be performed by two upcoming articles in future National Geographic Magazines. These will be part of the “Cities of the Nation” series of which “New York – Metropolis of Mankind” (July 1918) and “Chicago Today and Tomorrow” (January 1919) were the first two installments.

Starting down the list after those two cities one comes to Scranton. Besides anthracite coal, industry is booming here. One factory produces three million buttons a day. One-third of the nation’s silk comes from its metropolitan district. More than half a million people live within twenty miles of its courthouse.

Next in order of size comes Reading, the nation’s second leading producer of hosiery and builders’ hardware. It has more than five hundred manufacturing plants, which make commodities ranging from adding machines and railroad engines to spectacles and art glass.

Wilkes-Barre is built on the banks of the Susquehanna and has more than three hundred thousand people living within ten miles of the city square. The production of anthracite coal in Luzerne County is worth more than the gold production of the United States, Alaska included.

Erie has one of the finest harbors on the Great Lakes. Erie hosts some five hundred manufacturing plants. It has the largest horseshoe factory and the largest pipe organ plant in the world. It makes more baby carriages, gas mantles, and clothes wringers than any other city.

Each of the state’s lesser centers of population possess some major industry. Harrisburg, as well as being the Commonwealths capital, is one of the principle railroad centers of the East. Allentown is the world’s cement capital. Altoona has its railroad shops. Lancaster has the largest linoleum factory, the largest umbrella factory, and the largest silk mill in the world. York prides itself on the diversity of its industries. McKeesport has the largest tin-plate plant in the world. Newcastle produces more tin in sheets and in blocks than any other city. Chester builds ship, locomotives, and shells by the car-load in wartime.

Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia is much more populated than New York outside New York City. It is the large number of cities with populations under thirty thousand that make Pennsylvania such a populous state.

When William Penn founded his colony, his purpose was to guarantee religious freedom and establish an asylum where the persecuted could worship according to their conscience. The Quakers came by the thousands. Mennonites from Holland, Switzerland, and the Rhine Country, persecuted by nearly all creeds, came in large numbers. The Dunkers of Switzerland came as a body, root and branch. The Schwenkfelders of Silesia found haven for their faith. The Moravians came later to enjoy the tolerance in the land of Penn.

Pennsylvania’s role in American history is second to none. It is where the Declaration of Independence was written. It was at Valley Forge that our army was organized for victory. It was from Pennsylvania that the men came who shed the first blood of the Civil War, and at Gettysburg the tide of disunion was turned. When America entered the war to free Europe, Pennsylvania was in the vanguard. No division in France outside the Regular Army was earlier in the fray tan the Twenty-eighth, made up largely of Keystone troops. In the 177 days from arrival to the armistice, they had 14,417 casualties. The state gave the Army 298,000 men, the Navy 29,000 sailors, and 3,000 for the Marine Corps. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of workers in shipyards, munitions plants, etc. who answered their country’s call.

The second article in this month’s issue is entitled “Hunting Big Game of Other Days” and was written by Barnum Brown, Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology in the American Museum of Natural History. It has the subtitle “A Boating Expedition in Search of Fossils in Alberta, Canada”. It contains twenty-four black-and-white photographs of which six are full-page. Eight of the photos (one full-page) are of paintings of dinosaurs from the American Museum of Natural History. The article also contains a full-page sketch map of the fossil beds in western Canada and the United States on page 425.

Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

Today one must go to Africa to hunt really big game. But in years past America produced animals larger than any existing today. The place is Alberta, Canada and the time of their existence 3,000,000 years age. [Note: Dinosaurs actually existed 243 to 65 million years ago.] Between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains, just north of the Canadian boundary, lies a vast area of level land, prairie in the east and forested near the mountains. Fifteen years ago, this level section was luxuriant grassland, grazed by a few cattle with a ranch hear and there. Today this country is covered by a network of railroads and near the railroads most of the available land is homesteaded. The soil is very rich.

A number of small rivers cross this plain, once the bed of an inland sea. The Red Deer River is one of these, and it has cut a gorge a mile wide and two to five hundred feet deep. The horizontal layers of clay and sandstone are exposed. In each layer are preserved the fossil remains of animals and plants which enable us to deduce what life was like in ages past. In the lower reaches of the river, 200 miles from the mountains, only seashells are found in the rock. An inland sea extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. The layers of sediment laid down during this time are called the Pierre.

Near the close of the Pierre a part of the inland sea was elevated and became a lowland jungle and coastal swamp. In fresh and brackish water lakes and river beds are preserved impressions of leaves from a variety of trees, bones and teeth of small mammals, and numerous remains of a great variety of reptiles. This is known as the Judith River formation. Subsequently this area sank again and 400 feet of ocean deposits accumulated. This deposit, also part of the Pierre, is designated Bearpaw.

Then a long period of elevation began, the rocks and fossils show a gradual change from salt to brackish, and finally to fresh water environment through the 700 feet of layered strata. These beds are known as the Edmonton formation. The environment was akin to the everglades in Florida. In these marshes dwelt a host of reptiles, some large and some small, some meat eaters and some plant eaters. They all shared certain characteristics in common and are known as dinosaurs. They are not related to any living reptile, yet they had characteristics in common to lizards, crocodiles, and birds.

The author then describes many of the larger dinosaurs whose remains have been found in this area. First the “duck-billed” Trachodon, more than 30 feet long and 15 feet high when standing erect. Then there is the similarly built Saurolophus with its large head crest. Also, there is the slender Ornithomimus whose name means bird mimic. More on dry land there was the Monoclonius with one large and two small horns on its skull. It is ancestral to the later Triceratops. Also, there is the walking tank that is the Ankylosaurus. And finally, the apex predator, the flesh-eating Albertosaurus.

Above the Edmonton beds there are several hundred feet of sandstone and clay called the Paskapoo beds, which were deposited after the dinosaurs became extinct. These strata mark the beginning of the age of reptiles. The author postulates (incorrectly) that the land elevated and drained the marshland leading to the dinosaurs’ demise, since they could not migrate like mammals.

Usually fossils are found in “Bad Lands”, a name applied by Jesuit missionaries to desolate regions denuded of grass and eroded into picturesque hills and ravines. This is quite different from the conditions on the Red Deer River. In places the canyon walls are perpendicular. For many years the American Museum of Natural History of New York City has been making a systematic collection of fossils along the river, sending an expedition there every summer. The only feasible way to work these banks is by boat.

At the town of Red Deer, where the Calgary-Edmonton Railroad crosses the river, a flat-bottom boat, 12 by 30 feet, is built. This boat is capable of carrying ten tons with safety. The river flows at about four miles per hour. Supplied with a season of provisions, lumber for boxes, and plaster for encasing bones, the expedition began its fossil cruise down the canyon, down through the Paskapoo age and into the Edmonton rocks where large bones of dinosaurs became numerous.

When a bone is found partly exposed on the side of the cliff, the work of removing the fossil begins. First the layers of rock above the bone’s layer are remove with pick and shovel, and sometimes dynamite. Excavating the bones is done cautiously with crooked awl and whisk broom. The bones are slowly exposed until only their very bottoms are still touching rock. They are treated with shellac to fill in any cracks. Each bone is wrapped, first in tissue and then in two to three layers of burlap dipped in plaster. Once hardened, the bones are flipped over and wrapping is done to their bottoms. Finally, the specimens are boxed up with hay in crates and placed on the boat. It may take only three days to uncover a fossil, but up to three weeks to wrap and crate it.

Rarely does a season pass without several new species being brought to light. The Edmonton formation has been especially interesting, for at least two-thirds of the species discovered in rocks of that age are new to science.

Life on the river during this expedition was rather pleasant compared to excavating in the Bad Land. Besides the abundance of fresh water, the fossil hunters were able to feast on pike, pickerel, sturgeon, and a few “gold-eyes”. The only drawback has been the mosquitoes.

In the past four years, the American Museum Expeditions have collected three and one-half boxcars full of fossils, two-thirds of which are exhibition specimens. They include twenty skulls, fourteen skeletons of large dinosaurs, and many partial skeletons. They represent many genera and species new to science. The hunt has just begun; there are many more finds to be made under miles of prairie land. With erosion so rapid, in a few years the same spots can be explored and newly exposed fossils found.

The third article in this month’s issue is entitled “Indiana’s Unrivaled Sand-dunes” and was written by Orpheus Moyer Schantz. The inside heading is a bit longer and reads “Indiana’s Unrivaled Sand-dunes – A National Park Opportunity”. It contains eighteen black-and-white photographs of which one is full-page in size.

Normally, a dune region signifies an inhospitable tract of land, barren of vegetation and sparsely inhabited by animals. At the head of Lake Michigan, including the entire shore of Indiana and parts of the adjoining shores of Illinois and Michigan, there is a dune country, unique and wonderful and entirely different from our usual ideas of sand-dunes. While there is a sea of sand, there is no desert drought.

In place of a desert area there is a natural propagating garden, where a most astonishing number of rare and beautiful plants congregate, having migrated both from the north and south to this unusually favored locality.

Here, on the shores of a great fresh water sea, tempered both in summer and winter by its position on the lake, is a region so wonderful that it should be kept for all times as a National Park. There are about 20 miles of shoreline, averaging a mile or more in width and containing about 30 square miles of land in the dunes, still unspoiled by commercial industries. This region is within easy reach of 10,000,000 people at a nominal cost for transportation.

A visit to almost any National Park is a luxury beyond the reach of most in the Midwest, but the Lake Michigan dune region can be visited at all seasons and at a cost of a few dollars. The attractions at the dunes are so varied that all classes may find recreation suited to their wishes. The tramper, the geologist, the botanist, the zoologist, the student of early American history, and those who seek only fresh air and clear skies, can find all they desire, and more.

The topography of the dunes lends itself to the formation of marvelous plant societies. Shallow ponds have borders of marsh-loving plants. Stream beds are thickly fringed with willows, alders, buttonbush, with thickets of giant mallows on murky sh.ores. The northern slopes of the dunes are adorned with trailing arbutus, wintergreen, partridge berry, hepaticas, violets, ferns, and orchids spread in artistic profusion. Moving dunes in time cover even tall trees, whereas old dunes are clothed to their crests with vegetation. In some places reverse winds cause “blow-outs”, where tree trunks, denuded of bark, have been uncovered.

Cottonwoods and some other trees adapt themselves to the conditions of the dunes. They send out roots from their trunks to take advantage of the encroaching dunes. When the sands recede, these roots function as branches. Trees, shrubs, and many plants from the far north grow side by side with ones from many miles to the south. The mixture of sand and humus, together with abundant moisture, makes conditions for plant growth that is almost tropical. On every exposed beach or sand drift pioneer plants, grasses and many other, are constantly springing up. As soon as enough humus builds up, juniper, arrow wood, and sumac fill up the vacant spots. Old dunes have larger trees like the black oak, poplars, dogwoods. In the lower lands, sour gum, red maple, and pawpaw are found.

Each season provides its own charm in the dunes. The explosion of color in the springtime, the blending of brown and green in the summer, the flaming landscape of autumn, and the white blanket of winter make the dunes a year-round travel destination. Many of the trees and shrubs bear edible fruits, providing food for a host of birds and small animals. Nowhere in the country are there more varieties of both land and shore birds.

The dunes have their place in the earlier history of the West. The old Indian trails can still be pointed out, and it was through the dunes that the pioneer French found their way from Detroit to the site of Chicago. Nature organizations of Chicago and Indiana have done much to bring the dunes to the attention of thousands of people. In 1916, a public hearing was held in Chicago to consider the dunes as a National Park. Note: a 15-mile stretch of the Indiana dunes was made a National Park in 1966.

The last article this month is entitled “Helium, the New Balloon Gas”. It was written by G. Sherburne Rogers, Ph.D., of the United States Geological Survey. It contains eleven black-and-white photographs with five of them being full-page in size.

Helium promises to revolutionize the science of ballooning, and the United States has a bountiful supply of the new incombustible gas. Helium derives its name from the fact that it was first discovered on the sun, almost 30 years before it was found on Earth. The discovery of the supposedly rare Helium in ordinary natural gas has provided the means by which large enough quantities of the gas can be extracted for use in inflating the nation’s balloons and rigid airships. Hydrogen, the gas currently in use for this purpose, is highly flammable. This is especially hazardous in military balloons and airships, making them easily susceptible to attack. In military airships, machine guns can be mounted directly on the envelope, instead of being tucked far away in gondolas. All danger of attack with incendiary bullets disappear with helium.

The drawback of using helium is that is twice as heavy as Hydrogen. 100 cubic feet of helium weigh 17.8 ounces while that volume of hydrogen weighs 9 ounces. They are both exceedingly light compared to air which weighs 8 pounds per 100 cubic feet. This means the buoyancy, or lifting power, of helium is 93% of hydrogen, making it highly practical.

In 1868 an eclipse of the sun was visible in India, and for the first time the spectrometer was used to study the colors of the sun’s atmosphere. All elements absorb and emit light in certain colors. These show up as lines on spectra. Many familiar elements, such as iron, sodium, and hydrogen, were identified in the spectral image of the eclipse. One bright yellow line did not match any known element. The element emitting this yellow light was named helium after the Greek name for the sun, Helios.
Helium was not discovered on earth until 1895, twenty-seven years after it was found on the sun. In 1888, Dr Hillebrand found that unaninite, when treated with acid, gave off an inactive gas. Since part of it was composed of nitrogen, he assumed all of it was. Four years later, Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Ramsay discovered argon. In 1895, Ramsay heard of Hillebrand’s work and thought the gas emitted in his experiment might be argon. He was wrong, as it was another inert gas, helium.

As mentioned before, helium has been found in natural gas, and its extraction is made possible since different gasses condense at different temperatures. At first, gasses that were not combustible were assumed worthless and allowed to blow out. In this way, millions of cubic feet of helium were wasted. In 1903, a well drilled in Dexter, Kansas produced a gas that had so little natural gas that it would not light. Upon examining a sample, Professor Cady of the University of Kansas found that it contained only 14% combustible hydrocarbons and also 1.84% helium. It has been found that gasses high in nitrogen, therefore low in heating value, are also high in helium content.

When the United States joined the war, an organized campaign of helium production was started. In late 1917 two small experimental plants using different methods were erected in Ft. Worth, Texas. Some months later a third plant, using still a third method, was erected. Just prior to the armistice the first shipment of 150,000 cubic feet of helium to Europe was made. Quantity production of helium arrived just too late to be of value in the hostilities.

In 1915, helium production was around 100 cubic feet with a market value of around $1,700 per cubic foot. Now helium can be produced, by the first two methods, at a cost of less than 10 cents a cubic foot. If the third method proves out, that cost will be further reduced. The process of extracting helium is highly technical, but easily understood. All the constituents of natural gas liquify at -328 degrees Fahrenheit except helium which remains a gas at which point it can easily be extracted. After the extraction, the remaining liquified gas is allowed to warm back to gasses and put back into the mains as ordinary natural gas.

Natural gasses low in heating ability, and therefore high in helium are known as “wind gas”. The richest fields of this “wind gas” are found in Kansas, northern Oklahoma, and parts of Texas. The search is ongoing for other producers of helium. A countrywide search was made, but only in Ohio was another source for helium found. At present, the Petrolia gas fields in northern Texas is the country’s primary supplier of helium. It is the location of the experimental plants, and a plant is now being erected that will turn out at least 50,000 cubic feet a day. Unfortunately, when these wells were open in 1910, the gas pressure was at 700 psi. Today the pressure is down to 100 psi with all that helium wasted.

While the Dexter fields have long run out, there is favorable territory in the vicinity. Also, the Sedan fields 20 miles to the east have gas that is 1% helium. Most fields that are high in helium are poor at heating so they have not been tapped extensively. The Geological Survey is preparing to issue a detailed report on helium-bearing gas fields. Outside the mid-continent area, the only promising source of helium is Vinton County, Ohio. While containing only about a third of a percent of helium, the gas is in such quantity and under such pressure that developing this field becomes practical.

So far, no other countries have found rich helium resources. Great Britain searched and found none, and France has some mineral springs that emit gas rich in helium, but the production is insignificant. Italy, Germany, and Austria produce gas with only a trace amount of helium, while Romania, Galicia, and Baku in Russia produce mainly oil. Only the gas fields of Transylvania compare in size to the American field, and they have less than 0.002 percent helium.

Currently there is no accepted theory to explain the origin and occurrence of helium. Natural gas originates from the decay of organic remains buried underground, but since helium is found in mineral springs and volcanic gases, they seem to be unrelated. Some believe helium comes from deep in the earth and is slowly seeping out. Others think that since there is a large quantity in the atmosphere that somehow it is absorbed by the rocks, although no mechanism has been found. A third, more promising explanation comes from the radium theory. Radium is one of the chemical elements, but its discovery upset the old notions about the permanency and indivisibility of the elements. Radium continually breaks down. As it, and its subsequent substances, break down they emit helium. Since radium is widely disseminated throughout the world, it could very likely be the source of helium.

At the bottom of the last page of this issue there is a bold, capitalized announcement stating that the “Index for Volume XXXIV – July-December, 1918 – will be mailed to members upon request”.

Tom Wilson

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Thank-you Tom . . . lots of dedication and time in your monthly reminisces.



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