Stories of Inventors
Russell Doubleday

Part 2 out of 3

outer Long Island beach, far beyond the reach of a line from shore. Deep
water lies on both sides of the bar, and after the shoal is passed the
broken water settles down a little and gathers speed for its rush for
the beach. These conditions were favourable for surf-boat work, and as
the surfman told his tale the keeper or captain of the crew decided what
to do.

The crew ran the ever-ready surf-boat through the double doors of its
house down the inclined plane to the beach. Resting in a carriage
provided with a pair of broad-tired wheels, the light craft was hauled
by its sturdy crew through the clinging sand and into the very teeth of
the storm to the point nearest the wreck.

The surf rolled in with a roar that shook the ground; fringed with foam
that showed even through that dense midnight darkness, the waves were
hungry for their prey. Each breaker curved high above the heads of the
men, and, receding, the undertow sucked at their feet and tried to drag
them under. It did not seem possible that a boat could be launched in
such a sea. With scarcely a word of command, however, every man, knowing
from long practice his position and specific duties, took his station on
either side of the buoyant craft and, rushing into the surf, launched
her; climbing aboard, every man took his appointed place, while the
keeper, a long steering-oar in his hands, stood at the stern. All
pulled steadily, while the steersman, with a sweep of his oar, kept her
head to the seas and with consummate skill and judgment avoided the most
dangerous crests, until the first watery rampart was passed. Adapting
their stroke to the rough water, the six sturdy rowers propelled their
twenty-five-foot unsinkable boat at good speed, though it seemed
infinitely slow when they thought of the crew of the stranded vessel off
in the darkness, helpless and hopeless. Each man wore a cork jacket, but
in spite of their encumbrances they were marvellously active.

As is sometimes the case, before the surf-boat reached the distressed
vessel she lurched over the bar and went driving for the beach.

The crew in the boat could do nothing, and the men aboard the ship were
helpless. Climbing up into the rigging, the sailors waited for the
vessel to strike the beach, and the life-savers put for shore again to
get the apparatus needed for the new situation. To load the surf-boat
with the wrecked, half-frozen crew of the stranded vessel, when there
was none too much room for the oarsmen, and then encounter the fearful
surf, was a method to be pursued only in case of dire need. To reach the
wreck from shore was a much safer and surer method of saving life, not
only for those on the vessel, but also for the surfmen.

The beach apparatus has received the greatest attention from inventors,
since that part of the life-savers' outfit is depended upon to rescue
the greatest number.

With a rush the surf-boat rolled in on a giant wave amid a smother of
foam, and no sooner had her keel grated on the sand than her crew were
out knee-deep in the swirling water and were dragging her up high and

A minute later the entire crew, some pulling, some steering, dragged out
the beach wagon. A light framework supported by two broad-tired wheels
carried all the apparatus for rescue work from the beach. Each member of
the crew had his appointed place and definite duties, according to
printed instructions which each had learned by heart, and when the
command was given every man jumped to his place as a well-trained
man-of-war's-man takes his position at his gun.

Over hummocks of sand and wreckage, across little inlets made by the
waves, in the face of blinding sleet and staggering wind, the
life-savers dragged the beach wagon on the run.

Through the mist and shrouding white of the storm the outlines of the
stranded vessel could just be distinguished.

Bringing the wagon to the nearest point, the crew unloaded their

Two men then unloaded a sand-anchor--an immense cross--and immediately
set to work with shovels to dig a hole in the sand and bury it. While
this was being done two others were busy placing a bronze cannon (two
and one-half-inch bore) in position; another got out boxes containing
small rope wound criss-cross fashion on wooden pins set upright in the
bottom. The pins merely held the rope in its coils until ready for use,
when board and pegs were removed. The free end of the line was attached
to a ring in the end of the long projectile which the captain carried,
together with a box of ammunition slung over his shoulders. The
cylindrical projectile was fourteen and one-half inches long and weighed
seventeen pounds. All these operations were carried on at once and with
utmost speed in spite of the great difficulties and the darkness.

While the surf boomed and the wind roared, the captain sighted the
gun--aided by Nos. 1 and 2 of the crew--aiming for the outstretched arms
of the yards of the wrecked vessel. With the wind blowing at an almost
hurricane rate, it was a difficult shot, but long practice under all
kinds of difficulties had taught the captain just how to aim. As he
pulled the lanyard, the little bronze cannon spit out fire viciously,
and the long projectile, to which had been attached the end of the
coiled line, sailed off on its errand of mercy. With a whir the line
spun out of the box coil after coil, while the crew peered out over the
breaking seas to see if the keeper's aim was true. At last the line
stopped uncoiling and the life-savers knew that the shot had landed
somewhere. For a time nothing happened, the slender rope reached out
into the boiling waves, but no answering tugs conveyed messages to the
waiting surfmen from the wrecked seamen.

At length the line began to slip through the fingers of the keeper who
held it and moved seaward, so those on shore knew that the rope had been
found and its use understood. The line carried out by the projectile
served merely to drag out a heavy rope on which was run a sort of
trolley carrying a breeches-buoy or sling.

The men on the wreck understood the use of the apparatus, or read the
instructions printed in several languages with which the heavy rope was
tagged. They made the end of the strong line fast to the mast well above
the reach of the hungry seas, and the surfmen secured their end to the
deeply buried sand-anchor, an inverted V-shaped crotch placed under the
rope holding it above the water on the shore end. When this had been
done, as much of the slack was taken up as possible, and the wreck was
connected with the beach with a kind of suspension bridge.

All this occupied much time, for the hands of the sailors were numb with
cold, the ropes stiff with ice, while the wild and angry wind snatched
at the tackle and tore at the clinging figures.

In a trice the willing arms on shore hauled out the buoy by means of an
endless line reaching out to the wreck and back to shore. Then with a
joy that comes only to those who are saving a fellow-creature from
death, the life-savers saw a man climb into the stout canvas breeches of
the hanging buoy, and felt the tug on the whip-line that told them that
the rescue had begun. With a will they pulled on the line, and the buoy,
carrying its precious burden, rolled along the hawser, swinging in the
wind, and now and then dipping the half-frozen man in the crests of the
waves. It seemed a perilous journey, but as long as the wreck held
together and the mast remained firmly upright the passengers on this
improvised aerial railway were safe.

One after the other the crew were taken ashore in this way, the
life-savers hauling the breeches-buoy forward and back, working like
madmen to complete their work before the wreck should break up. None too
soon the last man was landed, for he had hardly been dragged ashore when
the sturdy mast, being able to stand the buffeting of the waves no
longer, toppled over and floated ashore.

The life-savers' work is not over when the crew of a vessel is saved,
for the apparatus must be packed on the beach wagon and returned to the
station, while the shipwrecked crew is provided with dry clothing, fed,
and cared for. The patrol continues on his beat throughout the night
without regard to the hardships that have already been undergone.

The success of the surfmen in saving lives depends not only on their
courage and strength, supplemented by continuous training which has been
proved time and again, but the wonderful record of the life-saving
service is due as well to the efficient appliances that make the work of
the men effective.

Besides the apparatus already described, each station is provided with a
kind of boat-car which has a capacity for six or seven persons, and is
built so that its passengers are entirely enclosed, the hatch by which
they enter being clamped down from the inside. When there are a great
many people to be saved, this car is used in place of the breeches-buoy.
It is hung on the hawser by rings at either end and pulled back and
forth by the whip-line; or, if the masts of the vessel are carried away
and there is nothing to which the heavy rope can be attached so that it
will stretch clear above the wave-crests, in such an emergency the
life-car floats directly on the water, and the whip-line is used to pull
it to the shore with wrecked passengers and back to the wreck for more.

Everything that would help to save life under any condition is provided,
and a number of appliances are duplicated in case one or more should be
lost or damaged at a critical time. Signal flags are supplied, and the
surfmen are taught their use as a means of communicating with people
aboard a vessel in distress. Telephones connect the stations, so that in
case of any special difficulty two or even three crews may be combined.
When wireless telegraphy comes into general use aboard ship the stations
will doubtless be equipped with this apparatus also, so that ships may
be warned of danger.

[Illustration: LIFE-SAVERS AT WORK
The two men in the center are burying the sand-anchor; of the two at the
right, one is ready with the crotch support the hawser and the other
carries the breeches-buoy; the other three men are hauling the line
which has already been shot over the wrecked vessel.]

The 10,000 miles of the United States ocean, gulf, and Great Lakes
coasts, exclusive of Alaska and the island possessions, are guarded by
265 stations and houses of refuge at this writing, and new ones are
added every year. Practically all of this immense coast-line is
patrolled or watched over during eight or nine stormy months, and those
that "go down to the sea in ships" may be sure of a helping hand in time
of trouble.

The dangerous coasts are more thickly studded with stations, and the
sections that are comparatively free from life-endangering reefs are
provided with refuge houses where supplies are stored and where wrecked
survivors may find shelter.

The Atlantic coast, being the most dangerous to shipping, is guarded by
more than 175 stations; the Great Lakes require fifty or more to care
for the survivors of the vessels that are yearly wrecked on their
harbourless shores. For the Gulf of Mexico eight are considered
sufficient, and the long Pacific coast also requires but eight.

The Life-Saving Service, formerly under the Treasury Department, now an
important part of the Department of Commerce and Labour, was organised
by Sumner I. Kimball, who was put at its head in 1871, and the great
success and glory it has won is largely due to his energy and efficient

The Life-Saving Service publishes a report of work accomplished through
the year. It is a dry recital of facts and figures, but if the reader
has a little imagination he can see the record of great deeds of heroism
and self-sacrifice written between the lines.

As vessels labour through the wintry seas along our coasts, and the
on-shore winds roar through the rigging, while the fog, mist or snow
hangs like a curtain all around, it is surely a comfort to those at sea
to know that all along the dangerous coast men specially trained, and
equipped with the most efficient apparatus known, are always ready to
stretch out a helping hand.


Some Strange Subjects and How They Were Taken

The grandstand of the Sheepshead Bay race-track, one spring afternoon,
was packed solidly with people, and the broad, terra-cotta-coloured
track was fenced in with a human wall near the judges' stand. The famous
Suburban was to be run, and people flocked from every direction to see
one of the greatest horse-races of the year. While the band played
gaily, and the shrill cries of programme venders punctuated the hum of
the voices of the multitude, and while the stable boys walked their
aristocratic charges, shrouded in blankets, exercising them sedately--in
the midst of all this movement, hubbub, and excitement a man a little to
one side, apparently unconscious of all the uproar, was busy with a big
box set up on a portable framework six or seven feet above the ground.
The man was a new kind of photographer, and his big box was a camera
with which he purposed to take a series of pictures of the race. Above
the box, which was about two and a half feet square, was an electric
motor from which ran a belt connecting with the inner mechanism; from
the front of the box protruded the lens, its glassy eye so turned as to
get a full sweep of the track; nearby on the ground were piled the
storage batteries which were used to supply the current for the motor.

As the time for the race drew near the excitement increased, figures
darted here, there and everywhere, the bobbing, brightly coloured hats
of the women in the great slanting field of the grandstand suggesting
bunches of flowers agitated by the breeze. Then the horses paraded in a
thoroughbred fashion, as if they appreciated their lengthy pedigrees and
understood their importance.

At last the splendid animals were lined up across the track, their small
jockeys in their brilliantly coloured jackets hunched up like monkeys on
their backs. Then the enormous crowd was quiet, the band was still, even
the noisy programme venders ceased calling their wares, and the
photographer stood quietly beside his camera, the motor humming, his
hand on the switch that starts the internal machinery. Suddenly the
starter dropped his arm, the barring gate flew up, and the horses sprang
forward. "They're off!" came from a thousand throats in unison. The band
struck up a lively air, and the vast assemblage watched with excited
eyes the flying horses. As the horses swept on round the turn and down
the back stretch the people seemed to be drawn from their seats, and by
the time the racers made the turn leading into the home-stretch almost
every one was standing and the roar of yelling voices was deafening.

All this time the photographer kept his eyes on his machine, which was
rattling like a rapidly beaten drum, the cyclopean eye of the camera
making impressions on a sensitised film-ribbon at the rate of forty a
second, and every movement of the flying legs of the urging jockeys,
even the puffs of dust that rose at the falling of each iron-shod hoof,
was recorded for all time by the eye of the camera.

The horses entered the home-stretch and in a terrific burst of speed
flashed by the throngs of yelling people and under the wire, a mere blur
of shining bodies, brilliant colours of the jockeys' blouses, and yellow
dust. The Suburban was over, and the great crowd that had come miles to
see a race that lasted but a little more than two minutes (a grand
struggle of giants, however), sank back into their seats or relaxed
their straining gaze in a way that said plainer than words could say it,
"It is over."

It was 4:45 in the afternoon. The photographer was all activity. The
minute the race was over the motor above the great camera was stopped
and the box was opened. From its dark interior another box about six
inches square and two inches deep was taken: this box contained the
record of the race, on a narrow strip of film two hundred and fifty feet
long, the latent image of thousands of separate pictures.

Then began another race against time, for it was necessary to take that
long ribbon across the city of Brooklyn, over the Bridge, across New
York, over the North River by ferry to Hoboken on the Jersey side,
develop, fix, and dry the two-hundred-and-fifty-foot-long film-negative,
make a positive or reversed print on another two-hundred-and-fifty-foot
film, carry it through the same photographic process, and show the
spirited scene on the stereopticon screen of a metropolitan theatre the
same evening.

That evening a great audience in the dark interior of a New York theatre
sat watching a white sheet stretched across the stage; suddenly its
white expanse grew dark, and against the background appeared "The
Suburban, run this afternoon at 4:45 at Sheepshead Bay track; won by
Alcedo, in 2 minutes 5 3-5 seconds."

These pictures are not consecutive. The difference between those that
follow each other is so slight as to be almost imperceptible because of
the rapidity with which they are taken. These pictures were probably
taken at the rate of thirty to forty per second.]

Then appeared on the screen the picture of the scene that the thousands
had travelled far to see that same afternoon. There were the wide,
smooth track, the tower-like judges' stand, the oval turf of the inner
field, and as the audience looked the starter moved his arm, and the
rank of horses, life-size and quivering with excitement, shot forth.
From beginning to end the great struggle was shown to the people seated
comfortably in the city playhouse, several miles from the track where
the race was run, just two hours and fifteen minutes after the winning
horse dashed past the judges' stand. Every detail was reproduced; every
movement of horses and jockeys, even the clouds of dust that rose from
the hoof-beats, appeared clearly on the screen. And the audience rose
gradually to their feet, straining forward to catch every movement,
thrilled with excitement as were the mighty crowds at the actual race.

To produce the effect that made the people in the theatre forget their
surroundings and feel as if they were actually overlooking the
race-track itself, about five thousand separate photographs were shown.

It was discovered long ago that if a series of pictures, each of which
showed a difference in the position of the legs of a man running, for
instance, was passed quickly before the eye so that the space between
the pictures would be screened, the figure would apparently move. The
eyes retain the image they see for a fraction of a second, and if a new
image carrying the movement a little farther along is presented in the
same place, the eyes are deceived so that the object apparently actually
moves. An ingenious toy called the zoltrope, which was based on this
optical illusion, was made long before Edison invented the vitascope,
Herman Caster the biograph and mutoscope, or the Lumiere brothers in
France devised the cinematograph. All these different moving-picture
machines work on the same principle, differing only in their mechanism.

A moving-picture machine is really a rapid-fire repeating camera
provided with a lens allowing of a very quick exposure. Internal
mechanism, operated by a hand-crank or electric motor, moves the
unexposed film into position behind the lens and also opens and closes
the shutter at just the proper moment. The same machinery feeds down a
fresh section of the ribbon-like film into position and coils the
exposed portion in a dark box, just as the film of a kodak is rolled off
one spool and, after exposure, is wound up on another. The film used in
the biograph when taking the Suburban was two and three-fourth inches
wide and several hundred feet long; about forty exposures were made per
second, and for each exposure the film had to come to a dead stop before
the lens and then the shutter was opened, the light admitted for about
one three-hundredth of a second, the shutter closed, and a new section
of film moved into place, while the exposed portion was wound upon a
spool in a light-tight box. The long, flexible film is perforated along
both edges, and these perforations fit over toothed wheels which guide
it down to the lens; the holes in the celluloid strip are also used by
the feeding mechanism. In order that the interval between the pictures
shall always be the same, the film must be held firmly in each position
in turn; the perforations and toothed mechanism accomplish this

In taking the picture of the Suburban race almost five thousand
separate negatives (all on one strip of film, however) were made during
the two minutes five and three-fifths seconds the race was being run.
Each negative was perfectly clear, and each was different, though if one
negative was compared to its neighbour scarcely any variance would be

After the film has been exposed, the light-tight box containing it is
taken out of the camera and taken to a gigantic dark-room, where it is
wound on a great reel and developed, just as the image on a kodak film
is brought out. The reel is hung by its axle over a great trough
containing gallons of developer, so that the film wound upon it is
submerged; and as the reel is revolved all of the sensitised surface is
exposed to the action of the chemicals and gradually the latent pictures
are developed. After the development has gone far enough, the reel,
still carrying the film, is dipped in clean water and washed, and then a
dip in a similar bath of clearing-and-fixing solution makes the
negatives permanent--followed by a final washing in clean water. It is
simply developing on a grand scale, thousands of separate pictures on
hundreds of feet of film being developed at once.

A negative, however, is of no use unless a positive or print of some
kind is made from it. If shown through a stereopticon, for instance, a
negative would make all the shadows on the screen appear lights, and
vice versa. A positive, therefore, is made by running a fresh film, with
the negative, through a machine very much like the moving-picture
camera. The unexposed surface is behind that of the negative, and at the
proper intervals the shutter is opened and the admitted light prints the
image of the negative on the unexposed film, just as a lantern slide is
made, in fact, or a print on sensitised paper. The positives are made by
this machine at the rate of a score or so in a second. Of course, the
positive is developed in the same manner as the negative.

Therefore, in order to show the people in the theatre the Suburban, five
hundred feet of film was exposed, developed, fixed, and dried, and
nearly ten thousand separate and complete pictures were produced, in the
space of two hours and fifteen minutes, including the time occupied in
taking the films to and from the track, factory, and theatre.

Originally, successive pictures of moving objects were taken for
scientific purposes. A French scientist who was studying aerial
navigation set up a number of cameras and took successive pictures of a
bird's flight. Doctor Muybridge, of Philadelphia, photographed trotting
horses with a camera of his own invention that made exposures in rapid
succession, in order to learn the different positions of the legs of
animals while in rapid motion.

A Frenchman also--M. Mach--photographed a plant of rapid growth twice a
day from exactly the same position for fifty consecutive days. When the
pictures were thrown on the screen in rapid order the plant seemed to
grow visibly.

The moving pictures provide a most attractive entertainment, and it was
this feature of the idea, undoubtedly, that furnished the incentive to
inventors. The public is always willing to pay well for a good

The makers of the moving-picture films have photographic studios
suitably lighted and fitted with all the necessary stage accessories
(scenery, properties, etc.) where the little comedies shown on the
screens of the theatres are acted for the benefit of the rapid-fire
camera and its operators, who are often the only spectators. One of
these studios in the heart of the city of New York is so brilliantly
lighted by electricity that pictures may be taken at full speed, thirty
to forty-five per second, at any time of day or night. Another company
has an open-air gallery large enough for whole troops of cavalry to
maneuver before the camera, or where the various evolutions of a working
fire department may be photographed.

Of course, when the pictures are taken in a studio or place prepared for
the work the photographic part is easy--the camera man sets up his
machine and turns the crank while the performers do the rest. But some
extra-ordinary pictures have been taken when the photographer had to
seek his scene and work his machine under trying and even dangerous

During the Boer War in South Africa two operators for the Biograph
Company took their bulky machine (it weighed about eighteen hundred
pounds) to the very firing-line and took pictures of battles between the
British and the Burghers when they were exposed to the fire of both
armies. On one occasion, in fact, the operator who was turning the
mechanism--he sat on a bicycle frame, the sprocket of which was
connected by a chain with the interior machinery--during a battle, was
knocked from his place by the concussion of a shell that exploded
nearby; nevertheless, the film was saved, and the same man rode on
horseback nearly seventy-five miles across country to the nearest
railroad point so that the precious photographic record might be sent to
London and shown to waiting audiences there.

Pictures were taken by the kinetoscope showing an ascent of Mount Blanc,
the operator of the camera necessarily making the perilous journey also;
different stages of the ascent were taken, some of them far above the
clouds. For this series of pictures a film eight hundred feet long was
required, and 12,800 odd exposures or negatives were made.

Successive pictures have been taken at intervals during an ocean voyage
to show the life aboard ship, the swing of the great seas, and the
rolling and pitching of the steamer. The heave and swing of the steamer
and the mountainous waves have been so realistically shown on the screen
in the theatre that some squeamish spectators have been made almost
seasick. It might be comforting to those who were made unhappy by the
sight of the heaving seas to know that the operator who took one series
of sea pictures, when lashed with his machine in the lookout place on
the foremast of the steamer, suffered terribly from seasickness, and
would have been glad enough to set his foot on solid ground;
nevertheless, he stuck to his post and completed the series.

The films are wound on the great drums and run through the developer in
the troughs as the drums are slowly revolved.]

It was a biograph operator that was engaged in taking pictures of a
fire department rushing to a fire. Several pieces of apparatus had
passed--an engine, hook-and-ladder company, and the chief; the operator,
with his (then) bulky apparatus, large camera, storage batteries, etc.,
stood right in the centre of the street, facing the stream of engines,
hose-wagons, and fire-patrol men. In order to show the contrast, an
old-time hand-pump engine, dragged by a dozen men and boys, came along
at full speed down the street, and behind and to one side of them
followed a two-horse hose-wagon, going like mad. The men running with
the old-time engine, not realising how narrow the space was and unaware
of the plunging horses behind, passed the biograph man on one side on
the dead run. The driver of the rapidly approaching team saw that there
was no room for him to pass on the other side of the camera man, and his
horses were going too fast to stop in the space that remained. He had
but an instant to decide between the dozen men and their antiquated
machine and the moving-picture outfit. He chose the latter, and, with a
warning shout to the photographer, bore straight down on the camera,
which continued to do its work faithfully, taking dozens of pictures a
second, recording even the strained, anxious expression on the face of
the driver. The pole of the hose-wagon struck the camera-box squarely
and knocked it into fragments, and the wheels passed quickly over the
pieces, the photographer meanwhile escaping somehow. By some lucky
chance the box holding the coiled exposed film came through the wreck

When that series was shown on the screen in a theatre the audience saw
the engine and hook-and-ladder in turn come nearer and nearer and then
rush by, then the line of running men with the old engine, and then--and
their flesh crept when they saw it--a team of plunging horses coming
straight toward them at frightful speed. The driver's face could be seen
between the horses' heads, distorted with effort and fear. Straight on
the horses came, their nostrils distended, their great muscles
straining, their fore hoofs striking out almost, it seemed, in the faces
of the people in the front row of seats. People shrank back, some women
shrieked, and when the plunging horses seemed almost on them, at the
very climax of excitement, the screen was darkened and the picture
blotted out. The camera taking the pictures had continued to work to the
very instant it was struck and hurled to destruction.

In addition to the stereopticon and its attendant mechanism, which is
only suitable when the pictures are to be shown to an audience, a
machine has been invented for the use of an individual or a small group
of people. In the mutoscope the positives or prints are made on long
strips of heavy bromide paper, instead of films, and are generally
enlarged; the strip is cut up after development and mounted on a
cylinder, so they radiate like the spokes of a wheel, and are set in the
same consecutive order in which they were taken. The thousands of cards
bearing the pictures at the outer ends are placed in a box, so that when
the wheel of pictures is turned, by means of a crank attached to the
axle, a projection holds each card in turn before the lens through which
the observer looks. The projection in the top of the box acts like the
thumb turning the pages of a book. Each of the pictures is presented in
such rapid succession that the object appears to move, just as the
scenes thrown on the screen by a lantern show action.

The mutoscope widens the use of motion-photography infinitely. The
United States Government will use it to illustrate the workings of many
of its departments at the World's Fair at St. Louis: the life aboard
war-ships, the handling of big guns, army maneuvers, the life-saving
service, post-office workings, and, in fact, many branches of the
government service will be explained pictorially by this means.

Agents for manufacturers of large machinery will be able to show to
prospective purchasers pictures of their machines in actual operation.
Living, moving portraits have been taken, and by means of a hand machine
can be as easily examined as pictures through a stereoscope. It is quite
within the bounds of possibility that circulating libraries of moving
pictures will be established, and that every public school will have a
projecting apparatus for the use of films, and a stereopticon or a
mutoscope. In fact, a sort of circulating library already exists, films
or mutoscope pictures being rented for a reasonable sum; and thus many
of the most important of the world's happenings may be seen as they
actually occurred.

Future generations will have histories illustrated with vivid motion
pictures, as all the great events of the day, processions, celebrations,
battles, great contests on sea and land are now recorded by the
all-seeing eye of the motion-photographer's camera.


In the old days when Rome was supreme a Caesar decreed that a bridge
should be built to carry a military road across a valley, or ordered
that great stone arches should be raised to conduct a stream of water to
a city; and after great toil, and at the cost of the lives of unnumbered
labourers, the work was done--so well done, in fact, that much of it is
still standing, and some is still doing service.

In much the same regal way the managers of a railroad order a steel
bridge flung across a chasm in the midst of a wilderness far from
civilisation, or command that a new structure shall be substituted for
an old one without disturbing traffic; and, lo and behold, it is done in
a surprisingly short time. But the new bridges, in contrast to the old
ones, are as spider webs compared to the overarching branches of a great
tree. The old type, built of solid masonry, is massive, ponderous, while
the new, slender, graceful, is built of steel.

One day a bridge-building company in Pennsylvania received the
specifications giving the dimensions and particulars of a bridge that an
English railway company wished to build in far-off Burma, above a great
gorge more than eight hundred feet deep and about a half-mile wide. From
the meagre description of the conditions and requirements, and from the
measurements furnished by the railroad, the engineers of the American
bridge company created a viaduct. Just as an author creates a story or a
painter a picture, so these engineers built a bridge on paper, except
that the work of the engineers' imagination had to be figured out
mathematically, proved, and reproved. Not only was the soaring structure
created out of bare facts and dry statistics, but the thickness of every
bolt and the strain to be borne by every rod were predetermined

And when the plans of the great viaduct were completed the engineers
knew the cost of every part, and felt so sure that the actual bridge in
far-off Burma could be built for the estimated amount, that they put in
a bid for the work that proved to be far below the price asked by
English builders.

And so this company whose works are in Pennsylvania was awarded the
contract for the Gokteik viaduct in Burma, half-way round the world
from the factory.

This structure stretches 820 feet above the bottom of the Gokteik Gorge.
The viaduct was built entirely from above, as shown in this picture.]

In the midst of a wilderness, among an ancient people whose language and
habits were utterly strange to most Americans, in a tropical country
where modern machinery and appliances were practically unknown, a small
band of men from the young republic contracted to build the greatest
viaduct the world had ever seen. All the material, all the tools and
machinery, were to be carried to the opposite side of the earth and
dumped on the edge of the chasm. From the heaps of metal the small band
of American workmen and engineers, aided by the native labourers, were
to build the actual structure, strong and enduring, that was conceived
by the engineers and reduced to working-plans in far-off Pennsylvania.

From ore dug out of the Pennsylvania mountains the steel was made and,
piece by piece, the parts were rolled, riveted, or welded together so
that every section was exactly according to the measurements laid out on
the plan. As each part was finished it was marked to correspond with the
plan and also to show its relation to its neighbour. It was like a
gigantic puzzle. The parts were made to fit each other accurately, so
that when the workmen in Burma came to put them together the tangle of
beams and rods, of trusses and braces should be assembled into a
perfect, orderly structure--each part in its place and each doing its
share of the work.

With men trained to work with ropes and tackle collected from an Indian
seaport, and native riveters gathered from another place, Mr. J.C. Turk,
the engineer in charge, set to work with the American bridgemen and the
constructing engineer to build a bridge out of the pieces of steel that
lay in heaps along the brink of the gorge. First, the traveller, or
derrick, shipped from America in sections, was put together, and its
long arm extended from the end of the tracks on which it ran over the

From above the great steel beams were lowered to the masonry foundations
of the first tower and securely bolted to them, and so, piece by piece,
the steel girders were suspended in space and swung this way and that
until each was exactly in its proper position and then riveted
permanently. The great valley resounded with the blows of hammers on
red-hot metal, and the clangour of steel on steel broke the silence of
the tropic wilderness. The towers rose up higher and higher, until the
tops were level with the rim of the valley, and as they were completed
the horizontal girders were built on them, the rails laid, and the
traveller pushed forward until its arm swung over the foundation of the
next tower.

And so over the deep valley the slender structure gradually won its way,
supporting itself on its own web as it crawled along like a spider.
Indeed, so tall were its towers and so slender its steel cords and beams
that from below it appeared as fragile as a spider's web, and the men,
poised on the end of swinging beams or standing on narrow platforms
hundreds of feet in air, looked not unlike the flies caught in the web.

The towers, however, were designed to sustain a heavy train and
locomotive and to withstand the terrific wind of the monsoon. The
pressure of such a wind on a 320-foot tower is tremendous. The bridge
was completed within the specified time and bore without flinching all
the severe tests to which it was put. Heavy trains--much heavier than
would ordinarily be run over the viaduct--steamed slowly across the
great steel trestle while the railroad engineers examined with utmost
care every section that would be likely to show weakness. But the
designers had planned well, the steel-workers had done their full duty,
and the American bridgemen had seen to it that every rivet was properly
headed and every bolt screwed tight--and no fault could be found.

The bridge engineer's work is very diversified, since no two bridges are
alike. At one time he might be ordered to span a stream in the midst of
a populous country where every aid is at hand, and his next commission
might be the building of a difficult bridge in a foreign wilderness far
beyond the edge of civilisation.

Bridge-building is really divided into four parts, and each part
requires a different kind of knowledge and experience.

First, the designer has to have the imagination to see the bridge as it
will be when it is completed, and then he must be able to lay it out on
paper section by section, estimating the size of the parts necessary for
the stress they will have to bear, the weight of the load they will have
to carry, the effect of the wind, the contraction and expansion of cold
and heat, and vibration; all these things must be thought of and
considered in planning every part and determining the size of each. Also
he must know what kind of material to use that is best fitted to stand
each strain, whether to use steel that is rigid or that which is so
flexible that it can be tied in a knot. On the designer depends the
price asked for the work, and so it is his business to invent, for each
bridge is a separate problem in invention, a bridge that will carry the
required weight with the least expenditure of material and labour and at
the same time be strong enough to carry very much greater loads than it
is ever likely to be called upon to sustain. The designer is often the
constructor as well, and he is always a man of great practical
experience. He has in his time stepped out on a foot-wide girder over a
rushing stream, directing his men, and he has floundered in the mud of a
river bottom in a caisson far below the surface of the stream, while the
compressed air kept the ooze from flowing in and drowning him and his

The second operation of making the pieces that go into the structure is
simply the following out of the clearly drawn plans furnished by the
designing engineers. Different grades of steel and iron are moulded or
forged into shape and riveted together, each part being made the exact
size and shape required, even the position of the holes through which
the bolts or rivets are to go that are to secure it to the neighbouring
section being marked on the plan.

The foundations for bridges are not always put down by the builders of
the bridge proper; that is a work by itself and requires special
experience. On the strength and permanency of the foundation depends the
life of the bridge. While the foundries and steel mills are making the
metal-work the foundations are being laid. If the bridge is to cross a
valley, or carry the roadway on the level across a depression, the
placing of the foundations is a simple matter of digging or blasting out
a big hole and laying courses of masonry; but if a pier is to be built
in water, or the land on which the towers are to stand is unstable, then
the problem is much more difficult.

For bridges like those that connect New York and Brooklyn, the towers of
which rest on bed-rock below the river's bottom, caissons are sunk and
the massive masonry is built upon them. If you take a glass and sink it
in water, bottom up, carefully, so that the air will not escape, it will
be noticed that the water enters the glass but a little way: the air
prevents the water from filling the glass. The caisson works on the same
principle, except that the air in the great boxlike chamber is highly
compressed by powerful pumps and keeps the water and river ooze out

The caissons of the third bridge across the East River were as big as a
good-sized house--about one hundred feet long and eighty feet wide. It
took five large tugs more than two days to get one of them in its proper
place. Anchored in its exact position, it was slowly sunk by building
the masonry of the tower upon it, and when the lower edges of the great
box rested on the bottom of the river men were sent down through an
air-lock which worked a good deal like the lock of a canal. The men, two
or three at a time, entered a small round chamber built of steel which
was fitted with two air-tight doors at the top and bottom; when they
were inside the air-lock, the upper door was closed and clamped tight,
just as the gates leading from the lower level of a canal are closed
after the boat is in the lock; then very gradually the air in the
compartment is compressed by an air-compressor until the pressure in the
air-lock is the same as that in the caisson chamber, when the lower door
opened and allowed the men to enter the great dim room. Imagine a room
eighty by one hundred feet, low and criss-crossed by massive timber
braces, resting on the black, slimy mud of the river bottom; electric
lights shine dimly, showing the half-naked workmen toiling with
tremendous energy by reason of the extra quantity of oxygen in the
compressed air. The workmen dug the earth and mud from under the
iron-shod edges of the caisson, and the weight of the masonry being
continually added to above sunk the great box lower and lower. From time
to time the earth was mixed with water and sucked to the surface by a
great pump. With hundreds of tons of masonry above, and the watery mud
of the river on all sides far below the keels of the vessels that passed
to and fro all about, the men worked under a pressure that was two or
three times as great as the fifteen pounds to the square inch that every
one is accustomed to above ground. If the pressure relaxed for a moment
the lives of the men would be snuffed out instantly--drowned by the
inrushing waters; if the excavation was not even all around, the balance
of the top-heavy structure would be lost, the men killed, and the work
destroyed entirely. But so carefully is this sort of work done that such
an accident rarely occurs, and the caissons are sunk till they rest on
bed-rock or permanent, solid ground, far below the scouring effect of
currents and tides. Then the air-chamber is filled with concrete and
left to support the great towers that pierce the sky above the waters.

The slender steel structure supporting a loaded train that stretches
along its entire length.]

The pneumatic tube, which is practically a steel caisson on a small
scale operated in the same way, is often used for small towers, and many
of the steel sky-scrapers of the cities are built on foundations of this
sort when the ground is unstable.

Foundations of wooden and iron piles, driven deep in the ground below
the river bottom, are perhaps the most common in use. The piles are
sawed off below the surface of the water and a platform built upon them,
which in turn serves as the foundation for the masonry.

The great Eads Bridge, which was built across the Mississippi at St.
Louis, is supported by towers the foundations of which are sunk 107 feet
below the ordinary level of the water; at this depth the men working in
the caissons were subjected to a pressure of nearly fifty pounds to the
square inch, almost equal to that used to run some steam-engines.

The bridge across the Hudson at Poughkeepsie was built on a crib or
caisson open at the top and sunk by means of a dredge operated from
above taking out the material from the inside. The wonder of this is
hard to realise unless it is remembered that the steel hands of the
dredge were worked entirely from above, and the steel rope sinews
reached down below the surface more than one hundred feet sometimes;
yet so cleverly was the work managed that the excavation was perfect all
around, and the crib sank absolutely straight and square.

It is the fourth department of bridge-building that requires the
greatest amount not only of knowledge but of resourcefulness. In the
final process of erection conditions are likely to arise that were not
considered when the plans were drawn.

The chief engineer in charge of the erection of a bridge far from
civilisation is a little king, for it is necessary for him to have the
power of an absolute monarch over his army of workmen, which is often
composed of many different races.

With so many thousand tons of steel and stone dumped on the ground at
the bridge site, with a small force of expert workmen and a greater
number of unskilled labourers, in spite of bad weather, floods, or
fearful heat, the constructing engineer is expected to finish the work
within the specified time, and yet it must withstand the most exacting

In the heart of Africa, five hundred miles from the coast and the source
of supplies, an American engineer, aided by twenty-one American
bridgemen, built twenty-seven viaducts from 128 to 888 feet long within
a year.

The work was done in half the time and at half the cost demanded by the
English bidders. Mr. Lueder, the chief engineer, tells, in his account
of the work, of shooting lions from the car windows of the temporary
railroad, and of seeing ostriches try to keep pace with the locomotive,
but he said little of his difficulties with unskilled workmen, foreign
customs, and almost unspeakable languages. The bridge engineer the world
over is a man who accomplishes things, and who, furthermore, talks
little of his achievements.

Though the work of the bridge builders within easy reach of the steel
mills and large cities is less unusual, it is none the less adventurous.

In 1897, a steel arch bridge was completed that was built around the old
suspension bridge spanning the Niagara River over the Whirlpool Rapids.
The old suspension bridge had been in continuous service since 1855 and
had outlived its usefulness. It was decided to build a new one on the
same spot, and yet the traffic in the meantime must not be disturbed in
the least. It would seem that this was impossible, but the engineers
intrusted with the work undertook it with perfect confidence. To any one
who has seen the rushing, roaring, foaming waters of unknown depth that
race so fast from the spray-veiled falls that they are heaped up in the
middle, the mere thought of men handling huge girders of steel above the
torrent, and of standing on frail swinging platforms two hundred or more
feet above the rapids, causes chills to run down the spine; yet the work
was undertaken without the slightest doubt of its successful fulfilment.

It was manifestly impossible to support the new structure from below,
and the old bridge was carrying about all it could stand, so it was
necessary to build the new arch, without support from underneath, over
the foaming water of the Niagara rapids two hundred feet below. Steel
towers were built on either side of the gorge, and on them was laid the
platform of the bridge from the towers nearest to the water around and
under the old structure. The upper works were carried to the solid
ground on a level with the rim of the gorge and there securely anchored
with steel rods and chains held in masonry. Then from either side the
arch was built plate by plate from above, the heavy sheets of steel
being handled from a traveller or derrick that was pushed out farther
and farther over the stream as fast as the upper platform was completed.
The great mass of metal on both sides of the Niagara hung over the
stream, and was only held from toppling over by the rods and chains
solidly anchored on shore. Gradually the two ends of the uncompleted
arch approached each other, the amount of work on each part being
exactly equal, until but a small space was left between. The work was so
carefully planned and exactly executed that the two completed halves of
the arch did not meet, but when all was in readiness the chains on each
side, bearing as they did the weight of more than 1,000,000 pounds, were
lengthened just enough, and the two ends came together, clasping hands
over the great gorge. Soon the tracks were laid, and the new bridge took
up the work of the old, and then, piece by piece, the old suspension
bridge, the first of its kind, was demolished and taken away.

Over the Niagara gorge also was built one of the first cantilever
bridges ever constructed. To uphold it, two towers were built close to
the water's edge on either side, and then from the towers to the shores,
on a level with the upper plateau, the steel fabric, composed of slender
rods and beams braced to stand the great weight it would have to carry,
was built on false work and secured to solid anchorages on shore. Then
on this, over tracks laid for the purpose, a crane was run (the same
process being carried out on both sides of the river simultaneously),
and so the span was built over the water 239 feet above the seething
stream, the shore ends balancing the outer sections until the two arms
met and were joined exactly in the middle. This bridge required but
eight months to build, and was finished in 1883. From the car windows
hardly any part of the slender structure can be seen, and the train
seems to be held over the foaming torrent by some invisible support, yet
hundreds of trains have passed over it, the winds of many storms have
torn at its members, heat and cold have tried by expansion and
contraction to rend it apart, yet the bridge is as strong as ever.

Sometimes bridges are built a span or section at a time and placed on
great barges, raised to just their proper height, and floated down to
the piers and there secured.

A railroad bridge across the Schuylkill at Philadelphia was judged
inadequate for the work it had to do, and it was deemed necessary to
replace it with a new one. The towers it rested upon, therefore, were
widened, and another, stronger bridge was built alongside, the new one
put upon rollers as was the old, and then between trains the old
structure was pushed to one side, still resting on the widened piers,
and the new bridge was pushed into its place, the whole operation
occupying less than three minutes. The new replaced the old between the
passing of trains that run at four or five-minute intervals. The Eads
Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi at St. Louis, was built on a novel
plan. Its deep foundations have already been mentioned. The great
"Father of Waters" is notoriously fickle; its channel is continually
changing, the current is swift, and the frequent floods fill up and
scour out new channels constantly. It was necessary, therefore, in order
to span the great stream, to place as few towers as possible and build
entirely from above or from the towers themselves. It was a bold idea,
and many predicted its failure, but Captain Eads, the great engineer,
had the courage of his convictions and carried out his plans
successfully. From each tower a steel arch was started on each side,
built of steel tubes braced securely; the building on each side of every
tower was carried on simultaneously, one side of every arch balancing
the weight on the other side. Each section was like a gigantic seesaw,
the tower acting as the centre support; the ends, of course, not
swinging up and down. Gradually the two sections of every arch
approached each other until they met over the turbid water and were
permanently connected. With the completion of the three arches, built
entirely from the piers supporting them, the great stream was spanned.
The Eads Bridge was practically a double series of cantilevers balancing
on the towers. Three arches were built, the longest being 520 feet long
and the two shorter ones 502 feet each.

Every situation that confronts the bridge builder requires different
handling; at one time he may be called upon to construct a bridge
alongside of a narrow, rocky cleft over a rushing stream like the Royal
Gorge, Colorado, where the track is hung from two great beams stretched
across the chasm, or he may be required to design and construct a
viaduct like that gossamer structure three hundred and five feet high
and nearly a half-mile long across the Kinzua Creek, in Pennsylvania.
Problems which have nothing to do with mechanics often try his courage
and tax his resources, and many difficulties though apparently trivial,
develop into serious troubles. The caste of the different native gangs
who worked on the twenty-seven viaducts built in Central Africa is a
case in point: each group belonging to the same caste had to be
provided with its own quarters, cooking utensils, and camp furniture,
and dire were the consequences of a mix-up during one of the frequent
moves made by the whole party.


And so the work of a bridge builder, whether it is creating out of a
mere jumble of facts and figures a giant structure, the shaping of
glowing metal to exact measurements, the delving in the slime under
water for firm foundations, or the throwing of webs of steel across
yawning chasms or over roaring streams, is never monotonous, is often
adventurous, and in many, many instances is a great civilising


During the early part of the Spanish-American war a fleet of vessels
patrolled the Atlantic coast from Florida to Maine. The Spanish Admiral
Cervera had left the home waters with his fleet of cruisers and
torpedo-boats and no one knew where they were. The lookouts on all the
vessels were ordered to keep a sharp watch for strange ships, and
especially for those having a warlike appearance. All the newspapers and
letters received on board the different cruisers of the patrol fleet
told of the anxiety felt in the coast towns and of the fear that the
Spanish ships would appear suddenly and begin a bombardment. To add to
the excitement and expectation, especially of the green crews, the men
were frequently called out of their comfortable hammocks in the middle
of the night, and sent to their stations at guns and ammunition
magazines, just as if a battle was imminent; all this was for the
purpose of familiarising the crews with their duties under war
conditions, though no enlisted man knew whether he was called to
quarters to fight or for drill.

These were the conditions, then, when one bright Sunday the crew of an
auxiliary cruiser were very busy cleaning ship--a very thorough and
absorbing business. While the men were in the thick of the scrubbing,
one of the crew stood up to straighten his back, and looked out through
an open port in the vessel's side. As he looked he caught a glimpse of a
low, black craft, hardly five hundred yards off, coming straight for the
cruiser. The water foamed at her bows and the black smoke poured out of
her funnels, streaking behind her a long, sinister cloud. It was one of
those venomous little torpedo-boats, and she was apparently rushing in
at top speed to get within easy range of the large warship.

"A torpedo-boat is headed straight for us," cried the man at the port,
and at the same moment came the call for general quarters.

As the men ran to their stations the word was passed from one to the
other, "A Spanish torpedo-boat is headed for us."

With haste born of desperation the crew worked to get ready for action,
and when all was ready, each man in his place, guns loaded, firing
lanyards in hand, gun-trainers at the wheels, all was still--no command
to fire was given.

From the signal-boys to the firemen in the stokehole--for news travels
fast aboard ship--all were expecting the muffled report and the rending,
tearing explosion of a torpedo under the ship's bottom. The terrible
power of the torpedo was known to all, and the dread that filled the
hearts of that waiting crew could not be put into words.

Of course it was a false alarm. The torpedo-boat flew the Stars and
Stripes, but the heavy smoke concealed it, and the officers, perceiving
the opportunities for testing the men, let it be believed that a boat
belonging to the enemy was bearing down on them.

The crews of vessels engaged in future wars will have, not only swifter,
surer torpedo-boats to menace them, but even more dreadful foes.

The conning towers of the submarines show but a foot or two above the
surface--a sinister black spot on the water, like the dorsal fin of a
shark, that suggests but does not reveal the cruel power below; for an
instant the knob lingers above the surface while the steersman gets his
bearings, and then it sinks in a swirling eddy, leaving no mark showing
in what direction it has travelled. Then the crew of the exposed
warship wait and wonder with a sickening cold fear in their hearts how
soon the crash will come, and pray that the deadly submarine torpedo
will miss its mark.

Submarine torpedo-boats are actual, practical working vessels to-day,
and already they have to be considered in the naval plans for attack and

Though the importance of submarines in warfare, and especially as a
weapon of defense, is beginning to be thoroughly recognised, it took a
long time to arouse the interest of naval men and the public generally
sufficient to give the inventors the support they needed.

Americans once had within their grasp the means to blow some of their
enemies' ships out of the water, but they did not realise it, as will be
shown in the following, and for a hundred years the progress in this
direction was hindered.

It was during the American Revolution that a man went below the surface
of the waters of New York Harbour in a submarine boat just big enough to
hold him, and in the darkness and gloom of the under-water world
propelled his turtle-like craft toward the British ships anchored in
mid-stream. On the outside shell of the craft rested a magazine with a
heavy charge of gunpowder which the submarine navigator intended to
screw fast to the bottom of a fifty-gun British man-of-war, and which
was to be exploded by a time-fuse after he had got well out of harm's

Slowly and with infinite labour this first submarine navigator worked
his way through the water in the first successful under-water boat, the
crank-handle of the propelling screw in front of him, the helm at his
side, and the crank-handle of the screw that raised or lowered the craft
just above and in front. No other man had made a like voyage; he had
little experience to guide him, and he lacked the confidence that a
well-tried device assures; he was alone in a tiny vessel with but half
an hour's supply of air, a great box of gunpowder over him, and a
hostile fleet all around. It was a perilous position and he felt it.
With his head in the little conning tower he was able to get a glimpse
of the ship he was bent on destroying, as from time to time he raised
his little craft to get his bearings. At last he reached his
all-unsuspecting quarry and, sinking under the keel, tried to attach the
torpedo. There in the darkness of the depths of North River this unnamed
hero, in the first practical submarine boat, worked to make the first
torpedo fast to the bottom of the enemy's ship, but a little iron plate
or bolt holding the rudder in place made all the difference between a
failure that few people ever heard of and a great achievement that would
have made the inventor of the boat, David Bushnell, famous everywhere,
and the navigator a great hero. The little iron plate, however,
prevented the screw from taking hold, the tide carried the submarine
past, and the chance was lost.

David Bushnell was too far ahead of his time, his invention was not
appreciated, and the failure of his first attempt prevented him from
getting the support he needed to demonstrate the usefulness of his
under-water craft. The piece of iron in the keel of the British warship
probably put back development of submarine boats many years, for
Bushnell's boat contained many of the principles upon which the
successful under-water craft of the present time are built.

One hundred and twenty-five years after the subsurface voyage described
above, a steel boat, built like a whale but with a prow coming to a
point, manned by a crew of six, travelling at an average rate of eight
knots an hour, armed with five Whitehead torpedoes, and designed and
built by Americans, passed directly over the spot where the first
submarine boat attacked the British fleet.

The Holland boat _Fulton_ had already travelled the length of Long
Island Sound, diving at intervals, before reaching New York, and was on
her way to the Delaware Capes.

She was the invention of John P. Holland, and the result of twenty-five
years of experimenting, nine experimental boats having been built before
this persistent and courageous inventor produced a craft that came up to
his ideals. The cruise of the _Fulton_ was like a march of triumph, and
proved beyond a doubt that the Holland submarines were practical,
sea-going craft.

At the eastern end of Long Island the captain and crew, six men in all,
one by one entered the _Fulton_ through the round hatch in the conning
tower that projected about two feet above the back of the fish-like
vessel. Each man had his own particular place aboard and definite duties
to perform, so there was no need to move about much, nor was there much
room left by the gasoline motor, the electric motor, storage batteries,
air-compressor, and air ballast and gasoline tanks, and the Whitehead
torpedoes. The captain stood up inside of the conning tower, with his
eyes on a level with the little thick glass windows, and in front of
him was the wheel connecting with the rudder that steered the craft
right and left; almost at his feet was stationed the man who controlled
the diving-rudders; farther aft was the engineer, all ready for the word
to start his motor; another man controlled the ballast tanks, and
another watched the electric motor and batteries.

With a clang the lid-like hatch to the conning tower was closed and
clamped fast in its rubber setting, the gasoline engine began its rapid
phut-phut, and the submarine boat began its long journey down Long
Island Sound. The boat started in with her deck awash--that is, with two
or three feet freeboard or of deck above the water-line. In this
condition she could travel as long as her supply of gasoline held
out--her tanks holding enough to drive her 560 knots at the speed of six
knots an hour, when in the semi-awash condition; the lower she sank the
greater the surface exposed to the friction of the water and the greater
power expended to attain a given speed.

As the vessel jogged along, with a good part of her deck showing above
the waves, her air ventilators were open and the burnt gas of the engine
was exhausted right out into the open; the air was as pure as in the
cabin of an ordinary ship. Besides the work of propelling the boat,
the engine being geared to the electric motor made it revolve, so
turning it into a dynamo that created electricity and filled up the
storage batteries.

This boat is designed to travel on the surface, or fully submerged, or
on the ocean's bottom. She is provided with wheels that support her when
on the bottom, and with a divers' compartment from which divers can work
on submarine cables or the enemies' explosive mines.]

From time to time, as this whale-like ship plowed the waters of the
Sound, a big wave would flow entirely over her, and the captain would be
looking right into the foaming crest. The boat was built for under-water
going, so little daylight penetrated the interior through the few small
deadlights, or round, heavy glass windows, but electric incandescent
bulbs fed by current from the storage batteries lit the interior

The boat had not proceeded far when the captain ordered the crew to
prepare to dive, and immediately the engine was shut down and the clutch
connecting its shaft with the electric apparatus thrown off and another
connecting the electric motor with the propeller thrown in; a switch was
then turned and the current from the storage batteries set the motor and
propeller spinning. While this was being done another man was letting
water into her ballast tanks to reduce her buoyancy. When all but the
conning tower was submerged the captain looked at the compass to see how
she was heading, noted that no vessels were near enough to make a
submarine collision likely, and gave the word to the man at his feet to
dive twenty feet. Then a strange thing happened. The diving-helmsman
gave a twist to the wheel that connected with the horizontal rudders aft
of the propeller, and immediately the boat slanted downward at an angle
of ten degrees; the water rose about the conning tower until the little
windows were level with the surface, and then they were covered, and the
captain looked into solid water that was still turned yellowish-green by
the light of the sun; then swiftly descending, he saw but the faintest
gleam of green light coming through twenty feet of water. The _Fulton_,
with six men in her, was speeding along at five knots an hour twenty
feet below the shining waters of the Sound.

The diving-helmsman kept his eye on a gauge in front of him that
measured the pressure of water at the varying depths, but the dial was
so marked that it told him just how many feet the _Fulton_ was below the
surface. Another device showed whether the boat was on an even keel or,
if not exactly, how many degrees she slanted up or down.

With twenty feet of salt water above her and as much below, this
mechanical whale cruised along with her human freight as comfortable as
they would have been in the same space ashore. The vessel contained
sufficient air to last them several hours, and when it became vitiated
there were always the tanks of compressed air ready to be drawn upon.

Except for the hum of the motor and the slight clank of the
steering-gear, all was silent; none of the noises of the outer world
penetrated the watery depths; neither the slap of the waves, the whir of
the breeze, the hiss of steam, nor rattle of rigging accompanied the
progress of this submarine craft. As silently as a fish, as far as the
outer world was concerned, the _Fulton_ crept through the submarine
darkness. If an enemy's ship was near it would be an easy thing to
discharge one of the five Whitehead torpedoes she carried and get out of
harm's way before it struck the bottom of the ship and exploded.

In the tube which opened at the very tip end of the nose of the craft
lay a Whitehead (or automobile) torpedo, which when properly set and
ejected by compressed air propelled itself at a predetermined depth at a
speed of thirty knots an hour until it struck the object it was aimed at
or its compressed air power gave out.

The seven Holland boats built for the United States Navy, of which the
_Fulton_ is a prototype, carry five of these torpedoes, one in the tube
and two on either side of the hold, and each boat is also provided with
one compensating tank for each torpedo, so that when one or all are
fired their weight may be compensated by filling the tanks with water so
that the trim of the vessel will be kept the same and her stability

The _Fulton_, however, was bent on a peaceful errand, and carried dummy
torpedoes instead of the deadly engines of destruction that the
man-o'-war's man dreads.

"Dive thirty," ordered the captain, at the same time giving his wheel a
twist to direct the vessel's course according to the pointing finger of
the compass.

"Dive thirty, sir," repeated the steersman below, and with a slight
twist of his gear the horizontal rudders turned and the submarine
inclined downward; the level-indicator showed a slight slant and the
depth-gauge hand turned slowly round--twenty-two, twenty-five,
twenty-eight, then thirty feet, when the helmsman turned his wheel back
a little and the vessel forged ahead on a level keel.

At thirty feet below the surface the little craft, built like a cigar
on purpose to stand a tremendous squeeze, was subjected to a pressure of
2,160 pounds to the square foot. To realise this pressure it will be
necessary to think of a slab of iron a foot square and weighing 2,160
pounds pressing on every foot of the outer surface of the craft. Of
course, the squeeze is exerted on all sides of the submarine boats when
fully submerged, just as every one is subjected to an atmospheric
pressure of fifteen pounds to the square inch on every inch of his body.

The _Fulton_ and other submarine boats are so strongly built and
thoroughly braced that they could stand an even greater pressure without

When the commander of the _Fulton_ ordered his vessel to the surface,
the diving-steersman simply reversed his rudders so that they turned
upward, and the propeller, aided by the natural buoyancy of the boat,
simply pushed her to the surface. The Holland boats have a reserve
buoyancy, so that if anything should happen to the machinery they would
rise unaided to the surface.

Compressed air was turned into the ballast tanks, the water forced out
so that the boat's buoyancy was increased, and she floated in a
semi-awash, or light, condition. The engineer turned off the current
from the storage batteries, threw off the motor from the propeller
shaft, and connected the gasoline engine, started it up, and inside of
five minutes from the time the _Fulton_ was navigating the waters of the
Sound at a depth of thirty feet she was sailing along on the surface
like any other gasoline craft.

And so the ninety-mile journey down Long Island Sound, partly under
water, partly on the surface, to New York, was completed. The greater
voyage to the Delaware Capes followed, and at all times the little
sixty-three-foot boat that was but eleven feet in diameter at her
greatest girth carried her crew and equipment with perfect safety and
without the least inconvenience.

Such a vessel, small in size but great in destructive power, is a force
to be reckoned with by the most powerful battle-ship. No defense has yet
been devised that will ward off the deadly sting of the submarine's
torpedo, delivered as it is from beneath, out of the sight and hearing
of the doomed ships' crews, and exploded against a portion of the hull
that cannot be adequately protected by armour.

Though the conning-dome of a submarine presents a very small target,
its appearance above water shows her position and gives warning of her
approach. To avoid this tell-tale an instrument called a periscope has
been invented, which looks like a bottle on the end of a tube; this has
lenses and mirrors that reflect into the interior of the submarine
whatever shows above water. The bottle part projects above, while the
tube penetrates the interior.


The very unexpectedness of the submarine's attack, the mere knowledge
that they are in the vicinity of a fleet and may launch their deadly
missiles at any time, is enough to break down the nerves of the
strongest and eventually throw into a panic the bravest crew.

That the crews of the war-ships will have to undergo the strain of
submarine attack in the next naval war is almost sure. All the great
nations of the world have built fleets of submarines or are preparing to
do so.

In the development of under-water fighting-craft France leads, as she
has the largest fleet and was the first to encourage the designing and
building of them. But it was David Bushnell that invented and built the
first practical working submarine boat, and in point of efficiency and
practical working under service conditions in actual readiness for
hostile action the American boats excel to-day.


Under the green sea, in the total darkness of the great depths and the
yellowish-green of the shallows of the oceans, with the seaweeds waving
their fronds about their barnacle-encrusted timbers and the creatures of
the deep playing in and about the decks and rotted rigging, lie hundreds
of wrecks. Many a splendid ship with a valuable cargo has gone down off
a dangerous coast; many a hoard of gold or silver, gathered with
infinite pains from the far corners of the earth, lies intact in
decaying strong boxes on the bottom of the sea.

To recover the treasures of the deep, expeditions have been organised,
ships have sailed, divers have descended, and crews have braved great
dangers. Many great wrecking companies have been formed which accomplish
wonders in the saving of wrecked vessels and cargoes. But in certain
places all the time and at others part of the time, wreckers have had to
leave valuable wrecks a prey to the merciless sea because the ocean is
too angry and the waves too high to permit of the safe handling of the
air-hose and life-line of the divers who are depended upon to do all
the under-water work, rigging of hoisting-tackle, placing of buoys, etc.
Indeed, it is often impossible for a vessel to stay in one place long
enough to accomplish anything, or, in fact, to venture to the spot at

It was an American boy who, after reading Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand
Leagues Under the Sea," said to himself, "Why not?" and from that time
set out to put into practice what the French writer had imagined.

Simon Lake set to work to invent a way by which a wrecked vessel or a
precious cargo could be got at from below the surface. Though the waves
may be tossing their whitecaps high in air and the strong wind may turn
the watery plain into rolling hills of angry seas, the water twenty or
thirty feet below hardly feels any surface motion. So he set to work to
build a vessel that should be able to sail on the surface or travel on
the bottom, and provide a shelter from which divers could go at will,
undisturbed by the most tempestuous sea. People laughed at his idea, and
so he found great difficulty in getting enough capital to carry out his
plan, and his first boat, built largely with his own hands, had little
in its appearance to inspire confidence in his scheme. Built of wood,
fourteen feet long and five feet deep, fitted with three wheels,
_Argonaut Junior_ looked not unlike a large go-cart such as boys make
out of a soap-box and a set of wooden wheels. The boat, however, made
actual trips, navigated by its inventor, proving that his plan was
feasible. _Argonaut Junior,_ having served its purpose, was abandoned,
and now lies neglected on one of the beaches of New York Bay.

The _Argonaut,_ Mr. Lake's second vessel, had the regular submarine
look, except that she was equipped with two great, rough tread-wheels
forward, and to the underside of her rudder was pivoted another. She was
really an under-water tricycle, a diving-bell, a wrecking-craft, and a
surface gasoline-boat all rolled into one. When floating on the surface
she looked not unlike an ordinary sailing craft; two long spars, each
about thirty feet above the deck, forming the letter A--these were the
pipes that admitted fresh air and discharged the burnt gases of the
gasoline motor and the vitiated air that had been breathed. A low deck
gave a ship-shape appearance when floating, but below she was shaped
like a very fat cigar. Under the deck and outside of the hull proper
were placed her gasoline tanks, safe from any possible danger of
ignition from the interior. From her nose protruded a spar that looked
like a bowsprit but which was in reality a derrick; below the
derrick-boom were several glazed openings that resembled eyes and a
mouth: these were the lookout windows for the under-water observer and
the submarine searchlight.

The _Argonaut_ was built to run on the surface or on the bottom; she was
not designed to navigate half-way between. When in search of a wreck or
made ready for a cruise along the bottom, the trap door or hatch in her
turret-like pilot house was tightly closed; the water was let into her
ballast tanks, and two heavy weights to which were attached strong
cables that could be wound or unwound from the inside were lowered from
their recesses in the fore and after part of the keel of the boat to the
bottom; then the motor was started connected to the winding mechanism,
and, the buoyancy of the boat being greatly reduced, she was drawn to
the bottom by the winding of the anchor cables. As she sank, more and
more water was taken into her tanks until she weighed slightly more than
the water she displaced. When her wheels rested on the bottom her
anchor-weights were pulled completely into their wells, so that they
would not interfere with her movements.

Then the strange submarine vehicle began her voyage on the bottom of
the bay or ocean. Since the pipes projected above the surface plenty of
fresh air was admitted, and it was quite as easy to run the gasoline
engine under water as on the surface. In the turrets, as far removed as
possible from the magnetic influences of the steel hull, the compass was
placed, and an ingeniously arranged mirror reflected its readings down
below where the steersman could see it conveniently. Aft of the
steering-wheel was the gasoline motor, connected with the
propeller-shaft and also with the driving-wheels; it was so arranged
that either could be thrown out of gear or both operated at once. She
was equipped with depth-gauges showing the distance below the surface,
and another device showing the trim of the vessel; compressed-air tanks,
propelling and pumping machinery, an air-compressor and dynamo which
supplied the current to light the ship and also for the searchlight
which illuminated the under-water pathway--all this apparatus left but
little room in the hold, but it was all so carefully planned that not an
inch was wasted, and space was still left for her crew of three or four
to work, eat, and even sleep, below the waves.

Forward of the main space of the boat were the diving and lookout
compartments, which really were the most important parts of the boat, as
far as her wrecking ability was concerned. By means of a trap door in
the diving compartment through the bottom of the boat a man fitted with
a diving-suit could go out and explore a wreck or examine the bottom
almost as easily as a man goes out of his front door to call for an
"extra." It will be thought at once, "But the water will rush in when
the trap door is opened." This is prevented by filling the diving
compartment, which is separated from the main part of the ship by steel
walls, with compressed air of sufficient pressure to keep the water from
coming in--that is, the pressure of water from without equals the
pressure of air from within and neither element can pass into the
other's domain.

An air-lock separates the diver's section from the main hold so that it
is possible to pass from one to the other while the entrance to the sea
is still open. A person entering the lock from the large room first
closes the door between and then gradually admits the compressed air
until the pressure is the same as in the diving compartment, when the
door into it may be safely opened. When returning, this operation is
simply reversed. The lookout stands forward of the diver's space. When
the _Argonaut_ rolls along the bottom, round openings protected with
heavy glass permit the lookout to follow the beam of light thrown by the
searchlight and see dimly any sizable obstruction. When the diving
compartment is in use the man on lookout duty uses a portable telephone
to tell his shipmates in the main room what is happening out in the wet,
and by the same means the reports of the diver can be communicated
without opening the air-lock.

This little ship (thirty-six feet long) has done wonderful things. She
has cruised over the bottom of Chesapeake Bay, New York Bay, Hampton
Roads, and the Atlantic Ocean, her driving-wheels propelling her when
the bottom was hard, and her screw when the oozy condition of the
submarine road made her spiked wheels useless except to steer with. Her
passengers have been able to examine the bottom under twenty feet of
water (without wetting their feet), through the trap door, with the aid
of an electric light let down into the clear depths. Telephone messages
have been sent from the bottom of Baltimore Harbour to the top of the
New York _World_ building, telling of the conditions there in contrast
to the New York editor's aerial perch. Cables have been picked up and
examined without dredging--a hook lowered through the trap door being
all that was necessary. Wrecks have been examined and valuables

Part of the entertainment furnished by the telephone newspaper at

Although the _Argonaut_ travelled over 2,000 miles under water and on
the surface, propelled by her own power, her inventor was not satisfied
with her. He cut her in two, therefore, and added a section to her,
making her sixty-six feet long; this allowed more comfortable quarters
for her crew, space for larger engines, compressors, etc.

It was off Bridgeport, Connecticut, that the new _Argonaut_ did her
first practical wrecking. A barge loaded with coal had sunk in a gale
and could not be located with the ordinary means. The _Argonaut_,
however, with the aid of a device called the "wreck-detector," also
invented by Mr. Lake, speedily found it, sank near it, and also
submerged a new kind of freight-boat built for the purpose by the
inventor. A diver quickly explored the hulk, opened the hatches of the
freight-boat, which was cigar-shaped like the _Argonaut_ and supplied
with wheels so it could be drawn over the bottom, and placed the
suction-tube in position. Seven minutes later eight tons of coal had
been transferred from the wreck to the submarine freight-boat. The
hatches were then closed and compressed air admitted, forcing out the
water, and five minutes later the freight-boat was floating on the
surface with eight tons of coal from a wreck which could not even be
located by the ordinary means.

It is possible that in the future these modern "argonauts" will be
seeking the golden fleeces of the sea in wrecks, in golden sands like
the beaches of Nome, and that these amphibious boats will be ready along
all the dangerous coasts to rush to the rescue of noble ships and wrest
them from the clutches of the cruel sea.

Mr. Lake has also designed and built a submarine torpedo-boat that will
travel on the surface, under the waves, or on the bottom; provided with
both gasoline and electric power, and, fitted with torpedo discharge
tubes, she will be able to throw a submarine torpedo; her diver could
attach a charge of dynamite to the keel of an anchored warship, or she
could do great damage by hooking up cables through her diver's trap door
and cutting them, and by setting adrift anchored torpedoes and submarine

Thus have Jules Verne's imaginings come true, and the dream _Nautilus,_
whose adventures so many of us have breathlessly followed, has been
succeeded by actual "Hollands" and practical "Argonauts" designed by
American inventors and manned by American crews.


What Happens When You Talk into a Telephone Receiver

In Omaha, Nebraska, half-way across the continent and about forty hours
from Boston by fast train, a man sits comfortably in his office chair
and, with no more exertion than is required to lift a portable receiver
off his desk, talks every day to his representative in the chief New
England city. The man in Boston hears his chief's voice and can
recognise the peculiarities in it just as if he stood in the same room
with him. The man in Nebraska, speaking in an ordinary conversational
tone, can be heard perfectly well in Boston, 1,400 miles away.

This is the longest talk on record--that is, it is the longest
continuous telephone line in steady and constant use, though the human
voice has been carried even greater distances with the aid of this
wonderful instrument.

The telephone is so common that no one stops to consider the wonder of
it, and not one person in a hundred can tell how it works.

At this time, when the telephone is as necessary as pen and ink, it is
hard to realise a time when men could not speak to one another from a
distance, yet a little more than a quarter of a century ago the genius
who invented it first conceived the great idea.

Sometimes an inventor is a prophet: he sees in advance how his idea,
perfected and in universal use, will change things, establish new
manners and customs, new laws and new methods. Alexander Graham Bell was
one of these prophetic inventors--the telephone was his invention, not
his discovery. He first got the idea and then sought a way to make it
practical. If you put yourself in his place, forget what has been
accomplished, and put out of mind how the voice is transmitted from
place to place by the slender wire, it would be impossible even then to
realise how much in the dark Professor Bell was in 1874.

The human speaking voice is full of changes; unlike the notes from a
musical instrument, there is no uniformity in it; the rise and fall of
inflection, the varying sound of the vowels and consonants, the
combinations of words and syllables--each produces a different
vibration and different tone. To devise an instrument that would
receive all these varying tones and inflections and change them into
some other form of energy so that they could be passed over a wire, and
then change them back to their original form, reproducing each sound and
every peculiarity of the voice of the speaker in the ear of the hearer,
was the task that Professor Bell set for himself. Just as you would sit
down to add up a big column of figures, knowing that sooner or later you
would get the correct answer, so he set himself to work out this problem
in invention. The result of his study and determination is the
telephones we use to-day. Many improvements have been invented by other
men--Berliner, Edison, Blake, and others--but the idea and the working
out of the principle is due to Professor Bell.

Since tiny lights have taken the place of bells to indicate the calls of
subscribers the central stations are quiet except for the low hum of
carefully modulated voices. The women standing behind the seated
operators are inspectors. They watch for mistakes and disturbances of
any kind.]

Every telephone receiver and transmitter has a mouth-and ear-piece to
receive or throw out the sound, a thin round sheet of lacquered
metal--called a diaphragm, and an electromagnet; together they reproduce
human speech. An electric current from a battery or from the central
station flows continuously through the wires wound round the
electromagnet in receiving and transmitting instruments, so when you
speak into the black mouthpiece of the wall or desk receiver the
vibrations strike against the thin sheet-iron diaphragm at the small end
of the mouthpiece; the sound waves of the voice make it vibrate to a
greater or less degree; the diaphragm is placed so that the core of the
electromagnet is close to it, and as it vibrates the iron in it
produces undulations (by induction) in the current which is flowing
through the wires wound round the soft iron centre of the magnet. The
wires of the coil are connected with the lines that go to the receiving
telephone, so that this undulating current, coiling round the core of
the magnet in the receiver, attracts and repels the iron of the
diaphragm in it, and it vibrates just as the transmitter diaphragm did
when spoken into; the undulating current is translated by it into words
and sentences that have all the peculiarities of the original. And so
when speaking into a telephone your voice is converted into undulations
or waves in an electric current conveyed with incredible swiftness to
the receiving instrument, and these are translated back into the
vibrations that produce speech. This is really what takes place when you
talk over a toy telephone made by a string stretched between the two tin
mouth-pieces held at opposite sides of the room, with the difference
that in the telephone the vibrations are carried electrically, while the
toy carries them mechanically and not nearly so perfectly.

For once the world realised immediately the importance of a
revolutionising invention, and telephone stations soon began to be
established in the large cities. Quicker than the telegraph, for there
was no need of an operator to translate the message, and more accurate,
for if spoken clearly the words could be as clearly understood, the
telephone service spread rapidly. Lines stretched farther and farther
out from the central stations in the cities as improvements were
invented, until the outlying wires of one town reached the outstretched
lines of another, and then communication between town and town was
established. Then two distant cities talked to each other through an
intermediate town, and long-distance telephony was established. To-day
special lines are built to carry long-distance messages from one great
city to another, and these direct lines are used entirely except when
storms break through or the rush of business makes the roundabout route
through intermediate cities necessary.

As the nerves reaching from your finger-tips, from your ears, your eyes,
and every portion of your body come to a focus in your brain and carry
information to it about the things you taste, see, hear, feel, and
smell, so the wires of a telephone system come together at the central
station. And as it is necessary for your right hand to communicate with
your left through your brain, so it is necessary for one telephone
subscriber to connect through the central station with another

The telephone has become a necessity of modern life, so that if through
some means all the systems were destroyed business would be, for a time
at least, paralysed. It is the perfection of the devices for connecting
one subscriber with another, and for despatching the vast number of
messages and calls at "central," that make modern telephony possible.

To handle the great number of spoken messages that are sent over the
telephone wires of a great city it is necessary to divide the territory
into districts, which vary in size according to the number of
subscribers in them. Where the telephones are thickly installed the
districts are smaller than in sections that are more sparsely settled.

Then all the telephone wires of a certain district converge at a central
station, and each pair of wires is connected with its own particular
switch at the switchboard of the station. That is simple enough; but
when you come to consider that every subscriber must be so connected
that he can be put into communication with every other subscriber, not
only in his own section but also with every subscriber throughout the
city, it will be seen that the switchboard at central is as marvellous
as it is complicated. Some of the busy stations in New York have to take
care of 6,000 or more subscribers and 10,000 telephone instruments,
while the city proper is criss-crossed with more than 60,000 lines
bearing messages from more than 100,000 "'phones." Just think of the
babel entering the branch centrals that has to be straightened out and
each separate series of voice undulations sent on its proper way, to be
translated into speech again and poured into the proper ear. It is no
wonder, then, that it has been found necessary to establish a school for
telephone girls where they can be taught how to untangle the snarl and
handle the vast, complicated system. In these schools the operators go
through a regular course lasting a month. They listen to lectures and
work out the instructions given them at a practice switchboard that is
exactly like the service switchboard, except that the wires do not go
outside of the building, but connect with the instructor's desk; the
instructor calls up the pupils and sends messages in just the same way
that the subscribers call "central" in the regular service.

At the terminal station of a great railroad, in the midst of a network
of shining rails, stands the switchman's tower. By means of steel levers
the man in his tower can throw his different switches and open one track
to a train and close another; by means of various signals the switchman
can tell if any given line is clear or if his levers do their work

A telephone system may be likened, in a measure, to a complicated
railroad line: the trunk wires to subscribers are like the tracks of the
railroad, and the central station may be compared to the switch tower,
while the central operators are like the switchmen. It is the central
girls' business to see that connections are made quickly and correctly,
that no lines are tied up unnecessarily, that messages are properly
charged to the right persons, that in case of a break in a line the
messages are switched round the trouble, and above all that there shall
be no delay.

When you take your receiver off the hook a tiny electric bulb glows
opposite the brass-lined hole that is marked with your number on the
switchboard of your central, and the telephone girl knows that you are
ready to send in a call--the flash of the little light is a signal to
her that you want to be connected with some other subscriber. Whereupon,
she inserts in your connection a brass plug to which a flexible wire is
attached, and then opens a little lever which connects her with your
circuit. Then she speaks into a kind of inverted horn which projects
from a transmitter that hangs round her neck and asks: "Number, please?"
You answer with the number, which she hears through the receiver
strapped to her head and ear. After repeating the number the "hello"
girl proceeds to make the connection. If the number required is in the
same section of the city she simply reaches for the hole or connection
which corresponds with it, with another brass plug, the twin of the one
that is already inserted in your connection, and touches the brass
lining with the plug. All the connections to each central station are so
arranged and duplicated that they are within the reach of each operator.
If the line is already "busy" a slight buzz is heard, not only by
"central," but by the subscriber also if he listens; "central" notifies
and then disconnects you. If the line is clear the twin plug is thrust
into the opening, and at the same time "central" presses a button, which
either rings a bell or causes a drop to fall in the private exchange
station of the party you wish to talk to. The moment the new connection
is made and the party you wish to talk to takes off the receiver from
his hook, a second light glows beside yours, and continues to glow as
long as the receiver remains off. The two little lamps are a signal to
"central" that the connection is properly made and she can then attend
to some other call. When your conversation is finished and your
receivers are hung up the little lights go out. That signals "central"
again, and she withdraws the plug from both holes and pushes another
button, which connects with a meter made like a bicycle cyclometer. This
little instrument records your call (a meter is provided for each
subscriber) and at the same time lights the two tiny lamps again--a
signal to the inspector, if one happens to be watching, that the call is
properly recorded. All this takes long to read, but it is done in the
twinkling of an eye. "Central's" hands are both free, and by long
practice and close attention she is able to make and break connections
with marvellous rapidity, it being quite an ordinary thing for an
operator in a busy section to make ten connections a minute, while in
an emergency this rate is greatly increased.

The front of a small section of a central-station switchboard. Each dot
on the face of the blackboard is a subscriber's connection. The cords
connect one subscriber with another. The switches throwing in the
operator's "phone", and the pilot lamps showing when a subscriber wishes
a connection, are set in the table or shelf before her.]

The call of one subscriber for another number in the same section, as
described above--for instance, the call of 4341 Eighteenth Street for
2165 Eighteenth Street--is the easiest connection that "central" has to

As it is impossible for each branch exchange to be connected with every
individual line in a great city, when a subscriber of one exchange
wishes to talk with a subscriber of another, two central operators are
required to make the connection. If No. 4341 Eighteenth Street wants to
talk to 1748 Cortlandt Street, for instance, the Eighteenth Street
central who gets the 4341 call makes a connection with the operator at
Cortlandt Street and asks for No. 1748. The Cortlandt Street operator
goes through the operation of testing to see if 1748 is busy, and if not
she assigns a wire connecting the two exchanges, whereupon in Eighteenth
Street one plug is put in 4341 switch hole; the twin plug is put into
the switch hole connecting with the wire to Cortlandt Street; at
Cortlandt Street the same thing is done with No. 1748 pair of plugs. The
lights glow in both exchanges, notifying the operators when the
conversation is begun and ended, and the operator of Eighteenth Street
"central" makes the record in the same way as she does when both numbers
are in her own district.

Besides the calls for numbers within the cities there are the
out-of-town calls. In this case central simply makes connection with
"Long Distance," which is a separate company, though allied with the
city companies. "Long Distance" makes the connection in much the same
way as the branch city exchanges. As the charges for long-distance calls
depend on the length of the conversation, so the connection is made by
an operator whose business it is to make a record of the length in
minutes of the conversation and the place with which the city subscriber
is connected. An automatic time stamp accomplishes this without
possibility of error.

Sometimes the calls come from a pay station, in which case a record must
be kept of the time occupied. This kind of call is indicated by the glow
of a red light instead of a white one, and so "central" is warned to
keep track, and the supervisors or monitors who constantly pass to and
fro can note the kind of calls that come in, and so keep tab on the

Other coloured lights indicate that the chief operator wishes to send
out a general order and wishes all operators to listen. Another
indicates that there is trouble somewhere on the line which needs the
attention of the wire chief and repair department.

A section of one of several central station switchboards necessary to
carry the telephone traffic of a great city.]

The switchboards themselves are made of hard, black rubber, and are
honeycombed with innumerable holes, each of which is connected with a
subscriber. Below the switchboard is a broad shelf in which are set the
miniature lamps and from which project the brass plugs in rows. The
flexible cords containing the connecting wires are weighted and hang
below, so that when a plug is pulled out of a socket and dropped it
slides back automatically to its proper place, ready for use.

Many subscribers nowadays have their own private exchanges and several
lines running to central. Perhaps No. 4341 Eighteenth Street, for
instance, has 4342 and 4344 as well. This is indicated on the
switchboard by a line of red or white drawn under the three
switch-holes, so that central, finding one line busy, may be able to
make connection with one of the other two, the line underneath showing
at a glance which numbers belong to that particular subscriber.

If a subscriber is away temporarily, a plug of one colour is inserted
in his socket, or if he is behind in his payments to the company a plug
of another colour is put in, and if the service to his house is
discontinued still another plug notifies the operator of the fact, and
it remains there until that number is assigned to a new subscriber.

The operators sit before the switchboard in high swivel chairs in a long
row, with their backs to the centre of the room.

From the rear it looks as if they were weaving some intricate fabric
that unravels as fast as it is woven. Their hands move almost faster
than the eye can follow, and the patterns made by the criss-crossed
cords of the connecting plugs are constantly changing, varying from
minute to minute as the colours in a kaleido-scope form new designs with
every turn of the handle.

Into the exchange pour all the throbbing messages of a great city.
Business propositions, political deals, scientific talks, and words of
comfort to the troubled, cross and recross each other over the black
switchboard. The wonder is that each message reaches the ear it was
meant for, and that all complications, no matter how knotty, are
immediately unravelled.

In the cities the telephone is a necessity. Business engagements are
made and contracts consummated; brokers keep in touch with their
associates on the floors of the exchanges; the patrolmen of the police
force keep their chief informed of their movements and the state of the
districts under their care; alarms of fire are telephoned to the
fire-engine houses, and calls for ambulances bring the swift wagons on
their errands of mercy; even wreckers telephone to their divers on the
bottom of the bay, and undulating electrical messages travel to the tops
of towering sky-scrapers.

This shows a small section of a complicated telephone switchboard.]

In Europe it is possible to hear the latest opera by paying a small fee
and putting a receiver to your ear, and so also may lazy people and
invalids hear the latest news without getting out of bed.

The farmers of the West and in eastern States, too, have learned to use
the barbed wire that fences off their fields as a means of communicating
with one another and with distant parts of their own property.

Mr. Pupin has invented an apparatus by which he hopes to greatly extend
the distance over which men may talk, and it has even been suggested
that Uncle Sam and John Bull may in the future swap stories over a
transatlantic telephone line.

The marvels accomplished suggest the possible marvels to come.
Automatic exchanges, whereby the central telephone operator is done away
with, is one of the things that inventors are now at work on.

The one thing that prevents an unlimited use of the telephone is the
expensive wires and the still more expensive work of putting them
underground or stringing them overhead. So the capping of the climax of
the wonders of the telephone would be wireless telephony, each
instrument being so attuned that the undulations would respond only to
the corresponding instrument. This is one of the problems that inventors
are even now working upon, and it may be that wireless telephones will
be in actual operation not many years after this appears in print.


A Typesetting Machine That Makes Mathematical Calculations

For many years it was thought impossible to find a short cut from
author's manuscript to printing press--that is, to substitute a machine
for the skilled hands that set the type from which a book or magazine is
printed. Inventors have worked at this problem, and a number have solved
it in various ways. To one who has seen the slow work of hand
typesetting as the compositor builds up a long column of metal piece by
piece, letter by letter, picking up each character from its allotted
space in the case and placing it in its proper order and position, and
then realises that much of the printed matter he sees is so produced,
the wonder is how the enormous amount of it is ever accomplished.

In a page of this size there are more than a thousand separate pieces of
type, which, if set by hand, would have to be taken one by one and
placed in the compositor's "stick"; then when the line is nearly set it
would have to be spaced out, or "justified," to fill out the line
exactly. Then when the compositor's "stick" is full, or two and a half
inches have been set, the type has to be taken out and placed in a long
channel, or "galley." Each of these three operations requires
considerable time and close application, and with each change there is
the possibility of error. It is a long, expensive process.

A perfect typesetting machine should take the place of the hand
compositor, setting the type letter by letter automatically in proper
order at a maximum speed and with a minimum chance of error.

These three steps of hand composition, slow, expensive, open to many
chances of mistake, have been covered at one stride at five times the
speed, at one-third the cost, and much more accurately by a machine
invented by Mr. Tolbert Lanston.

The operator of the Lanston machine sits at a keyboard, much like a
typewriter in appearance, containing every character in common use (225
in all), and at a speed limited only by his dexterity he plays on the
keys exactly as a typewriter works his machine. This is the sum total of
human effort expended. The machine does all the rest of the work;
makes the calculations and delivers the product in clean, shining new
type, each piece perfect, each in its place, each line of exactly the
right length, and each space between the words mathematically
equal--absolutely "justified." It is practically hand composition with
the human possibility of error, of weariness, of inattention, of
ignorance, eliminated, and all accomplished with a celerity that is

As each key is pressed a corresponding perforation is made in the roll
of paper shown at the top of the machine. Each perforation stands for a
character or a space.]

This machine is a type-casting machine as well as a typesetter. It casts
the type (individual characters) it sets, perfect in face and body,
capable of being used in hand composition or put to press directly from
the machine and printed from.

As each piece of type is separate, alterations are easily made. The type
for correction, which the machine itself casts for the purpose--a lot of
a's, b's, etc.--is simply substituted for the words misspelled or
incorrectly used, as in hand composition.

The Lanston machine is composed of two parts, the keyboard and the
casting-setting machine. The keyboard part may be placed wherever
convenient, away from noise or anything that is likely to distract or
interrupt the operator, and the perforated roll of paper produced by it
(which governs the setting machine) may be taken away as fast as it is
finished. In the setting-casting machine is located the brains. The
five-inch roll of paper, perforated by the keyboard machine (a hole for
every letter), gives the signal by means of compressed air to the
mechanism that puts the matrix (or type mould) in position and casts the
type letter by letter, each character following the proper sequence as
marked by the perforations of the paper ribbon. By means of an indicator
scale on the keyboard the operator can tell how many spaces there are
between the words of the line and the remaining space to be filled out
to make the line the proper width. This information is marked by
perforations on the paper ribbon by the pressure of two keys, and when
the ribbon is transferred to the casting machine these space
perforations so govern the casting that the line of type delivered at
the "galley" complete shall be of exactly the proper length, and the
spaces between the words be equal to the infinitesimal fraction of an

The casting machine is an ingenious mechanism of many complicated parts.
In a word, the melted metal (a composition of zinc and lead) is forced
into a mold of the letter to be cast. Two hundred and twenty-five of
these moulds are collected in a steel frame about three inches square,
and cool water is kept circulating about them, so that almost
immediately after the molten metal is injected into the lines and dots
of the letter cut in the mould it hardens and drops into its slot, a
perfect piece of type.

All this is accomplished at a rate of four or five thousand "ems" per
hour of the size of type used on this page. The letter M is the unit of
measurement when the amount of any piece of composition is to be
estimated, and is written "em."

If this page were set by hand (taking a compositor of more than average
speed as a basis for figuring), at least one hour of steady work would
be required, but this page set by the Lanston machine (the operator
being of the same grade as the hand compositor) would require hardly
more than fifteen minutes from the time the manuscript was put into the
operator's hands to the delivery complete of the newly cast type in
galleys ready to be made up into pages, if the process were carried on

This marvellous machine is capable of setting almost any size of type,
from the minute "agate" to and including "pica," a letter more than
one-eighth of an inch high, and a line of almost any desired width, the
change from one size to any other requiring but a few minutes. The
Lanston machine sets up tables of figures, poetry, and all those
difficult pieces of composition that so try the patience of the hand

It is called the monotype because it casts and sets up the type piece by

Another machine, invented by Mergenthaler, practically sets up the
moulds, by a sort of typewriter arrangement, for a line at a time, and
then a casting is taken of a whole line at once. This machine is used
much in newspaper offices, where the cleverness of the compositor has to
be depended upon and there is little or no time for corrections. Several
other machines set the regular type that is made in type foundries, the
type being placed in long channels, all of the same sort, in the same
grooves, and slipped or set in its proper place by the machine operated
by a man at the keyboard. These machines require a separate mechanism
that distributes each type in its proper place after use, or else a
separate compositor must be employed to do this by hand. The machines
that set foundry type, moreover, require a great stock of it, just as
many hundred pounds of expensive type are needed for hand composition.

The perforations in the paper ribbon (shown in the upper left-hand part
of the picture) govern the action of the machine so that the proper
characters are cast in the proper order, and also the spaces between the

Though a machine has been invented that will put an author's words into
type, no mechanism has yet been invented that will do away with type
altogether. It is one of the problems still to be solved.



One midsummers day a fleet of United States war-ships were lying at
anchor in Guantanamo Bay, on the southern coast of Cuba. The sky was
cloudless, and the tropic sun shone so fiercely on the decks that the
bare-footed Jackies had to cross the unshaded spots on the jump to save
their feet.

An hour before the quavering mess-call sounded for the midday meal, when
the sun was shining almost perpendicularly, a boat's crew from one of
the cruisers were sent over to the supply-ship for a load of beef. Not a
breath was stirring, the smooth surface of the bay reflected the brazen
sun like a mirror, and it seemed to the oarsmen that the salt water
would scald them if they should touch it. Only a few hundred yards
separated the two vessels, yet the heat seemed almost beyond endurance,
and the shade cast by the tall steel sides of the supply-steamer, when
the boat reached it, was as comforting as a cool drink to a thirsty
man. The oars were shipped, and one man was left to fend off the boat
while the others clambered up the swaying rope-ladder, crossed the
scorching decks on the run, and went below. In two minutes they were in
the hold of the refrigerator-ship, gathering the frost from the frigid
cooling-pipes and snowballing each other, while the boat-keeper outside
of the three-eighth-inch steel plating was fanning himself with his hat,
almost dizzy from the quivering heat-waves that danced before his eyes.
The great sides of beef, hung in rows, were frozen as hard as rock. Even
after the strip of water had been crossed on the return journey and the
meat exposed to the full, unobstructed glare of the sun the cruiser's
messcooks had to saw off their portions, and the remainder continued
hard as long as it lasted. But the satisfaction of the men who ate that
fresh American beef cannot be told.

Cream from a famous dairy is sent to particular patrons in Paris,
France, and it is known that in one instance, at least, a bottle of
cream, having failed to reach the person to whom it was consigned, made
the return transatlantic voyage and was received in New York three weeks
after its first departure, perfectly sweet and good. Throughout the
entire journey it was kept at freezing temperature by artificial
means. These are but two striking examples of wonders that are performed
every day.

[Illustration: THE TYPE MOULDS


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