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Untechnical Addresses

ON

Technical Subjects



BY

JAMES DOUGLAS, LL.D.



SECOND EDITION WITH ADDITIONAL ADDRESSES



NEW YORK

JOHN WILEY & SONS

LONDON : CHAPMAN & HALL, LIMITED

1908



Copyright. 1904, 1908,

BY

JAMES DOUGLAS



a hr >rirnt ifir $rra
fiobrrt Drumnuinh anil Comjm
Nrm fork



3)74



PREFACE



IN reprinting the following addresses, omissions
are made occasionally to avoid repetition. In other
cases, in order to bring the information up to date
or to amplify the subject, considerable additions
are interpolated; but these, where they occur, are

enclosed in brackets.

iii



CONTENTS



~> PAGE

\ THE CHARACTERISTICS AND CONDITIONS OP THE TECH-

. NICAL PROGRESS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY .... 1

^ THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN MINING AND METAL-

\jW LURGY, AND THE EQUIPMENTS OF A TRAINING SCHOOL 39

^ WASTES IN MINING AND METALLURGY 60

^j SOME OF THE RELATIONS OF RAILWAY TRANSPOR-

^ TATION IN THE UNITED STATES TO MlNING AND

f\ METALLURGY 85

SECRECY IN THE ARTS , . 127



The Characteristics and Conditions of the

Technical Progress of the Nineteenth

Century

(Presidential Address at the California meeting, September, 1899)

AT this, the last meeting of our Institute for
the last year of the century, it is appropriate that
we should look back at the past.

To review the century's progress in the exact
sciences and the resulting arts, that fall within
the scope of our labors, is beyond my ability.
But I wish to draw your attention to some phases
of that progress which are almost as important,
though they be within the. zone of sociology a
science which touches at many points the do-
main of applied technology.

One of these is suggested by the library of tech-
nical literature which this century has produced
not the least important contribution to which
is our own Transactions. The nineteenth century
has witnessed the beneficial spread of democracy



2 Characteristics and Conditions of the

in politics. Under the impulse, to no small
degree, of the same spirit, there has grown up a
brotherhood of fellow-workers and a sense of
fellow-ownership in the secrets of nature. Though
the Patent Office has assumed such proportions
as to have become a source of national revenue,
and a multitude of inventors, great and small,
are seeking through its agency to secure some
pecuniary profit from their devices, there is even
greater eagerness among both interested and dis-
interested workers in the field of technology to
publish their observations, and even their dis-
coveries, and to give them to the world without
remuneration. The motives influencing the great
body of writers who, without any pay, use the
technical journals and such media of communi-
cation as our Transactions, in order to give to the
brethren of their craft the results of their often
dearly-earned experiences, are various and com-
plicated. But, in the majority of cases, the im-
pulse originates in the desire for reciprocity, and
in the hope that others will tell what they know,
in return for what we ourselves communicate,
and that therefore we shall learn at least as much
as we can teach.



Technical Progress of the igth Century 3

The spread of this healthy desire for liberal
intercourse is assisted by the increase of means
and opportunities for its gratification. Meetings
such as this, for the personal interchange of
thoughts and experiences, after a journey of
4000 miles, are possible only through the aid of
railroads. The dissemination of our Transac-
tions and of the great bulk of technical literature
can be effected only through a government Post
Office, working for the public good, and, in some
of its departments, at unprofitable rates. These
agencies have been the product of the nineteenth
century, and only under their stimulus and through
their machinery could such efforts be rendered
practicable as technical men, the world over, are
making for the furtherance of their common pur-
suits, interests and aims. Attribute the move-
ment to what cause we may, I think it is fair to
claim as one of the glories of the vanishing cen-
tury the development of the spirit of open-minded-
ness and fraternal helpfulness, even in such self-
seeking pursuits as those in which we are engaged.
I use the word "development" advisedly; for I
am far from admitting that progress in this direc- \
tion has reached the consummation of beneficial



4 Characteristics and Conditions of the

intercommunication which the twentieth century
will witness, and which will aid mightily in the
further advancement of science, as well as of art.

To-day, more than ever, technical experience
is not only more freely discussed and disseminated
than ever before, but the results of that experience,
carried into actual practice, are more unreserv-
edly than ever thrown open to technical inspec-
tion. The proof of this we, visiting members
in attendance at this meeting, have experienced
at every step of our journey. There are few great
metallurgical works in this country, entrance to
which is refused to a visitor who has any real
right to ask for admission.* In Europe, even,
where old conservative practices are more endur-
ing than here, the barrier of exclusiveness is
being rapidly broken down. As a rule, those
establishments whose doors are most sedulously
closed are those least worth studying, except as
technical anachronisms.

Moreover, I think it may be accepted as a fact



* This observation does not apply in full force to chemical
manufactories, where there are supposed to be more secret
processes worked behind-doore than in any other branch of
technology.



Technical Progress of the 19th Century 5

that those branches, especially of metallurgy,
which have made most progress, are those in
which least secrecy and reserve have been prac-
ticed. No art has made such marvellous strides
as the manufacture of iron and steel. Speaking
from my own experience, I may say that I have
never been refused admission to any iron- or
steel-works on either side of the Atlantic, not
even the works of Mr. Frederick Krupp, at Essen.
But though iron-masters abroad may freely throw
open their doors, our own American iron-mas-
ters are even more liberal in communicating their
plans and methods. Managers from England,
smarting under American competition, who have
come to this country to visit our furnaces and
rolling-mills, with the avowed object of borrowing
their plans, have expressed to me the greatest won-
der and admiration at the frankness with which
they are allowed to study the great works which
have demoralized prices the world over.

Not only do the iron- and steel-workers of
every land bid their rivals enter and view the
titanic feats, which each vies with his neighbors
in performing: they seem to take delight in
telling their very secrets. Certainly no special



8 Characteristics and Conditions of the

which practice it on a large scale in this country
and Europe have acquired, only after much trouble
and serious expense, the experience which en-
ables them to turn out copper of invariable quality
with almost absolute certainty. After spending
time, labor and money in overcoming the diffi-
culties which mysteriously and unexpectedly
turn up, the owner of a copper refinery deems
it unbusinesslike to divulge the solution of these
problems, and thus place his rival's works on
equal footing with his own. But, in reality, his
rivals have all been battling with exactly the
same foes, and most of them have been victo-
rious. The result, therefore, of a mistaken reti-
cence is, that each of the works has had to ex-
pend, in surmounting exactly the same obsta-
cles, six or seven times more mpney and energy
than if all had been willing to exchange expe-
riences. There is very little to choose between
one brand of electrolytic copper and another.
All are good; and all have been brought to the
present high standard by separate labor and
separate series of experiments, in separate es-
tablishments; whereas, had there been co-opera-
tion on points of purely technical manipulation,



Technical Progress of the igth Century 9

the same results would have been attained with
an immeasurable saving of time, mental wear
and tear, and financial expenditure. It is diffi-
cult for a skilful manufacturer to appreciate and
admit this. But that a truer appreciation of the
value of the higher principle of co-operation has
taken possession of our copper refiners is evinced
by the publication of such a paper as that of
Mr. Keller, the Chemist of the Baltimore Copper
Co., in the last volume of the Mineral Industry.

I have used the above instance, drawn from
copper-metallurgy, as an illustration of the waste-
ful effects of secrecy, and because it stands out
in such a glaring contrast to the nobler practice
of mutual helpfulness, which has been one of the
most potent forces in raising all manufacturing,
but especially that of iron and steel, to the ex-
alted position it has attained during the latter
half of the century with which we are regretfully
parting.

As time goes on, and a generous dissemination
of personal knowledge, even if it be not strictly
practical, becomes the rule and not the excep-
tion, it will be discovered that, after all,, success
in manufacturing will depend as much on the



8 Characteristics and Conditions of the

which practice it on a large scale in this country
and Europe have acquired, only after much trouble
and serious expense, the experience which en-
ables them to turn out copper of invariable quality
with almost absolute certainty. After spending
time, labor and money in overcoming the diffi-
culties which mysteriously and unexpectedly
turn up, the owner of a copper refinery deems
it unbusinesslike to divulge the solution of these
problems, and thus place his rival's works on
equal footing with his own. But, in reality, his
rivals have all been battling with exactly the
same foes, and most of them have been victo-
rious. The result, therefore, of a mistaken reti-
cence is, that each of the works has had to ex-
pend, in surmounting exactly the same obsta-
cles, six or seven times more money and energy
than if all had been willing to exchange expe-
riences. There is very little to choose between
one brand of electrolytic copper and another.
All are good; and all have been brought to the
present high standard by separate labor and
separate series of experiments, in separate es-
tablishments; whereas, had there been co-opera-
tion on points of purely technical manipulation,



Technical Progress of the iQth Century 9



the same results would have been attained with
an immeasurable saving of time, mental wear
and tear, and financial expenditure. It is diffi-
cult for a skilful manufacturer to appreciate and
admit this. But that a truer appreciation of the
value of the higher principle of co-operation has
taken possession of our copper refiners is evinced
by the publication of such a paper as that of
Mr. Keller, the Chemist of the Baltimore Copper
Co., in the last volume of the Mineral Industry.

I have used the above instance, drawn from
copper-metallurgy, as an illustration of the waste-
ful effects of secrecy, and because it stands out
in such a glaring contrast to the nobler practice
of mutual helpfulness, which has been one of the
most potent forces in raising all manufacturing,
but especially that of iron and steel, to the ex-
alted position it has attained during the latter
half of the century with which we are regretfully
parting.

As time goes on, and a generous dissemination
of personal knowledge, even if it be not strictly
practical, becomes the rule and not the excep-
tion, it will be discovered that, after all, success
in manufacturing will depend as much on the



lo Characteristics and Conditions of the

personal energy and skill with which the knowl-
edge is applied as on the possession of the knowl-
edge itself.

Whether we will or not, secrecy, as a business
method, is becoming almost obsolete under the
prying scrutiny of the press and the telegraph.
The old rules of business, dependent on reserve
and on news secured in advance of one's neigh-
bor, have given place to new methods. The
chronicle of the world's doings is at the disposal
of any one for a few cents, every morning of the
year. But a man of business genius draws from
it conclusions very different from those of his
less imaginative or less enterprising rival. Both
men may possess, as stock in trade, the same
facts, but the abler man makes successful use of
them. His correct and far-sighted deductions
lead him to adopt a policy and pursue a course
of action as different from those of his sluggish
competitor as if he had himself possessed special
sources of information.

And so it is in the practice of our peculiar arts.
The personal element determines the success of
one man and the failure of another, though both
start out with the same store of facts. Neverthe-



Technical Progress of the igth Century n

less, the more facts he has, the more rapid will
be the rise of the man of genius, while the pace
of the other will certainly not be retarded. The
man of genius, therefore, need not grudge the
communications of his facts to his less progressive
competitor, provided he learns, in exchange, what
few facts his slower neighbor may have picked
up by the way.

While all must admit that the world's rapid
advance in material well-being has been due to
the dissemination of knowledge, and that this
can be effected only by the breaking down of the
barriers of secrecy, some of our brethren have
yet to be persuaded that there are few, if any,
limitations to be set to this universal law. Un-
fortunately, many barricades, raised by mistaken
selfishness, are still to be stormed and demolished.
But the coming century will in this respect carry
forward the work of the receding age, whether
we shall see its accomplishment or not. At any
rate, we may congratulate ourselves that socie-
ties such as ours have aided to further so good
a cause, not only as media of communication,
but also as sources of influence for the most con-
firmed secret-keeper cannot benefit by the candid



12 Characteristics and Conditions of the

revelations of his rival without some compunc-
tion; and, sooner or later, reform follows re-
pentance. It is, therefore, not presumptuous
to hope that, as the scientific temper more and
more permeates the habits of our technical workers,
the old fashion of relying on secrets for success
will be replaced by the truer method of generous
giving and thankful receptivity.

At present the world's acquisitions in pure,
and, to a great extent, in applied science, are
thrown into a common stock, from which the tech-
nical worker draws what he wants without stint.
He, in his turn, is coming to acknowledge and
recognize the truth that it will be to his advan-
tage to enlarge the sphere of unreserved inter-
communication until there shall be no trade-
secrets; for then, while society will be the gainer,
he himself will be able to draw from a larger capi-
tal of facts than now stands to his credit. More-
over, it may accepted almost as a law of nature
that the preson who has not cultivated the habit
of mental giving acquires a spirit of narrow ex-
clusiveness which cramps the faculty of open-
minded receptivity for receiving and giving are
reciprocal intellectual motions.



Technical Progress of the iQth Century 13



Though the influence of individuals on the in-
dustry of the country is keenly felt, national
progress, in its widest range, is not made through
the impelling force of one man, be he ever so able.
It results from the united efforts of many minds .
and many hands, acting under the contagion of
a common inspiration. Looking at the develop-
ment of a whole people, or of a single industry
as a unit, we may therefore perceive that the
old habits of secrecy in manufacturing enter-
prises frustrate the very object which the secret-
keeper aims at; for while he is guarding behind
double doors his depreciated treasure, the great
army of progress is marching past him.

To a certain extent, community of ideas and
methods is secured through such combinations
of capital and manufacturing interests as have
become the most prominent features of modern
industrial development. All the peculiar pro-
cesses and methods (if there be such) practiced
by each of a dozen combined mills become the
property of the unified concern, and can be ap-
plied in all its establishments. But should the
result of industrial combinations be the reversal
of the tendency towards freer discussions, and



14 Characteristics and Conditions of the

should the managements of these tremendous ag-
gregations of power prohibit on the part of their
employees all discussion of technical subjects, a
strong prejudice against their existence would
.be created in the public mind, which naturally
distrusts all secretiveness. The public will not
unreasonably conclude that if one of the great
economical benefits which accrue from such com-
binations is the "pooling" of individual secrets,
much greater would be the general benefit if all
reserve should disappear, and the technical facts
learned by each industrial combination were
communicated to all, as freely as Rontgen gave
to the world his discovery of the "X" rays.
Ours is stigmatized as a mercenary age. Never-
theless, there is a spirit of fraternal helpfulness
abroad in the world. I believe that before long he
will be honored as the most successful man who has
communicated to his fellow-craftsmen the greatest
number of useful facts and the largest stock of
valuable personal experience; and I believe, also,
that any combination of selfish men or interests
which may try to withstand this rising tide of
free thought and free speech will be swept away.
As I have already remarked, this modern spirit



Technical Progress of the iQth Century 15

of voluntary interchange of thought and expe-
rience has been stimulated by the means of trans-
portation and communication which alone have
made its effective operation possible. Railroads,
steamboats and the telegraph have been the
apostles and missionaries of free thought and
free speech. But they have served another pur-
pose. They have virtually determined the cur-
rent of population and the drift of mining and
metallurgical industry.

It is difficult to realize the diminutive propor-
tion of human settlement on this continent dur-
ing the first three decades of this century. In
the year 1800 the population of the United States
was 5,305,937. There were only 903 post-offices
and 21,000 miles of post-roads and very bad
roads at that. The Post Office revenue amounted
to only $231,000; and only four cities could boast
of a population exceeding 10,000 inhabitants.

In 1830 the population had increased, chiefly
by natural increment, to 12,860,020. But the
manufacture of metals was still a local industry;
and so it continued for nearly two more decades
while the railroad system of the country was
expanding, so as to link section with section and



1 6 Characteristics and Conditions of the

fuel with ore. The year 1830 was economically
the critical period of our history, for in it the rail-
road first appears as a factor in our industrial
life. Twenty-three miles of track had been laid.
By 1840 locomotives were running over 4535
miles of road, and in that year the first attempt
was made to incorporate industrial statistics by
quantity, instead of value, in our census-returns.

If we compare two items of the statistics of
1840 with the same in 1899 we shall appreciate
how potent the railroad has been as a controlling
power in mining and smelting, and what a revo-
lution it has wrought in the industrial life of the
nation.

As we have said, in 1840 there were 4535 miles
of railroad in operation. In 1840 there were
scattered over the inhabited sections of the coun-
try 804 small blast-furnaces, making 256,100
tons of pig iron. In 1899 our railroad system
included 250,142 miles of track, and there were
made in 200 blast-furnaces 13,620,703 tons of
pig iron. If we multiply by 53 the number of
miles of railroad in operation in 1840 and the
number of tons of pig iron made in that same year
by the same multiplier, we get approximately



Technical Progress of the 19th Century 17

the mileage of track now in existence and the
tonnage of pig iron turned out by our blast-
furnaces, viz., 249,425 miles of track, instead of
250,142, and 14,085,500 tons of pig iron instead
of 13,620,703. The relation cannot be accidental,
for there is every reason why the magnificent
iron industry of the country should keep pace
with the extension of its railroad system. The
lines of growth have not always been perfectly
harmonious, but there has never been any wide
divergence from parallelism.

[Though the production of pig iron since 1898
has increased more rapidly than the mileage of
the steam railroads, if the mileage of the extra-
urban electric and steam street roads, and the
increase in second tracks, be added to that of
the railroads, the ratio is closely maintained.
Recently the miscalled street railroads, as ur-
ban, suburban and interurban roads have been
extended in competition with the railroads from
town to town, and in some cases are constructed
on the standard of a railroad, with heavy steel
and rolling stock for freight. The Union Trac-
tion Co. controls not less than 1201 miles of road,
centering in Philadelphia; the United Power &



i8 Characteristics and Conditions of the

Transportation Co. controls some 220 miles; and
the United Traction Co. of Reading 650 miles.
In California, the system centering in Los Angeles
has in operation or under construction 826 miles
of track. In 1904, the mileage in operation or
under construction of these street railroads in
the United States, has reached a total of about
28,000 miles. The Census Bulletin Number 3
reports for 1902, 22,589 miles as in operation.
In 1903 the number of miles of railroad track
was 283,821. If to this be added 28,000 miles
of street railway track, we have a total mileage
of 311,821. The pig iron production for 1903
was 17,942,840. If, therefore, the pig iron pro-
duction of 1840 be multiplied by 70, we have
17,927,000 tons, as against the actual produc-
tion for that year of 17,942,840. And if the rail-
road mileage of 4835 in 1840 be multiplied by
the same multiplier, we have 317,450 miles of
track, as against the actual of 311,821 miles of
track.]

Equally important in its bearing on the iron-
trade has been the development of inland navi-
gation. The difference between the first steamer,
"Walk on the Water," that timidly ventured



Technical Progress of the iQth Century 19



out on Lake Erie, and the present large iron
steamers, which, with their consorts, last year
transported 14,000,000 tons of iron-ore from
Lake Superior ports, is as great as between the
"John Bull" of the Mohawk & Hudson R. R.
and No. 999 of the N. Y. Central & Hudson
River R. R. [The tonnage of the steamers on
our Lakes, especially those devoted to the trans-
portation of iron-ores, is growing as rapidly as
the size of our railroad trains.

The "Augustus B. Wolvin" and the "Sahara,"
the two largest boats on the Lakes, were both
launched in 1904. Their dimensions are :





Length,


Beam,


Depth,






Feet.


Feet.


Feet.




"Wolvin"


540


56


32


10,000 gross tons on










draught of 18 J feet


"Sahara"


474


52


29


8,000 to 9,000 gross










tons



Of vessels plying the Great Lakes there are 67
having a tonnage capacity exceeding 4500 gross
tons. Nineteen of these have a tonnage capacity
exceeding 5000 gross tons.]

With increased size of, and improved machin-
ery in, vehicles on land and water, the cost of



20 Characteristics and Conditions of the

transportation has correspondingly decreased,
until freight has been carried, on long-distance
hauls, with profit to the railroad company, for
four mills per ton-mile. [Railroad freights on
certain commodities are as low as even two and
a half to three mills per ton-mile for long hauls.]
The data for comparison with former freights
are scanty, but the statistics of the Fitchburg


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