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HOW NIAGARA FIGHTS FOR UNCLE SAM
The Mighty Industries of the Fa,. Dirigible Balloons—Wonders of Us Which Are Working for Our'Army and Navy—Nitrates for Explosives—Artificial Diamonds for Grinding Projectiles—Aluminum for Airplanes and Silicon for Electro-Chemistry—Chlorine for the Trenches—Ferrochromium and Artificial Graphite—The Unused Force of Niagara Equal to 25,030,000 Tons of Coal Yearly. NIAGARA FALLS. HAVE come here to tell von how Niagara Fall? fighting for us in our g war in Europe. It is on^ the most important of industrial assets of the nation, and its p i nets affect every soldier that goes to field and every sailor that mans our sels of war. It has to do with every that is fired and every projectile that sc ters its deadly missiles over the trend It aids in making the armor plate for our battleships and in creating the fine jna» chinery of the destroyers which chase the submarine sneaking along under the |sea. It has to do with the fighting airplanes that flv the skies and vv*ith the gas which fills the dirigible balloons that patrol the waters along our coasts. It enters into every workshop which is producing mate rial to be sent across the ocean and, I might say, into almost everything that has to do with making us equal to our part in this, the greatest struggle of history. Of that vast force we arc now censuni not more than one-si\th. The amour 500,000 horsepower, of which more i three-fifths are developed on the Canad side of the falls. According to our tre we have the right to use only twenty tli •and cubic feet of the water that goes i the falls every second and Canada has Before I describe the war industrie^ of Niagara 1 want to tell you something of the mighty force that moves them. Nia gara Falls is .the greatest water power on the face of the globe. I have seen the Falls of the Zambesi in Africa and have traveled up the Parana below the Falls of Igiia/u in South America. Neither compares with Niagara in the force which' it exerts from one year's gnd to the other. The balls of the Zambesi are twice as high as those of Niagara. They are twice as broad and when at their flood they drop with a thun der equal to that of one of the great battles in France into a pit four hundred feet deep, sending up pillars of mist which are vi for forty miles around. It has been mated that those falls at their flood escr a horsepower of tens of millions, but the most of this disappears when the Zambesi is low. On the other hand, the Niagara river has an almost even flow the year round. Only thirty-four miles long and less than a mile wide for the greater part of its course, it is the downspout of all the Great Lakes,; ex cepting Ontario. It begins at Lake Erie ■nd flows from there for a distance of about twenty-two miles to the foot of the falls, dropping the water from a li^ight about tiwo fifths of that-of the Washington Monument. A part of this drop is in the rapids above the falls, but more than 160 feet of it is in the falls themselves. The force is so g^ent that some engineers have estimated i| as equal to that of 7,000,000 horses all pulling •t once. I despair of making you see what this mighty force is. Where the waters pour in from Lake Erie they rush on at the rate of 280,000 cubic feet a second, and at the falls it is estimated that a block of water a mile square and a mile high drops down every week. The amount is millions of ions every hour, and so much every minute that if it were put upon wagons one million horses could not haul the load. *The fqrce has been variously estimated at from tfiree million to seven million horsepower. Take the lowest estimate and see what it means in the coal we use to produce it. Every horsepower which comes from water is said to annually save at least ten tons of coal. If this is so, the force of Niagara is equal to thirty million tons of coal every year or about one-fifteenth of all the coal we arc now using for fuel and power, right to 36,000 cubic feet. By the Burton law our Congress has restricted the Amer ican use to less than 16,000.feet. Just now all the factories are short of power and their work for the war is being cut down by the lack of cheap water power. Some of our industrial establishments have been getting their power from Canada, but this has been cut off since the war began, in or der to make war supplies for the Canadian troops, and there is now a strong demand on the part of the manufacturers at Niagara Falls for mor» water. MAKING CARBORUNDUM FOR GRINDING WAR MATERIALS THE FURNACES ARE ENORMOUS I do not want to argue as to the advis ability of taking more water in such a way as to injure the beauty of Niagara Falls. '1 hey arc the greatest show upon earth and they belong to us and the Canadians. It is well, however, to know what the show costs us. The amount is equal to 25,000 horsepower. It equals a coal mine of 25, 000,000 tons every year, or more than 2, 000,000 tons of coal every month, year in and year out, to the end of time. That is what we are losing. If vve had such a mine to burn every year, we could have the most gorgeous conflagration on earth and we might think it would pay us to keep it ablaze in order to show our friends and our visitors the magnificent sight. I don't know. As it is now, only about 20 per ccnt'of the waters of the falls are in use and some en gineers say that 50 per cent could be taken and not spoil the scenic effect of Niagara. They claim that we could easily add 1,000, 000 additional horsepower to the amount now being used. I am told there would be a demand for such power as soon as the plants required to generate it could be built. During my stay here I hal e gone through some of the great power plants which have been constructed a short distance above the falls. The water is taken from the Niagara river in canals walled with stone, and is dropped down through penstocks or mighty steel tubes so large that if they were laid upon the ground a horse could walk through them and his ears would just graze the top. Stood upright they are as tall as a sixteen-story house, and the water drops down this great height in such a way that it pushes the turbines around, turning the mighty steel shafts which connect them with the dynamos. There are ten or more of these penstocks in each plant, with an equal number of turbiq.es below, and of dynamos high above them. 'I he dynamo® are enormous. They look like giant mushrooms of black steel, which are turning so fast that you cannot see them move. They fly around at a speed of a mile and three-quarters a minute, and each generates electricity equal to more than 5,000 horsepower. Each dynamo is about thirty feet in circumference. As I looked, they made me think of thousands of horses galloping at a faster speed than has ever been made upon the race track. It is in this way that the 500,000 horse power now in use is developed. There are two great powerhouses on the American and several on the.Canadian side of the river. All are connected with huge factories of one kind or another, and they supply the cheap power ^necessary for the industries contributing to our Army and Navy sup plies. The most of the plants belong to the electro-chemical and electro-metaHurigcal industries. They are more os less scientific in their nature, and the men at the head of them are inventors along chemical and electrical lines. They use the cheap elec tricity furnished here in making products that could be created in no other wav. Take first the artificial abrasive or grind ing materials which are used in all indus tries for making, fine fittings, sharpening tools and cutting the hardest and softest of steel. I here is a factory here which makes carborundum, turning out a million pounds or so every month. Carborundum was in vented twenty-eight years ago, and at first it sold for $432 a pound. It is now produced so cheaply* through Niagara Falls that it can be used in every factory and by the most common workman. 'This material takes the place of grindstones, emery and diamond dust. In fact, it might be called artificial diamonds, for it is composed of the hardest of crystals, with edges so sharp that thev THE DYNAMOS FLY AROUND AT THE RATE OF A MILE AND~THREE-QUARTERS A MINUTE. can be used for grinding any material without wearing. It is employed in everv motor car plant, and it has to do with mak ing ball-bearings, transmission gears, crank shafts and everything connected with the cheap and high-priced cars. It is used in grinding the tools for the steel plants which are making projectiles, and it smoothes the shells which fit the guns to the thousandth of an inch. It is.used in making all sorts of agricultural implements which have to do with our food supply, and with locomotives and electrical machinery of every kind. It will even grind manganese steel, which no steel tool can cut, and it will sharpen the finest of high-speed tools. This wonderful product, like most of the others created here, comes from some of the cheapest and most common materials in nature. It is forpied of crushed coke and common sand, melted into crystals bv an electric heat of 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than thirty-four times as hot as boiling water. During my stay here I have gone through the plant which makesjt. It covers twenty acres and it is now making large quantities of abrasive materials to be used in connection with the war. The plant is guarded by soldiers, and every employe has to have a photographic pass before fie can get at his job. The of ficial who took me in had to show his pho-. tograph upon entering and we were watched as we went from building to building, where are the mighty electric 'furnaces, which are «turning coke and sand into the millions of crystals or artificial diamonds, to be used as grindstones and grinding pow ders. I he furnaces are enormous. They are cylinders or boes made or fire brick, so high that the tallest man could walk through them without bending his head. They are about twenty feet long, seven feet wide, and large enough to hold 70,000 pounds of material, This material consists of crushed coke and sand, mixed with a little sawdust and salt to aid in the reduction. It is put into the furnace in such a way that a cord or rope of graphite runs lengthwise through the center of the mass from one end to the other. This cord, which is merely lumps of graphite laid together in a little trench, is connected with two big carbon rods, one at each end of the furnace, and the'car bon rods are joined to thick cables that bring in the electricity. The graphite cord carries the current much like the ('lament in an incandescent lamp. As it comes in, the black cord turns white-hot and the electric heat increases un til it reaches the enormous temperature which I have mentioned. The heat is so great that it would turn steel, iron, granite or marble to a vapor and make the most re fractory materials burn like so much tallow. The fire is so glaring that if a person should look directly into a furnace he would be blinded, and the power consumed would be insufficient to operate a sixteen-candle power incandescent lamp for more than two hundred years. It is this terrible heat that turns the coke and sand into crystals. It does that with in thirty-six hours, at which time the steel framework outside the furnace is raised by machinery and the bricks are taken avvav. showing chunks and masses of jewels in the shape of crystals of all the colors of the rain bow. I hese masses are then taken from the furnace .and crushed by big iron wheels into the millions of tinv individual crys tals used for grinding and the ijiaking of abrasives of various kind.' But I cannot describe the nianv wonders of these Niagara industries. It would take more than.the space of this letter to tell you the story of carborundum alone.. The most interesting thing concerning it is how elec tricity is used to produce it. for it is some what after the same methods that the enor mous current furnished here changes other contmon things into materials of the great est value. This is the case with ferro-silicon, which is used to absorb the oxygen from molten steel, thus making possible sound castings and ingots by eliminating blow holes. M e are now making something like tvventy "eight million tons of steel a year and 70 per cent of this is treated with ferro-silicon. An enormous amount of it is now used in all the steel plants that are working for the war. Silicon is also employed for generating gas for our military balloons. All of the armies in Europe are equipped with the ap paratus to generate it. and that in connec tion with their observation balloons. Speaking of high-speed steel, this is a product that depends almost entirely upon Niagara power. It is owing to this steel, made with alloys produced here, that we have the »perfection of the modern cutting Tool. In the old days of carbon steel it was necessary to have a cool cutting edge, and the best a man could get was a cut of fifteen feet to the minute. With the high speed tools we can now take off chips of steel an inch and a half wide and half an inch thick at the rate of fortv or fifty feet a minute, and that notwithstanding the tool is red hot. Without high-speed steel and artificial abrasives our machine shops wotd 1 be cut to three-fourths or four-fifths of their piesent product. An automobile plant which now produces 500 cars per day could not turn out more -than 100 cars with the same plant and the same force. Among the alloys made here are ferro tungsten. Ferro-chromiutn is the hardening agent used in making armor plate. With out it there would be no tough skin to pn> tect our battleships, and no armor-piercing projectiles to serve our coast defenses. The battleship Pennsylvania has 10.000 tons of armor, and to make this was required 300 tons of ferro-chromiuin. The same mate rial enters into the manufacture of automo bile steel and dies. More than half of all the ferro-chromiuin that is used in the Unit ed States conies from the electric furnaces at Niagara Falls. Every one knows about aluminum. Tt goes into automobiles and aeroplanes, and is used for cooking utensils, acid containers and electrical transmission. There are three great plants here that make that* product, and it is turned out by the millions of pounds by means of this electric power. And then take acetylene. The calcium carbine made here by electricity is nmv sav ing millions of gallons of crude oil, and, m the shape of acetylene gas. is giving light to thousands of Lomes and public buildings, .dole than 500,(XX) miners now use acety lene lamps, and the same light is used for guarding the coast line in innumerable bea con lights and buoys. Acetylene, in conenclion with oxygen, produces a flame which is about the hot test known to chemistry. It is so power ful that it will cut the hardest armor plate. It is used in repairing the guns and other machinery on the battlefields, and also in doing similar work on our war vessels. Not long ago a fourteen-inch propeller in i French warship broke in two, and was welded perfectly within thirty-six hours by acetylene flames. A few years ago it would have been sent to the dry-dock, and it would have been six weeks before it was fixed. Our military boards have stated that w shall need 180,(XX) tons of nitrates per ver? to satisfy the demands of the w-ar. Nitrate are a necessity in the making of all high ex plosives, and they arc also the most valu able of fertilizers. By means of electricit they are making nitrates from the air a Niagara. The plant has been located ii Canada because it would not get power ti operate its electric furnaces on this side o the falls. It is, I think, the onlv plant thi "ide of Norway which is making nitrate tha way. I am not sure as to what the Ger mans arc doing. And then there is artificial graphite which is made here in electric furnaces In the millions of pounds. This was invente* by Dr. Edward G. Acheson, the same mai who discovered carborundum. It is electri cal. ami it uses the most common materials The product supplies the fabricants whici are greasing the wheels of our motor car in branee and of the other great power ma chines used there. This graphite is als< employed in electric smelting and refining It aids in producing high-grade steels, alio* steels and other alloyed metals of variou kinds. I might also speak of the new chenii cals which are turned out at Niagara. Thes< come from the electric processes and the* have made this the center of the electro chemical industry of the world. Anton; other things, they make chlorine, which i used for bleaching our newspapers, an< which keeps our shirts and sheets from turn ing yellow after washing. This chemical i especially important just now from tin wonderful success it has had in the treat ment of typhoid, and in the purification o our water supplies. It is said that a smal capsule of chlorine emptied into a bucket o the vilest water found in the trenches wil kill all the germs and make it so that it cai be drunk without danger. FRANK G. CARPENTER.