Page images
[graphic][merged small]

WHEN "Jim" Fike drew up a pair of jaded ponies hitched to a dilapidated wagon and faced the setting sun on the lonely prairie in Thomas County, Kansas, twenty-five years ago, he didn't have $25 to his name. Now that same "Jim" Fike spends that much every week for gasoline alone and the most of the prairie he saw by the light of that setting sun is his own and on it is the largest wheat farm in the world.

Twenty-five years ago there were not ten carloads of wheat raised in Thomas County. "Jim" Fike requires that much now to seed his one farm. To do the work on that farm requires the services of more men than there were in Thomas County when "Jim" Fike went there.

When James Fike arrived in Thomas County he took up a quarter section of one hundred and sixty acres. He stuck to it through fat years and lean, through the grass

[ocr errors]

James M. Fikh. The farmer who manages his farm as a merchant does his business.

hoppers and the drought, until Fortune began to smile. He picked up a few more acres at a time until he became among his neighbors what they call in Kansas a "prominent farmer." He was the kind of man who wins popularity easily and his neighbors called him "Jim." He was appointed registrar of the land office under President Cleveland's second administration and after his term expired he was elected a railroad commissioner. Then Jim Fike quit politics and went back to farming.

By that time the farmers in western Kansas had begun to learn to grow wheat. Fike started in with sixteen hundred acres and he gradually increased his holdings until in 1909 he sowed ten thousand acres. From that area he harvested 120,000 bushels and made a profit of $60,000. Last year he had twelve thousand acres in winter wheat and harvested 600 acres more in spring wheat. His profits last year probably were at least $75,000. Every

[graphic][merged small]

pound of his winter wheat last year graded No. 2 hard, Turkey red. Most of it went directly to Kansas mills, the balance selling in the market for $1.04 a bushel.

Jim Fike manages his wheat farm on exactly the same principle that the merchant or the manufacturer in the city does his. The leaks that cost the average farmer half his yearly income are absent from the Fike farm. He has his business office and his bookkeeper and a strict account is kept of everything that is bought, sold and issued to be used. He knows just what he has all the time and just where it is. He employs 250 men and five hundred horses in the harvest season and he is always the first man awake and the last man to bed. He

drives over his farm in a forty-horse power motor-car and directs the operations like the field marshal of an army.

After the harvesting is finished, four threshing machines are kept busy for a month, threshing the grain. The granaries on the farm make a small village in themselves. Immediately after the harvesting is finished, the big plows are put to work, hauled by steam or gasoline tractors, and the ground is thoroughly stirred to a depth of from eighteen to twenty-four inches. In this way the moisture that comes in the fall and winter gets a chance to permeate to a great depth and the effect of the occasional drought is minimized.

In Colby, the county seat, Mr. Fike has a large machine-shop where all his repair and manufacturing work is done. There, through the winter, his machinery is overhauled and made ready for the spring and summer, and between times new machinery is built. The surplus product is sold to neighboring fanners, who prefer the home-made machine to the factory-made because it embodies Fike's ideas and their own of what it should be. Last year Fike employed six steam-plow outfits. Now he is changing them all to gasoline power because of the expense of hauling fuel and water to make steam.

Ten years ago when Fike began his extensive operations his neighbors warned him to "stop before you go broke." Now they look upon him as an oracle. His income is said to be greater than any other man's in Kansas, but he is still "Jim" Fike and not to be distinguished among his neighbors by any extraordinary exterior mark. They call him the wheat king, but he says he is just a farmer. That's the secret of it. He is "just a farmer," and nothing else. He's a specialist. So wherever men grow wheat or sell it he is known and no man's advice is more eagerly sought in the wheat region or on the board of trade.

His motto is plow deep and plow early. "When you plow early you kill the weeds," Fike says, "and when you plow deep you conserve the moisture. Most farmers sow too much seed. I sow from half a bushel to three pecks to the acre." BENJAMI



F^AR out on the southwest coast . of the country—almost on the | beach, in fact—as if taking a last desperate stand against an advancing conqueror, stand three giant engines. The man who placed them there received a small fortune in bonuses over his contract price on account of their high efficiency— which shows that they are among the very most efficient engines in the world. But still they are not good enough. Notwithstanding faithful turning out of 20,000 horse-power for twenty hours a day so that the people of Los Angeles can enjoy trolley rides, they now find

[graphic][merged small]


themselves coldly regarded as only hasbeens.

Beside them in the same engine room now stands a new engine. Nobody would suspect it of being an engine, for it seems to be nothing but a round steel tower having the appearance of a young light-house. This new giant came on sixteen freight cars and is known as a Curtis Vertical Turbine. On the 20th of last December he began to spin and to roar, and ever since has stood out in wonderful contrast to the three old-time giants. While they are able to turn out 20,000 horse-power together, the newcomer—although not a bit bigger—can

[graphic][merged small]

do it single handed. While they occupy a space one hundred and forty feet by seventy-six feet, he works comfortably in a corner fifty-six by thirty-eight. The old timers, grinding out a hundred turns a minute, shake'the earth so it can be seen in the bubble of a surveyor's level hundreds of feet away: but the new boy turns 750 times a minute and never quivers. All the beautifully scientific cams and levers on the old timers that have been perfected and refined to such exactness since the time of James Watt —these the new giant dispenses with altogether. He is a most deceiving individual, and were it not for his trick of blowing your hat off when you come into the hot draft from his whirling magnets, you might never suspect him of moving at all.

There's the beauty of your turbine. As an exponent of the simple life he is not to be excelled. He just spins. There's nothing to him. Anybody can understand him. We could make a small one ourselves in an hour out of a tin can. Let us choose one of those tall round cans such as ginger cookies come packed in, and begin by melting the bottom out of it. Next we will procure a dozen of those little brass wind-mill ventilators such as are sometimes put into office windows to whirl around and distribute the incoming air. Six of these must be just the right size to fit tightly in the can; the other six must be a trifle smaller so as to go loosely into the can. The first six must be cut to whirl to the right; the others to whirl to the left. Now we start with a tight one and fasten it near the bottom of the can. Through the little hole in its center we put a smooth round rod for a revolving shaft. The next windmill is opposite in direction, loose enough to whirl in the can but tight on the little shaft. The third is right handed again, firmly fixed in the can and loose on the shaft—and so on till the can is full. Now we take a long breath and blow down through the can. The wind, hitting the first wheel, starts it spinning; but, in passing through it, is itself spun in the opposite direction. No sooner is it past the first wheel, however, than it strikes the second wheel of opposite direction and stuck fast in the can. This

wheel reverses the air again to its original direction. It is then ready to give the second moving wheel a push. The second tight wheel again directs it for the third revolving one. And so it finds its way down through the can and away, giving each of the six little wheels a kick as it goes.

A turbine is nothing more. The great steel tower which encloses it is the cracker can. The alternate discs are very much like the little ventilators, being alternately spinning and stationary. They have many thousand little vanes, are some fourteen feet in diameter and run over six miles a minute. The central spindle is a massive shaft as thick as a policeman and weighs as much as a switch engine. Instead of our long breath of air, the turbine has a perpetual blast of superheated steam roaring through it, starting at nearly 200 pounds pressure and gradually expanding larger and larger and dropping down in pressure till it blows out underneath into the cool condenser at only about one thirtieth the pressure of the air one breathes. This extraordinary transition from 175 pounds steam at a frightful heat to cool fog at almost no pressure at all occurs in the space of ten feet and takes place in a small fraction of a second; yet there are no valves intervening and a ten penny nail could be dropped from the top down to the bottom through the little ports without interruption. If the noise of this continuous explosion of steam could get out of the steel jacket it would probably be heard for five or ten miles.

Now all this mass of metal—the discs, the shaft, the great electric "field" on its upper end, weighing altogether about 100 tons, or as much as a powerful locomotive, revolves twelve and a half turns every second; and if the shaft should ever rest its weight on even the smoothest possible bearing it would melt it in a mighty few minutes. This entire 100 tons, however, rests on no bearing at all, but floats—floats on a little pool of oil no bigger than a wash basin; and two strong pumps see to it that the oil in the little pool never drops below a pressure of 900 pounds per square inch.

The beautiful ease with which this huge top spins was impressed upon the writer on last New Year's Day. A careless or ill-informed mechanic, working near it, accidentally short circuited about a third of its total current through the handle of a monkey wrench and into a steel column. Instantly there was a noise like an explosion, followed by a gorgeous copper-colored fire that burned with a roar like a hundred rolling drums. The tremendous jolt thrown back by this flaming arc upon the power-house threw the three old giants all out of step so that their pulsations of current interfered

and stopped all the trolley cars in the whole city; but the turbine spun serenely on; and, after they had pulled the switches and shut off the steam, continued to spin by its own momentum for three hours.

Before this article shall have time to appear, the turbine will have a twin brother spinning beside it in the opposite corner; so that a power company on the same land and in the same building (save for extra boiler room) has increased an old plant to three times ■ its original capacity.




F. C. WALSH, M. D.

THE cure of "consumption" is a medical problem; its prevention a social one,—not from choice, but rather from necessity. If the available figures be made to conform with facts instead of meeting the requirements of optimistic theory, it must be admitted that tuberculosis is on the increase, regardless of all statements to the contrary. In questions of public policy, physicians are poor executives, and weak in militant, harmonious organization. As regards the prevention of tuberculosis, they have had their hour of opportunity, and failed; it is becoming a necessity that this phase of the problem be turned over to a properly informed public. If the medical men cannot or will not act except as isolated individuals, then the people themselves must take some collective action on their own initiative. The public cannot do this without some information as to a proper method. Unfortunately, any information which happens to be practical, is usually buried out of sight of the people in the purely technical pages of the medical journals, ending then and there any possible career of usefulness. It would appear from this

that the popular magazines, if given the opportunity, will continue to do more for the future, in the way of disseminating practical information, than all other methods combined. Even now they are performing a function properly the duty of good government.

There is no cure for tuberculosis, and probably never will be,—accepting the word "cure" in the sense of some special medicine. From many points of view this very hope of a cure has had its bad effects. For one thing, it has taken both the public and medical mind too much away from the important necessity and practical benefits of prevention. A disease prevented is better than cured, for no one is so well off physically or financially after any illness, and particularly does this truth apply to tuberculosis.

All disease is undesirable, except for those who live by it. Furthermore, the successful prevention of a disease does away with any need for its "cure." This is well exemplified in the case of yellowfever. We have never succeeded in finding a cure for that former scourge of the South, but we have done far better. We have wiped out the disease bodily, bag and baggage, by simple, preventive

« PreviousContinue »