This room was for many years the headquarters of Edison's able assistant, Dr. A. E. Kennelly, now professor of electrical engineering in Harvard University to whose energetic and capable management were intrusted many scientific investigations during his long sojourn at the laboratory. Unfortunately, however, for the continued success of Edison's elaborate plans, he had not been many years established in the laboratory before a trolley road through West Orange was projected and built, the line passing in front of the plant and within seventy-five feet of the galvanometer- room, thus making it practically impossible to use it for the delicate purposes for which it was originally intended.
For some time past it has been used for photography and some special experiments on motion pictures as well as for demonstrations connected with physical research; but some reminders of its old-time glory still remain in evidence. In lofty and capacious glass-enclosed cabinets, in company with numerous models of Edison's inventions, repose many of the costly and elaborate instruments rendered useless by the ubiquitous trolley. Instruments are all about, on walls, tables, and shelves, the photometer is covered up; induction coils of various capacities, with other electrical paraphernalia, lie around, almost as if the experimenter were absent for a few days but would soon return and resume his work.
In numbering the group of buildings, the galva- nometer-room is No. 1, while the other single-story structures are numbered respectively 2, 3, and 4. On passing out of No. 1 and proceeding to the succeeding building is noticed, between the two, a garage of ample dimensions and a smaller structure, at the door of which stands a concrete-mixer. In this small building Edison has made some of his most important experiments in the process of working out his plans for the poured house. It is in this little place that there was developed the remarkable mixture which is to play so vital a part in the successful construction of these everlasting homes for living millions.
Drawing near to building No. 2, olfactory evidence presents itself of the immediate vicinity of a chemical laboratory. This is confirmed as one enters the door and finds that the entire building is devoted to chemistry. Long rows of shelves and cabinets filled with chemicals line the room; a profusion of retorts, alembics, filters, and other chemical apparatus on numerous tables and stands, greet the eye, while a corps of experimenters may be seen busy in the preparation of various combinations, some of which are boiling or otherwise cooking under their dexterous manipulation.
It would not require many visits to discover that in this room, also, Edison has a favorite nook. Down at the far end in a corner are a plain little table and chair, and here he is often to be found deeply immersed in a study of the many experiments that are being conducted. Not infrequently he is actively engaged in the manipulation of some compound of special intricacy, whose results might be illuminative of obscure facts not patent to others than himself. Here, too, is a select little library of chemical literature.
The next building, No. 3, has a double mission-- the farther half being partitioned off for a pattern- making shop, while the other half is used as a store- room for chemicals in quantity and for chemical apparatus and utensils. A grimly humorous incident, as related by one of the laboratory staff, attaches to No. 3. It seems that some time ago one of the helpers in the chemical department, an excitable foreigner, became dissatisfied with his wages, and after making an unsuccessful application for an increase, rushed in desperation to Edison, and said "Eef I not get more money I go to take ze cyanide potassia." Edison gave him one quick, searching glance and, detecting a bluff, replied in an offhand manner: "There's a five-pound bottle in No. 3," and turned to his work again. The foreigner did not go to get the cyanide, but gave up his job.
The last of these original buildings, No. 4, was used for many years in Edison's ore-concentrating experiments, and also for rough-and-ready operations of other kinds, such as furnace work and the like. At the present writing it is used as a general stock-room.
In the foregoing details, the reader has been afforded but a passing glance at the great practical working equipment which constitutes the theatre of Edison's activities, for, in taking a general view of such a unique and comprehensive laboratory plant, its salient features only can be touched upon to advantage. It would be but repetition to enumerate here the practical results of the laboratory work during the past two decades, as they appear on other pages of this work. Nor can one assume for a moment that the history of Edison's laboratory is a closed book. On the contrary, its territorial boundaries have been increasing step by step with the enlargement of its labors, until now it has been obliged to go outside its own proper domains to occupy some space in and about the great Edison industrial buildings and space immediately adjacent. It must be borne in mind that the laboratory is only the core of a group of buildings devoted to production on a huge scale by hundreds of artisans.
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