National Geographic : 1942 Jul
Kentucky, Boone's Great Meadow About 25 years ago young Alberts' mother gave him an orchid plant as a Christmas gift. He has been growing orchids ever since and now has more than 25,000 plants in his green houses near Louisville. After a visit to the orchid farm, I under stand why these delicate flowers cost so much at the florist shops. Each plant requires from eight to ten years to bloom! Young Mr. Worth, Mr. Alberts' assistant, showed me how the gorgeous hybrid orchids are grown. First, a flower of an especially fine plant is hybridized by the introduction under aseptic conditions of male pollen from another chosen flower. A bulb soon appears in the stem of the hybridized flower. After 9 to 12 months this bulb, in which seeds develop, is ripe; and the seeds, scarcely visible to the naked eye, are taken out. Agar gelatin is placed in the bottom of a conical flask and inoculated with a fungus under aseptic conditions. As soon as the fun gus puts out growth, about fifty of the infin itesimal orchid seeds are sprinkled over the gelatin. These seeds require from a year to 18 months to produce orchid plants. One almost needs a microscope to see the orchid plants when they are taken out of the gelatin and transplanted singly into thimble sized pots. In these tiny pots they remain for a year. Then they are again transplanted to pots half the size of a small teacup. Trans planting to ever larger pots is done annually till the plants are ready to bloom. Kentucky Girds for War War has changed one large Kentucky in dustrial city into a seething center of arms manufacture. Housing is becoming a serious problem there. At various places around the State are made such important and diversified war materi als as aluminum products of several types, aircraft parts, shells and shell cases, synthetic rubber, carbide and acetylene gas, marine boilers, valves and fittings, field ranges, trail ers, and powder containers. The assembly of naval guns is a big job done in Kentucky. On the Indiana side of the Ohio River at one point some 60,000 workers commuting from Kentucky make powder, ammunition bags, submarine chasers and other naval boats, and prefabricated houses. At one city, which must be nameless because of censorship, is a large United States Govern ment plant for the manufacture of ammonia; a second has a 30-million-dollar plant for making TNT; a third has a huge storage depot for war munitions; a fourth is the site of a motorized triangular division camp where the principal construction contract outlay is 10 million dollars; and near a fifth is a big armored division camp. Three of the distilleries for which the State is famous are equipped for production of 190 proof alcohol and are now making this solvent for powder-manufacturing purposes. Other distilleries await only installation of the neces sary equipment. Books for Blind Printed in Louisville The American Printing House for the Blind, chartered in 1858, is an unusual establish ment in Louisville. Here a complete Braille edition of a popular magazine is printed monthly, and several books, one of them Les Miserables, are mailed free to the blind. I went through the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation's plant, following the tobacco from the room where it was taken from shipping hogsheads to the department from which sealed, stamped cases of cartons of cigarettes are shipped to consumers. The Brown and Williamson plant is air conditioned throughout, and one of the neatest places I have seen. The handsome buildings are on high land, and during the disastrous Ohio River flood of 1937 were places of refuge for 2,500 victims of the turbulent waters. Out at Fort Knox, about thirty miles south west of Louisville, where the Government has stored billions of dollars in gold, activity is feverish. Two years ago the gold repository was the chief attraction. Today Fort Knox is headquarters of the motorized forces of the United States Army. One day I took a trip from Louisville down to Mammoth Cave National Park (Plate VIII). New caverns have recently been dis covered in this vast maze, with its miles of water-carved passageways. Gilbertsville is the site of the Kentucky TVA Dam, largest in the TVA area, for flood control and power. It will form a lake 184 miles long. Another new project for power production and flood control is now under construction on the Cumberland River. Of course, the famous Dix River Dam has long been in successful operation. History and horses, mountains and mead ows, Elizabethan folk and millionaire horse farmers, tobacco and corn, racing and juleps, striking scenery from the breath-taking glory of the Breaks of the Sandy in the east to Mills Point in Hickman at the southwest corner, orators and politicians, friendly voices and leisurely living, love of the sport of kings and adoration of women-all these are part of the glamour of Kentucky.