National Geographic : 1937 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE by some miracle of stubborn good judg ment, have preserved theirs. These lucky Indians, in fact, are supported by their forest, which, logged in a steady but un greedy way, supplies their mill at Neopit with logs of old-time girth (page 12). At the same time the wood products in dustries are among Wisconsin's most char acteristic. The Federal Government's For est Products Laboratory at Madison, housed in a huge modernistic structure, explores just that field (page 13); and the cities of the upper Wisconsin and the lower Fox thrive on its many lines: baskets, furniture, paper towels, cartons, luggage, implement handles, boxes, toys, excelsior, and so on. TREASURE-TROVE IN OVERALLS Here is an Appleton paper mill where rags and wood pulp are combined to make a high-grade bond. Or is this a steam laundry? No, it is a paper mill, all right; but these greasy old overalls that the women are sorting require strenuous laun dering-and get it-before they will make white paper. Sorting overalls, made, very likely, in the nationally famous factory at near-by Oshkosh, b'Gosh (Plate XIV), looks like a dull task. But overall pockets yield sur prising finds. One of these sorters once pulled twenty $20 bills from one pocket and did it make her head grow swimmy! But if her head swam, what were the sensations of the overalls' late owner? And what did he do to the wife who had handed them to the junk man? Perhaps a broom handle (another Wisconsin wood product) played a part in that domestic picture. The rags are chewed up, steamed, bleached, pulverized, brushed-not a speck of dirt nor an overall button is to be seen when the creamy mixture at last is blended with the wood pulp. This final mixture is floated thinly on a traveling screen, look ing like very superior (and very watery) horse-radish. It disappears between two rollers. On the other side-paper! Flour used to be the staple product of the Fox River mills. But when Wiscon sin's farmers learned that milk, not wheat, was their best bet, the mills migrated to points nearer the sources of wheat supply. Will the depletion of the State's forests force a like migration of its great wood products industry? Probably not. The northern counties are a natural timber coun try, in which the growing of forest crops is actively encouraged. Fire fighting and tree planting have been expedited by the current C. C. C. The State maintains two extensive nurseries at Trout Lake and Wisconsin Rapids, and the Federal nurseries at Rhinelander provide 30 million young evergreens annually for plant ing in the vast Nicolet and Chequamegon National Forests. Reforestation is a Wis consin enthusiasm. The dams that make the lower Fox navigable have proved chiefly valuable for their water power. The country's first hydroelectric power was developed at Ap pleton on the Fox. In fact, probably the first house to be wired for electricity stands on the river bank there, a mansion in the fanciful style of the eighties, in which a visitor can eat an excellent supper by the light of those historic chandeliers. BUSY CITIES SERVE THE MACHINE AGE Headquarters for Wisconsin's very im portant metal industries are in Milwaukee, but many other cities share in that work. Racine, for one, is nationally famous for farm implements, made by the J. I. Case Company. And in this city, where are built the reapers that cut the grains of the Great Plains, also are built, on the same principle, the clippers that the barber runs up the back of your neck. Sheboygan, for another, is noteworthy for teakettles, pots, and pans. The Vollraths who make them, and the Kohlers of Koh ler, who make bathtubs and sanitary ware, brought the secrets of the enamel processes with them to America (Color Plates IV and XV). It is awe-inspiring in the great Kohler plant to see a tub or sink riding in and out of its fiery furnace, first dusted with enamel powders from an implement that looks like an elongated banjo, then baked, then re-dusted, and baked again, until its gloss is perfect. Sheboygan people say that a man from Kohler can always be recognized by the hedge clipper in his hand. It is a model village, neat and flowery; rivalry is keen among the householders. Each house is owned by its occupant, his children go to the best of schools, there are musical and ath letic doings for everybody-Kohler is a model village in more than merely looks. The Girl Scouts' clubhouse there, hidden away in its own woodsy park, is patterned after the country houses of the Kohlers' native Tyrol-a picture straight out of Grimms' Fairy Tales.