National Geographic : 1942 Dec
American Industries Geared for War BY THORNTON OAKLEY From the brush of the distinguished American artist, Thornton Oakley, comes the accompany ing series of 16 paintings. Mr. Oakley's canvases are his response to an assignment by the Editor of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE to portray vividly the highlights of America's vast war pro duction effort. To carry out this assignment the artist visited industrial establishments from coast to coast. Below, he sets forth the firsthand observations which inspired his works, painted especially for THE GEOGRAPHIC.-Editor. HE most gigantic war of history, the most stupendous catastrophe of time engulfs the globe. Into the titanic struggle America has cast her lot. To win freedom for mankind her people pour out blood and treasure. To the forging of her weapons her foundries now are dedicated. Never before has our country created from the elements such servants to her needs. The Battleship-Plate I The battleship towers on the ways. Her lines and her bow carry the eye, the mind, the heart upward until the sky appears her crown. Within her frame, through networks of scaffoldings, flow and toil her builders. Some, lifted by the cranes, ride against the clouds. About the riveters, the welders, the acetylene workers, the tallow handlers, smoke and vapors roll. These are the final days before the launching. Soon, with crash of glass on prow, multitudes assembled, the na tional anthem ringing in all ears, this now inert mass of steel, this largest ship of war ever reared by man, will glide into the waters. Grain Elevators-Plate II Cathedrals of the modern age are these cyl inders of concrete which in stately phalanxes line the waterways as columns do a nave, lift ing verticals to the roof of heaven. These, too, uplift the spirit even as the spires of old. Within these vast containers is stored the grain which will uphold our people in strength of body and of limb, that we may vanquish the sinister, dark powers that threaten the world. Oil-Plate III Oil to drive the engines of war for the fight ing forces of America! Where the raw petro leum is purged of its impurities along the quays of the refineries, the gray tankers ride. Their crews have brought their cargoes from far shores, braved the waters where the U-boats lurk. Pumps empty the long hulls, fill vats with liquid treasure. Above the ranks of storage tanks, above multitudinous pipes and trestles, rise the silvery towers where day and night stay not the catalytic processes, the last inventions in chemical and molecular transformation, which turn crude oil into 100 octane gasoline. Water Power-Plate IV Earth, air, fire man commands. Water, too, the fourth element of the ancients, he has harnessed for his needs. At Grand Coulee Dam, that concrete mass flung across the ice cut canyon, which dwarfs all other structures built by human hands, the Columbia River fulfils his insatiable demands. A spillway of 1,000,000 cubic feet per second; a falling water energy of 32,000,000 horses; 1,200,000 acres of barren land to be irrigated and re claimed; electric current generated to operate the war plants in all our Northwest territory. Coal-Plate V By the shore of Lake Erie the coal trains gather. From the bituminous mines they bring their endless miles of freight to be transferred to hulls that will bear it to inland ports. Thick with drifting coal dust is this region. Ceaseless is the movement of the cars, the ships, the machinery of the unloading towers. Grimed are the men who tug and sway at levers. One by one, day by day, night after night, the laden gondolas, shunted by locomotives, pushed by electric mules, ar rive upon the platforms of the elevators, rise amidst the trusses of the towers, overturn and send their contents hurtling into the lake ships' hungry holds. Copper-Plate VI Ores of copper, zinc, manganese, lead, arse nic, bismuth, cadmium, are torn by miners from the deeps beneath our western hills to make the tanks, the planes, the ships, the guns, the shells which will defend democracy. Surrounded by snow-clad peaks, roar the cru cibles that reduce the metals from their ores. Foundry upon foundry, roof upon roof, frame work upon framework rise upon the hillside until against the sky, dominating all that region, lifting its gaunt height through pur plish vapors, stands the culminating structure, a gigantic chimney.