National Geographic : 1894 Apr 25
Espjy's Plan. 51 awe and deprecation. In short, the scene presented a more complete triumph of philosophy over ignorance than I could have supposed it possible to have been produced anywhere in the nineteenth century, and most especially anywhere in our enlightened Republic. We often fired the saw-grass marshes afterward; and whenever there was no wind stirring, we were sure to get a shower; and I say with per fect confidence that we never had a shower in April or May at any other time. Sometimes when there was a breeze, it would carry the smoke toward the horizon, where there would seem to be a fall of rain. Espy dwelt on this theory with great devotion, and in 1845 published a special letter addressed " To the Friends of Science " in which he proposed a plan for practical rain production. As the paper in question is now very rare and his plan possesses some features of interest, I quote it here: Let masses of timber to the amount of forty acres for every twenty miles be prepared and fired simultaneously every seven days in the summer, on the west of the United States, in a line of six or seven hun dred miles long from north to south; then the following results seem highly probable, but not certain until the experiment is made: A rain of great length north and south will commence near or on the line of fires; this rain will travel eastward; it will not break up till it reaches far into the Atlantic ocean; it will rain over the whole country east of the place of beginning; it will rain only a short time in any one place; it will not rain again until the next seventh day ; it will rain enough and not too much in any one place; it will not be attended with violent wind, neither on land nor on the Atlantic ocean; there will be no hail nor tor nadoes at the time of the general rain nor intermediate; there will be no destructive floods, nor will the waters ever become very low ; there will be no more oppressive heats nor injurious colds; the farmers and mariners will always know before the rains when they will commence and when they will terminate; all epidemic diseases originating from floods and subsequent droughts will cease; the proceeds of agriculture will be greatly increased, and the health and happiness of the citizens will be much promoted. These, I say, are the probable-not certain-results of the plan proposed-a plan which could be carried into operation for a sum which would not amount to half a cent a year to each individual in the United States; a plan which, if successful, would benefit in a high degree not merely the landsman, but every mariner that plies the Atlantic. If this scheme should appear too gigantic to commence with, let the trial be first made along the Alleghany mountains; and let forty acres of four ten-acre lots be fired every seven days through the summer in each of the counties of McKean, Clearfield, Cambria, and Somerset, in Pennsyl vania; Alleghany, in Maryland; and Hardy, Pendleton, Bath, Alleghany, and Montgomery, in Virginia. The ten-acre lots should be, as nearly as convenient, from one to four miles apart, in the form of a square, so that 8-NAT. GE:oa. MAG.,'VOL. VI, 1894.
1894 May 23
1894 Mar 17