TOXIC TREATMENT : CREOSOTE, THE WOOD PRESERVATION INDUSTRY AND THE MAKING OF SUPERFUND SITES By NICOLE C. COX A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQU IREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2017
2017 Nicole C. Cox
3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the members of my dissertation committee Dr. Jack Davis, Dr. Paul Ortiz, Dr. Benjamin Wis e, Dr. William Link, Dr. Bron Taylor, and Dr. Robert Zieger for their guidance, feedback, support, and patience. I feel privileged to have worked with Dr. Davis who inspires his students to find history in unexpected places and to communicate that history with great care and diligence. He provided motivation, direction, and advice when needed, but also encouraged me to follow the evidence even when the research took longer than anticipated. he welcomed me into the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program family, cultivating my commitment to social justice and the value of personal narratives. Deborah Hendrix, Sheila Payne, Tamarra Jenkins, Jennifer Lyon, Ann Smith, and the rest of the SPOHP family also shared their experience, wisdom, and perspective on oral history, graduate school, and social change, often in the presence of great food. While supporting my research, the UF History Department also provided excellent teaching mentorship. Dr. Steve n Noll, Dr. David Tegeder, and Dr. Benjamin Wise demonstrated how to engage students who do not always see how history shapes their past, present, and future. Dr. Glenn Willumson, in the Museum Studies Program at UF, also taught me how to share history wit h a broader audience. Research for this dissertation would not have been possible without the financial Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Center for the Humanities and the P ublic Sphere, the Office of Graduate and Minority Programs, and the Graduate School, provided opportunities for travel, research, and writing. The National Society of the Colonial
4 Dames of America also offered funding at a critical stage of this project. I n addition, the Harrison Institute at the University of Virginia and the Forest History Society supported travel to their collections, but their staff also offered invaluable research recommendations. Archivists at the following institutions also responded patiently and helpfully to my many research requests: the Forest History Society, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, the Eberly Family Special Collections Department, the Georgia Historical Society, the Virginia Historical Society, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the Louis Round Wilson Library Special Collections Library, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Denver Public Library, and the UF Libraries Interlibrary Loan Department. Students, sta ff, and faculty at the Santa Fe College Davis Center provided a respite from writing, and motivated me to complete this project. I also enjoyed working with many professors, graduate students, and staff at the University of South Florida. While Dr. Lu Ann Jones is an accomplished historian, she is also an accessible, approachable, and genuine individual who provided stellar mentorship while I was an undergraduate and graduate student. Even when she pursued a new opportunity with the National Park Service, s he remained supportive and helped me focus on the big picture. Dr. Joanna Dyl introduced me to the field of environmental history and prepared me for a Ph.D. program in this field. Faculty in the History and American Studies programs, particularly Dr. Golf o Alexopoulos, Dr. Paul Morgan, Dr. Robert Snyder, and Sheila Tagliarini fostered my interest in historical research and teaching. Dr. Mark Greenberg and the staff in the Special Collections
5 Department and Florida Studies Center at the USF Library also sho wed me how to collect and preserve history for future generations. There have also been many mentors, friends, and family members who cultivated my early interest in history and assisted me during this protracted process. I am fortunate to have spent time in the classrooms of incredible teachers, especially Leah Helms, Faith Holman, Sheila Bland, and Jeanine Boutwell. Elizabeth Tucker and Jimmy Pritchard longtime friends provided encouragement, pet therapy, and proofreading. I also grew up surrounded by pe ople who valued and taught the importance of our pasts. My family Claudia, Steve, Haley, Hazel, and Wyatt offered unwavering support and helped me maintain perspective. Ryan Keith and Ruger accompanied me on most of my research trips, provided daily encour agement, and reminded me that there is a life outside of and after graduate school. This project would not have been possible without their love and support.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 3 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 7 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ................................ ................................ ............................. 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: .................... 12 2 AND THE RISE OF CREOSOTE ................................ ................................ ............ 24 3 RAILROADS AND THE NEED FOR WOOD PRESERVATION ............................. 89 4 ASCENDANCE OF CREOSOTE ................................ ................................ .......... 154 5 OF CREOSOTE ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 232 6 ENVIRONMENTAL INEQUALITIES IN THE WO OD PRESERVATION INDUSTRY ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 294 7 ................................ .... 366 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 385 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 413
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1 1 Carver Terrace community action group and friends ma rching for relocation from their contaminated neighborhood ................................ ............................... 23 2 1 Sinking of H.M.S. Royal George at Spithead ................................ ...................... 86 2 2 Timber tunneli ngs by Teredo navalis, the Teredo Worm ................................ .... 87 2 3 .......... 88 3 1 Railroad t ies layed ready for rails ................................ ................................ ..... 148 3 2 Two million lodgepole pine ties ................................ ................................ ......... 149 3 3 Close up view of log rafts in a log boom at Apalachicola Florida ..................... 150 3 4 Hewing out a tie with a broadaxe ................................ ................................ ...... 151 3 5 Logging train pulling out for the coast near Pensacola, Florida ...................... 152 3 6 Clearcut forest ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 153 4 1 At the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad tie treating plant .................... 227 4 2 View in yards of Ayer Lord tie plant ................................ ................................ .. 228 4 3 Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin. Publications Division .......... 229 4 4 Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin. Testing the fire resistant qualities of various types of wood impregnations and coatings ........................ 230 4 5 Treated telephone pole s stored in the yard at the International Creosoting Company ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 231 5 1 Aerial view of t reated telephone poles stored in the yard at the International Creosoting Company ................................ ................................ ........................ 291 5 2 Tie treating plant loading ................................ ................................ .................. 292 5 3 Detail of a poison sign on the north end of a wood treating tank ...................... 293 6 1 Pressure t reating fence posts ................................ ................................ ........... 359 6 2 Control room of creosote impregnation plant ................................ .................... 360 6 3 Laborer lifting creosoted railroad tie ................................ ................................ 361
8 6 4 Negro laborers carrying and laying railroad ties ................................ ............... 362 6 5 Loading creosoted utility poles onto railcars ................................ ..................... 363 6 6 Cleaning out a vat in which creosote is stored at the International Creosoting Company ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 364 6 7 Woman worker at the International Creosoting plant ................................ ........ 365 7 1 Number of wood preservation sites by state ................................ .................... 384
9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science AREA American Railway Engine ers Association ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers AWPA CCA Chromated Copper Arsenate CERCLA Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act EPA United States Environmental Protection A gency FIFRA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act FPL United States Forest Products Laboratory NPL National Priorities List PCP Pentachlorophenol USDA United States Department of Agriculture
10 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy TOXIC TREATMENT: CREOSOTE, THE WOOD PRESERVATION INDUSTRY, AND THE MAKING OF SUPERFUND SITES By Nicole C. Cox December 2017 Chair: Jack E. Davis Major: History The wood preservation industry, which applies chemicals to extend the service life of timber, is one of the largest users of dangerous pesticides in the United States. Additionally, the U.S. Environ mental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated many former wood preservation plants as Superfund sites ranking among the worst hazardous waste sites in the nation. Wood preservers and trade organizations, however, have produced much of the existing research history of pollution and the risks associated with its chemical preservatives, especially coal tar creosote. Creosote, an oily distillate of coal, protects wood from rot and decay, but polluted the environment and endange red public and worker health when wood preservers spilled, dumped, and buried millions of tons of toxic waste around their plants. This project investigates how dwindling timber supplies and rising prices at the turn of the twentieth century prompted Ameri can railroad companies and other industries to embrace European methods of wood preservation with creosote as an economical solution that saved money and forests. While American consumers adopted wood preservation reluctantly, they came to accept creosote as their treatment of
11 choice. To this day, the United States continues to rely on this toxic treatment even century and many countries have since banned its use. Emplo ying a blend of social, environmental, labor, and public health histories, indispensable remedy that saved money and conserved precious timber resources although paradoxically, at great cost to environmental and human h ealth. Exploring publications, newspapers, medical journals, legal cases, and company records. Building on scholarship that emphas izes the historical roots of environmental inequalities, this project also demonstrates that certain groups in society bore a disproportionate share of the pollution associated with wood preservation. To confront the significant environmental threat that t hese sites pose, researchers, policymakers, and concerned citizens need a deeper understanding of the making of these sites especially their origins and environmental pasts.
12 CHAPTER 1 INTROD UCTION: In 1968, Patsy Ruth Oliver moved into Carver Terrace, a newly built African American subdivision in the city of Texarkana, a former railroad boomtown extending across the Texas Arkansas border. As a single paren t struggling to support five children and her mother, Oliver worke d as a nurse and as an assembly line employee at the Lone Star Army Ammunitions Plant. She also supplemented her income cooking for white families. 1 When the Olivers saved enough money to mo ve out of public housing and into a new, modern, ranch style, brick home in Carver Terrace, the family felt they 2 Oliver and her neighbors soon realized, however, 3 When it rained, dark crud oozed from the soil around homes, swing sets, gardens, and swimming pools. Puddles of leftover rainwater always seemed to possess 4 Pipes quickly corroded, and noxious sludge trickled from faucets into sinks and bathtubs. Grass and other plants refused to grow. A curious smell permeated sun 5 Residents became ill, experie ncing nausea, 1 The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right ed. Alex is Jetter, Annelise Orleck, and Diana Taylor (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1997), 54 55. 2 Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color ed. Robert D. Bullard (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994), 77. 3 Ibid., 77 78. 4 5 Ibid., 89.
13 dizziness, nosebleeds, headaches, as well as thyroid, liver, respiratory, and kidney problems. 6 According to Oliver and her neighbors, high rates of cancer, miscarriages, 7 Some r esidents suggested these strange occurrences might be linked to the old wood treatment facility that white developers bulldozed to construct Carver Terrace. 8 For decades, this plant and hundreds of others like it around the United States pressure treated w ood with toxic chemicals to prevent it from rotting and decaying. The culprit behind the oily, tarry, and smelly substance disturbing the suburban idyll in Carver Terrace was creosote, a byproduct of coal tar distillation and one of the most established an d enduring wood preservatives. 9 recommended the addition of Carver Terrace to the Nation al Priorities List (NPL) of the 10 Canal in Niagara Falls, New York, Congress passed in 1980 what is commonly referred to as Superfund legislation, or the Comprehensive En vironmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), to fund the identification and cleanup of the 6 Ibid., 46 47 and 57 58. 7 Ibid., 91 92. 8 Ibid., 47. 9 Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production Volume 2: Best Practices in the Wood and Paper Industries (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2010), 1; Paul Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick: Toxins at Home and in the Workplace (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 226 227; George M. Hunt and George A. Garratt, Wood Preservation (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc. 1938), 7. 10 80. The site was recommended in 1984, but t he EPA did not officially add it until 1986.
14 waste sites. CERCLA represented a modern attempt to resolve a longstanding problem the wide scale pollution generated by past and present industries. 11 In the Carver Terrace case, the wood preservation plant that operated from the early 1900s to 1961 spilled, dumped, and buried millions of tons of toxic waste in its quest to prevent wood structures such as railroad ties, tel ephone poles, and other timber from deteriorating. 12 This plant represented only one of over 100 wood preservation facilities in operation by 1915 in the United States. 13 By 1996, over 700 plants across the country had treated wood with creosote and other to xic chemicals. 14 Today, many of these locations have shared Carver s e calcu lations do not even include the businesses that manufactured wood preservatives and distilled coal tar, which join wood preservation sites among the EP the most polluted places. 15 11 Craig E. Colten and Peter N. Skinner, The Road to Love Canal: Managing Industrial Waste Before EPA (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996), 3 and 162; Elizabeth D. Blum, Love Canal Revisited: Race, Class, a nd Gender in Environmental Activism (Lawrence: Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2008), 21. 12 Handbook of Pollution Prevention 1. 13 on, Handbook on Wood Preservation (Baltimore, Maryland: n.p., 1916), 20. 14 ), http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/wood preservatives/publications/poison poles (accessed September 10, 2017). 15 United States Environmental Prot United States Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/superfund/search superfund sites where you live (accessed August 17, 2017).
15 Once Oliver and other homeowners received official word that they had been limited response to their plight. In 1988, without co nducting health surveys or even interviewing residents, the EPA pronounced the site safe for people to continue living there. 16 Carver Terrace residents responded, accusing the EPA of environmental racism and arguing that the color of their skin trapped the m in their neighborhood, which 17 Oliver more eloquently described it 18 She realized that if this community failed to mobilize, it would 19 Oliver and her neighbors found allies in the growing environmental justice movement, which challenges discriminatory laws, regulations, and practices that prevent access to a healthy environment. As many environmental just ice activists maintain, their goal is not 20 After an extended campaign, Oliver and her neighbors succeeded in convincing Congress to authorize a buyout and relocation for the C arver Terrace residents. 21 (Figure 1 1) While activists and scholars often herald this struggle as a major victory for the 16 77 and 80. 17 18 Ibid., 89. 19 Ibid., 60 and 51. 20 Network, http://www.ejnet.org/ej/ (accessed August 4, 2017 ). 21
16 22 Despite the pollution problems that creosote caused, many Americans still live and work in places contaminated with this toxic treatment. In addition, the wood preservation industry and its history are often removed from conversations about Superfund sites such as Carver Terrace. Focusing exclusively on the Superfund period obscures the industrial origins of former wood treatment facilities, pollution problems, and absolves the companies that o ver a century ago ushered in an era of industrial pollution. 23 industrial and environmental pasts, this study employs a blend of environmental, social, labor, and public health histories exposing how the chemical preservatives this industry applied affected the environment, but also the people living and working in those precious timber resources albeit at great ecological and public health costs. 24 Wood preservation advocates promised creosote would significantly extend the life of timber, providing control over nature and the products they extracted from it. 25 While the p reservative exceeded their expectations, companies spent centuries applying chemicals that degraded the 22 23 Cheremisinoff and Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention 1. 24 Treatise on the Distillation of Coal Tar and Ammoniacal Liquor, and the Separation of Them From Valuable Products (London: John Van Voorst, 1882), 4; Guy Forshey, St. Louis Post Dispatch (20 October 1929): 9. 25
17 environment and threatened public and worker health. Thus, much like Patsy Ruth tmare 26 repercussions of this nightmare, but also the motivation behind the dream of wood preservation to exert control and dominance over wood and the for ests that yield this resource. This essential material is vital, strong, cheap, attractive, and, for most of human history, it has been relatively plentiful. While wood is a prized commodity, it is also highly variable, prone to deterioration, difficult to replace once gone, and resistant to attempts at standardization. 27 extend the life of timber, especially during periods of perceived scarcity or rapid depletion. While humans e xperimented with a multitude of preservatives and techniques over millennia, they struggled to find an economical and effective treatment. This quest reached its apex during the early 19 th century, a period of rapid industrialization, chemical advancement, and gross overconsumption of wood. Europe industrialized earlier than the United States and confronted these fears first; its researchers also pioneered the use of creosote as a wood preservative. Although this study traces these technological development s in Chapter 2, it focuses more on the reluctant adoption at 26 Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color ed. Robert D. Bullard (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994), 78. 27
18 least initially of wood preservation in the United States. Americans had long sparked fears of a timber fami ne and prompted the simultaneous development of forestry and wood preservation. Despite their early reticence to adopt creosote, the United States led by railroad magnates, foresters, chemical producers, and conservationists embraced this toxic treatment a s the answer to the dual problem of timber decay and depletion. 28 This historical context, addressed in Chapters 3 and 4, is essential to As environmental scientists, local o fficials, EPA representatives, and residents throughout the United States attempt to make wood preservation sites safe for current and future geographer Craig E. Colten argues, industrial processes, former waste disposal methods, and even the location of industrial 29 While more contemporary wood preservatives such as pentachlorophenol and chromated copper arsenate (CCA ), which companies applied in the post World War II period, are often blamed for the pollution problems at these locations, the wood preservation industry relied on creosote more extensively and for a much longer period 28 29 1870 Journal for the Society for Industrial A rcheology 14, no. 2 (1988): 51; Craig E. Colten, Professional Geographer 42, no. 2 (1990): 143.
19 of time. 30 anonymity related to confusion over its chemical 31 While scholars have completed comprehensive studies of hazardous indus tries such as lead, asbestos, radium, and vinyl, there are currently no full length analyses of the wood preservation industry. 32 Instead, wood treatment companies and industry organizations have produced much of the existing research, which minimizes the e nvironmental and public health risks associated with creosoted wood. In addition, World scale generation of hazardous materia ls 33 Creosoting joined coal gasification, petroleum refining, metal finishing, leather tanning, and other early nineteenth and early twentieth w aste problems. 34 30 Cheremisinoff and Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production 1; Bla nc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 227 228. 31 http://prot ectgainesville.org/ (accessed March 4, 2012). The comments discussed above occurred at an 32 Christian Warren, Brush with Death: A Social History of Lead Poiso ning (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000); Gerald E. Markowitz and David Rosner, Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002); Claudia Clark, Radium Girls, Women and In dustrial Health Reform: 1910 1935 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997). 33 34 Ibid., 143 144.
20 light much earlier, as Chapter 5 reveals, than standard narratives about wood preservation sites acknowledge. M risks in the late eighteenth century, and many workers in the industry accused their employers of ignoring their health and safety and minimizing the dangers of exposure to this toxic treatment. 35 Although past and present wood pr oximity to low income and minority neighborhoods, such as Carver Terrace, is not accidental, there is a much longer history of environmental inequalities associated with the wood treatment industry and the technology it employed. 36 Since the study of envir onmental inequalities grew up alongside this contemporary environmental justice movement, and many of the field s first scholars were active in the movement s early struggles, traditional scholarship rarely examines change over time. Instead, researchers o ften profile specific communities, focusing exclusively on the period in which activism emerged. 37 Shifting away from these more static works, historical geographers, environmental sociologists, and environmental historians have appealed for a better unders tanding of how environmental inequalities 35 Percivall Pott and James Earle, The Chirurgical Works of Percivall Pott: With His Last Corrections: to Which Are Added, a Short Account of the Life of the Author, a Method of Curing the Hydrocele by Injection, and Occasional Notes and Observations ( Philadelphia: James Webster, 1819), 291 292; Samuel A. Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad C ompany 246 Ill. 370; 92 N.E. 896; 1910 Ill. LEXIS 2073, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015) 36 Proceedings of the Sixteenth An nual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1920), 207. 37
21 develop. 38 This dissertation responds to these recent calls for researchers and activists to consider historical roots. Striving for environmental equality requires that our society understand environmental inequali ties, and these inequalities have a history. Adopting this historical approach requires the consideration of not just residents living nearby former wood preservation sites, but also the workers who confronted prolonged, direct contact with creosote long before occupational health and safety legislation took effect. In the wood preservation industry, race and social class variables clearly shaped access to a livable environment. Chapter 6 evaluates how African Americans bore a disproportionate share of the pollution associated with the wood preservation industry. While labor and public health historians, industrial hygienists, and physicians specializing in occupational medicine have produced significant work on occupational disease, scholars documenting e nvironmental inequalities have less frequently integrated these findings into their studies. 39 Bridging this gap, I analyze how industrial pollution from wood treatment facilities impacted workers and the environment in which they labored. Companies, for ex ample, consigned African American laborers to the lowest paid, unskilled positions, ensuring they faced significant exposure to toxic 38 39 See, for example, Andrew Hurley, Environmental Inequalities: Class, Race, and Industrial Pollution in Gary, Indiana, 1945 1980 (Chapel Hi ll: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).
22 chemicals. 40 Physicians and industry officials also claimed that African Americans enjoyed a racial immunity against creoso industry and company owners to neglect the safety and health concerns of these workers. 41 Much like the chemicals that linger in the soil and water around former wood preservation sites and in the bodies of workers and residents, the environmental inequalities that the industry manufactured persist long after plants closed and new we must start by stepping outside of the nightmare t rapping Oliver and residents of 42 Instead, this narrative begins centuries before the EPA classified Carver Terrace and hundreds of other wood preservation sites as hazardous, when creosote represented a new, pr omising solution to an age old problem. 40 Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1918), 54. 41 Imre Heller, Occupational Cancer s, J ournal of Industrial Hygiene 12, no. 5 (May 1930): 175, 179, and 180. 42
23 Figure 1 1. Carver Terrace community action group and f riends marching for r elocation f rom their contaminated n eighborhood. Texarkana, Texas, 1992. Photograph by Sharon Stewart. Sharon Stewart http:// www.sharonstewartphotography.net/exhibitions/ToxicTourOfTexas/imag ePage_texarkana.html?image=1
24 CHAPTER 2 THE RISE OF CREOSOTE The author of a late nineteenth 1 o be stopped, especially in America where there was an ever 2 uthor lamented, 3 an efficient wood preserving proc ess means of chemically preserving the timber so that it would withstand harsh environmental conditions and deter pests. 4 Impregnating wood with creosote, an oily, putre 5 1 2 3 4 5
25 The writer of this paper was not alone in his belief that wood preservation, and more specifically creosote, held the key to resolving what he described as 6 For thousands of years, scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs, and charlatans searched for and attempted to profit from chemical preservatives to extend the life of timber. 7 W ood preservers argued their industry should be considered among pitch. 8 In spite of the long history of wood preservation, modern audiences often take for granted or are unaware the industry even exists. Wood's status in our culture contributes at least in part to its invisibility. As historian Harvey Green explains, it has a material relied on for thousands of s, weapons, toys, storage, land and 9 In fact, wood has become so ubiquitous and 10 As Green alludes, our relationship with wood has historically been and remains a contentious one, especially since industrialization. Historian Charles Haines 6 7 8 H Broese Van Groenou, H. W. L. Rischen, Dr. J. Van Den Berge, Wood Preservation During the Last 50 Years (Leiden, Holland: A.W. Sijthoff, 1952), v. 9 10
26 principles such as uniformity, reproducibility, predictability, plasticity and speed. Wood, inherently heterogeneous, variable, and non uniform, proved di fficult to convert to 11 Thus, the quest to find and develop an effective wood preserving process represented an effort to impose order and standardize what many viewed as an unstable and rebellious material. Although some scholars have re cently suggested we are experiencing a revival of interest in wood, it has of it once was. 12 As a result, the threat of wood decaying, rotting, or deteriorating does not seem like a ecause of the many available manmade individuals using wood do not share the same fear about the longevity of the material as our ancestors. Whereas previous generations prided themselves on building structures that would withstand the test of time, many people utilizing wood today do not expect, need, or want their materials to last for time immemorial. 13 Another factor contributing to the current invisibility of the wood treat ment industry is how familiar and prevalent preserved wood is in our modern world. Much of the wood available to consumers today has already been treated with a chemical formula that promises to protect its structural integrity. Consequently, many people 11 12 13
27 s eem to regard wood preservation as a foregone conclusion or innate characteristic of the lumber they purchase and encounter. 14 While the problem of wood preservation may seem trivial and obsolete today, it was a crucial issue for so many centuries because there were few affordable and plentiful alternatives to people living in what some scholars describe as the Wood Age. 15 Wood preservers also received support for their cause from forest conservationists, engineers, urban planners, and Progressive era refo rmers who hoped that creosoted timber might provide a solution to problems that threatened American s social, economic, and industrial progress. Our ancestors witnessed and experienced firsthand the expensive and potentially life threatening consequences t hat decaying and rotting timber posed. Before wood preservers harnessed creosote, for example, shipworms relentlessly chewed through some of the world s most elite and prized naval vessels, not to mention docks and wharves, causing these structures and sym bols of empire to sink, collapse, and crumble. Decaying railroad ties and bridge timbers significantly increased the risk of train derailments and dangerous accidents. While mining remains a hazardous occupation, rotted timbers standing between a work crew and cave in made a mine even more deadly. 16 14 15 16
28 In addition to mitigating safety hazards, creosoting gained ground amidst fears of a widespread timber famine and the push for efficiency and more careful management of natural resources. 17 Advocates also touted this preservative as a more sanitary and healthful construction material that could be used to pave city streets and reduce diseases such as yellow fever. 18 On a more global scale, proponents of creosoted timber also emphasized its use as a practical tool o f ecological imperialism. Creosoted timber enabled countries such as Great Britain and the United States to build infrastructure and extend economic influence over India, Mexico, Cuba, and other areas, where they deemed both the native wood and the people who lived there as inferior. 19 Although creosote offered many tangible benefits, it also signified a deeper motivation. By preventing timber from and preventing marine increasing the life of timber and saving money. 20 Instead, these industrialists viewed their achievement as exerting control over nature, reversing the v ery order of their environment, and forcing it to suit the needs of a modern society. This perspective is apparent in a 1920 decennial report on forest products research. While the forest 17 18 Engineering Digest 4 (Dec. 1908): 675. 19 Norfolk Creosoting Company, 20 These comments are in the subtitle of
29 rude imagination slowly awakened to the arts of life, he finally succeeded in reversing the order of his 21 After much trial, error, debate, and contention, wood preservers came to re cognize creosote as their preservative of choice for reversing the order of their environment, but its ascendancy and acceptance took time. William Chapman, a British civil engineer and author of an 1817 study on wood preservation, pronounced the research in this field to be to navigate. 22 To understand why so many people continue to prefer creosote to this day, this chapter traces the early history of this industry and the quest for an effective wood preserving process. Investigating creosote s predecessors illustrates that t he wood preservation industry s reliance on toxic treatments is much older than its use of creosote. While creosote s appeal has endured for nearly two centuries, wood preservers first proposed and experimented with countless other chemical concoctions in their quest to stave off decay. These many attempts to locate an effective preservative produced a literature on the history of wood preserving that is as one expert 21 22
30 characterized it in 1913 23 A compilation of past techniques published in 1846 listed 47 unique preparations employed since 1657. 24 treatment methods, identified 174 distinct preservatives that had already been proposed and experimented with. 25 While these lists represent more modern examples of wood Egyptians, Greeks, savage tribes to render wood more resilient. 26 Their methods included saturating wooden structures and building materials with different types of oils such as cedar, olive, and linseed; submerging the wood in salt water and salt lakes; and charring the timber. 27 In a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association in accurate data relating to it are already found in the oldest writings that have been handed down to us. The Roman writers on 23 24 25 26 27
31 architecture, such as Cato, Pliny, Vitruvius and Palladius, give us full particulars of the processes applied and substances used. 28 Although wood preservation advocates left behind extensive accounts of the different preservatives in circulation, the record is bewildering similar formulations, proprietary products, and conflicting or nonexistent data on their efficacy, especially over time. 29 There were also many different methods for applying the preservatives including brushing, submerging, soaking, and boiling. Some wood impreg nated the wood with the preservative while it was under pressure. 30 Until the U.S. Congress established the Forest Products Laboratory in 1910 at the University of Wisconsin Madison, there was no real testing center anywhere to investigate and verify the e xtravagant claims that many individuals and wood treatment companies made. 31 This arrogance and overconfidence is visible in advertisements promoting specific treatments. For several years in the early 1890s, representatives from the Finch Wood Preservativ e Company wrote B. E. Fernow, chief of the U.S. honour 32 The 28 29 30 31 32
32 to in the correspondence and advertising often 33 Similarly, the Republic Creosoting Company made promises it could not keep in a 1915 advertisement for wood preserved with Reilly Creosote Oil, 34 Companies such as Finch Wood Preserving and Republic Creosoting lacked hard evid ence to backup their gloating. Many preservatives sounded promising in theory but could not actually be proven effective unless users waited years to field test the treated wood and exposed the material to the harshest possible conditions. There was also a great degree of variation depending on the product s intended use; as many wood preservers concluded, for example, a preservative that seemed effective in one region with a dry, arid climate might not be successful in a humid, wet environment. A sense of urgency to resolve the problem of wood preservation prompted many producers and consumers of treated wood to embrace preservatives that, while advantageous for halting decay and deterring pests, remained too expensive, impractical, and dangerous to use. Wi lliam Goltra reinforced these challenges in a 1913 American Wood Preservers Association presentation on the history of preservatives 33 34
33 effective, provided they could be carefully an d economically applied, but most of them have not survived, either through cost of material, difficulties in their operation or their 35 A few memorable treatments from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries that did not survive the test of time included coating and rubbing and submerging wood 36 Even without reliable data on whether these formulations adequately treated wood, these brief descriptions offer insight into why these methods did not succeed; i t was time consuming to apply these preparations and they contained many different ingredients that might have been expensive or hard to obtain. Wood preservers also learned that some of their experiments could be deadly. In his 1913 history of wood pres erving, Goltra addressed the havoc that one proposed wood treatment wrought in Woolwich, England: In 1811 Mr. Lukin undertook to treat wood by burying i t in pulverized charcoal in a heated oven. He erected a large kiln in Woolwich Dockyard but an explosi on took place on the first trial before the process was completed, which proved fatal to eight of the workmen and wounded twelve. The explosion was like th e shock of an earthquake. The experiment was not repeated. 37 35 36 37
34 Writing about this tragedy in 1875, arch itect Thomas Allen Britton also noted that distance of 250 feet; an iron door weighing 280 lb. was driven to the distance of 230 feet; and other parts of the building were 38 Although Lukin s experiment failed because of an explosion, many other wood preservatives proved hazardous because they involved handling or coming in contact with poisonous substances. In 1737, Alexander Emerton se cured one of the earliest boards with boyling oyls (sic) which are prepared and mixed to a glutinous consistency for that purpose; then by a covering at severall (sic) ti mes of compounded poisons, 39 Just as Emerton s patent emphasized toxicity as an essential element to an effective treatment. As Goltra co ncluded in his investigation of the history of wood has been the same, namely, the injection into the vessels of the wood of some material which. . 40 The U.S. Forest Prod ucts Laboratory matter of factly justified the toxic nature of most wood preservatives in a 1938 bulletin: 38 39 Alexander Emerton, British Patent #557 (1737) Coating or Painting the Timbers of Ships and Buildings Journal of the Society of Arts 572, No. 11 (November 6, 1863): 773. 40
35 41 The problem of wood preservation was considered so vital that eighteenth century scientific societies such as the Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Society for the Encouragement of Arts of London, offered prizes to individuals who developed successful treatments. 42 Although contracts with railroads, shipping companies, and municipalities. Indiv iduals holding patents on wood preserving treatments might also receive royalties from businesses employing their unique processes. The potential notoriety and profits attracted numerous people with good intentions to the industry, but it also drew individ uals and companies driven by a more wood preserving industry, some of them that do good work and a lot of them that mean 41 Forest Products Laboratory, Testing Wood Preservatives (Madison, Wisconsin: Uni ted States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Dec. 1938), 2. 42
36 to do good work, but there are in this business, as in any other, people who are not 43 Goltra, who operated his own tie treating company in the early twentieth century and authored several studies on wood preservation, condemned the prevalence of swindlers and snake oil salesmen in the industry: treating industry has not escaped the wiles of the fakir and the impostor. Unscientific and unscrupulous shell 44 Other leaders in the industry heartily agreed. In a 19 13 article published in Scientific American Ernest A. 45 made Americans especially 46 treated wood. In 1865, B. S. Foreman patented a dry powder composed of salt, arsenic, and mercuric chloride (corrosive sublimate) that users applied to wood. Excited about the potential for preventing decay in railroad ties, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad purchased t he rights to Foreman 43 44 45 Scientific American Supplement (July 12, 1913): 26. 46
37 47 Carpenters installing shingles treated 48 an d corrosive sublimate effloresced from the ties along the Memphis and Charleston poisoning and killing cattle attracted to the ties because of the salt. Dead cattle lined the track along a ten mile route, which enraged farmers who forced the rai lroad to remove the ties at great expense. 49 Whether the manufacturers of wood preservatives such as Foreman had honorable intentions or not, the proliferation of treatments highlighted the sense of desperation surrounding the availability, longevity, and reliability of wood products and structures. These concerns peaked in Europe first, with the earliest and strongest motivation to locate and perfect a wood preserving process stemming from the desire to maintain and expand naval power. As historian Charle s Haines notes in his study on the industrialization of wood, the establishment of large standing navies in Europe 50 th and nineteenth centuries, and the problem of wood preservation significantly hampered a nation s ability to protect itself while also threatening trade and commerce. 51 which have been taken to preserve the British Navy 47 48 49 50 51
38 administrator and fellow of the Royal Society, justified the strong push for wood 52 Many Euro peans especially those protecting military and commercial interests such as Knowles environmental histori an Emily Brock argues, and these periods of naval conflict other ship 53 Visible and well publicized accounts of wood deterioration also exacerbated Europ ean fears of timber shortages. Although mariners and sailors had long taken measures to protect their vessels eenth and nineteenth centuries. 54 While these towering vessels signified imperial might, the dank and dark environment within their holds created an ideal environment for wood deterioration. Preventing decay and rot troubled British officials and scientists in particular, since, as 55 52 53 terns in Old Places: Forest History for the Global Present The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History ed. Andrew Isenberg (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 163. 54 55
39 56 Tragi c incidents such as the 1782 sinking of the HMS Royal George illustrated the gravity of the problem (Figure 2 1 ) On August 29, 1782, this 100 gun British battleship, docked at Spithead and sank in a matter of minutes. 57 Over 900 people drowned, including many women and children visiting with crew members before the ship departed for Gibraltar In the wake of the wreck, British authorities investigated and tried to determine who was at fault for the disaster. 58 In an 1842 account of the shipwreck and the inquiry that followed, Julian Slig Milbank saw her in dock at Plymouth, and found her so bad, that there was not a sound timber in her; the officers of the yard said she was so very bad, they could scarcely find 59 Addressing why the sinking of the Royal George was so disturbing, Slight, explained: Volcanos, earthquakes, and shipwrecks, are usually prec eded or attended with fearful indications and concomitants; while in the present instance a ll was calm and still, and as free f rom apprehension of evil, as any family might be suppo sed to be in the midst of its usual avocations, recreation or enjoyments. At a momen t, totally unapprehended, the briny element extended its voracious jaws, and nearly 1000 of our fellow creatures, male and female, wherein a moment ingulph ed in a premature watery grave. 60 56 57 Richardson, Wood Preservation 5; Julian Slight, A Narrative of the Loss of the Royal George At Spithead, August 1782 5 th ed. (Portsea: S. Horsey, 1842). 58 59 60
40 As the quote suggests, tragedies like this one proved especially frightening because they seemed to strike without warning. Although a state of the art vessel like the Royal George migh t appear to be in tip beneath the ship s decks. Assessing the impact of the disaster, one British writer in the extremities of the 61 While this significant loss of life was unusual, incidents such as the Royal George were not uncommon. William Chapman, a British civil engineer, who published an account of wood preservation techniques in 1817, dedicated his tr eatise to the lords 62 Contemporary newspaper reports and periodicals publicized alarming news about ships such as the Queen Charlotte whose timbers were found to be rotten in 1812 even though the ship had seen no actual service, or the Rodney terly 63 Examining this serious means a rare occurrence for vessels to be so much damaged while on the stocks, as to 61 62 63 Autumn; or the Causes, Appearances, and Effects of the Seasonal Decay and Decomposition (London: Thomas Ward & Co., 1837) 278 279.
41 require extensive repairs before they are fit for launching; and that others have barely 64 While tragedies such as the Royal George and negative pub licity about the plight of the Britis h navy stoked an interest in wood preservation, Europeans began to pursue treatment methods more aggressively as they observed the mayhem that shipworms could cause. Although they resemble worms, these bivalve mollusks attach to the bottoms of wooden boats piles, docks, planks, and piers before steadily burrowing and tunneling through the wood, seriously compromising the material s structural integrity in and, as one sc boats and piers, the adaptations made the shipworm a mightier enemy to seafaring than 65 Many researchers, for example, now maintain that the shipworms depredat ions against the Spanish Armada in 1588 when the fleet docked in Lisbon severely incapacitated the Spanish ships long before Sir Francis Drake and English naval forces officially defeated the Armada. 66 Although there are many distinct species of shipworms, people seldom distinguished among these species when discussing their attacks. Instead, they teredo, Teredo genus. As environmental historian Derek Nelson has demonstrated, the word teredo became 64 65 Teredo navalis: the cryptogenic shipworm, in Erkki Leppkoski, Stephan Gollasch, Sergej Olenin (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002), 66
42 associated with the destruction these organisms caused and the fear that they incited. 67 When Gottfried Sell, also known as Sellius, produced one of the earliest studies of ue that 68 The author of an 1852 article viewed the teredo 69 These derogatory comme nts emphasized how most individuals viewed shipworms as deliberately subversive, and 70 As the above examples reveal, people came to view the teredo as relentless, sneaky, and calculating because it often remained undetected until disaster struck and the wood crumbled and disintegrated. While the exterior of the wood might appear perfectly stable and intact to casual obse rvers, it was actually severely weakened. 71 (Figure 2 2 ) In a paper presented to the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1898, teredo, without being greatly evidenced upon the surface. .Wood may appear to be 67 68 London: John Van Voorst, 1865), 130. 69 70 71
43 quite sound and yet be so weakened that much of it can be crushed by the hand. 72 shell fish teredo could produce when left unchecked. 73 In Holland in 1731, for example, shipworms annihilated the wooden dike networks that constrain the sea, threatening the Dutch with significant f lood damage and prompting them to rebuild the country s sea defenses with stone. 74 cosmopolitan appearance in San Francisco in 1913; by 1921 it had become so prevalent and destructive of the city s piers, wharve 75 In addition to hampering commerce and resulting in considerable expense, the teredo s consumption of wood could also result in more life threatening consequences. In Febr uary 1902, the large coal bins along the waterfront in Tampico, Mexico held up by wooden beams collapsed without warning, crushing over 30 people to death including many women and children. The culprit, as identified by eyewitnesses, 72 Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers 24 (New York: American Society of Civil Engineers, 1898) 409. 73 74 Jan Albert Bakker, Megalithic Research in the Netherlands, 1547 Giant s Beds to Accurate Investigations (Leiden: Sidestone Press 2010), 60 62. 75 Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006), 197.
44 authorities, and journ Biloxi Daily Herald article about the incident. 76 The teredo attacks, although separated by time and space, were no t isolated incidents. A ed coastal communities 77 Though they inadvertently transporting the organisms all over the world, especially dur ing the Age of Exploration. 78 Failing to recognize the role they played in the spread of shipworms, many people demanded that the teredo s predations be stopped. Nelson argues that the 79 At the time, however, teredo s victims those negatively impacted by the shipworms viewed them as conscious architects of destruction, anthropom orphizing these mollusks and regarding their actions as intentional and calculated. Advocates of wood preservation capitalized on this attitude, and they came to view and describe decay, rot, and the organisms that caused timber to weaken, molder, and los e its strength as insidious, treacherous, and surreptitious. In the Southern Pacific Bulletin 76 77 78 Teredo navalis: the cryptogenic shipworm, 79
45 recommend ed pr eservative treatment to deter the pests. 80 Another expos on wood deterioration 81 In its promotional materials on wood preservation, one company even sugges ted that destructive agents such as rot, decay, insects, and marine borers into each other 82 early treatments. 83 One of the earliest methods they endorsed was kyanization or kyanizing, which called for steeping or immersing wood in mercuric chloride, also known as bich loride of mercury and more commonly referred to as corrosive sublimate. This chemical compound took the form, as Irish physician John Moore Neligan explained in his 1864 study Medicines: Their Uses and Administration transparent, crystal 84 sublimate rather than mercuric chloride to avoid confusing it with its less powerful 80 81 82 83 84
46 cousin mercurous chloride or calomel. 85 Pierre Jean Claude Mauduyt da la Varenne, an eighteenth century French physician and naturalist well acquainted with the use of corrosive su blimate in taxidermy to protect specimens from insects and mold, a dreadful poison with which by merely t 86 Nelligan reinforced this grains producing death preceded by rapid and excessive inflammation of the digestive tube, with great der 87 Despite its toxicity, many physicians celebrated mercuric chloride for its powerful antiseptic properties. This compound also enjoyed popularity as a medicine ingested or applied externally to treat skin ailment s, rheumatism, arthritis, and venereal diseases including syphilis. As the eminent eighteenth century British toxicologist Alfred Swaine Taylor documented, however, misuse and overdose of corrosive sublimate also led to violent and painful deaths. 88 Corros theorize that it would stymie the organisms that caused wood to deteriorate. In 1705, 85 Jonathan Pereira, London Medical Gazette (June 25, 1836), 473; Alfred Swaine Taylor, Of Poi sons In Relation to Medical Jurisprudence and Medicine (Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1859), 398. Finlay Dun, Veterinary Medicines: Their Actions and Uses 9 th ed. (New York: William R. Jenkins, 1899), 515. 86 87 88 See Chapter 10 in Alfred Swaine Taylor s Of Poisons In Relation to Medical Jurisprudence and Medicine (Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1859).
47 French physician and scientist William Homberg reported that this substance deterred insects whe n applied to timber, and French scholar De Boissieu recommended its use as a wood preservative in 1767. In spite of these sporadic reports, mercuric chloride did not gain favor as a wood preservative until 1832, when John Howard Kyan patented its use. Kyan born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1774, learned about the problem of wood preservation at an early age since his father owned copper mines in Wicklow and battled decaying mine timbers and supports. After experimenting with different chemicals, Kyan grew convin ced that mercuric chloride would stop decay in its tracks. 89 experiment in 1828 designed to attract the Admiralty s interest and support. With their approval, Kyan subjected bl ocks of wood some treated with corrosive sublimate and others left untreated d decay. 90 the hole is worse for a piece of timber, than ten years in almost any possible situation 91 After several years, Kyan staged a reveal in front of some of the leading naval commanders and ch emists of the day. When Woolwich workers removed Kyan s cesspool 89 Sidney Lee, Dictionary of National Biography: Volume 31, Kennett Lambart (London: Smith Elder, & Co., 1892) 347. 90 91
48 pronounced the wood sound. In contrast, the untreated blocks had decomposed and crumbled. 92 After patenting his method in 1832 and gaining the support of esteemed chemists such as Michael Faraday, who promoted this new process of kyanizing timber in an ships, buildings, railroad ties, t elegraph poles, and even poles used to raise hops for the beer industry. 93 Kyan and his unique wood treatment process enjoyed considerable acclaim, with his achievements immortalized in a popular ditty of the period: Have you heard, have you heard, Anti d ry rot s the word? Wood will never wear out, thanks to Kyan, to Kyan! He dips in a tank, Any rafter or plank, And makes it immortal as Dian, as Dian! 94 s s imperishable the wood he treated. 95 Other individuals pursuing wood preservation, however, cast doubts on the efficacy and safety of his process. Thomas Jefferson Cram, a colonel in the U. S. Army Corp s of Engineers ties installed along a route outside of Baltimore, Maryland. After laying only one mile of 92 93 George Birkbeck, A Lecture on the Preservati on of Timber by Kyan s Patent for Preventing Dry Rot (London: John Weale, 1834), 23 24; Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 224. 94 95
49 had to be 96 Cram s observation that the workers placing the ties began poisoning. 97 Additional evidence indicated that the workers Cram described were not alone in fin 98 In 1841, the British and Foreign Medical Review alerted the medical and scientific community to the risks of kyanized 99 The authors British and Fore ign Medical Review 100 Potential public health risks also troubled some individuals. If kyanized wood, for example, was used vapour through the apartments of a house, leading to the slow destruction of life by 96 Report Upon the Decay and Preservation of Timber (Washington, D.C. Engineer Department, 1871), 5. 97 Chapter 26: Mercury, Hunter s Diseases of Oc cupations 10 th ed., edited by Peter J. Baxter, Tar Ching Aw, Anne Cockcroft, Paul Durrington, and J. Malcolm Harrington (Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2010), 217. 98 Upon the Decay and Preservation of Timber, 5. 99 100
50 101 Also, some physicians worried about widespread co 102 While the British and Foreign Medical Review should to have resonated within the industry. 103 In 1842, Sir Edwin Chadwick, an English social reform er, released a landmark report exposing the need for better housing and sanitation among Great Britain s workers, but his study also referenced the potential safety is almos Chadwick observed, wood become frequently ill from the fumes 104 Rather than acknowledging the toxicity of corrosive sublimate or the dangerous wo rking conditions under which these wood preservers worked, Chadwick and the no avail, and the employer at length gave notice that he would discharge entirely from employme nt the first that was attacked with the peculiar illness produced by the fumes 101 102 103 104
51 105 Apparently, these threats and intimidation proved aft 106 Workers at the kyanizing plant learned that a condition in keeping their jobs was to remain silent about occupational hazards, which did not disappear. Weighing the benefits and costs of different wood preservatives in an 1885 study, Si r Samuel Bagster Boulton, an English authority on wood preservation, 107 It was not potential health risks, however, that doomed kyanization, but rather the poor performance of the treated timber in wet and humid conditions the environments in which wood deteriorated rapidly. Launching an extensive investigation into wood preservation, the American Society of Civil Engineers publish ed the results of its study in 1885. Although the committee praised kyanized timber s ability to extend the life of 108 The ties, 109 Boulton reinforced these 105 106 107 Samuel Bagster Boulton, The Preservation of Timber By the Use of Antiseptics (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1885), 19. 108 American Society of Civil Engineers, 109
52 erable amount of success in comparatively dry situations; but in water, and particularly in sea water, it appears to 110 This meant that wood preserved with corrosive sublimate was rendered kyanization of limited utility in many areas of the world. 111 brief dynasty other preservative metho ds soon sealed its fate. 112 In addition to highlighting the failure of mercuric chloride in wet and humid environments and its inability to fight the teredo, Kyan s competitors questioned how reliable and consistent kyanized wood could be if the timber was o nly steeped in the solution rather than forcibly injected under pressure, which soon became the standard method of administering wood preservatives. Recognizing the limitations of his process, Kyan attempted to switch to a pressure impregnation method, but the corrosive sublimate ate through the metal cylinders that held the preservative, or as one of Kyan 113 To cut costs, some co ntractors also diluted the mercuric chloride solution they immersed the timber in, which decreased its ability to preserve wood. Reflecting on this trend and Kyanizing 110 111 T. B. Hartley, On the Effects of the Worm on Kyanized Timber exposed to the action of Sea Water, and on the use of Greenheart Timber from The Civil Engineer and Architect 4 (January 1841): 22. 112 113
53 speak in plain terms, it led them to cheating, and Kyanizing fell into contempt in England. Moreover, the process is very tedious, because of the length of time required 114 Although Kyanizing still retained some devout followers, a new method of treati ng timber with a solution of zinc chloride, which William Burnett patented in 1838, soon received greater interest and initial acclaim. 115 In his position as physician general of the Royal Navy, Burnett was well acquainted with the problems of wood deterior ation that plagued British vessels, but he was also aware of sanitation issues that jeopardized the health of the crews onboard. 116 To treat wood, but also serve as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and preserver of medical and lab specimens, Burnett recommended the compound zinc chloride, also known as 117 Burnett paralleled Kyan s process steepi ng mixed with water. 118 In an 1839 article in the Army and Navy Chronicle Burnett and the boosters of his patented approach assessed the strengths of this wood preservative technique: This process is moreover pe rfectly innoxious, and cannot b y possibility endanger health, either in its preparation or in its application. All the timbe rs and ceiling of a ship may, therefore, be impregnated with the solution, without the slight est prejudicial effect to the crowded i nmates of 114 American Society of Civil Engineers, 115 116 117 Walter Renton Ingalls, Production and Properties of Zinc (New York: The Engine ering and Mining Journal, 1902), 163. 118 American Society of Civil Engineers,
54 its close confines. It purifies bilge wate r. And further, this valuable preparation is compar atively inexpensive in its use. 119 Advocates of Burnettizing emphasized its safety, especially when compared with corrosive sublimate and other virulent p oisons used to preserve wood, but zinc chloride still posed a health risk to workers and individuals who encountered the compound. As surfaces or mucous membranes it acts as a 120 Exposure to zinc chloride or headaches, and respiratory and pulmonary problems. 121 Claiming that zinc chloride was porters did, was an exaggeration. Nevertheless, when compared with its competition, zinc chloride as Blanc argues 122 The main appeal of zinc chloride, however, had little to do with environmental or occupational health and safety concerns, but rather its affordability and availability F. Weiss, a director of the Forest Products Laboratory and an authority on wood preservation, demonstrated, it destroying fungi, offering about the same resistance as 119 120 Zinc, Poisoning By, A Refere nce Handbook of the Medical Sciences: Volume 8 (New York: William Wood and Company, 1904), 340. 121 122
55 coal 123 Unlike coal tar creosote, zinc chlorid e could also be more easily manufactured in a laboratory rather than extracted as a byproduct of a complex coal distillation process. Long after European wood preservers dismissed zinc chloride as a viable wood preservative, many American consumers still d epended on it because they could not cheaply or easily import creosote from countries such as Germany or England, nations with more advanced coal gas industries. 124 In spite of being easy to access and cost effective, several major weaknesses kept the indus 125 Similar to Kyan, Burnett originally called for submerging the timber in a solution of the salt mixed with water. As Kyan learned with mercuric chloride, however, this approach often failed to yield an even or thorough treatment of the wood. The American Society of Civil Engineers 1885 report on wood preservation described the application of zinc chloride in this mann tedious and s omewha 126 Although Burnett and his supporters later devised a way to adapt the process for impregnating wood with coal tar creosote under pressure to suit zinc chloride, other problems also troubled users of this process. 127 Many wood preservers ten ded to over apply preservative treatments thinking that this would better protect the wood, but 123 Goltra, The Preservation of Structural Timber (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc., 1915), 73. 124 125 Miscellaneous Papers on Wood 2. 126 American Society of Civil Engineers, 127
56 applying too much zinc chloride actually weakened timber. Addressing a failed experiment with Burnettized railroad ties along the Pennsylvania, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad, the line s president, Isaac Hinckley, described how ties workers even installed them along the track. 128 The Philadelphia and Reading Railroad expe 129 Controlling the concentration of the solution so that it would adequately preserve the ti mber but not compromise its strength proved to be a delicate balancing act, but the most significant limitation of zinc chloride was its extreme solubility in water. 130 When exposed to wet or humid conditions, this preservative quickly leached out of wood, w hich significantly restricted the locations in which it could be used and also resulted in its failure against the teredo and other marine borers. Assessing the utility of different treated 131 Although some railroads in the American West found Burnettizing successful in ared by the 132 The same year 128 129 130 131 We iss, The Preservation of Structural Timber 73. 132
57 that Burnett patented his process, for example, naval administrator and geographer be hoped that we shall have no more tampering with dry rot doctors and their nostrums for the preservation of Her Majesty s ships. The steeping of large logs of timber in solutions 133 As Barrow alluded, the wood preservati on industry needed a more thorough preservative process, but it also hoped for a stronger and more reliable chemical that would meet the demands of consumers in wet and humid environments prone to the most severe wood deterioration. Creosote answered the industrialist Carl Ludwig von Reichenbach coined in the early 1830s, originally referred to tar distilled from beechwood. Isolating the different chemicals produced during the distillation process, Reic flesh preserver, to one particular distillate that appeared to have great antiseptic properties, and which he experimented with as a meat preservative. 134 Influenced by Reichenbach's discovery, nine teenth century physicians and pharmacists extolled the virtues of beechwood creosote as a sedative and painkiller, but also to treat respiratory conditions such as tuberculosis and coughs, skin ailments, dental problems, infected 133 134
58 wounds, digestive issues, internal parasites, and even cancer. 135 Sir John Rose Cormack, a Scottish physician who published one of the first studies of creosote in confidence in its curative powers had been inflated, Cormack pronounced it to be 136 Wood tar creosote's increasing popularity as a panacea prompted a search for less costly alternatives, and many producers turned to what t hey assumed was a similar substance a coal byproduct of the illuminating gas manufacturing process. 137 In the nineteenth century, the manufacture of coal gas for gaslighting had become big business, and, as an 1869 Scientific American article reported, this technology was 138 To produce the flammable gases a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, and volatile hydrocarbons such as benzene, and toluene that illuminated streets and homes, manufacturers heated coal in large retorts connected to a furnace. 139 135 136 137 138 139 Description of the Process of Manufacturing Coal Gas, for the lighting of 2nd ed. ( 36; The Chemists' War: 1914 1918 (Cambridge: The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015), 65.
59 Attempting to meet the increasing demand for illuminating gas, companies manufacturing this product multiplied throughout Europe in the first ha lf of the nineteenth century. 140 Gaslighting's success, according to Frederick Accum, an early nineteenth ghting with gas is 141 Coal came to be seen, as environmental policy researcher Barbara Freese explains, the fou ndation of 142 In addition to lighting the streets and homes of nineteenth century Europe, coal also provided heat, played an essential role in the manufacture of steel, and powered the engines of industry. 143 Once they awakened to the val ue of coal, manufacturers, scientists, and entrepreneurs reexamined the nuisance and refuse byproducts of coal gasification. In addition to the coal gas that powered gaslighting, the distillation process also yielded a waste product known as coal tar. 144 But ler detailed this process: When coal is submitted to dry distillation in horizon tal or vertical retorts, the products of carbonisation are gas, ammoniacal liquor, and tar. The tar comes off in the form of a fog suspended in the gas, from which it is 140 141 142 143 144
60 conden sed or scrubbed out by suitable means, when the resulting products co ntain varying proportions of 145 Further distillation of this tar resulted in a number of secondary chemical compounds: oils lighter than water (known as eupion o r napthas), oils heavier than residue leftover at the end of the process). 146 George Lunge, a professor of technical chemistry in Zurich and author of a detailed study of co al tar and its byproducts in 1882, which were not merely without value, but caused considerable inconvenience and 147 Raphael Meldola, a British chemi st echoed a similar viscid, unsavoury substance was in every sense a waste product. No use had been 148 As Lung e and Meldola emphasized, coal gas producers viewed coal tar as a nuisance and a burden. Since each ton of coal harnessed to produce illuminating gas substance. 149 The more co al countries produced and consumed, the more coal tar became a n inconvenience In 1876, for example, England a leader in industrialization 145 146 Boulton, The Preservation of Timber by the Use of Antiseptics 29 30. 147 Treatise on the Distillation of Coal Tar and Ammoniacal Liquor, and the Separation of Them From Valuable Products (Lond on: John Van Voorst, 1882), 4. 148 149 The Chemists' War 67.
61 and coal gasification used an estimated 10 million tons of coal to produce illuminating gas, which according to Lunge required them to dispose of or find alternative uses for 450,000 tons of coal tar. 150 Seeking a profitable application for its excessive waste, coal fields such as wood preserv ation and developing new products such as synthetic dyes and explosives. 151 In a late nineteenth century conference presentation, engineer C.S. McKinney, conveyed the popular admiration for the many, varied uses of what had only recently been viewed as a wor thless waste product: The wizard of the laboratory touches with his mag ic wand the black malodorous product of the gas retorts, and from it evolves col ors of exquisite brilliancy; perfumes as delicate and sweet as those from the most fragrant flowers; fla vors to delight the daintiest tastes; explosives more powerful than the nitro glycerine, and medicines to cure the ills, and soothe t he pains of suffering humanity. 152 This newfound fascination with coal tar and a longstanding confusion over terminology led to its use as a replacement for wood tar products. After his work with his colleagues such as German chemist Friedlieb Runge contended that the heavier oils in coal tar were unique from the creosote Reichenbach isolated from beechwood, many chemists, physicians, manufacturers, and consumers viewed the chemical and physical 150 Treatise on the Distillation of Coal Tar and Ammoniacal Liquor, and the Separation of Them From Valuable Products 8. 151 152 Preservative Chemicals Derived From Coal before the Engineering Association of the South (April 8, 1897): 1 2.
62 properties to be so similar that the tendency to conflate the two substances became almost universal. 153 Reporting on this creosote conundrum in an 1885 paper published in The Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry scholar Carl Schlorlemmer remarked arose, which was kept up with an obstinacy unparalleled in the history 154 While the decision to substitute coal tar creosote for wood tar creosote was born out of a persistent misperception that they were equivalent and even identical, it r esulted in significant economic gain for coal gas manufacturers and coal tar to have similar properties to its wood tar counterpart, manufacturers marketed and sold i t as a substitute for beechwood creosote at a fraction of the cost, monetizing a waste product of an already lucrative manufacturing process. 155 Although many physicians, pharmacists, and scientists soon warned that it was not a suitable replacement or alte rnative to the genuine beechwood creosote since it to refer, almost universally, to coal tar creosote especially once the wood preserving industry recognized its potentia l value. 156 One study, published by the New York State collected on orders for 'Beechwood Creosote,' or 'Creosote U.S.P.,' from druggists in 153 154 155 156
63 ctually coal tar creosote. 157 The pharmaceutical corporation, Merck & Company, pronounced this tendency to substitute coal tar chwood creosote is comparatively harmless, while coal tar creosote is distinctly poisonous; substitution of coal tar creosote for 158 Addressing the gravity of the problem, a pharmacist from the coal tar creosote is often dispensed for the beechwood creosote. The average 159 Another source looseness still prevails in some places, leading directly to the serious danger of Creosote substitution 160 Disturbed by the adulteration of wood tar creosote with coal tar creosote, one concerned medical possible that a body of men so particularly trained in the art of recognizing and distinguishing powerful medicinal agents, can have been so ignorant or so reckless as to imperil human life by dangerous substitutions such as have been officially 161 157 158 159 160 161
64 Regardless of these strident warnings, coal tar creosote's misassociation with wood tar creosote proved long lasting. One American wood preserver, for example, l or wood tar product 162 a wood preservation expert and director of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory hose conversant with 163 Although experts such as Weiss and pharmacists and physicians endorsed a more precise many people in 164 As Paul Blanc has argued, this deceptive labeling actually benefited the wood preservation industry since coal 165 In spite of its etymological connection to the popular medicinal, however, this wood preservative proved as poisonous as many of its predecessors. As the fifth and sixt h chapters of this dissertation explore, its toxic nature remained hidden from workers, consumers, and the general public although its use as a wood preservative steadily increased. When workers filed lawsuits alleging that their exposure to coal tar creos ote threatened their health, wood preservation companies preyed on this 162 Preservative Chemicals Derived From Coal 163 164 165
65 confusion over creosote's toxic nature and turned it to their advantage. They insist ed that it was frequently employed for medical purposes and could not possibly harm workers. 166 The c onfusion over creosote's identity was not simply the result of individuals misusing the term. Instead, the conflict also stemmed from coal tar creosote's inherent complexity. In contrast to many other wood preservatives as well as other chemical agents der ived from coal, chemists found it nearly impossible to precisely define coal tar creosote's chemical makeup. Environmental scientists Ronald Wyzga and Lawrence cannot be chara 167 No two samples of coal tar or the creosote it yields possess the exact same chemical formula of the tar 168 Even today, scientists struggle to divine the specific chemicals that comprise creosote. Pollution experts Nicholas Cheremisinoff and Paul Rosenfeld describe the challenge of standardizing and analyzing creosote's chemical c 166 See, for example, Republic Creosoting Company v. Hiatt 212 Ind. 432; 8 N.E.2d 981; 1937 Ind. LEXIS 329, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015) ; Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Thompson, Trustee, v. McKamey 205 Ark. 907; 171 S.W.2d 932; 1943 Ark. LEXIS 254, www.lexisn exis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015). 167 168
66 major compositional mix in coal tar creosote; however, there can be up to 10,000 169 Chemists had long recognized this wood preserv ative's variable nature. In his 1922 study of distillation, Thomas Howard Butler advised, . varies so enormously, according to its mode of production, that it is useless to attempt 170 For centur ies, this chemical complexity plagued manufacturers trying to produce a consistently effective wood preservative, but also for researchers, workers, and concerned citizens investigating the occupational and environmental health risks associated with this t oxic treatment. While the wood coal tar creosote versus wood tar creosote, experts initially dismissed coal tar preservatives as inferior to corrosive sublimate, zinc chloride, and wood tar products. 171 When applied through the traditional brushing or steeping techniques, coal tar distillates did not effectively penetrate the wood pores, and resinified and hardened too quickly, which prevented adequate coverage. 172 Other researchers also found th at it dried too 173 A 169 Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production Volume 2: Best Pr actices in the wood and Paper Industries (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2010), 10. 170 "Fractional Distillation in the Coal Tar Industry," 364. 171 172 173 Treatise on the Distillation of Coal Tar and Ammoniacal Liquor, and the Separation of Them From Valuable Products 79.
67 significant technological innovation pressure treatment rendered coal tar distillates such as creosote more viable as wood preservatives. Departing from the antiquated surface level treatments that Kyan and Burnett employed, Franz Moll obtained a British patent in 1836 for a new method of treating timber with coal tar products in a heated and closed vessel under pressure. Up to this point, as Goltra noted 174 If they hoped to expedite the steeping process, which usually took days, wood preservers might use an open fire to heat th e vat containing the timber and preservative solution, but this proved dangerous because many preservatives were highly flammable. 175 deep into the wood rather than merely co ating its exterior. The process that Moll pioneered, however, required a tedious series of treatments with different distillates of coal tar, which he thought would prepare or season the wood for the final application of e. 176 While his laboratory experiments appeared promising, Moll's approach was not adopted as a practical method since many regarded the initial applications of lighter distillates to be unnecessary, time consuming, and costly. 177 Two years later in 1838, John Bethell patented a more streamlined pressure 174 175 176 177
68 preservation. 178 Although Bethell is often celebrated for ushering in the rise of coal tar creosote, he never directly mentio exclusively. 179 T Wood, Cork, Leather, Woven and Felted Fabrics, Ropes and Cordage, Stone and Plaster or Compositions, either more Durable, or less Pervious to Water, or less 180 As Bethell's patent description suggested, he was not exclusively focused on preserving wood, but rather improvi ng the strength and quality of many materials regularly exposed to the elements. 181 Rather than relying on the same technique of steeping or immersing timber that Kyan, Burnett, and others endorsed, is made to screw on air 182 After sealing the material to be treated inside, operators used pneumatic pumps to remove as much air as possible from the chamber and create a vacuum that helped extract moisture from items, which prepared the item to absorb as much preservative as possible. After pumping the desired amount of 178 179 180 181 182
69 preservative into the tank, the operator increased the pre ssure inside the chamber to force the preservative to thoroughly saturate the material. 183 184 The first included chemicals that would improve durab ility, the second contained solutions that would also help with waterproofing, and the third featured substances that might help with fireproofing. In addition to whale oil, applicable to wood that is much exposed to the weather, as for railroad sleepers, piles, out 185 While Bethell alluded to the pote ntial uses of creosote as a wood preservative, he did not foresee its ascendancy. The wood preservation industry, however, capitalized on coal medicinal mystique and connection to coal, a symbol of industrialization and advanced technology. According to its proponents, creosote played a vital role in advancing modern industrial society because it conserved money and scarce timber resources, protected marine interests, and enabled empires to extend influence over far flung continents. When Eu rope industrialized and expanded its railroad networks rapidly in the nineteenth century, this placed an unprecedented and startling demand on already limited timber resources since railroads relied heavily on wood for trestles, bridges, and 183 184 185
70 cross ties or railroads harnessed coal for steam power, the lines also depended on wood for fuel. As civil engineer A. M. Wellington calculated in an 1887 economic investigation of railways, approxi mately one mile of track necessitated an average of 2,640 ties. 186 This number increased over time to about 3,000 ties per mile of track as railroads attempted to improve the safety and longevity of their lines. 187 Geographer William Black estimated that 140 average oak trees yielded sufficient ties for only one mile of track, which underscores how greedily railroads consumed timber. These figures did not even factor in the wood also needed for supporting structures, which was difficult to determine and varied considerably. The limited lifespan of untreated ties also exacerbated European concerns about a timber crisis because even when made of more durable hardwoods such as oak, untreated ties only lasted about five to nine years in optimal conditions. Coal tar creosote, when applied using Bethell s pressure treating process, could potentially triple the longevity of timber, significantly decreasing costs for railroads and conserving timber supplies in the process. 188 This preservative also offered another cost saving benefit to consumers because it alleviated the strain on more durable and scarce hardwoods such as oak by increasing the utility of woods previously regarded as inferior. When thoroughly and properly pressure treated with coal tar creosote, species of wood such as pine, gum, 186 187 188
71 maple, and birch enjoyed a much longer service life. 189 wood 190 Another advocate stre ssed how this would conserve natural resources: It is not only in prolonging the life of the kinds of structural timber already in common use that wood preservation lessens the drain upon the forests; an equally important factor is the opportunity it give s to use the so called inferior timbers, which in a natural state decay too rapidly to permit their use where a fairly long life is imperative. 191 Thus, consumers realized even greater savings because they could substitute cheaper varieties of wood and rep lace it less frequently. While pressure treating wood with creosote significantly extended the life of timber, its chief advantage over its predecessors was its effectiveness in wet and humid conditions, which provided much greater protection against sh ipworms. Researchers 192 In 1878, Belgian chemist and naturalist Eduard Heinrich von Baumhauer only means which can be regarded with great certainty as a true pre servative against 193 A French engineer waging war 189 University of Illinois 1910), 32; Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 7. 190 191 Wood Preservation in the United States: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Bulletin 78 (Washington: Governm ent Printing Office, 1909), 30. 192 193
72 194 Reinforcing the conclusi ons of European 195 osoting is the only 196 proofing devices and n Derek Nelson 197 Although cheaper wood preservatives such as zinc chloride existed, many Europeans adamantly preferred creosote. Baumhauer argued that creosoted ti mber would wood treated with sulphate of copper or chloride of zinc (Burnettizing) is neither 198 These unique qualities became even more important as European and, later, American powers extended economic and military influence over other regions of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As imperialists invaded and attempted to domina te both the landscape and the indigenous peoples of India, Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, they relied on wood 194 195 196 197 198
73 to maintain and expand their empires, cutting timber, laying railroad track, constructing ports and towns, digging mines, and shipping mat erials and goods. 199 In regions where the tropical climate and insects preyed on wood, this dependency proved costly, which further motivated government officials and entrepreneurs to embrace coal tar creosote to protect their global investments. Geographer Erlend Eidsvik, for example, documented the local, national, and international trade networks that supplied European colonies in South Africa with creosoted railway sleepers in the nineteenth and early erable demand for railway ample business as it fulfilled contracts with colonial governments. 200 Exporting creosote gian vessels, then contracted with local woodcutters to secure timber for creosoting. 201 Colonial governments and business partners supplied European equipment and established creosoting plants in their colonies. 202 Boulton observed a similar process at work i n India, describing the challenges British engineers faced when building railways because the timber found in that country was subject to very rapid destruction by decay, and by 199 200 201 202
74 203 204 Although native Indian hardwoods such as teak, sal, and deodar would later come to be prized for their resiliency and durability, westerners in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, considered the indigenous trees to be inferior to European resources. 205 One does not produce a good timber 206 These attitudes also mirrored prevailing assumptions about colonial subjects as inferior, unrefined, and savage. 207 According to a 1904 survey conducted by the International Railway Congress and published in its 1904 bulletin, railroad lines in Uganda, Tri nidad, Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, and British Guiana under European control depended on creosoted ties and timbers along their lines. Although many of these railways initially imported creosoted timbers from Europe, they soon turned their attentions to the nat ive woods to save shipping costs and obtain an adequate supply for their ever expanding ventures. 208 When Europeans and Americans rapidly depleted their alternatives, they readily 203 204 205 206 207 208
75 exploited and creosoted indigenous hardwoods to support and advance the busine ss of colonialism. 209 Environmental historian Alfred Crosby persuasively argued, 210 Thus, attempts to control the environments, resources, and peoples of other regions represente d 211 Wood preservation played a leading role in this process, promoting the destruction of local timber resources, polluting the landscape, and subjecting indigenous peoples to occupational and environmental health risks associated with coal is often the case, marginalized groups lower in the social and economic hierarchies typically b 212 The individuals who bore an unequal share of these hazards were typically colonial subjects, immigrants, and racial minorities, forced to live and work at or in close proximity to these facilities. As creosoted timber and its associated health and environmental impacts debuted in locations across the globe, wood preservers also found opportunities to apply their technology to other transportation markets, specifically the search for a type 209 210 211 212
76 of paveme nt that was quiet, easy to maintain, sanitary, and affordable. As historian 213 During their crusades for better infrastructure, humans exp erimented with countless materials such as stone, rubber, ferrous metals, concrete, and asphalt, but since ancient times, our ancestors have been consistently drawn to wood because of its strength accessib ility, and affordability. Limited archeological e vidence of wooden roads exists today, however, because the chief disadvantage of wood as a paving material was its susceptibility to rot, decay, and insects The advent and growing popularity of wood preservation technology in the nineteenth century made w ood a more practical and long lasting paving option. As Europe and the United States industrialized and the population of cities mushroomed, a newfound sense of urgency during this period also prompted a reconsideration of wood paved streets. 214 Brick and st one lined the boulevards of urban Europe and the United States, but thoroughfares, they generated a maddening din amplified by surrounding buildings. Metal horseshoes and whee ls quickly deteriorated even the strongest pavement, irregularities that catch dirt and make street 215 One critic noted that the brick and stone roads were not the only casualty of the hooves and wheels; there 213 214 Ibid. 215
77 216 Uneven pavement also posed a danger to horses, passengers, and cargo, while making it difficult or impossible to sanitize streets. 217 Although many early nineteenth century municipalities had experimented with wooden blocks and planks as alternatives to brick and stone, without creosote s preservative strength, the wood readily absorbed moisture and rott ed. When waterlogged, the blocks bloated and expanded, producing a pitted and unstable surface that could not withstand the pounding hooves and crushing carriage wheels. The pavement's troughs and furrows 218 In addition to the ever present horse manure that littered the streets, untreated wood also when traversing city streets. 219 As American chemists reported in an investigation of nage of the street, can not fail 220 Gravely concerned about the public health risks of wooden streets vulnerable to decay, they warned, 216 217 218 St. Louis Post Dispatch 4 June 1881. 219 220
78 first made secure against decay by some chemical process which will thoroughly 221 Creosote, advocates claimed, resolved these woes, creating a safer, more sanitary, and tranquil urban landscape. An early twentieth century report on creosoted wood durability, noiselessness under heavy traffic, and sanitary properties are its chief 222 A 1913 advertisement for this material recommende d it specifically for 223 Percy Boulouis, an engineer in Liverpool, England, also its resiliency, affordability, and ease of repair. 224 Propo nents also insisted it was safer 225 The waste horses and other animals produced could also be removed with simple sweeping, and the creosote supposedly prevented excrement from soaking into the pavement. 226 the pressure or percussion of passing vehicles, like such an incompre ssible substance 221 222 F U.S. Department of Agriculture, April 1916), Folder Paving and Pavement, Box 28, US Forest Service Newspaper Clipping File, Forest History Society, Durham, North Caro lina. 223 224 225 226
79 227 This unique characteristic helped make the surface smoother, dampened sound, and prevented wear and tear on the pavement but also horses and travelers. 228 In addition to making travel more trolley tracks. The flexible wood was less likely to crack, break, or wander from the 229 Producers of treated wood block paving also exploited the widespread belief that creosote possessed healing and antiseptic properties. In the nineteenth century, city officials, medical professionals, engineers, and concerned citizens desperately sought potential solutions that might ameliorate disease outbreaks connected to cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, typhoid, and other contagions. The push for creosoted wood block paving demonstrated a shift away from the traditional view that disease was simply as historian Charles Rosenberg explaine d in his classic study The Cholera Years a 230 Instead, in the mid nineteenth century first Europeans and later immediate attention and sanitary reform such as secur ing clean water, removing sewage and garbage, and improving paving. 231 227 Robert Mudie, The Surveyor, Engineer, and Architect: For the Year 1841 (London: Wm. S. Orr and Co., 1841), 185. 228 229 230 231
80 While most people including doctors and sanitation engineers continued to epidemics, they correctly deduced disease. 232 Unless treated with creosote, one report argued, wood paving would be endangered public health. 233 affirmed, and widespread epidemics would occur without a chemical preservative and disinfectant such as creosote. 234 and powerful disinfectant against all the malarious inf streets. 235 Even as the view became more common that germs not miasmas caused disease, researchers continued to have faith in creosoted pavement and adapted their terminology accordingly. The author of a 1908 article in Engineerin g Digest pronounced 236 Another boasted that it tely non absorbent, such a pavement takes up none of the liquids of the street and furnishes no 237 232 233 234 235 236 237
81 treets of tropical and sub often plagued with disease but also where untreated paving materials quickly succumbed to rot and decay. 238 Towns and cities also installed creosoted wood blocks in congested areas where citizens' hea lth was of particular concern public and government buildings, hospitals, churches, and schools. 239 Experts cited and types of platforms, wharves, and docks, and for such miscel laneous purposes as hotel and where sanitation was often an issue. 240 Whitten characterizes the use of creosoted wood hoped it would promote public health and wellbeing while serving as a symbol of a 241 Hailing creosoted wood block paving as an engineering and sanitation marvel, cities throughout Europe and the United State s covered their streets with this material (Figure 2 3 ) A 1913 advertisement noted, bragged that London and Paris featured ove r 300 and 400 miles, respectively, of 238 239 240 U.S. Department of Agriculture, April 1916), Folder Paving and Pavement, Box 28, US Forest Service Newspaper Clipping File, Forest History Society, Durham, North Carolina. 241
82 creosoted pavement. 242 American cities followed suit, with Galveston, Mobile, Indianapolis, New York, Boston, and Chicago, leading the way. Galveston laid some of the first creosoted blocks in the United States in 1873, and even in a climate known for hurricane of 1900. 243 Discussing the popularity of thi s pavement, Henry L. Collier, a civil Canadian cities and as far south af (sic) Havana; from Boston to Seattle; from Jacksonville to San Francisco; from Minneapolis to Brown 244 He rhapsodized, 245 While champions of creosoted wood block paving such as Collier regarded it as 246 Charles Dickens detested treated wood utterly unatt ainable, that the knavish contractors supply blocks so rotten as to be worthless a few days after they are put down, and that the horses are continually 242 243 244 245 246
83 247 He also complained about while walking. 248 These unpleasant characteristics associated with creosoted wood block paving ran counter to what its advocates admired about this material, and they defended their product by some manufacturers of treating the wood improperly or failing to use quality creosote. 249 These unsatisfying encounters with creosoted pavement underscored a central problem with the growing wood preservation industry in the nineteenth century a lack of standardization and professionalization that hindered communication among manufacturers and prevented consistent quality of the treated material. Consumers of creosoted timber had to rely on the hon esty of the individuals preserving and selling the important that thoroughly honest work be done when creosoting timber. The process is one in which it is extremely easy to do bad work without the fact being known to the 250 Similarly, after an exhaustive investigation on wood preservation methods in 1885, the American Academy of Civil Engineers no process of wood preserving the efficacy of 247 248 249 250
84 which, when well done, is better established than creosoting, but there is also no 251 quality of treated timber, and without standards and regulations consumers had no way of knowing if the treated material they installed would live up to advertisers' promises and their own lofty expectations. In spite of these misgivings, many Europeans considered creosote's risks acceptable given its potential to conserve limited natural resources, to fight off the teredo's onslaught, to conquer new regions of the world, and to sanitize and modernize towns and cities. By the late nineteenth century, Europeans regarded creosote as champion over all other preservatives. In 1884, Boulton declared of 'survival of the fittest. 252 Alth ough wood preservers discovered many applications for creosote and creosoted timber, the demand f or railroad ties drove the growth and expansion of the wood preservation industry in both Europe and the United States. Americans, however, adopted this techno logy more reluctantly than Europeans because of the cost, the challenge of acquiring creosote, and the stubborn belief that wood preservation was unnecessary since many still perceived the U.S. timber supply as limitless. While European wood preserving exp erts such as Boulton crowed about creosote's supremacy, the American Academy of Civil Engineers espoused a bleak perspective about the wisdom of creosoting. In their 1885 report, the committee complained about 251 American Society of Civil Engineers, 252
85 country is not equal to the demand, so that 253 On top of the expense of importing creosote, wood preservers had to fund a facility with pressure treating equipment and pay laborers to handle ties, work the plant, and run 254 Even in locations prone to teredo attack such as the Gulf of Mexico coast, that it is cheaper, in view of cost and accruing interest, to let the teredo eat the piles, 255 By the close of the nineteenth century, Europe ans had embraced pressure treatment with creosote as a victory over nature, but their American counterparts did not 256 In fact, Americans had yet to fully realize or confront their reckless relati resources, and American industries particularly railroads remained unconvinced about the economic benefits of creosoting on a wide scale. Wood preservation advocates, however, recognized that railroads and their gluttonous a ppetite for timber 257 253 American Society of Civil Engineers, 254 255 256 257 Ibid.
86 Figure 2 1 Sinking of H.M.S. Royal George at Spithead Augt 29 1782; etching; no date. Creator: Ackermann & Co. and S. Horsey, Jr. Wikipedia, https://e n.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Royal_George_(1756)#/media/File:Sinking _of_Royal_George_1782.jpg.
87 Figure 2 2. Timber tunnelings by Teredo navalis, the Teredo Worm. Stevenston Beach, North Ayrshire, Scotland. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teredo_nav alis#/media/File:Teredo_navalis_in_a _branch.JPG
88 Figure 2 3 . 1910 Memphis, Tennessee Historic Memphis http://historic memphis.com/memphis/street scenes/street scenes.html
89 CHAPTER 3 THE NEED FOR WOOD PRESERVATION In October 1893, Howard Miller, a general agent for the Union Pacific Railway, Exposition in Chicago. 1 2 3 4 1 Howard Miller, in Proceedings of the American Forestry Association at the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Annual Meetings Washington, December, 1891, 1892, (Washington, D.C.: American Forestry Association, 1894), 158. 2 Norm Bolotin and Christine Laing, The World's Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 20. 3 Ibid., 20 and 142. 4
90 5 6 7 8 5 Ibid., 161. 6 Ibid., 159. 7 Ibid., 161 and 159. 8 Eric Rutkow, American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the M aking of a Nation (New York: Scribner, 2012), 100; J. R. McNeill, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth Century World (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000), 308.
91 9 10 strong, elastic, resistant to shock and fat igue from vibrating, easily replaced and relatively 11 12 since the first railroad was built in the United States, the wood crosstie is so well adopted to its function that it has 13 9 Rutkow, American Canopy 104. 10 Ibid., 104. 11 USDA Fore Wood In Our Lives: Products from the National Forests (Washington, D.C.: USDA Forest Service, n.d.). 12 Rutkow, American Canopy 104. 13
92 14 15 16 17 18 19 He may his drafts are protested. We speak of inexhaustible fertility, but there is no such thing in nature. Like unlimited credit, it is only 14 15 Ibid. 16 Ibid. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid. 19 Ibid.
93 20 21 22 23 24 20 21 Ibid., 161. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid., 161 162. 24 Ibid.
94 25 rough hewn chunk of wood, probably the most utterly utilitarian, functionally designed 26 Nevertheless, nservation and wood abundant forest resources. Americans, as historical geographer Michael Williams both l iterally and figuratively. 27 Historian Eric Rutkow echoes this sentiment, arguing that Americans 25 Ibid., 158. 26 James E. Cronin, Hermann von Schrenk, A Biography (Chicago: Kuehn, 1959), ix. 27 Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989),
95 28 understanding of how Americans interacted with their forests, even contemporary 29 In 1836, James Hall, a former sol dier, lawyer, judge, and chronicler of the extent of its forests, but because in common use wood has been substituted for a number of the most necessary and common artic les such as stone, iron, and even 30 very where in the United States . the destruction of timber has been 31 European visitors also reinfo across the U.S. in the early 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville, a French diplomat and Americans themselves never think a bout them; they are insensible to the wonders of inanimate nature and they may be said not to perceive the mighty forests that surround 32 28 Rutkow, American Canopy 5. 29 30 James Hall, Statistics of the West at the Close of the Year 1836 (Cinc innati: J. A. James & Co., 1836), 101. 31 32 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America trans. Henry Reeve (New York: J. & H.G. Langley, 1840), 74.
96 their interest, de Tocquevill are fixed upon another sight: the American people views its own march across these wilds, draining swamps, turning the course of rivers, peopling solitudes, and subduing 33 Today, this sh ortsightedness seems decidedly at odds with the geography of a 34 o one bothered to write about it, let alone collect 35 In contiguous states, a st 36 Even with rough approximations, sequoias), the worl 37 While promoting the forest wealth of the United States and proudly 33 34 35 36 37
9 7 38 This profusion of trees certainly shaped how American citizens came to view their environment, but Rutkow also argues, r country was populated because of its trees quite like the United States. 39 Although Europeans like Tocqueville regarded the American perspective on nature as unusual and ill advised, t hey often failed to recognize how the views that Americans inherited from Europe also played an essential role in conceptualizing both the forest and its potential resources. 40 Long before European explorers and settlers encountered the massive woodlands of North America, they equated forests with as something alien to man an insecure and uncomfortable environment against which civilization has waged an unceasing struggle. 41 grazing, and cultivating so that they could be 42 38 Andrew Fuller, The Forest Tree Culturist: A Treatise on the Cultivation of American Forest Trees (New York: The American News Company, 1866), 11. 39 40 41 42
98 43 William Bradford, the founder and future governor of the Plymouth Colony in present day Massachusetts, exemplified this perspective on the forests. When Plymouth settlers surveyed their wilderness, full of wild beasts & willd men and what multituds ther m ight be of them they 44 45 As these comments implied, Bradford and his fellow colonists sought to tame and civilize their physical environment by clearing, cultivating, and conquering the wildness and savageness of their surroundings. Even as these vast forest regions repulsed many who settled in what would become the United States, the environment also offered great economic opportunities. Tre colonial expedition: unlimited in supply, simple to harvest, and able to serve as the raw 46 Richard Hakluyt, a late sixteenth century English geographer and proponent of British colonization and settlement in North 47 As soon as possible, Hakluy t 43 44 45 46 47
99 and these frame and make ready to be turned into goodly chestes, cupboordes, stooles, 48 The abundance of these forest resources impressed Hakluyt and others investing in and pushing for colonization and settlement in North America because Europe, and particularly, England, experienced what Hakluyt termed 49 This careful phrasing minimized the timber crisis that afflicted England and other European countries since at least the thirteenth century. 50 Citizens of these empires depended on wood to cook and heat their home s; people who could not afford firewood, which increased in price due to shortages, starved or froze to death. 51 had better be without gold 52 The bountiful forests of North America government officials, business investors, and potential settlers hoped might alleviate this problem. Frances 48 49 50 Joachim Radkau, Wood: A History trans. Patrick Camiller (Malden, Massachusetts: Polity Press, 2012), 2 and 137; 51 Sean Adams, Home Fires: How Americans Kept Warm in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); Rutkow, American Canopy 13. 52 John Evelyn, Silva: Or, A Discourse of Forest Trees (London: A. Ward, 1786), 216.
100 Higginson, a Puritan minister in Salem, Massachusetts, und erscored this need and 53 In addition to home heating and cooking, wood also fed the fires of manufacturing industries and played a vital role in leather making, copper smelting, glassmaking, iron forging, and other industrial processes. 54 As the last chapter discussed, wood also proved crucial to shipbuilding and the expansion of naval power. 55 The English ships built at the time Hakluyt praised the sylvan resources of North bout two thousand mature oaks, which meant at least fifty acres of 56 In addition, empires needed alternate supplies of lighter wood for the great masts, often over 100 feet tall and several feet wide, which braced s and withstood fierce storms and intense battles. 57 The tar, pitch, turpentine, and other naval stores products that shipbuilders used to construct and maintain these colossal vessels also motivated the quest to locate great stands of timber. 58 In a promoti onal tract about the resources awaiting potential investors and 53 54 55 56 57 58
101 59 The conviction that indeed fores ts were commodities for the good of a nation and its people persisted long after colonies secured their independence from Great Britain. their homelands, President Andrew Jack son questioned the logic of anyone who disagreed with his position in an 1830 address: What good man would prefer a country covered with forests, and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, stud ded with cities, towns, and prosperous f arms, embellished with the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happ y people and filled with all the blessings of liber ty, civilization, and religion? 60 eforested landscape symbolized advancement, opportunity, success, and security. This prevailing attitude n concluded in 1885. 61 William B. Greeley, who became chief of the U.S. Forest Service in 1920, echoed 59 English Plans for the Colonization of North America, 1580 1640 (Boston, New York: Bedford Books, 1995), 129, 132. 60 61
102 62 Based on these ideas, many citizens regarded railroads and the other industries clearing the forests and utilizing wood as performing a vital service that civilized the landscape and moved the nation forward. l fears and beliefs about wilderness, the need to make colonial ventures profitable, and the desire to satisfy a technology broadly based upon wood and a society pervasively co 63 (Figure 3 3) While timber scarcity compelled Europeans to economize their resources, Americans did not share these misgivings at least, for most of the nineteenth century. profound part of the national mind 64 James Hall, the nineteenth century American author who classified it was simply cheaper and more available than other mater ials. 65 This 66 62 Economic Geography 1, no. 1 (March 1925): 2 3. 63 64 65 Statistics of the West at the Close of the Year 1836 101 100. 66
103 Economist Nathan R substance. 67 significantly from that of Europe, 68 effort should be understood as a deliberate attempt to overcome the constraints imposed by dependence upon orga nic materials, Americans possessed no similar 69 Because countries like Great Britain lacked the abundant resources that Americans enjoyed, they had to develop alternate technologies, harness other materials, and use wood spari ngly. In contrast, the natural 70 A comparison of circular saws in America and England highlighted these differences. John Richards, a nineteenth century expert in woodworking equipment and operation, informed readers that circular saws in America were typically twice the width of the saws English woodworkers used. This increased size led to more waste, but Richards obser ved this was not a concern to most Americans. 71 Increase Lapham, a naturalist, geologist, and 67 68 69 70 71 Worki The Engineering Magazine 16, no. 6 (March 1899): 932 933.
104 surveyor who designed landmark projects such as the Erie Canal, connected the it ted in . .realize . .the amount we owe to the native forests of our 72 Without an abundant ition of 73 74 A comparison of lumber consumption in the United States and t he United Kingdom highlights how improvidently Americans exploited wood. From 1799 to 1869, the U.S. consumption of timber steadily outpaced that of the U.K. by more than half. In 1799, Americans consumed over 300 million board feet of timber while residen ts in the U.K. only consumed about 100 million board feet. These numbers continued to climb, and by 1869, Americans devoured almost 13 billion board feet while citizens in the United Kingdom only used about 2 billion board feet. 75 In the early nineteenth ce ntury, 76 72 Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Transactions 4 (1855): 196 197. 73 Ibid. 74 75 76
105 1840 the per capita consumption of lumber probably did not exceed 100 board fee t. By 77 also stressed profligacy. Historical geographer Michael Williams observed that cut wood and 78 A 1906 article in the journal Wood Craft 79 Williams summarized this uniquely American outlook: ch there was an overabundance; in many places it had a value of less than zero. Bare land was worth 80 Hall and other Americans residing in the United States during this period forecast no change in how Americans used timber, at le ast not until 81 77 3. 78 79 80 81 Statistics of the West at the Close of the Year 1836 101.
106 When combined with the potential for profit and the motivation to civilize the landscape, this disparaging view of trees prompted wide scale deforestatio n. By articulated by nineteenth God bestowed a divine right on Americans to expand westward toward the Pacific, extending 82 Under the mantle of this doctrine, Americans removed all obstacles including trees that limited or threatened t heir growing empire. Railroads served as the engine of Manifest Destiny, providing the crucial 83 Analyzing the impact of railroads on American history, Christian Wolmar, a British journalist and 84 In addition, railroads richest nation. 85 This transformation occurred in a relatively short span of time. By 1840, only about 2,800 miles of railroad track existed in the U.S., but this figure increased to almost 200,000 miles of track by the turn of the twentiet h century, which distinguished 82 The United States Democratic Review 6, no. 23 (November 1839): 426 430. 83 84 Christian Wolmar, The Great Railroad Revolution: The History of Trains in America (New York: Public Affairs, 2012), xix. 85 Ibid.
107 86 In 1866, an American horticulturalist described the onslaught that ensued when railroads whittled their way enetrated regions abundantly 87 This forest from one end to the other of its line to supply it with ties, fuel, and lumber for 88 Unfortunately, Americans soon learned that the forest was not as continuous as they once thought. While their European counterparts experimented with coal, iron, steel, and other alternatives much e arlier, the operators of American railroads stubbornly stuck with 89 Compared tried, and relatively low c ost material, which could be improvised, fabricated, and adapted in 90 Geographer Michael Williams noted that ease of of constructi on by established means of communication via rivers, or it could come 91 While European railroads 86 M Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, Bulletin No. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1887), 12; Todd Timmons, Science and Technology in Nineteenth Centur y America (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2005), 21. Wolmar, The Great Railroad Revolution 288. 87 Fuller, The Forest Tree Culturist 12. 88 Ibid. 89 Rutkow, American Canopy 100. 90 Williams, Americans and Their Forests 346. 91 Ibid.
108 infrastructure along railroad lines, Americans preferred wood because it was less expensive and easier to produce and install. 92 float, wood could be ha ndled by unskilled labor and framed or fabricated to standard sizes with simple equipment at the building site. Wood could be patched, replaced, and 93 dependence on this materi century American industrial experience. 94 ag ainst trees, some leading foresters also suggested that railroads were no different from other industries in their heavy use of forest resources. 95 In an 1878 report on the for trees furnishing products demanded by commerce or standing in the way of cult ivation 96 Similar to Hough, H. E. Davis, who worked 92 Ibid. 93 Sh erry H. Olson, The Depletion Myth: A History of Railroad Use of Timber (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1971), 10. 94 Rosenberg, 95 96 Franklin B. Hough, Report Upon Forestry (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1878).
109 for the Grasselli Chemical Company in the early twentieth century, depicted the lack of interest in forest conservation as a more widespread issue and one not stri ctly limited to railroad operators and owners: The woodsman chopped down trees, the sawyer in the mill worked on the logs, and lumber manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers were concerned chiefly with immediate sales. Little thought was given to the last ing qualities of wood. What if it did rot, burn, or was eaten by insects? Replacements would merely increase output and revenue. Who cared? 97 of timber would hold up. Ins t ead 98 el 99 Forester M. G. Kern agreed. he reported in an 1887 bulletin. 100 97 The DuPont Magazine (June 1930): 4, Folder Wood Preservation 2, Box 47, US Forest Service Newspaper Clipping File, Forest History Society, Durham, North Carolina. 98 Ibid. 99 Ibid. 100
110 101 as Williams explained. 102 103 104 105 101 Valeska Huber, Channeling Mobilities: Migration and Globalisation in the Suez Canal Region and Bey ond, 1869 1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press), 10. 102 Journal of Forest History 31, no. 3 (July 1987): 121. 103 Department of Agr iculture Forestry Division, Bulletin No. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1887), 7. 104 William Cronon, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991), 198. 105 Ibid.
111 106 By all means the largest consumption and the most 107 A nineteenth century 108 The prevalent belief that the American timber supply knew no limits delayed the growth of forestry in the U.S. and also kept railroads and timber interests from professionalizing, standardizing, and testing their ideas about h ow to manufacture railroad ties. This resulted, as geographer Michael Williams 109 Although they lacked concrete evidence, many individuals in the railroad industry belie ved that the longevity of ties could be extended if produced from younger, second growth trees, which wiped out young stands before they could reach maturity, reproduce, and regenerate the forests. 110 Responding to an early 1880s U.S. Division of Forestry ca nvass about the timber used for railroad ties, the Atchison, Topeka, and 106 107 108 16. 109 Williams, Americans and Their Forests 349. 110 Ibid., 349.
112 that which has stopped growing, or which has reached or passed its maximum 111 The Baltim 112 In 1890, the U.S. Forestry material is now largely cut from second growth. . From trees that will make only one 113 Fernow derided this widespread ea that the young wood is more durable because it is young, which seems to prevail among railway managers, must be considered erroneous. 114 Because railroads preyed on younger trees, Fernow and other foresters remonstrated, 115 Making matters worse, many railroads specified that ties be made predominantly 116 Railroads prized heartwood because, as environmental histo rian Mark Derr explained, it 111 Report on Forestry: Volume 4 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), 150. 112 Ibid., 150 and 151. 113 114 roads and Practicable Economy in Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, Bulletin No. 4 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1890), 18. 115 116 Williams, Americans and Their Forests 349.
113 117 While using only the most durable and decay life of service, it led to large scale waste as tie cutters and timbermen discarded the other parts of the tree. Former loggers in the longleaf pine forests of the American South confessed to 118 119 Most railroads, according to the U.S. Division of Forestry poll, also favored ties 120 (Figure 3 4 ) While few articulated clear reasons for this preference, some echoed the longer than a sawed one, for the rea son that hewing shuts up the pores, whereas 121 Assessing this tendency, one to three years, longer that sawn. The reason is obvious. The sawn face is more or 117 Mark Derr, Some K ind of Paradise: A Chronicle of Man and the Land in Florida (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998), 109. 118 Quoted in Lawrence Earley, Looking for Longleaf: The Fall and Rise of an American Forest (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 169. 119 Ibid. 120 121
114 less rough and collects water, and thus gives opportunity for fungus growth, while the 122 While foresters admitted there might be some logic behind this practice it led to 1922 American Forestry article criticizing the practice of relying on hand hewn ties. 123 124 An article on railroad tie production very wasteful 125 cut with unnecessary high stumps in order to save labor in hewing down the butts. In many other cases the trees are not used as far up into the tops as the 126 In addition to wasting valuable parts of the tree, the author deplored the fact that hewing 127 The rail people producing ties. After performing the dangerous work of felling trees, laborers 122 and Practicable Economy in Their 123 American Forestry (April 1922): 216. 124 Ibid. 125 (May 1905): 15 126 Ibid. 127 Ibid.
115 known as tiehacks wielded heavy broadaxes to convert the natural rounded log to a squared off piec e of timber, carving out and smoothing the log with the axe to create a 128 One veteran tiehack described the broad axe a 129 Tiehacks often labored in isolated areas, earning money, not at an hourly rate, but by the piece for the number of ties they cu t. This piecework system, also employed in wood preserving plants and discussed in the sixth chapter of this study, often privileged companies at the expense of workers. 130 As historian William Wroten pointed out, much of the money that railroad companies pa 131 Despite the difficult nature of this labor, people in rural, forest areas often relied on and supplemented their income by producing ties from their own property or working for important contribution to farm capital and purchasing power in the least developed parts 132 Studying the railroad tie industry in the Central Rocky Mountain forests at the turn of the twentieth century, 128 n of Forest Supplies By Railroads and Practicable Economy in Their 129 British Columbia Forest History Newsletter 60 (August 2000): 3 and 1, h ttp://www.fhabc.org/publications/past newsletters (accessed August 21, 2017). 130 The Railroad Tie Industry in the Central Rocky Mountain Region: 1867 1900 131 Ibid., 251. 132 Wil liams, Americans and Their Forests 349.
116 and in some communities over ninety percent 133 In tie making 134 Railroads, however, cared little for the economic and social plight of the individuals cutting ties; they cared about securing a steady and cheap suppl y. While they sometimes purchased ties from individual producers such as small farmers, railroads often turned to larger contractors and lumber companies or even established their own railroad camps where they harvested timber for ties at the same time the y constructed their lines. 135 Few scholars have studied the tie industry in detail, likely m 136 The labor of these workers is also less visible in the historical record because the companies and industries they worked for frequently considered 137 Despite these challenges, existing s cholarship and historical evidence suggest that larger tie producing operations often harnessed the labor of poor immigrants and African Americans, those lowest in the economic and social hierarchy. When he 133 134 Olson, The Depletion Myth 23. 135 136 Ibid., 294. 137 Jeffrey Marcos Garcilazo, Traqueros: Mexican Railroad Workers in the United States, 1870 1930 (Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press, 2012), 7.
117 examined the tie industry in the Rocky Mountain r egion from 1867 to 1900, Wroten 138 Many of the immigrant tie cutters in this area hailed from French Canada, Scandinavian countries, and It aly. 139 In the American South during the same period, railroads learned that they could contract convict labor to produce ties, saving considerable funds in the process. be the c heapest railroad that has ever been built to do a regular freight and passenger presented to the American Society of Civil Engineers. 140 skilled forem ties, which ran from Wrightsville to Dublin, Georgia. 141 142 The convict s, of course, did not collect these funds, their jailers did. While the tie industry appeared to be a predominantly male occupation, in a recent study of black women and convict labor in the New South, historian Talitha LeFlouria suggests this might not ha ve been true across the United States. According to 138 139 Ibid. 140 Arthur P Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (September 1890): 112. 141 Ibid., 112 and 113. 142 Ibid., 113.
118 an Atlanta based contracting firm hired ou t 32 black female convicts many of whom were former slaves to the Macon & Augusta, Brunswick & Albany and Air 143 ria explained, including cutting and hauling railroad ties. 144 They also confronted the same abuses as their male unproductive, challenging, or troublesome. In addition, female convi cts faced vicious sexual assaults and rape. 145 Free African Americans also found themselves laboring under similar conditions while hewing railroad ties in the forests of the American South. In Slavery By Another Name Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Doug las Blackmon exposed how whites systematically re enslaved blacks through oppressive practices such as convict leasing and debt peonage in turpentining, lumbering, railroad building, brick making, and mining operations throughout the region. Even blacks wh o had not been arrested and sentenced to labor in this terrible environment had few other employment options. Investigating conditions in the early 1900s in Columbiana, an Alabama town located on were hardly any jobs for cash to be had for a black man, unless he was willing to take 143 Talitha L. LeFlouria, Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (Chap el Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015), 69. 144 Ibid., 70. 145 Ibid., 70 and 77.
119 up a cotton hoe or venture into the giant lumber camps on the rail lines thrusting into the swampy jungle forests below the Florida state line, or 146 147 Once there, black workers found themselves isolated and und er the control of camp was no knowing whether the Southern Railway or any other company would keep its word to pay the amount it promised, or even to feed men or keep t hem out of the rain 148 Corrupt county officials also received rewards for 149 While small farmers who cut ties on their own property possessed a greater degree of control over their labor conditions compared with immigrants, convicts, and African Americans, railroad companies still restricted their potential for profit In the readily and abundantly and oversupplied the railroad companies, who then controlled the selection of the quantity, quality, and price paid by merely adjusting t he freight 150 Because railroads continued opening up new regions of the country and 146 Douglas A Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II (New York: Anchor, 2013), 300. 147 Ibid. 148 Ibid. 149 Ibid. 150 Williams, Americans and Their Forests 349.
120 higher prices, the specter of scarcity, or the need to economize by using substitu te 151 The economic control the railroad exerted resulted in vast tracts of tie 152 Fernow agreed that railroads held all the cards in the tie industry, and there was ties. 153 r in 154 low by raising freight rates, so as to make the exportation of tie timber from its ter ritory 155 they deemed unacceptable 156 Calculating the gross waste feet of 157 151 Ibid., 349. 152 Ibid. 153 154 Ibid. 155 Ibid., 8. 156 Forestry Supplies and Forest 157 Ibid, 15 16; Rutkow, American Canopy 104.
121 158 When one fa ctored in the average number of ties that lined a single mile of railroad track usually between 2,500 to 3,000 and multiplied this figure by the increasing track mileage, the amount of timber railroads consumed for ties seemed incomprehensi ble. 159 railroad track in the U.S. in 1880, railroads devoured approximately 14.3 billion to 17.1 billion feet of raw timber to produce ties for their lines. 160 After including the timber culls that railroads deemed unacceptable, the rate of timber depletion climbed to between 30.6 billion and 36.7 billion feet of timber. These calculations did not even factor in the timber needed for ties that wore out or deteriorated and had to be replaced. Decay, rot, and mechanical wear greatly exacerbated the drain on the forests, forcing railroads to replace their ties every five to seven years, although many railroad engineers and foresters claimed the rate of replacement was often more frequent, especially in warm, we t climates. 161 Untreated ties made from durable hardwoods such as oak might exceed this average life expectancy, but when railroads fashioned ties from softer timber such as pine, the 158 Ibid., 16. 159 160 The American Economy: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC CLIO Books, 2011), 369. 161 Annapolis Gazette July 15, 1873; T. J. Cram, Report Upon the Decay and Preservation of Timber (Washington, D.C. Engineer Department, 1871 ), 4; B. E. Fernow, Timber Physics: Part 1 Preliminary Report (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892), 1.
122 length of service decreased considerably. In 1885, for example, the Housto n and Texas Central Railway complained that short 162 Railroad ties suffered great abuse because they supported what engineer 163 164 165 166 the life of ties of the same timber varies considerably, not only according to climate, and character 162 163 Ties; Behavior and Causes of Their Decay in the Road D epartment of Agriculture, Forestry Division Bulletin No. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1887), 55. 164 Ibid. 165 Ibid. 166 19.
123 of the timber, and the treatment the ties receive before being laid, but also according to 167 168 of the same species, therefore, converted into building material offers a different problem as to its proper ties, especially its strength, and each stick taken from a different Timber Physics 169 heterogenous com posite material in which subtle, minor seeming variations in structure 170 171 167 es By Railroads and Practicable Economy in Their 168 169 Fernow, Timber Physics: Part 1 2. 170 Haines, 171 14.
124 172 173 thirty cents for hewing and hauling ties to the right of working capital, and an additional seven and a half cents for inspection, loading, stores, 174 Labo over an eight 175 This meant that in 1890, when railroads replaced 70 million ties tha t decayed and wore out, they spent roughly $42 million for renewals alone. Most ties, however, did not even enjoy the eight year service life Olson projected. The price per tie 176 172 Olson, The Depletion Myth 12. 173 Ibid. 174 Ibid., 14. 175 Ibid. 176 Ibid., 17.
125 177 forest resources, railroads recognized cross ties cost their operations significant money. In a 1915 presentation to the American Wood Preservers Associ ation, efficiency 178 Emerson and Bower noted that one 179 Even if timber prices remained low, railroads still had to pay for the transportation, labor, and installation costs associated with tie renewal. In the hopes of preventing decay, ro t, and wear, they turned to trees with a reputation for being strong and resistant to rot, particularly white oak or Quercus alba Americans inherited their affinity for this hardwood from the English who prized it for shipbuilding and barrel staves especi ally after overcutting their home supply of oak. 180 Surveying the trees of central and eastern North America, renowned American 177 Ibid., 14; Fernow 178 179 Ibid., 181. 180 Perlin, A Forest Journey 175 176.
126 tradition has it, then White Oak, throu 181 White oaks once grew extensively throughout the central and eastern United States, with a range eastern Iowa, and southeastern Nebr aska, south to western Florida, through the Gulf 182 Although they appreciated its abundance, railroads favored white oak because of its resilience. Engineers such as Plimmon Henry Dudley found 183 Master woodworker like structures in the wood pores, called tyloses keep liquids out, even when the wood is 184 for railroad ties, which needed to withstand the elements and resist decomposition. about clearcutting great stands. 185 By the late 1880s, their efforts had nearly exhausted the supply. 181 Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Com pany, 1966), 195. 182 Ibid. 183 Ties; Behavior and Causes of Their Decay in the Road 184 American Woodworker (June 1998): 74. 185 Ties; Behavior and C auses of Their Decay in the Road
127 our most valuable timber, furnishes over 60 percent of the material, and not only from choice trees mostly, but from th 186 Condemning this devastation, one American annually, each of which make but one tie. When one lo cality is exhausted, this scene of 187 While not everyone viewed these ravages against the white oak as a slaughter, it became clear to many people that railroads overextended their re 188 In addition to their depredations of white oak, American railroads hacked through the gre at longleaf pine forests of the American Southeast, hoping ties produced from this heavy, resinous, and sturdy timber would resist rot, de cay, insects and wear and tear. (Figure 3 5 ) Pinus palustris known most commonly as the longleaf pine, ranged widely southeastern Virginia as far south as the shores of Lake Okeechobee in the Florida 186 187 188 ain Timber Ties; Behavior and Causes of Their Decay in the Road
128 189 Geographers estimate that when the Spanish invaded North America in the early sixteenth century, longleaf covered about 190 he most recognizable and distinguishing physical features of the species. Compared with other faster growing conifers such as slash pine, the slower growing longleaf also reached greater heights between 50 to 100 feet, with a diameter between 1 to 3 feet 191 to the semitropical climate and frequent thunderstorms of the American Southeast with uting, and slow growth during the tree 192 forester explained, also removed underbrush and prevented hardwoods such as oak from choking out the longleaf. 193 In the process, the flames created a setting that many visitors and naturalists noted when they visited the longleaf forests. 194 joins above like the arches of a cathedral. There is l ittle or no undergrowth, and the view 189 Earley, Looking For Longleaf 1. 190 Ibid. 191 American Forestry (September 1915): 895. 192 Journal of Forest History 23, no. 1 (January 1979): 34; Earley, Looking for Longleaf 22. 193 194 Ibid.
129 fades into a maze of the column remarked. 195 While many critics and visitors stereotyped the sandy, dry soils of this commonly denigrating the landsca longleaf prospered in this environment. 196 A long, sturdy taproot, which anchors the top heavy tree in the loose, sandy soil, while helping it find moisture deep in the ground, is imate. 197 Unknowing consumers and greedy salesmen often lumped longleaf together with other less durable southern conifers such as loblolly and slash pine, misleadingly arose since many states referred to longleaf by local and regional terms such as North Carolina pine, Georgia pine, Florida pine, pitch pine, and longstraw pine. 198 As one and 199 After experiencing the longleaf pine forests in the late very graceful in the millions upon millions of tall and slender columns, growi ng up in solitude, not crowded upon one another, but gradually appearing to come closer and 195 Geographical Review Vol. 7, No. 2 (Feb. 1919): 8 1. 196 Ibid., 81. 197 A History of the Lumber Industry in Alabama and West Florida, 1880 1914 American Forestry (September 1915): 896. 198 199 Ibid., 896.
130 200 ike huge wooden soldiers lined up in battle formation, the massive trees dotted the rolling coastal plains in a sea of grass. Gentle breezes, laden with a resinous perfume, rippled the long strawed crowns and generated music both soothing to the ear and sl ightly 201 This unique tree also impressed esteemed visitors including naturalists park like setting of mature longleaf forests; and the vastness of the region. 202 Whi regarded it favorably. As Lawrence Earley demonstrated in his study Looking for Longleaf 203 Sidney Lanier, a poet and musician that the Atlantic, Gulf and West India Transit 204 Although Lanier admired the pines, m any Americans did not view the trees as aesthetically pleasing, which helped ensure their destruction at the hands of railroad and timber companies. 205 200 Basil Hall, Travels in North American in the Years 1827 and 1828, Volume 3 ( Edinburgh: Cadell & Co., 1829), 256. 201 202 Earley, Looking for Longleaf 13 16 203 Ibid., 16. 204 Sidney Lanier, Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1876), 71. 205 Ibid.
131 recognized the value of American Forestry 206 207 this portion of the tree, rather than the softer and less decay resistant sapwood. 208 aight pines, almost solidly heartwood and with little waste in excess 209 In addition to its form, which lent itself well to the shaping of ties, poles, beams, and props, many longleaf bo osters compared its strength favorably to steel and cast iron. 210 In a 1915 article on the commercial uses of longleaf, Yale trained forester Philip Buttrick asserted, 211 These traits rendered longleaf an excelle nt choice for structural and building timbers, masts, flooring, fencing, and railway ties. 212 f 206 207 Ibid. 208 Ibid. 209 A History of the Lumber Industry in Alab 210 Looking for Longleaf 152. 211 212 Ibid., 896; Earley, Looking for Longleaf 152.
132 naval stores products used to manufacture pharmaceuticals, varnish, paint thinner, glue, soap, cleaning solvents, lamp oil, and countless other commodities. 213 Before l stores producers had to tap the pines the same way maple sugar harvesters tapped maple trees. They cut wounds in the tree, which prompted the pines to ooze valuable sap they then collected to distill and manufacture these solutions. 214 Although English co lonists and early American settlers eagerly extracted naval stores products as well as timber from the forests of the American Southeast, they could not access some of the largest stands of longleaf or easily export their goods without transportation inlan d. 215 seasonal and part tyranny of the rive r and made the industry a year 216 After the Civil War, southern states ramped up railroad construction to catch up with the rest of the nation, providing companies with tax breaks and land grants that they could hardly refuse. 217 Attracted t after decimating the supply of white pine timber in the North and the Lake states, railroads and timbermen from places including Chicago, Michigan, and Wisconsin, 213 Earley, Looking for Longleaf 98; Robert B. Outland, Tapping the Pines: The Naval Stores Industry in the American South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004), 6. 214 Outland, Tapping the Pines 6. 215 Earley, Looking for Longleaf 158. 216 Edward L. Ayers, The Promise of the N ew South: Life After Reconstruction 15th Anniversary Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 123. 217 Earley, Looking For Longleaf 160.
133 eagerly made their way t o the longleaf pine belt. 218 The havoc they wrought, as Earley 219 pronouncing the longleaf 220 Railroads, timber companies, and corporate interests relentlessly exploited the 221 and 222 Earley described the those cuts to p roduce railroad ties. 223 Charles Mohr, a German born pharmacist and botanist who served as an agent with the U.S. Division of Forestry in the 1890s, published an exhaustive study investigating the resources of the southern pine forests, particularly the long leaf. He 224 Critical of the insistence that ties 218 Ayers, The Promise of the New South 124; Earley, Looking for Longleaf 159 160. 219 Earley, Looking for Lon gleaf 167. 220 North Carolina Coastal Plain: An Ecological Study," Ecological Monographs 1, no. 4 (1931): 487. 221 Derr, Some Kind of Paradise 109. 222 Earley, Looki ng for Longleaf 168. 223 Ibid., 3. 224 Charles Mohr, The Timber Pines of the Southern United States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897), 47.
134 ilroads also only 225 ties are cut from 1 acre, each tie representing a log which ned. 226 Even solid 227 Applying these figures the construction of the 3,240 miles of railroad traversing the forest east of the Mississippi River, nearly 10,000,000 ties have been required, which being renewed every six years involves an annual cut of 116,000,000 feet, board measure, to which must be added the amount 228 As railroads continued to expand and deplete alternate sources for ties, their timated at 12,500,000,000 feet, its nearest rival is Douglas fir, which is estimated at 5,200,000,000 feet. Its old rival, white pine, has 229 Reviewing annual statistics, he reported that banner year, when a cut of 13,215,185,000 feet was 225 Ibid. 226 Ibid. 227 Ibid. 228 Ibid. 229
135 230 Railroads also used much of the timber from this cut, consuming 231 Although these statistics are striking, the numbers do not adequately convey t he scars this abuse inflicted on the landscape. Loggers, according to Earley, often left 232 They also discarded the tops of the trees, wasting a significant portion and leaving behind a wrecked and ruined landscape. 233 234 235 Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner depicted the afterm ath in his 1932 novel Light in August Abandoning the cutover land, the loggers, desolation, unplowed, untold, gutting slowly into red and choked ravines beneath the long quie 236 (Figure 3 6 ) suggested, the great longleaf pine forests did not rebound. Buttrick lamented that 230 Ibid., 903. 231 Ibid., 906. 232 Earley, Looking for Longleaf 168. 233 Ibid. 234 Laurence Walker, The Southern Forest: A Chronicle (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991), 131. 235 Ibid. 236 William Faulkner, Light in August (New York: Vintage International, 1990), 5.
136 237 the smaller trees which have been left, and the annual grass fires, together with the 238 By the early twentieth century, many foresters, ecologists, and botanists pronounced the longleaf well on the way to becoming extinct. In 1915 Buttrick concluded his analysis of the longleaf pessimistically: 239 A few years later in 1923, forester Reginald D. Forbes, ominousl county, in state after state of the south, the piney woods are not passing, but have 240 Although the railroads, loggers, and timbermen did not succeed in totally wiping out the long 241 Earley compares the damage inflicted fears about a natio forest resources. 242 237 Butt 238 Ibid. 239 Ibid. 240 American Forestry 29 (March 1923), 131 136, 185. 241 Earley, Looking for Longleaf 2. 242 Ibid.
137 one of our best known and best loved trees because of its beauty and utility. 243 shaped leave Indiana and along the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia, Alabama, and 244 appeared in 245 Another ardent 246 J oseph Russell Smith, a geographer raised in the chestnut woods of 247 abundance, and utility that att racted railroads and other manufacturing industries. Compared with other durable, heavy hardwoods such as oak, chestnut timber boasted a surprising lightness, similar in weight to much softer woods such as white pine, yellow 243 American Forestry 21, no. 262 (October 1915): 957. 244 Ibid., 957. 245 The Publications of the Pennsylvania Chestnut Tree Blight Commission, 1911 1913 (Harrisburg, PA: W. M. St anley Ray, 1915), 144. 246 American Forestry 21, no. 262 (October 1915): 963. 247
138 poplar, or red spruce. 248 Assessi ng the commercial value of chestnut, one forester explained why railroads and other manufacturers found the reduced weight but still resilient wood and since railroad freight rates on lumber are based on weight rather than board he determined. 249 natural fit for railroad ties, posts, and telegraph and telephone poles, which needed to be tall, straight, and slim. 250 warping and its strength, even when in contact with wet ground. 251 Because the tannins needed for leather manufacture, the tree offered added economic benefits since 252 foresters, railroad operators and engineers, and other wood users. Philip L. Buttrick, a Yale in a 1915 American Forestry place, for, unless the tree is very old, a large number of sprouts spring up from the 248 249 Ibid., 961. 250 Ibid., 963. 251 252 Ibid., 144.
139 stump and grow like weeds, in a few years forming a group of th 253 In a Popular Science Monthly 254 Chestnuts, a s Graves suggested, the way to an increase in the number of individuals, for where one tree existed before, now four or five ultimately develop, sprouting from the stum 255 To many intensive wood users such as the railroads, the chestnut seemed an ideal choice of tree to exploit since it thrived and repopulated when frequently cut. provid groves into woodlots that could be harvested periodically and repeatedly, a technique 256 Smith, the geographer who grew up in the chestnut rich Appalachian Mountains and helped pioneer the field of economic geography, also 257 He even compared it directly to the mighty oak, By the time the white oak acorn makes a baseball bat the chestnut stump has 253 254 Popular Science Monthly (June 1914): 5 64. 255 Ibid. 256 Rutkow, American Canopy 212. 257
140 made a railroad tie. Cut it down and it throws its shoots up six feet the first year and 258 As railroads expanded, they needed an ever increasing supply of wood to accommodate new lines, but also to replace timber that decayed and wore out along foresters and wood consumers believed, would help satisfy industries such as the railroad while also lessening the drain on trees such as white oak, which Americans had significantly depleted. Extensive use of chestnut could also be justified or rationalized cu t, is within from one to three decades of an era of timber scarcity which will put us in the position of having to go raise 259 Although not everyone embraced or even accepted the idea that the U.S. faced or would ever fac e a timber shortage, Smith remained adamant that American industries needed to transition 260 ce to cultivate timber rather than merely extract it for many decades to come, they eagerly devoured chestnut trees. as a tie wood, the railroads of the east adopted ch estnut as one of their leading woods for this purpose. It was almost as durable as the other woods and much more 258 Ibid. 259 Ibid. 260 Ibid.
141 261 A 1907 report on forest products in the United States reflected the growing dependency and use of chestnut timber. In that year alo ne, the Department of calculated the total cut of chestnut timber at 653,239,000 board feet with a value of r three times as large and its total value over four and one 262 By the early twentieth century, chestnut had indeed emerged as an omnipresent force in the lives of Americans, even if they did not fully realize the extent of its reach. One early twentieth businesses, and furniture; tanning shoes; supporting the wires that sent messages v ia telegraph and telephone; and even composing key ingredients in traditional holiday meals. 263 dramat ically concluded. 264 American life, the writer focused particularly on how railroad passengers encountered chestnut wood: We sit in a railroad train and read newspapers into who se composition c hestnut pulp has gone, while our train travels over rails support ed on chestnut ties and over trestles built of chestnut piles, along a track whose right of way is fenced by wire supported on chestnut posts. On the same 261 262 Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, The Lumber Cut of the United States: 1907 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1908), 24. 263 264 Ibid., 961 962.
142 train trave l goods shipped in boxes and barrels made of chestnut boards and staves. 265 266 In the late nineteenth century, Cryphonectria parasitica more commonly referred to as chestnut blight, invaded the U.S. through imports of Asian chestnut tree s and quickly preyed on its American cousin, which possessed no resistance to the invasive disease. Reflecting the xenophobia and anti Asian sentiment common in the United States in the early twentieth century, one forester identified the chestnut blight a 267 Forester Howard Merkel first noticed the fungus afflicting American chestnut trees at the Bronx Zoo in 1904, but it would take researchers years to accurately identify the pathogen and trace its origin. 268 The collecting the water and nutrients required to survive. 269 Birds, insects, and wind spread the spores of Cryphonectria parasitica and despite efforts to constrain the blight, by the 1950s, few of the approximately 4 billion chestnut trees in the United States remained 265 Ibid. 266 American Canopy 218 267 268 Rutkow, American Canopy 213 214. 269 National Geographic (February 1990): 133.
143 untouched. 270 million acres, wiping out virtually 271 chestnut has been practically exterminated over whole sections where formerly it was common, and in many others it is 272 Even more 273 Although, to this day, researchers and scientists continue to hunt for a way to e liminate blight or produce resistant tree strains, mourned. 274 Foresters such as Buttrick articulated a view that nature had forsaken the chestnut, and so they responded in kind. H 275 again consider alternate options to secure a steady supply of the ti mber necessary to continue and expand their operations. 276 Although they previously considered chestnut 270 Rutkow, American Canopy 217. 271 Ibid. 272 273 Ibid., 968. 274 Rutkow, American Canopy 217. 275 276 Rutkow, American Canopy 217.
144 emphasized the error in that view. 277 Science journalist Susan Freinkel chestnut blight arrived at a time when Americans were just starting to recognize that the 278 By the beginning of the twentieth century, as Cryphonectria parasitica attacked and exterminated the popular chest nut trees, Americans also overhunted the once great flocks of passenger pigeons and bison herds to extinction, and fears of a timber famine gripped the nation. Freinkel and other anxious 279 chestnut timber alerted a growing number of Americans to the issue of natural resource depletion and prompted an emer ging push for conservation and wiser use of these first and came mostly from academic and scientific circles, but as conditions deteriorated other voices joined the 280 Soon after railroads expanded rapidly across the North American continent following the Civil War, some contemporary scholars articulated early, and strident warnings about and the environmental implications associated with this deforestation. In 1864, George Perkins Marsh, an American diplomat, linguist, and lawyer, published his detailed study Man and Nature in which he exposed the damage 277 278 Susan Freinkel, American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tr ee (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 3. 279 Ibid., 3 4. 280 Jeff Forester, The Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods (St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004), 105.
145 humans wrought on the physical en long forgotten that the earth was given to him for usufruct alone, not for consumption, 281 Although Marsh did not single out the railroads, but 282 As his biographer, David Lowenthal contends, Marsh onfidence in the inexhaustibility of 283 intellectual, wrote Annual Report 284 over economic security rath er than environmental consequences, but he identified the 281 George Perkins Marsh, Man and Natu re ed. David Lowenthal (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1965), 36. 282 Ibid., 257. 283 Marsh, Man and Nature ix. 284 Executive Documents Printed by Order of the House of Representatives During the First Session of the Thirty Ninth Congress 1865
146 criticized. 285 Focusing specific ally on the significant use of forest resources to produce ties, Starr commented: When it is remembered that these sleepers are generally sound hemlock, chestnut, and especially oak; that trees are selected to make them of a size just sufficient to furnis h one or two sleepers only, (the tree being simply hewn on two sides, and having the heart entire), the destruction of choice timber just approaching a size suitable for sawing is immense. 286 cayed sleepers are 287 He many of our railroads an expense greater than the first cost of t he rails, even including 288 Publishing his research just after the conclusion of the American Civil War, Starr recognized that many Americans did not yet he lack of awareness and 289 years she will be conscious that not only individual want is p resent, but that it comes to 290 285 Ibid., 210. 286 Ibid., 214. 287 Ibid., 213. 288 Ibid. 289 Ibid., 219. 290 Ibid.
147 to stir up support for their cause. T his idea of a railroad induced timber famine would help develop the field of forestry in the United States while also creating a market and a national fervor for wood preservation. Economic incentive, however, remained the greatest motivator in the adoption of this technology. Ernest A. Sterling, a proponent of wood preservation, an advocate of forestry, and a consultant for railway companies 291 took this message to heart. 292 Although, in the nineteenth century, railroads adhered to the tenet transformed railroads from 291 292 American Forestry (June 1915):
148 Figure 3 1. Railroad ties layed ready for rails 1910 Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ 99614578/.
149 Figure 3 2. Two million lodgepole pine ties 1928. Hawkins Creek British Columbia Forest History Society Photograph Collection, Forest History Society, Durham, N.C.
150 Figure 3 3. Close up view of log rafts in a log boom at Apalachicola, F lorida. 1899. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/259525.
151 Figure 3 4. Hewing out a tie with a broadaxe. 1940. Pie Town, New Mexico Photograph by Russell Lee Farm Security Administration Office of War I nformation Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2017742599/
152 Figure 3 5. Logging train pulling out for the coast near Pensacola, Florida 19 -?. Color postcard, 9 x 14 cm. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/159792.
153 Figure 3 6. Clearcut forest. Potlach, Washington. Forest History Society Photograph Colle ction, Forest History Society, Durham, N.C. http://www.foresthistory.org/Research/photos.html
154 CHAPTER 4 ASCENDANCE OF CREOSOTE In an October 1951 American Forests Henry Steer, a U.S. forest economist, insisted that Americans wasted millions of dollars un nearly 200 million dollars down the drain every year by repairing and replacing buildings with untreated lumber and by using untreated fence posts? And that you are creati ng a 1 Steer questioned. Fortunately, he reassured, tip from the railroads and utility companies and get the maximum service from your 2 3 By the early 1950s, forestry officials and consumers of wood had such confidence in wood preservation methods, particularly creosote, that Steer declared, economically soun d and will save you money 4 To convince readers his argument was 1 American Forests (October 1951): 28. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., 68.
155 utility companies enjoyed through wood preservation. 5 in the U.S. and Canada save $775,000 a day $283,500,000 a year by using preservatively treated ties. The savings in consumption of wood (at three cubic feet a 6 Indeed, wood pr eservation had become so pervasive among railroads at the time Steer Haul railroads 7 and pow er and other utility companies are now given preservative treatment before 8 wood preservation, and that the practice of treating timber had become a foregone conclusion among these large consumers of wood. Now, he suggested, they graciously 9 however, minimized the long struggle that conservationists, foresters, and other wood preservation proponents faced in convincing railroads that this industrial process was worth their time and their money. For decades, railroads 5 Ibid., 28. 6 Ibid., 67. 7 Ibid., 67. 8 Ibid., 67 68. 9 Ibid., 68.
156 10 s lat e as 1885, the American Society of Civil Engineers concluded that while pressure treating wood with coal tar creosote effectively fought decay, rot, 11 12 10 Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1947), 27; Forest Leaves 3, no. 2 (June 1890): 22. 11 12
157 13 14 15 13 Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division, Report on the Relation of Railroads to Forest Supplies and Forestry (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1887), 25. 14 Journal of Forestry (November 2000): 6. 15 Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, Massach usetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998), 1.
158 16 17 18 19 Hough, a phys ician, botanist, and statistician, pursued forest conservation after reviewing state and national census data reflecting the decline of forests and timber increasing and unrestrained appet ite for wood 16 Ibid., 26 and 4. 17 18 Ibid.; Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings 4. 19 Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings 4.
159 corresponding with British and German forestry experts, even traveling abroad to meet with these authorities and familiarize himself with the European experience. 20 Many 21 At the annual meeting of the Ameri can Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in August of 1873, Hough presented his findings. Citing European examples of deforestation that stemmed from overuse, he advised his colleagues that, unless they took action, the United States might fin d itself with similar 22 While Hough warned about the dangers of erosion, climate change, and worsening floods and droughts associated with the clearing of woodlands, his argument in favor of government forestry centered aroun value of timber, and our absolute dependence upon it for innumerable uses in manufactures and the arts, the rapidly increasing demand for it in railroad construction and the positive necessity for its us e in the affairs of common life . are too obvious for 23 20 Ibid. 21 Agricultural History 12, No. 4 (October 1938): 341. 22 Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Salem, Massachusetts: T he Salem Press, 1874): 1. 23 Ibid., 3.
160 planted, is an investment of capital, increasing annually in value as it grows, like money at interest, and worth at any time what it h 24 was, at the time, not a single American forester to be found anywhere, nor a single acre 25 While American s chools timber scarcity prompted countries on this continent to embrace professional forestry ees without destroying the underlying environment, and managing forests to encourage sustainable over to the United States. 26 At this time, as writer Jeff Forester argues European notions, activities for smaller, resource 27 Even Nathaniel Egleston, chief of the newly created Division of Forestry acknowledged in 188 forestry as an art or science we know very little in this country. Even the word is new to 28 Despite a steep learning curve, Hough urged the AAAS to appeal to state and and protect 24 Ibid., 4 5. 25 Rutkow, American Canopy 154. 26 Ibid. 27 Jeff Forester, The Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods (St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004), 108. 28 Nathaniel 64, no. 383: (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1882): 683.
161 29 role in forest management, and Hough and other delegates met with members of Congress, the Department of the Interior, and President Ulysses S. Grant. Although the bill they submitted languished for years, Congressman Mark Dunnell of Minnesota, who served on the House Public Lands committee, succeeded in appropriations. In order to pass this forestry bill, its supporters had to attach it, as historian of the forest servi which accentuated the general lack of interest and commitment to forestry in the United States at this time. 30 These forestry advocates, forester Herbert Smith recalled, faced an uphill battle b system and governmental corruption had reached unprecedented dimensions and 31 Regardless of these challenges, the tactic worked; in 1876, Congress approved $2 ,000 to conduct a study on forestry and the commissioner of agriculture authorized Hough to perform the investigation, appointing him forester of the United States, the 29 30 Harold K. Steen, The U.S. Forest Service: A Centennial History (Durham, North Carolina: The Forest History Society in association with the University of Washington Press, 2004), 14. 31
162 32 on page compilation of his research that criticized contemporary s furnishing products demanded by commerce or standing in the way of cultivation 33 This attitude then led to a glut of timber on busi ness liable to bring an over 34 Hough put railroads on notice that their unrestrained consumption of wood necessitated an interest in conservation and cultivation of future resources. 35 ea of a timber famine and depicted railroads as a threatening force since they rapidly consumed 36 In 1882, Egleston authored a we to the 37 hted 32 Ibid.; Olson, The Depletion Myth 38; Forest H Forest History Society, http://www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/People/Hough/Hough.aspx (accessed November 15, 2016). 33 Franklin B. Hou gh, Report Upon Forestry (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1878), 8 9. 34 Ibid. 35 Ibid., 112. 36 Olson, The Depletion Myth 39. 37
163 approach. 38 freebooter style, cutting, and burning more than we could cut, acting for the most part as 39 40 While often disparaged by his contemporaries and replacements as a weak, bu mbling, and ineffective chief who received his position because of the corrupt spoils system, railroads and warned government officials and the public of an imminent timber famine. 41 Although a meager budget and limited resources continued to plague Hough, Egleston, and their successors, the federal government agreed to create a dedicated Division of Forestry under the Department of Agriculture in 1881. Until this time, ther e 42 the importance of forestry in the United States. 43 Nevertheless, Steen found that, in these early years, the Division of Forestry as well as the position that preceded it, were 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid. 40 Ibid. 41 Olson, The Depletion Myth Hour: Nathaniel Egleston and Professional Forestry in Post Forest History Today (Spring/Fall 2005): 21 22. 42 Steen, The U.S. Forest Service 17. 43 Ibid.
164 44 As Fernow, whom Grover Cleveland appointed as the first chief of the Division of 45 A Prussian born and trained forester, Fernow personified the Atlantic exchange of ideas and people that Rodgers and Miller highl ight. Compared with the established and respected forestry profession in Europe, Fernow articulated frustration hibiting the incongruous condition of the Government advising the people without applying its own advice to its 46 others understood that information, when carefully released and wielded, could be a powerful tool to convince Americans about the gravity of their forest situation. They and other rapacious consumers of wood might draw attention to their cause and justify the existence and growth of forest conservation in the United States. To accomplish this, its advocates employed the perception of an impending and pervasive timber 44 Ibid., 21. 45 in Annual Report of the Secretary of Agriculture (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1895), 133. This report was for the fiscal year ending in 1894. 46 Ibid.
165 famine, which became as geographer Sherry Olson concl udes 47 Although historians often date the rise of a conservation movement to the Progressive era reform spirit of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, pre vailing fears of a timber famine reveal that the roots of this movement started much earlier. 48 th 49 At its basic level, Pisani suggests, the 50 Instead, it point s to 51 While Americans had long regarded the subjugation of the forests as a symbol of progress and civilization, now they worried that they had gone too far, degenerating to a more savage and primitive state. Environmental historian Char Miller 52 Although methodically clearing the forests represented order and 47 Olson, The Depletion Myth 39. 48 Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficienc y: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890 1920 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1959). 49 The Journal of American History 72, no. 2 (September 1985): 341. 50 Ibid., 346. 51 I bid. 52 Char Miller, American Forests (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1997), 2.
166 ca reful control, the voracious and excessive consumption of timber signified a lack of restraint associated with gluttony and depravity. 53 industrialization and urbanization prompted a reevaluation of forest resources. 54 Scholars, philosophers, and moralists such as Marsh, Starr, Hough, and others passed a certain critical point, the process 55 Citing examples of deforestation followed by the decline of great civilizations in Italy, Greece, North Africa, Tur key, Egypt, and Palestine, many 56 In 1875, for example, an editorial in Scientific American urring throughout the United States, 57 Another article published in Scientific American one year later 53 54 Ibid., 351. 55 Ibid., 352. 56 Ibid. 57 Scientific American 32, no. 11 (March 13, 187 5): 161.
167 practically tomorrow, as compared with the history of the race, is at hand when our 58 While man y Americans conceded the inevitability of a timber famine, they struggled to establish a timeframe, which only heightened anxieties. In his 1877 annual report, Carl Schurz, the German supply of timbe r in the United States will, in less than twenty years, fall considerably 59 In the early 1880s, writers for the journal Forest and Stream five 60 can no t be a sufficient supply standing to meet the present requirements of the whole 61 These predictions incited great controversy, and as Pisani notes, di 62 Regardless of the predicted timeline, Americans encountered dire warnings about the impending timber famine in numerous newspapers, magazines, an d publications. As a writer for a contemporary periodical 63 58 Scientific American 34, no. 7 (February 12, 1876): 97. 59 Carl Schurz, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior on the Operations of the Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1877 (Washington, D .C.: Government Printing Office, 1877), xvi. 60 61 The Popular Science Monthly (December 1887): 231. 62 63
168 As the frequency of these portents increased, so did direc t accusations against large consumers of wood such as the railroads. One article in Scientific American t erm solutions that would benefit the railroads, but also their surrounding communities. 64 The writer even owners of the soil will not restore its natural covering through enlightened self interest, the inhabitants of the State will have to interfere in self 65 By the 1880s, advocates of forest conservation consistently conjured images of a timber famine, and more directly identified railroads as a villain in this conflict. Charles 1855. 66 When he conducted a follow up investigation in 1880 for the U.S. Census, he 67 While present resources might still appear extensive, Sargent cautioned readers: Great as it is, however, it is not inexhaustible, and the forests of the United States, in spite of their extent, variety, and richness, in spite of the fact that the climatic conditions of a large portion of the country are peculiarly favorable to the development of forest growth, cannot always continue 64 Ibid. 65 Ibid. 66 Forester, The Forest for the Trees 106. 67 Charles Sargent, Report on the Forests of North America (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), 490.
169 productive if the simplest laws of nature governing their growth are totally disregarded. 68 Sarge year, which endangered both the future of the forests and the products produced from them. 69 Acco and maintenance of their permanent ways vast quantities of timber, inflict far greater 70 The damage they especially in view of the fact that in every part of the country there are now growing fewer seedling trees of species valuable for railway ties than when the trees now cut for this purpo 71 and the North American Review 72 When Fernow assumed control of the Division of Forestry in 1886, he worked dili 73 As Fernow bluntly explained in an address to the Canadian Forestry Association, forests could 68 Ibid. 69 Ibid., 490 and 493. 70 Ibid., 493. 71 Ibid. 72 Forester, The Fore st for the Trees 106. 73 Andrew Denny Rodgers III, Bernhard Eduard Fernow, A Story of North American Forestry (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1951), 3.
170 eith 74 75 In except in the crop which it grows. Forestry uses the soil for the purpose of getting a 76 He lamented that Americans failed to think critically about the ca uses of forest depletion, and he sought to educate the public about its reckless consumption of wood. 77 reports, bulletins, circulars, and articles evaluating and assessing the exte nt of the committed many sins for the benefit of the present at the expense of the future by 78 occurred to produce railroad ties, and the ever increasing demand for crossties and the wasteful practices to produce them made railroads a prime target for advocates of a 79 74 Report of the Fourteenth Convention o f the Canadian Forestry Association (Quebec: Dussault & Proulx Printers, 1913), 120. 75 Ibid. 76 Ibid. 77 Rodgers, Bernhard Eduard Fernow 28. 78 Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, Bulletin No. 1 (Washington: Govern ment Printing Office, 1887), 11. 79 Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 349.
171 nineteenth century felt threatened by these corporations and the changes they wrought. lroads were vulnerable in public opinion because of their behavior as local monopolies and their unpopular image as big business against the 80 Publicized excesses, scandals, and corruption during the Gilded Age sensitized Americans to the idea of railroads and the men who operated them as exploitative, irresponsible, and callous. 81 Although certainly not the only industry that reaching devastation of the environment brought the que stion of conservation to the forefront by the late done much for the growth and development of our country, they are also responsible for much of the hindrance to reform in t 82 and other supporters of forestry resuscitated the idea of wood preservation already widely accepted in Europe as an answer to these problems. In 1887, M. G. Kern, an account of what the railroads of our country have done or are doing to deplete our 83 More precisely than his predecessors, Kern calculat ed the vast amount of timber roughly 300,000 acres per year that railroads required to meet their demand 80 Olson, The Depletion Myth 39. 81 Williams, Americans and Their Forests 349; Forester, The Fore st and the Trees 106. 82 83 Ibid.
172 for ties. 84 Confident that the forests could not long sustain this rate of depletion, Kern proposed the chemical preservation of wood as a solution that timber, Kern noted, this method would enable railroads and other consumers to make 85 This en dorsement from the Division of Forestry helped revive the issue of wood preservation in the United States, which many scientific authorities, engineers, and consumers of wood had long regarded as effective, but too expensive to justify the effort and delay ed cost savings. When the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published the results of their detailed research on wood preservation in 1885, for experiments which were more or less successful, abandoned the work as not conferring 86 Although pressure treating wood with coal tar creosote effectively fought decay, rot, shipworms, and boring insects, it was simply more cost effectiv e to treat the ties as disposable, letting them rot and decay rather than chemically preserving the wood. 87 Octave Chanute, a French immigrant and civil engineer who made a name for himself designing American railroads, bridges, and stockyards, headed the 84 18. 85 Ibid., 21. 86 87 Ibid.
173 committee on the preservation of timber and ensured that railroads and other large consumers of wood participated in the study. 88 concerns about whether wood preservation would pay for itself, Chanute predicted a time in the near future when a lack of supply would force railroads to reconsider wood 89 Transact ions of 1880 have made it apparent that the time has now arrived when railway and other 90 When conne cted to preservation industry. 91 Their endorsements of wood preservation provided the industry w ith credibility and a clear purpose prevent a timber famine. While foresters and engineers such as Fernow and Chanute embraced a turn toward wood preservation, large scale consumers of wood challenged the very premise 88 Simine Short, Locomotive to Aeromotive: Octave Chanute and the Transport ation Revolution (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011), 117. 89 90 Ibid., 248. 91 Short, Locomotive to Aeromotive 141.
174 92 Oppo nents and they labeled Fernow and the supporters of more careful use of timber resources as 93 Describing these denudatics, the Nort hwestern Lumberman a trade journal, derided: They are the men who belittle our forests; who attempt to create a scare among the people, and make them believe that not only is our source of lumber supply about exhausted, but that our climate and even our national prosperity, will go to the everlasting bowwows because portions of the forests are being cut away; people whose adamantine cheek prompts them, for the purpose of being thought wise to herald the statement that such or such a timbered territory con tains a specific number of feet of standing timber, when any man of broad intelligence knows that no man living is possessed of such information. 94 While some individuals denied and dismissed the possibility of a timber crisis, others voiced indifference t Congress, James Defebaugh, editor of the lumber trade journal The Timberman the forests. 95 92 T he Lumber Trade Journal (December 15, 1890), Folder: Railroad Ties, Box 32, This article was publi shed in the December 1, 1890 issue of The Lumber Trade Journal Fernow responded to his critics in the December 15, 1890 issue. 93 Forest Leaves Problems of the United States New York Forestry (July 1919): 6. 94 Forest Leaves 3, no. 2 (June 1890): 22. The journal Forest Leaves reported this exchange betwee n Fernow and the Northwestern Lumberman but does not provide the issue dates of the Northwestern Lumberman in which the argument occurred. 95 Proceedings of the Ameri can Forestry Association (Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1894), 151.
175 96 97 S imilarly, Charles Latimer of the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad, rejected the need for wood preservation and timber or killing the buffaloes. If you giv e up cutting timber for 50 years, the whole country will 98 99 ued to escalate, and Fernow and the Division of Forestry responded to the insults and doubts aimed at their research and conservation efforts. In response to the accusation that he with the long head, with broad views, the careful man, the patriotic man, who believes in his duty 100 opposition to the short sighted and narrow minded man who grubs for h is own selfish ends; who knows nothing beyond his narrow sphere of action; who scorns, because he 96 Ibid. 97 Northwestern Lumberman (November 18, 1876), quoted in 98 Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers XIV (September 1885): 396 397. 99 Ibid., 397. 100 Pennsylvania Forestry Association, Forest Leaves 3, no. 2 (J une 1890): 22. The journal Forest Leaves reported this exchange between Fernow and the Northwestern Lumberman but does not provide the issue dates of the Northwestern Lumberman in which the argument occurred.
176 101 In other words, the esources selfishly stood in the way of reform and progress. Reporting on an interchange between conservationists and their opponents, the Southern Lumberman noted that Fernow ck of lumber trade journalism that his statistics of the consumption of timber for railway ties 102 The editor also pos 103 This belief that a timber famine loomed on the horizon or was already at hand nineteenth century. 104 unprecedent ed level during this period, scholars such as Joachim Radkau and Sherry idea that forests 105 Because these concerns typically followed periods of significant economic growth, he described 101 Ibid. 102 Southern Lumberman (January 1, 1891 ), Folder: Railroad Ties, Box 32, 103 Ibid. 104 Robert Henry Nelson, Public Lands and Private Rights: The Failure of Scientific Management (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1995), 51 105 Joac him Radkau, Wood: A History trans. Patrick Camiller (Malden, Massachusetts: Polity Press, 2012), 4.
177 everyone of the limits 106 107 Similarly, Olson identified 108 Even foresters at the time questi oned the likelihood of an actual famine of wood. phantom of timber famine has never been very real and its use as a bugaboo or club 109 While Olson expl repercussions of deploying that dynamite could be unpredictable. He warned that the future of wood products. 110 interests to propagandize the issue of forest depletion and conservation because their It behooves, then, every forester, to find 111 The debate over the reality of an imminent American timber famine distracted from the larger need for more careful use of forest resources. Gifford Pinchot, o ften 106 Ibid., 26. 107 Ibid. 108 Olson, The Depletion Myth 2. 109 American Forestry (June 1915): 731. 110 Olson, The Depletion Myth 111 Forestry and Irrigation (February 1903): 74.
178 Forestry and later the U.S. Forest Service, emphasized how counterproductive such quibbling could be. 112 reach the end in twenty questioned. 113 shortage can be made good in the course of a year or two. We are dealing with a crop 114 Pinchot, necessitated adopting forest conservation policies and technology such as ng 115 116 While Pinchot fretted about the long railroads worried more about how a timber famine or the threat of one would impact their immediate budgets and empty their pockets. Jeffrey Oaks, a scholar who face of predictions of the deforestation of America, the decision of wh ether or not to 117 For example, when 112 Char Miller, Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2001), 197. 113 Disston Crucible (May 1920): 53, Folder: Lumber Supply, purple, Box 20, 114 Ibid. 115 Ibid. 116 Ibid., 52. 117 Jeff Oaks, Date Nails and Railroad Tie Pre servation: Volume 1 (Indianapolis, Indiana: University of Indianapolis Archeology and Forensics Laboratory, 1999), 32.
179 John William Kendrick, vice president of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway System, addressed colleagues at the American Railway Engineering Associat ion in years but at an ever 118 Imperiling the timber supply of future generations did not worry railroad executives such as Kendrick the same way rising crosstie prices concerned them. According to Kendrick, rising prices had already negatively affected railroads. He 119 Railway companies, Ke ndrick advised, should anticipate a steady advance in prices because shortages in certain areas would force lines to secure and haul ties from more distant locations. While some railroads enjoyed geographical advantages and possessed sufficient timber weal th that they could extract and produce ties from forests between 10 and 15 miles away, many others had to haul 1,200 to 1,700 miles. 120 increasing popul 121 He observed that railroads 118 Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association 11 (1910): 581. 119 Ibid. 120 Ibid., 582. 121 Ibid., 581.
180 self 1903. 122 Other individuals familiar with the rising demand for wood products and the fear of limited supplies concurred with Kendrick that prices would likely rise. Homer Sackett, a forester specializing in wood utilization, re 123 William F. Goltra, a wood preserver and consultant to railroads, agreed with Kendrick and Sackett. He calculated a lumber uring the period of 1897 to 1907. 124 Although he acknowledged slight decreases in some years, he maintained that lumber 125 equally as much during the ensuing twenty years, as they have in the past score of 126 the largest consumers. 127 122 Ibid. 123 Report of the National Conservation Commission 60 th Cong., 2d ses s., S.D. 676 (Washington, D.C., 1909), 748. 124 Railway Storekeeper (June 1909): 103. 125 Ibid. 126 Ibid., 111. 127 Ibid., 102.
181 While Kendrick, Sackett, Goltra, and other individuals reported drastic pri ce increases in the cost of tie prices during the 1890s and 1900s, scholars examining this economic situation acknowledge that data on crosstie prices are often sparse and that crosstie price varied widely based on geography, but she ultimately argues that the late 19 th 128 While Aldrich admits that 129 130 Despite contradictory evidence ab out crosstie prices, these figures minimized service lifespan, which though initially cheap, cost more in the long run because of maintenance and replacement expenses. 131 The uncertainty of timber prices clearly 132 While he viewed precise predictions about tie prices as nonsense, Kendrick insisted it was a 128 Olson, The Depletion Myth 25. 129 Wood Preserving Technology, 1880 Technology and Culture 47, no. 2 (April 2006): 319. 130 Oaks, Date Nails and Railroad Tie Preserva tion: Volume I 33. 131 132
182 133 Regardless of the exact timing, or even its possibility, the perception of a timber famine, anxiety over rising wood prices, and the negative publicity aimed at railroads fueled the growth and expansion of wood preservation in the United States. Although late nineteenth century conservation advocates depicted the r ailroads as remiss for their lack of interest in wood preservation technology, a few American railroads attempted to introduce wood preservation in the United States as early as the 1830s. n Maryland laid followed suit in 1840. In 1848, the Locks and Canals Company of Lowell, Massachusetts, established the first dedicated wood preservation plant in the Unit ed States, kyanizing timber used along the locks and canals of the Merrimack River. 134 As discussed in the first chapter, kyanization, or treating wood with corrosive sublimate, proved to be a dangerous and largely ineffective process because the chemicals q uickly leached out. While European wood preservers shifted their focus to other preservatives such as zinc chloride (Burnettizing) and coal tar creosote, American railroads sporadically experimented with these other methods. In 1856, for example, the Verm ont Central 133 Ibid. 134 Howard F. Weiss, The Preservation of Structural Timber (New York: McGraw Hill Book Lumber World Review (November 10, 1912): 24.
18 3 135 Tracing the early history of wood preservation in America, Howard Weiss rep orted other early trials with zinc chloride among railroads in the 1860s, but he suggested their experiences were not overly successful because of the steep learning curve about how to properly treat timber and the expense associated with building and main taining a dedicated plant. 136 Although European railroads preferred coal tar creosote to preserve their railway sleepers and any timber that might fall victim to shipworms, American lines initially exhibited a greater reticence in adopting this preservativ e. Much of their concern forty 137 Without an established chemical i ndustry producing coal tar distillates such as creosote, American wood preservers typically had to import the preservative from England and Germany, which significantly drove up the cost. Sterling, a forester, wood preservation advocate, and consulting eng ineer for railroads, explained production of creosote alone, so there must first be an incentive to recover the more valuable products, or a sure market for pitch, before what we are interested in can be 138 135 Weiss, The Preservation of Structural Timber 12. 136 Ibid. 137 138 Proceedings of the Ninth 1913), 66.
184 139 Despite these difficulties, a few railro ads established creosoting plants in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Old Colony Railroad in Somerset, Massachusetts, built a facility in 1865 to impregnate bridge timbers with creosote, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad constructed a creosoting plant in Pascagoula, Mississippi, in 1875. 140 Similar to their European counterparts, these lines sought to While many Americans still regarded the timber suppl y as inexhaustible and concurred with the American Society of Civil Engineers that the cost of creosoting was accident. 141 In 1871, shipworms made short work of the w ooden piles supporting the trestle bridge over Biloxi Bay, chewing through the timber in less than ten months, and weakening the structure so much that the bridge crumbled, taking a passing freight train with it when it plunged into the bay. 142 To prevent fu ture accidents and protect their investment, the railroad built a $60,000 plant to creosote its timber. 143 139 Ibid., 6 7. 140 Handbook on Wood Preservation (Baltimore, Maryland: n.p., 1916), 8 9. 141 142 he Louisville and Nashville Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (February 1894): 222. 143 Ibid.
185 While a few railroads such as the Louisville and Nashville embraced wood preservation technology early, the majority doubted that it would yield suffic ient economic benefit. Exploring the rise and spread of wood preservation technology, 144 Addressing the New York Railroad Club in 1903, Fernow re buked his audience for ignoring wood an 145 146 144 145 B. E. Fernow, comment in Official Proceeding s of the New York Railroad Club (Brooklyn, New York: New York Railroad Club, April 17, 1903), 212. 146 Howard Miller, in Proceedings of the American Forestry Association at the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Annual Meet ings, Washington, December, 1891, (Washington, D.C.: American Forestry Association, 1894), 161.
186 these methods of preservation, what methods shall we use, and in what way shall we go to work to reduce the expense involved, and get the most rapid results of a process 147 close figuring. It involves exact, detailed knowledge of the way in which m aterial can be handled. It involves accurate knowledge and a large amount of statistics as to the length 148 The hard evidence von Schrenk referenced eluded American wood preservers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Even the American Society of Civil Engineers, which appointed a special committee to study wood preservation, 149 Chanute, who authored greatest possible differences in the opinions which were expressed, but the facts seemed to contradict each other. Apparently, the same processes seemed to give different results, and these ag 150 147 he Question of Official Proceedings of the New York Railroad Club (Brooklyn, New York: New York Railroad Club, April 17, 1903), 205. 148 Ibid. 149 248. 150 Ibid.
187 To gather information on wood preservation experiments in the United States, the committee distributed circulars and collected correspondence, but as Chanute acknowledged, this information was anecdotal and inh erently unreliable. Researching and tracking down the participants 151 their tie usage, replacement rates, and wood preserva tion attempts, most of these records were utterly 152 id not follow up on their experiments and there was no standardization among their reports. 153 This disorganized experimentation exacerbated confusion over wood preservation methods, and further discouraged consumers from adopting this technology. As von Sch renk concluded, before railroads and other large consumers of wood endorsed wood preservation, they wanted reliable data and step by step guidelines that proved creosoting was worth their investment. This required wood preservers to transform their image f or 151 Ibid. 152 James E. Cronin, Hermann von Schrenk A Biography (Chicago: Kuehn, 1959), 84. 153 Ibid.
188 modern, scientific professionals. 154 Collaborating with government forestry officials and engineers provided the wood preservation industry with scientific cachet and the reputation of bein g committed to forest conservation. Although Fernow was a vocal critic of excessive consumption of timber, he convince them to adopt more responsible forest management practices. He devoted 155 From 1887 to 1896, under investigating and debunking common misconceptions about wood. 156 As Fernow terial and best practices for using timber. 157 158 Fernow emphasized railroads stood to benefit from these tests because of their extens only the more durable kinds, paying proper attention to the handling of the ties and by 154 Ibid., 83. 155 Olson, The Depletion Myth 40. 156 Ibid., 48. 157 B.E. Fernow, Timber Physics: Part 1 Preliminary Report (Washington: Government Pri nting Office, 1892), 1. 158 Ibid., 3.
189 impregnation with fungus 159 A term savings of ties. To drum up support among this audience, Fernow included excerpts of letters from railroad engineers supporting the tests. J. D. Hawks, chief engineer of the Michigan compelled to learn the facts as to strength and lasting qualities of all these ti mbers by 160 people it would be a very great assistance, not only to the railroads, but to other users 161 Similarly, L. L. Ran dolph, an engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, bemoaned the lack of existing a lack of knowledge of its strength and other properties, and in some cases are running risks 162 As these comments suggested, railroads had already begun to recognize their own wastefulness and actively sought solutions that would save money. If, in the process, their adoption of wood preservation technology saved trees, railroads would 159 Ibid., 1. 160 Ibid., 5. 161 Ibid. 162 Ibid.
190 timber, she argues t the mergers, acquisitions, and leases that American lines underwent in the 1870s and 1880s analyzing economic problems on the ra 163 Initially, railroads focused on simply analyzing and streamlining their handling and use of wood. As Olson explains, large operations such as the Burlington, Santa Fe, and the New York Central, attempted to economize and improve their efficiency by preventing decay in their own lumberyards with regular cleanups, establishing standard grading and lumber specifications, and controlling their inventory so they did not have an excess of timber rotting and decaying in their railyards. 164 To c onduct these investigations into the timber economy of their lines, railroads 165 Although, as historian Mark Aldrich notes, hirin g professional chemists and engineers to manage and operate these institutions. 166 163 Olson, The Depletion Myth 44. 164 Forest History Newsletter 9, no. 4 (January 1966): 5. 165 Ibid., 6. 166 Ma rk Aldrich, Death Rode the Rails: American Railroad Accidents and Safety, 1828 1965 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), 48.
191 feature of the 167 Specialized professional and technical organizations expanded rapidly in the late 19 th century, which provided wood preservation advocates with venues to promote their industry. Although not exclu sively focused on railroads or wood preservation, organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, often hosted and featured presentations and articles on the timber supply question, preventing rot and decay, and chemically preserving timber. 168 Technical societies devoted specifically to railroad engineering, operations, and management also proliferated in the late nineteenth century. In 1899, for example, railroads established the American Railw ay Engineering Association (AREA), which focused significant attention on wood preservation technology and research on the best timber for railroad usage. AREA even organized standing committees on crossties and wood preservation. 169 More specialized technic al journals including the Railroad Gazette, Railway Age, Railway Review, and the Railway Mechanical Engineer provided railroads with opportunities to share the findings of their own investigations and personal experiences with timber usage and wood preserv ation. 170 167 Joshua Lerner, The Architecture of Innovation: The Economics of Creative Organizations (Boston, Mass: Harvard Busi ness Review Press, 2012), 28. 168 Aldrich, Death Rode the Rails 47. 169 170 Aldrich, Death Rode the Rails 49.
192 supporting the nascent American wood preservation industry gradually emerged. 171 In four men, many of them railroad representatives, engineers, scientists, and government foresters, convened and purpose, wood preserving industry in all its branches and encourage wood preservation along all lines, and especially the preservation of ties and timber which are used in the maintenance a 172 After its inception in advances in wood preservation would be published in its Proceedings 173 Meetings 174 With the AWPA, wood preservers now had a central association that connected supporters, established best practices, and disseminated new resear ch. The organization helped legitimize the industry, especially in the eyes of the railroad owners, operators, and engineers who wanted hard evidence of clear economic benefits before they wasted their time and money chemically treating ties. An emerging g roup of wood preservation advocates affiliated with the AWPA also broke down barriers that had long 171 172 Report of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Canadian Forestry Association (1913): 73. 173 Wood Deterioration and its Prevention by Preservative Treatments ed. Darrel Nicholas 1 30 (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1973), 9. 174 Ibid.
193 distanced railroads from government foresters. Although conservation proponents such as Fernow demonstrated a willingness to collaborate with industries in the interests of preventing forest devastation and waste, they spent a great deal of effort and time castigating and lambasting railroads for their depredations. This approach did not endear Fernow and his followers to the railroad industry the primary mar ket for implementing wood preservation technology. A new crop of technical experts deployed a different approach. 175 Hermann von Schrenk, the plant pathologist turned wood preservation expert rvation on a Rather than reprimanding the railroads for their gluttonous appetites, von Schrenk invited their participation, collaboration, and cooperation. 176 Although man y other scientists, engineers, and researchers such as Chanute possessed considerable knowledge and experience with wood preservation, von Schrenk became, as his 177 Railroad men ca 178 179 175 Cronin, Hermann von Schrenk 83. 176 Ibid., 84. 177 Ibid., 83. 178 Ibid. 179 Ibid.
194 Born in New York in 1873, von Schrenk followed in his footsteps, pursuing advanced degrees in botany. 180 After completing his Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis, von Schrenk taught at the Shaw School of Botany, increasingly focusing his research on tree diseases, timber decay, and wo od eating insects. 181 His research captured the interest of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in 1899, the USDA appointed von Schrenk as a special agent working with the Division of Plant Physiology and Pathology and the Division of For estry to research diseases plaguing forest trees. Von Schrenk also remained in his position at the Shaw School in St. Louis. 182 o help. They app 183 Shifting away from this approach to professionalize the study of plant pathology and forestry, the USDA began recruiting exper ts such as von Schrenk to create a from Washington, dedicated to researching an ever growing variety of plant disease 184 While presenting his research on tim ber decay to scientific societies, von Schrenk attracted the attention of railroad officials who invited him to attend a 180 Ibid ., 3. 181 St. Louis Post Dispatch (20 October 1929): 5. 182 Forest History Today (Fall 1 999): 30 31. 183 Ibid., 31. 184 Ibid.
195 conference on chemically treating timber to increase its longevity, and they even sent him a railroad pass to cover his transportation. The conference provided von Schrenk with an excellent networking opportunity, and he began corresponding with Leonor Loree, vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, whom he soon visited in Pittsburgh. 185 According to von Schrenk, the Pennsylvania Rail directors interrogated him for hours, assessing his knowledge of decay and rot. Impressed with his responses, they asked von Schrenk how they could help further his research. He boldly pronounced government appropriations to wondered if the Pennsylvania Railroad would use its influence to get a larger 186 Without balking, Loree supposedly asked his stenographer to step in the room so that von Schrenk could dictate his appeal and Loree could send it off. Next, von Schrenk requested that railroad executives send him cross ties from different wood species because he could not afford to buy them for experiments and the government then asked von Schrenk what else he required to advance his experiments on decay. 187 Von Schrenk inquired whether the Pennsylvania Railroad might help cover his expenses so he could travel to Europe and study European methods of wood pr 185 Forshey 186 Ibid. 187 Ibid.
196 but he would see what could be done to raise one, and he started it right there with 188 In less than three weeks, Loree secured over $5,000 to fund v European research trip, and the list of donors underscores how important the railroads viewed this matter. Stuyvesant Fish, president of the Illinois Central Railroad; Alexander Cassat, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad; Edward Harriman, a Wall Street tycoon who served as a board member of the Union Pacific Railroad; and George Gould, the son of Jay Gould who also dabbled in finance and railroads, made up the ranks of von 189 This encounter launched a lifelong relations hip and camaraderie between von Schrenk and American railroads, which eventually isolated him from government bureaucrats including Pinchot who believed he was too familiar and friendly with railroad and lumber interests. Despite the complicated dynamics t hat von Schrenk navigated, government officials did not interfere with his collaborative railroad work, perhaps because they recognized that railroad support and funding were vital to the success of wood preservation and the larger conservation agenda. 190 Wi th the financial support of railroad sponsors, von Schrenk made over twelve European trips, traveling throughout England, Germany, France, and Russia to study preservative methods. His experiences confirmed what many researchers had already concluded: the use of coal tar creosote as a wood preservative enabled Europeans to 188 Ibid. 189 Ibid. 190 Cronin, Herman von Schrenk 113 118.
197 191 On treating process that used le ss creosote, aiming to improve the economy of creosoting and overcome one of the largest barriers to its adoption expense. 192 tie industry in to help railroads preserve ties on a large scale. 193 He conducted much of his research at the Mississippi Valley Laboratory in St. Louis, which the USDA, the Shaw School of Botany, and the Missouri Botanical Garden established in 1901. Von Schrenk urged rai lroads and wood preservation companies to assist with large scale testing projects he ran in conjunction with his work for the USDA. 194 In the fall of 1901, for example, von Schrenk orchestrated a massive test about seventy five miles outside of Somervill e, Texas, along an experimental track owned by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway. An AREA bulletin praised this choice of humidity, and rainfall typically decaying untreated pine ties in about one year. 195 Von Schrenk secured donations of over 8,000 ties produced from 15 different species of wood from major railroads including the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe; the Missouri 191 192 Oaks, Date Nails and Railroad Tie Preservation: Volume 1 38 39. 193 194 195 No. III American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of W ay Association, Bulletin 18 (March 1902): 8 9.
198 Pacific; and the Illinois Central. Active ti mber preservation plants in Chicago, Illinois; Beaumont, Texas; and Somerville, Texas; treated these ties using seven different preservative processes, and then, von Schrenk and his colleagues installed the crossties along the test track. 196 Nails in each ti e marked the installation date, type of wood, and preservative process, a practice that many railroads experimenting with wood preservation already employed so they could keep accurate records about which ties deteriorated and which ties enjoyed a longer s ervice life. In the interests of maintaining better records, specialists such as von Schrenk regularly checked the ties and provided updates about their status. 197 undertaken in Am 198 Although results Somerville demonstrated the importance of precise and accurate recordkeeping and reinforced his value to the railroads. While many lines conducted tie treating experiments and produced voluminous records on their investigations long before von collection methods. The bias inherent in railroad conducted tests raised doubts about the validity and accuracy of their results. 199 196 Cronin, Herman von Schrenk 84. 197 No. III 198 Cronin, Herman von Schrenk 84. 199 Ibid., 83 84.
199 was a strong voice speaking w ith obvious knowledge and authority, offering them assurance that at last (although there was much to be studied) a systematic highly 200 Just as von Schrenk brashly requested funding and assistance from the Pennsylvania Railroad, he continued to lobby railroads to provide the capital and aid necessary to further his wood preservation experiments. In what now, as Cronin Schrenk actively solicited support for his research by inviting railroads and other large consumers of wood to pay a monthly subscription fee for updates about experiments such as the one outside of Somerville, Texas. 201 In addition to regular research updates, subscribers received answers to controversial questions about wood preservation and personalized advice about how to treat their timber to increase its service life. Von Schrenk also expected subscribers to provide test track for further experimentation, to use their status and connections to petition government officials for greater appropriations, and to raise additional funds as needed. While this subscription idea may seem farfetched to a modern audience, evidence suggests man y railroads supported his scheme. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad; the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy; the Missouri Pacific; the Frisco System; and the American Telephone and Telegraph Company ranked among his monthly subscribers. While limited 200 Ibid., 8 3. 201 Ibid., 77.
200 expense fund for carrying out his experiments, in addition to the share of the Bureau 202 V on Schrenk clearly had the attention of major players in the railroad industry, and he continued to court their favor. He agreed to set up a timber treating laboratory to demonstrate the process and benefits of creosoted timber to live audiences at the 190 4 203 Although he struggled to construct the laboratory and succeeded in time for many railroad delegates and other consumers of wood to visit the timber preserving station and explore exhibits on forestry and plant pathology. Von point for wood preser vation advocates. While convening at the timber treating labor atory, they agreed to establish their own association devoted to the cause of wood preservation the AWPA. At the time, von Schrenk abstained from participating as an active member because of his position as a government agent. Nevertheless, the wood preser vation industry now had a prestigious spokesperson who railroads depended on and trusted for advice. 204 s formed 202 Ibid. 203 204 Cronin, Herman von Schrenk 109.
201 104 individuals by 1911 and 299 individuals by 1916. 205 In a report at the 1919 annual convention, F. J. Angier, the secretary treasurer, proudly noted that the org membership increased steadily since 1904, only showing a slight decline in 1917 and 206 80 percent in 1919 occupational backgrounds of its members. 207 These included executives, public utilit y companies that used treated wood; chemists or engineers in the employ of cities, counties, states, or nations; consulting chemical, civil, mechanical, forest, and electrical engineers; and professors or instructors at colleges and universities. 208 Most AW PA members, however, represented railroads and commercial treating plants, which sprang up in response to the increased demand for longer lasting timber (Figure 4 1) Companies such as Eppinger & Russell, Republic Creosoting, and Ayer & Lord Tie, establis hed treating plants in multiple locations, extending their reach across the United States. Eppinger and Russell opened a wood preservation facility on Long Island, New York, in 1878, and later expanded to Jacksonville, Florida, by 1909. Republic Creosoting entered the wood preserving business in 1896, building their first plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, and adding a second plant in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 205 Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual (Ameri 41. (hereafter cited as AWPA Proceedings 1919 ). 206 Ibid., 42. 207 Ibid., 7 and 41. 208 Ibid., 7.
202 1903. In 1905, Republic Creosoting launched a southern location in Mobile, Alabama. Ayer & Lord Tie operated three major plants one in Carbondale, Illinois, built in 1903; another in Grenada, Mississippi, constructed in 1904; and a third in Argenta, Arkansas, opened in 1908. 209 (Figure 4 2) To control costs and the treating process, railroads began constru cting their own timber treating plants instead of purchasing treated ties from third parties. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, for example, built a creosoting facility in Gainesville, Florida, in 1912. 210 As their choice of locations reveals, timber treatin g companies and railroads gravitated toward the American South because of its abundant timber resources, and they had already depleted much of the timber in the Northeast and Midwest. From 1870 to 1892, the number of treating plants operating in the Unite d States remained in the single digits and the industry exhibited slow or nonexistent growth. As the examples above illustrate, these figures drastically increased by the turn of the s preserved timber in the U.S. By 1910, the number of operating plants grew to 75, and surpassed 100 by 1915. 211 The growing percentage of railroads that relied on wood preservation ood preservers only treated about 1 percent of the 110 million crossties they consumed for their lines, this percentage increased to 11 percent of 150 million crossties 5 years later 209 (Chicago: Bazner Press, 1911), 213 214. 210 Railway Age Gazette 57, no. 3 (1914):125. 211 Handbook on Wood Preservation 20.
203 in 1906. 212 Creosoting became the preservative of choice at many of these p lants and among railroads, which is illustrated by U.S. Forest Service calculations published in a 1916 AWPA Handbook on Wood Preservation Each year during the period of 1909 to 1915, creosoted lumber comprised over 50 percent of the total cubic feet of m aterial treated in the U. S, steadily outpacing zinc chloride and other preservative treatments. 213 Although creosoting had gained ground in the United States, its acceptance as the preservative of choice did not result in a consensus about the precise proc ess used to impregnate timber. T his question consumed many AWPA members and caused contention in the industry as wood preservers and consumers of treated wood debated the technicalities and merits of seasoning the wood prior to treatment, the concentration and type of creosote employed, and whether preservative should totally saturate the cell creosoting) or merely the cell walls (empty cell creosoting). 214 Because the empty cell process employed less creosote and left the wood cells less fully saturated, it ultimately cost less, which intrigued many individuals and companies concerned with minimizing the expense of wood preservation. Many die hard advocates of full cell creosoting such as Chanute, regarded these newer, emp ty 215 212 Charles A. Nelson, History of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, 1910 1963 (Madison, Wisconsin: Forest Products Laboratory, 1971), 16. 213 Handbook on Wood Preservation 16. 214 Oaks, Date Nails and Railroad Tie Preservation: Volume 1 22. 215 Short, Locomotive to Aeromotive 167.
204 Promoters of empty cell methods advertised their treatment as cheaper, and they rs of wood. 216 If consumers chose not to buy their treated timber directly from these manufacturers, they could license the technology for a price, paying royalties on each piece of timber they preserved in their own plants. The lack of transparency about e mpty cell methods, which many practitioners refused to divulge, frustrated full cell advocates and escalated calls for more objective and centralized testing of wood preservatives and the establishment of industry standards. 217 Von Schrenk reinforced the c hallenges and turmoil that plagued the industry in its early days. At a 1919 annual meeting of the AWPA, von Schrenk recalled how far the organization and the industry had progressed. He reminded his audience that when they first met in 1904, there had bee 218 219 He al so acknowledged the limitations of the 220 While von Schrenk and AWPA members depicted these early days as tumultuous and con fusing ones, they clearly viewed their work as enlightened. One 216 Ibid. 181. 217 Ibid. 218 AWPA Proceedings 1919 154. 219 Ibid, 155. 220 Ibid., 158.
205 221 J. H. Waterman, vice president of the AWPA in 1913, spoke to the Canadian Forestry Association in Winnipeg, and pr I am going to say more than any other one organization to conserve the forests of North 222 223 While the AWPA played a vital role in promoting wood preservation, the organization did not achieve the true conservation that Waterman boasted about. Wood preservation conserved trees and made timber last longer, but the toxic preservatives degraded the e nvironment and endangered public health. In addition, the credit for extending the life of timber did not belong to the AWPA alone. Instead, the establishment and work of the Forest Products Laboratory in 1910 legitimized and strengthened the wood preserv ation industry. Although technical and professional organizations investigating the mechanics of wood preservation flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the industry still lacked a centralized testing and research arm. Instead, m any different railroads, technical and professional groups, and government agencies conducted tests independently of one another. While Fernow oversaw successful timber physics investigations from 1891 to 1896 under the auspices sion, political pressures prompted the shutdown of this testing program in 1896 without much of an explanation. Historian Charles Nelson 221 Ibid., 39. J. H. Waterman, a past AWPA president, made this remark at the 1919 AWPA convention. 222 223 Ibid.
206 preserving American forests or as the pr actical art of forest culture apparently thought 224 When Pinchot became chief of the Division of Forestry in 1898, he initially 225 The work of von Schrenk, conducted under both the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Bureau of Forestry, reawakened interest in wood preservation among government officials. When railroads, which exerted significant political pressure, conveyed an interest in wood preservat ion, they provided renewed impetus for the creation of a government affiliated testing agency that collaborated with industry. Although von Schrenk parted ways with government agencies after a major falling out with Pinchot, perpetuated. 226 Von Schrenk continued his wood preservation research in a much more profitable venue as a private consultant for railroads who paid him far more than the federal government for advice on how to treat their timber. Before leaving, he confidently told Pinchot that he had already secured positions as a technical expert for of $15,000 on the present basis. Negotiations are in progress which will probably 227 In addition, railroads and timber companies 224 Nelson, Hi story of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory 10. 225 Ibid., 12. 226 Ibid., 19. 227 Cronin, Herman von Schrenk 131.
207 paid von Schrenk handsomely over $150 per day in addition to expenses to testify as an expert witness in legal battles ov 228 While railroads and timber companies built a corps of experts such as von Schrenk to serve as consultants, they remained open to working with government agencies. After von Schrenk left, the Bureau still conducted cooperative, wood 229 Often, they outsourced this work to forestry schools around the country or sent agents to the company because they lacked laboratory space, equipment, and pers onnel 230 Evaluating the challenges of research under these circumstances, Nelson Valid and comprehensive results were impossible under the ar rangement. 231 Researchers concurred with this sentiment. Howard Weiss, for example, one of the early government foresters assigned to help the Great Southern Lumber Company at Bogalusa, Louisiana, with their attempts at wood preservation, communicated emba 232 Weiss 228 Ibid., 163. 229 Nelson, History of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory 20. 230 Ibid., 22. 231 Ibid., 22. 232 United States Department of Agric ulture, Forest Service, Searching for Dollars in Wood: A Trip Through the Forest Products Industrial Laboratory (Washington D. C. : Government Printing Office, July 23, 1920), 4.
208 233 repr esentative of the greatest government on earth in thus trying to demonstrate the art 234 Frustrated with their predicament, Weiss and McGarvey Cline, another leading researc h engineer who assisted with timber testing demonstrations of creosoted wood products laboratory. Well aware of the lack of governmental funds available for such an under taking, Cline made a brilliant suggestion 235 Pinchot approved the plan, and they reached out to major institutions including the University of Wisconsin, Purdue, the Carnegie Institute of Technology, the Unive rsity of Illinois, Yale, Cornell, and the University of Michigan. 236 for the testing machine 237 The Forest Service, in turn, would be responsible for securing staff, equipment, and testing materials. Graduate students at the university would be able to make use of the facilities, laboratory staff w ould give lectures there, and the university would receive 238 After a heated contest, the Forest 233 Ibid., 3. 234 Ibid., 4. 235 Ibid. 236 Nelson, History of the U.S. Forest Produc ts Laboratory 25. 237 Steen, The U.S. Forest Service 133. 238 Ibid.
209 Service selected the University of Wisconsin as the site of the new Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) on March 5, 19 09. 239 The FPL opened in April 1910, and at the wood preservation research, discover innov ative uses for wood waste, and collaborate with industries. 240 Despite the efforts of researchers and practitioners such as von Schrenk and the railroads commissioning his research, the wood preservation industry, as Nelson 241 To professionalize and reform timber preserving, the FPL focused on investigating and standardizing processes and preservatives. Historically, this lack of standardization and consistency prevented many consumers f rom adopting and consistently employing wood treatment. As Nelson explained, a bewildering array of preservatives and methods confronted the consumer who preservative to use for his purpose and what p 242 Creosote, as it had for centuries, confounded buyers, sellers, and researchers, because of confusion over terminology, chemical composition, and its source. Although creosote ranked as the leading wood preservative in 243 239 Nelson, History of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory 25. 240 Steen, The U.S. Forest Service 134. 241 Nelson, History of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory 54. 242 Ibid. 243 Ibid.
210 The FPL tackled this creosote conundrum, studying commercial creosotes and preservatives masquerading as creosote. To assist consumers, extend the lif e of timber, and repair the image of wood preservers, the FPL classed these preservatives based investigated the toxicity of existing preservatives available on the market. The q uestion of toxicity, however, centered around how well these preservatives killed the organisms causing wood to deteriorate, not the environmental, occupational, or public health risks associated with their widespread use. 244 While the FPL made significant and specific contributions in the field of wood 245 Although conservation advocates such as Hough and Fernow worked f or decades to persuade consumers that wood preservation would benefit them, many remained unsure. As Nelson observed, would not only reduce the cost of wood in service but al so reduce the drain on the forest 246 The support of a research institution such as the University of Wisconsin, alliances with technical and professional organizations such as the AWPA, and backing s staff to advance wood preservation in a way its predecessors had not. To persuade consumers, the FPL released a barrage of bulletins, circulars, and other government publications promoting wood preservation 244 Fores t Products Laboratory, Testing Wood Preservatives (Madison, Wisconsin: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Dec. 1938), 2 and 3. 245 Nelson, History of the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory 55. 246 Ibid.
211 and providing detailed instructions on the most effective ways to treat wood. Its researchers also published the results of their investigations in trade, technical, and scientific journals. 247 (Figure 4 3) around collaboration with 248 accomplishments and mission, t he author presumably an FPL staff member using industry of the country is a 249 The with wood using industries as one of 250 activities exclusively to the work authorized by annual a 251 A 1920 FPL publication, Searching for Dollars in Wood detailed the ways in which the Laboratory aided industry by assisting in the planning, design, and specifications for the many wood treating plants that spread throughou t the country. 247 United States Department of Agricu lture, Forest Service, Searching for Dollars in Wood, 14. 248 249 250 Ibid., 77. 251 Ibid., 81.
212 252 n cases of active cooperation there should be a remuneration to the Service equivalent to the total cost of the work done for the cooperator, including both the time and expense of 253 When the research was more 254 Before launching that stipulated the nature of the work and specified reimbursement. 255 Through these arrangements, the FPL collaborated with railroad, mining, telegraph, telephone, and other companies to expand and refine wood preservation in the United States. (Figure 4 4) Although the FPL formalized and extended a philosophy of cooperative service between a government agency and industry, its early leaders stressed earlier examples of this attitude. When an interviewer questioned McGarvey Cline, who hel ped establish the FPL and served as its first director, about initiating a industry, he denied launching this policy. 256 Instead, Cline credited earlier individuals 252 United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Searching for Dollars in Wood 14. 253 Ibid., 15. 254 Ibid., 14 15. 255 Ibid., 15. 256 McGarvey Cline and Donald G. Coleman, An O ral History Interview with McGarvey Cline ( Madison, Wisconsin: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin, 1962), 6, Forest Service Headquarters History Collection,
213 such as cooperation with industry. There had been cooperation in the wood preservation industry, and we were even cooperating with the railroads. . co 257 way commercializes the work of the laboratory, because all information available on any phase of wood utilization is furnished free upon request or through personal 258 Although the FPL claimed that its research was not commercialized because it made the results freely avai lable, commercial interests bought and paid for these results. While the cozy relationship between the FPL and wood using industries might give contemporary audiences greater pause, it reflected the ideology of many foresters, wood prese r vers, businessmen, and conservationists. Ernest A. Sterling, a wood preservation advocate, railroad consultant, and director of the American Forestry Association, articulated this philosophy in a June 1915 issue of American Forestry urely economic profitable, and up to the present. . it has not been possible to make capital yield a 259 The work of the FPL and the other institutions backing the organization made it more likely that creosoting would yield 257 Ibid., 7. 258 259
214 260 To Sterling and many wood preservers economic fores t conservation meant the management of natural resources for economic benefit rather than the preservation of nature for sentimental reasons. using the expansion of wood preservation throughout the nation. 261 The advent of railroad research laboratories as well as the proliferation of specialized scientific, professional, and technical organizations examining the problem of wood preserva tion underscored larger changes occurring in American society during the late 19 th and early twentieth centuries. As historian Robert Wiebe concluded, this specialization and discouraged the accumulation of 262 members distinguished themsel industrial society than 263 During this period, according to Wiebe, a middle class t hat prided itself on 260 Ibid. 261 262 Robert Wiebe, The Search for Order, 1877 1920 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), xiii. 263 Ibid., xiv.
215 264 ion, its values, and 265 These individuals them new economic and social opportunities; they gained access to profitable jobs and commanded respect among peers and neighbors as experts in increasingly specialized occupations such as railroad engineering, forestry, and wood preservation. 266 Historian technical and professional experts led the Progressive era campaigns for reform in areas such as forestry, wood preservation, and natural resource management. Insisting that Americans di scard the traditional narrative of conservation as simply a democratic 267 Ultimat ient development and use of all 268 commu 264 Ibid., 112 and 113. 265 Ibid., 129. 266 Ibid., 112. 267 Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency 1 and 2. 268 Ibid., 265 and 2.
216 loosely organized society, where waste and inefficiency ran rampant, into a highly organized, technic 269 In this new society, conservation advocates espoused a people first approach rather than the nature first stance that John Muir and other preservationists articulated. Conservationists asserted be properly utilized and managed. 270 Professional and trade organizations as well as corporate and governmen t laboratories, emerged to provide these experts with infrastructure, support, and the credibility necessary to advance new industries such as wood preservation, establish industry standards, and change how the American public viewed its use of wood. 271 An e and others preached. 272 industr 273 While Wiebe focuses on the social and political search for order during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, historian Charles Haines argues that the push for timber con servation and wood The wildly 269 Wiebe, The Search for Order xiii; Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency 265. 270 Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency 271. 271 272 Hays, Conservation and the G ospel of Efficiency 266; Wiebe, The Search for Order 273 Wiebe, The Search for Order xiv.
217 fluctuating lumber industry, the unpredictability of wood, and, lurking in the background, the primitive and untamed image of the American forest itself became prime target s for reform for a rising middle class attempting to assert its view of social order and calm its 274 stable, and less rebellious material. 275 A 1920 d ecennial report commemorating the efficiency. The report celebrated technological innovations such as wood preservation nstead, warding off decay, rot, wandering to the social and industrial modernism of 276 While the American Society of Civil Engineers conveyed significant doubts about preservation research and the legiti mization of the field challenged this assertion within a few short decades. 277 Although creosoted market for wood preservation. Telegraph and telphone poles, mining tim bers, wood block paving in cities, fence posts, docks and wharves, culverts, bridges, silos, 274 275 Ibid. 276 277
218 construction timber, and countless other products provided opportunities for creosote to demonstrate its worth. (Figure 4 5) An increased demand for creosote in th e United States accentuated one significant limitation industry lagged behind that of Germany and England, wood preservers depended primarily on foreign imports of coal tar creosote. In 1912, for example, Americans 278 At the 1913 AWPA conference, Sterling addressed the challenge of securing sufficient coal tar creosote in the United States. omaly among by since creosote is not made for itself alone, but is a resultant, constituting a minor percentage of coal tar distillation carried on to recover other prod ucts, the production is 279 refinement of coal tar 280 In addition to an established chemical industry, Germany enjoyed cheaper labor, skilled and low salaried chemists, 281 Importing the preservative significantly increased the cost and gave plants along the 278 279 Ibid. 280 Ibid., 66. 281 Ibid.
219 coast a major advantage, which resulted in uneven growth and squabbling among wood preservers. 282 World War I only magnified these problems because the two primary manufacturers of creosote happened to be the two major opponents in this conflict. W hen war broke out in 1914, embargo on the exportation of creosote oil on the grounds that they needed it for their 283 These two main suppliers of creosote stopped exporting or even manufacturi ng it because they needed to reserve all available stocks of coal and its byproducts for fuel, ammunition, and other essential wartime applications. Although Great Britain lifted the embargo during the war, creosote exports to the United States remained lo creosote. 284 Elbridge Fulks, an executive with the American Tar Products Company, detailed the impact of warti me conditions in a discussion at the 1915 AWPA conference. 285 Roughly 25 percent of the imported creosote ( 282 Ibid., 68. 283 Proceedings of the Twelfth Annual M (Baltimore, Maryland: Peters Publishing and Printing Company, 1916), 104. 284 Ibid. 285 (Baltimore, Maryland: Peters Pu blishing and Printing Company, 1915), 137.
220 remainder from other European countries, particularly England. 286 circulation for American wood preservers. At the 1915 convention, AWPA President, has so disorganized the principal source of supply for the wherewithal to carry on our industry, has made it necessary for more tha n one half of the industry to reverse its 287 preservation industry to adapt. Some treating plants reverted to other preservatives such as zinc chloride, which although less effective, r emained available during the war. Other companies experimented with a combined creosote and zinc chloride treatment that required less creosote overall. For example, a plant might only creosote the base of timber, an area often more vulnerable to rot and d ecay because it encountered the damp ground and water. Still other wood preservers or suppliers of creosote oil reserves. 288 At AWPA conferences throughout the war, re presentatives of chemical manufacturing and creosote 286 Ibid., 137. 287 Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Meeting of the (Baltimore, Maryland: Peters Publishing and Printing Company, 1915), 33. 288 Railway Age Gazette 57, no. 17 (October 23, 1914): 753.
221 contracts. 289 Ralph Esau, who represented the Barrett Company a c hemical manufacturing firm men here have been writing letters and wiring me, and some calling me on the long distance phone, and some coming in personally, pleading, threatening, demanding all 290 While World War I created an immediate creosote crisis, it also underscored the perils of the wood t he domestic production of creosote, many wood preservers concluded, offered the only viable solution to their shortage. Tar distillation and chemical manufacturing companies such as the American Tar Products Company, the Barrett Company, Reilly Chemical Co mpany, and the Koppers Company expanded throughout the United States to address this need. 291 The domestic production of creosote at these new plants depended on a recent technological innovation a chemical recovery coke oven that captured coal tar byproduct s. 292 Europeans had long dominated the creosote market because they had perfected the coal distillation process to manufacture coal gas, which powered gaslights all over the nineteenth century world. Over time, they learned that coal tar and its distillates 289 290 Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Pr (Baltimore, Maryland: Peters Publishing and Printing Company, 1918), 93. 291 Williams Haynes, American Chemical Industry, Vol. 1: Background and Beginnings (New York: Van Nostrand, 1945), 316. 292 Allen W. Hatheway, Remediation of Forme r Manufactured Gas Plants and Other Coal Tar Sites (Hoboken: CRC Press, 2011), 661; Kathryn Steen, The American Synthetic Organic Chemicals Industry: War and Politics, 1910 1930 (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 34.
222 such as creosote the waste products of this manufacturing process held considerable value as essential ingredients in products such as perfumes, dyes, explosives, and wood preservatives. These new applications transformed coal tar and its distillates from chemical refuse to prized commodities. In the United States, which industrialized later and was slower to develop a chemical industry that valued coal tar, many industrialists still regarded these distillates as refuse. When the American wood preservation industry expanded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, its supporters clamored for increased domestic production of creosote, and they found their salvation in iron and steel. 293 As the United States rapidly industrialized, its infrastructur e demanded these metals for railways, locomotives, steamships, skyscrapers, guns, tools, and factories. While American manufacturers had long used charcoal, derived from wood, to produce iron and steel, this method was inefficient and costly as timber supp lies dwindled and prices increased. To save time and money, American industrialists adapted European methods that used coke a distillate of coal that burns hotter than charcoal to smelt iron and steel. Similar to the European coal gas industry, coke manufa cture produced an excess of coal tar and its byproducts, but the traditional coke ovens used in the United States merely vented their waste into the atmosphere, preventing the efficient recovery of these coal tar distillates. A German engineer, Heinrich Ko ppers, revolutionized the coke, iron, steel, and wood preservation industries when he invented 293 Description of the Process of Manufacturing Coal Gas, for the lighting of 2nd ed. ( 36; The Chemists' War: 1914 1918 (Cambridge: The Royal Society of Che mistry, 2015), 65; Treatise on the Distillation of Coal Tar and Ammoniacal Liquor, and the Separation of Them From Valuable Products (London: John Van Voorst, 1882), 4.
223 an oven that produced coke more efficiently, but also captured the distillates including creosote. 294 Koppers, born in 1872 in Germany, specialized in metallurgy and began working with coke plants soon after he graduated from technical school in Duisburg, an industrial center with ties to major iron and steel manufacturers. After establishing his own firm, based in Essen, Germany, Koppers designed and constructed c oke production facilities for companies worldwide. These plants featured an innovative, Koppers patented coke 295 One of the first American companies Koppers 296 This 1907 venture was very successful and Koppers recognized that there was money to be made from American iron and steel corporations and the industries desperately seeking coal tar byproducts. He incorporated the H. Koppers Company in 1912, with an office in Chicago, and continued constructing coke plants and tar distilling plants. 297 oversee American operations once World War I broke out in 1914. He sold ba nker and 294 Hatheway, Remediation of Former Manufactured Gas Plants and Other Coa l Tar Sites 661; 3, Folder: Koppers Company History, Box 2, Koppers Company records, PSUA 548, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University. 295 296 Ibid., 4. 297 Ibid.
224 industrial tycoon Andrew Mellon eighty percent of H. Koppers Company stock and his patents, relinquishing a major role in the American firm. Mellon, born and raised in often referre d to as 298 When the U.S. entered ice of Alien Property Custodian seized and auctioned the remaining twenty percent of the shares that Heinrich Koppers stil l owned to Mellon. 299 scope to the chemical recovery business because, as Koppers President Fred Foy told 300 A llen Hatheway, an engineering scholar describes their transition to the coal tar business as 301 As demand for coal tar byproducts increased Koppers vertically integrated, building chemical recovery coke plants, tar distilling plants, and tar refining plants, but also investing in coal mines and railroads in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Koppers quickly emerged as a major 298 Ken Kobus, City of Steel: How Pittsburgh Became the World's Steelmaking Capital During the Carnegie Era (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), xiii. 299 Steen, The American Synthetic Organic Chemicals Industry 6 7; United States Government, Alien Property Custodian, Alien Property Custodian Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1919), 219. 300 Fred C. Foy, Ovens, Chemicals, and Men! Kopper s Company, Inc. (New York: Newcomen Society in North America, 1958) 21. 301 Hatheway, Remediation of Former Manufactured Gas Plants and Other Coal Tar Sites 661.
225 domesti c producer of creosote oil, establishing a profitable relationship with wood 302 While World War I initially made it difficult for the industry to secure creosote and fulfill contract s for treated timber, the widespread destruction that the conflict wrought in Europe ultimately benefited American wood preservers. As Nelson Brown reported to been very 303 While he expressed regret for the violence inflicted on the people and the landscape, Brown predicted significant demand and markets for American treated timber to rebuild Europe. 304 Although, during the war, t 305 Companies such as Koppers recognized that potential. They bought out wood preserving companies such as the American Lumber and Treating Company, establishing a distinct wood preserving division. 306 By May 1958, when Foy addressed the Newcomen Society in North America, Koppers owned thirty four wood preserving plants in the U.S. and additional plants in Centr supplier of pressure 307 302 Foy, Ovens, Chemicals, and Men! 11. 303 AWP A 1919, 263. 304 Ibid., 261. 305 Ibid., 189. 306 Foy, Ovens, Chemicals, and Men! 23. 307 Ibid.
226 the central theme of The Koppers 308 While Foy boasted viewed the broader industry as a success story with creosote in the starring role. 309 As this quote suggested, treatment with this preservative had 310 By the close of World War I, technical and professiona l organizations, government agencies, and private companies all regarded creosote as an antidote to vanishing timber r. They successfully placed companies required. 311 In their calculations and cost benefit analyses, however, wood preservers and their advocates neglected or ignored the potential for hidden costs the occupational, public, and environmental health risks associated with this toxic treatment. 308 Ibid., 33. 309 Forshey, 310 Ibid. 311
227 Figure 4 1. Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the Atchi son, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad tie treating plant. The steaming black ties on the left have just come out of the retorts after having been treated for eight hours. 1943. Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photograph by Jack Delano. Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2017848344/
228 Figure 4 2. View in yards of Ayer Lord tie plant, Carbondale, Ill. Ca. 1910 1920. Carbondale, Illinois Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/201264
229 Figure 4 3. Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin. Laboratory has an extensive publications division. The results of experiments and findings of the laboratory are published an d pamphlets and bulletins made available to the public. 1942. Madison, Wisconsin. Photograph by Jack Delano. Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001003516/PP/
230 Figure 4 4. Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin. Testing the fire resistant qualities of various types of wood impregnat ions and coatings by the use of the firetube. Mr. Arthur Van Kleek, in charge of the work, is taking the readings 1942. Madison, Wisco nsin. Photograph by Jack Delano Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pic tures/item/owi2001003534/PP/
231 Figure 4 5 Treated telephone poles stored in the yard at the International Creosoting Company. 1943. Beaumont, Texas. Photograph by John Vachon. Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collecti on, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001030041/PP/
232 CHAPTER 5 HAZARDS OF CREOSOTE On February 23, 1928, the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals met to reconsider the case of the Eppinger and Russell Company a Jacksonville wood treatment plant vs. J. H. Sheely its former employee. Sheely, who previously worked as a night engineer at the plant, fell into a 12 foot deep creosote filled waste pit. He sued the Eppinger and Russell Company argued that it bore no responsibility for these injuries, and contended the accident resulted from Sheely s own negligence. Although the details surrounding the accident and subsequent lawsuit are sparse, Eppinger and Russell v. Sheely emphasizes the hazardous nature of work in the wood preservation industry. 1 On the night of the accident, supervisors instructed Sheely to repair a creosote waste pit s clogged drain pipe. To retrieve the pipe from the sludge, Sheely had to cross a rickety wooden plank to pull the pipe up by a chain. His first attempt at recovering the pipe failed, and he called a plant fireman over for assistance. As the two men struggled to haul the pipe out of the pit, the plank busted, tumbling bo th men into the viscid waste below. The men could not even swim in the thick, toxic brew. Although Sheely somehow managed to get to safety, the fireman quickly drowned. 2 1 Eppinger and Rus sell Co. v. Sheely 24 F.2d 153; 1928 U.S. App. LEXIS 1977, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015). 2 Ibid.
233 Eppinger and Russell maintained that the company was not at fault since the plank o nly broke under the combined weight of Sheely and the fireman. Sh eely, they claimed, should have inspected the plank carefully before venturing out on it. T he contributory negligence method of retrievi ng the pipe. During previous trials, the company claimed that Sheely could have raised the pipe by a rope in the engine room, although Sheely insisted there both si poisonous, s ultimately ruled in Sheely s favor, he died from his condition before it ever convened. Without a full name, date of the accident, and date of his death, Sheely s story is difficult to tell. Other than the appeals court ruling and later cases that reference Eppinger and Russell v. Sheely he and the fireman who drowned remain like many workers in the wood p reservation industry largely invisible in the historical record. 3 Existing research on this industry neglects the people employed at these facilities, although they as Sheely and the fireman often faced the most direct, regular exp osure to coal tar creosote and other toxic treatments. The workers invisibility is due to a combination of factors. Wood treatment plants changed ownership frequently, and companies seldom preserved documents. In the rare cases in which company records a re accessible through public archives today, these collections offer limited insight into the employees perspective. Instead, financial accounts, minutes of stockholder meetings, and other business correspondence 3 Ibid.
234 reinforce the perspective of company owner s and operators. Research also suggests that the workers invisibility results from a more deliberate effort on the part of companies and plant management to limit negative publicity and sanitize history by ignoring worker health concerns and neglecting wo rker safety. In spite of these archival challenges, this chapter uses court cases, newspaper articles, studies in medical journals, and company records to piece together a portrait of the occupational hazards workers encountered at wood treatment plants. Researchers of hazardous waste sites often explore how pollution endangers nearby residential surprising that few scholars have focused on the workplace or what Karl Marx ca lled exposed to the pollution and the first to resist. The history of coal tar creo sote reinforces Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified wood preservation plant s among the worst hazardous waste sites in the nation, workers in this industry presented evidence that this substance threatened their health and safety. 4 potential hazards of this work environment, the case does not provide a detailed picture 4 David N. Pellow and Lisa Sun Hee Park, The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High Tech Global Economy (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 221, 3, 11, and 76; Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollutio n (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), xii.
235 of what wood treatment employees encountered when they went to work each day. This P. Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld chemical engineer and environmental chemist Understanding these conditions offers a window into the dirty environment in which workers labored. 5 Images of wood t reatment plants often resemble scenes from dystopian science fiction (Figure 5 1) Photographs depict a barren, pockmarked landscape dotted with machinery and stacks of timber. Closer examination reveals extensive soil staining, 6 Treating wood was clearly a messy business. To prepare timber for treatment, employees peeled, trimmed, bored, an d adzed the wood, generating significant amounts of waste wood in the form of bark, sawdust, and wood chips that coated workers, equipment, and plant grounds. Spills occurred frequently. Liquid chemicals regularly leaked out of preserving tanks and steadil y dripped off treated timber left in the plant yards to dry. Excess preservative, or 5 Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production Volume 2 : Best Practices in the wood and Paper Industries (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2010), 1 and 46. 6 M. A. Finkbeiner, Aerial Photographic Analysis of Waste Study Sites: Texarkana and Southeast Texas (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, April 1985).
236 tracks, and near stacks of treated timber. Employees then walked and drove through the puddles, tracking the muck throughout the plant yard and buildings. 7 The treatment process and rinsing of tanks and equipment resulted in er a portion of creosote coal tars and oils. In the storage tanks, treating cylinders, and wastewater pits like the one Sheely and the disposal. Typically, as Cher emisinoff and Rosenfeld concluded in their study of the 8 Other popular disposal methods included burning the toxic sludge often under the cover of dar kness and depositing waste into nearby bodies of water. In Gainesville, Florida, for example, the superintendent of the Atlantic Coast Line roughly 75,000 gallons of wa ste per day into a drainage ditch that fed into nearby 7 Cheremisinoff and Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention 53 54. 8 Ibid., xii; Superintend ent of Creosoting Plant to Master Car Builder, Mr. Adamson, May 25, 1933, Folder 1914 6, Box 211, Central of Georgia Railway Collection, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah (Hereafter cited as Central of Georgia Railway Collection).
237 Hogtown Creek. At the massive creosoting plant of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Co. in Somerville, Texas, an employee testified that plant operators regularly performed what they dubbed the full, plant managers would wait for a heavy rain and then instruct workers to simply 9 as environmental historian Joel Tarr describes waste disposal. 10 Amidst this polluted landscape, what one creosoting company in 1886 described tar creosote permeated the plant and its grounds. 11 E s 12 In a 1922 U.S. Department of Agriculture Bulle tin on creosote, Ernest A. Bateman a chemist in Forest Products 13 Other individuals familiar with coal tar creosote criticized its odor and 9 Texas Observer April 18, 2008. 10 Florida, State Board of Health, Twenty Fifth Annual Report of the State Board of Health of Florida 1913 (Deland, Florida: The E. O. Painter Printing Company, 1914), 119; Joel A. Tarr, The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective (Akron, Ohio: The University of Akron Press, 1996), 29. 11 Old Dominion Creosoting Works, The Preservation of Timber or How to Prevent Decay and Preserve Timber Against the Attacks of the Teredo N avalis or Ship Worm (Norfolk, Virginia: W.T. Barron & Co., 1886) 8 12 John Rose Cormack, A Treatise on the Chemical, Medicinal, and Physiological Properties of Creosote (Edinburgh: John Carfare & Son, 1836), 41. 13 Ernest Bateman, Coal Tar and Water Gas Tar Creosotes: Their Properties and Methods of Testing (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1922), 50.
238 14 This unpleasant smell emerged as one of the main reasons the wood preserving industry investigated alternatives to creosote. Workers experienced with handlin g coal tar creosote or wood treated with it also commented on how difficult it was to remove the preservative when you worked around it regularly. It coated and even member of a long time worker employed at the Gainesville plant remarked that even 15 As this comment suggests, wood preservation empl oyees often found it difficult to fully remove themselves from their work environment. Instead, wood preservation seemed, for many employees, to be an around the clock occupation. Plant case of accidents letter to the Central of Georgia s Chief Engineer. 16 Many plants also housed workers on the premises to increase production and efficiency, but it also provided management with a way to supervise and control its labor force. The Central of Georgia Railway, for example, required laborers at its creosoting plant in Macon to request passes in 14 Cheremisinoff and Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention 10; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Cleaning Up Contaminated Wood Treat ing Sites (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995), 11; Forest Products Laboratory, Wood Preservatives (Madison, Wisconsin: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Nov. 1938), 2. 15 Chris Carlsten, Stephen Hunt, and Joel Kau fman, Environmental Health Perspectives 113, no. 1 (Jan. 2005): 96; Don Felder, Heaven and Hell: My Life With the Eagles, 1974 2001 (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2008), 6. 16 J. H. Stewart to C. K. Lawrence, July 29, 1912, Folder 1254 8, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection.
239 If the superintendent approved this request, he would then file a formal application with the Railway s administrative office, which ultimately distributed the pass. 17 To maximize output, many plants also operated day and night. In c orrespondence from November 1912, management of the Central of Georgia Railway debated the merits of running its creosoting plant 24 hours per day as opposed to 10 to 12 hours. They concluded that the 24 the p lant already relied on a few night shift employees because the cylinders had to be clock in the morning, or earlier, in order to have everything in shape for the 18 Even if workers lived offsite, they often had to b e on call at all times. Musician Don Felder, whose father Nolan toiled as a mechanic in Gainesville s wood preservation four operation, and if there were any problems, night or day, he 19 In addition to the long hours employees endured, machinery and equipment at plants frequently broke down, leading to work stoppages, repair headaches, and workplace injuries. Some plant owners blamed frequent machinery breakdowns and the need for expensiv e repairs on workers or inefficient labor Fisher Conger, the Norfolk Creosoting Company 17 J. H. Stewart to C. K. Lawrence, July 27, 1912, Folder 1254 8, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection. 18 T. S. Mois e to C. K. Lawrence, November 13, 1912, Folder 1254 10, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah; C. K. Lawrence to T. S. Moise, November 7, 1912, Folder 1254 10, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection. 19 Felder, Heaven and Hell 6.
240 20 In a February 28 1928, letter, Colonel William G. Atwood, the newly hired superintendent of the Norfolk Creosoting Plant, detailed the challenges of maintaining plant machinery and equipment. Atwood s malfunctioning equipment, Atwood informed his supervisors, thought we had our last heavy maintenance job done. Since these two things happened 21 As Atwood warned, fires posed one of the greatest risks at wood treatment plants because cr eosote is highly flammable. Comparing the wood preservative zinc chloride with coal tar creosote for a January 25, 1913, issue of the Electric Railway Journal Howard F. Weiss, at the time the assistant director of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison 22 Joseph G. Hubbell a fire inspector for insurance companies explained it even mor 20 E.F. Conger to Lt. E. P. Noell, December 1, 1942, Folder 1942: Renegotiation Federal Contracts, Box 4, MS 5808 Norfolk Creosoting Company Records, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. 21 William G. Atwood to Loomis Burrell February 28, 1928, Folder: Loomis Burrell Correspondence 1 of 2, Box 1, MS 5507 Norfolk Creosoting Company Records, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. 22 Tar Creosote For Preserving Cross Tie Electric Railway Journal 41, no. 4 (January 25, 1913): 153.
241 23 In a November 1938 bulletin, the Forest Service Products Laboratory observed that timber freshly treated 24 the preservative of choice in many plants, but the risk of fire was an ev er present danger since most plants had yards stacked with freshly creosoted timber and storage and treating tanks full of the preservative. A small spark from plant machinery or a locomotive could cause catastrophic damage to plants and threaten workers. When an 1892 fire broke out at the Galveston Wharf Company combustible character of the works caused the flames to spread rapidly and by the time the fire department reached the scene, the entire works were enveloped in a mass of f lames. In an hour the disaster, the plant had been closed for repairs, and the cause of the fire remained a mystery. 25 Similarly, when a vat of hot coal tar creosote filled with timber explo ded in 1901 at the American Wood Preserving Company in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, event had tragic consequences since a piece of the vat s door flew off in the explosion, 26 23 J. G. Hubbell, Proceedings of the Association, 1918), 85. 24 Forest Products Laboratory, Wood Preservatives 2 25 The Daily Picayune (New Orleans), October 12, 1892. 26 New York Times August 8, 1901.
242 While many accounts of fires at creosoting plants, like those described above, hot iron 27 In preserving plants, Hubbell, a fire grad and negligent. 28 This derogatory attitude is also conveyed in reports of an explosion at the Pennsylvania Railway s creosote plant in 1919 that killed one man immediately and likely company, had been tasked with cleaning a creosote boiler. Since it was too dark to see, g the men y burned 29 Employee negligence becomes less clear, however, when considering the lack of training many workers involved in wood preservation reported receiving. Although 27 Creosote Tank Erupts, 2 Hurt, Washington Pos t Idaho Daily Statesman ; June 30, 1903; Hermann von Schrenk, Quarterly of the National Fire Protection Association 11, no. 4 (April 1918): 412 413. 28 Hu bbell, 29 Philadelphia Inquirer November 9, 1919.
243 workers limited knowledge about safe handling of creosote is discussed in greater detail later in the chapter, it was a prevalent defense in many of the personal injury l awsuits employees filed. Injured workers repeatedly claimed they had no training working with coal tar creosote, and that their employers routinely failed to educate them about safe handling practices. 30 The long history of fires at creosoting plants in No rfolk, Virginia, illustrates how common these disasters were in this industry. Edmund Andrews established a creosoting plant on the Elizabeth River near Norfolk in 1882 and named it the Old Dominion Creosoting Plant. A promotional tract on the plant noted 31 Baltimore s Sun offered more details about the explosion shook the houses of this city. Parts of ten ton cast iron cylinders were hurled 32 Although the Old Dominion Creosoting Company dismissed the more 30 Ibid. 31 Old Dominion Creosoting Works, The Preservation of Timber 5; 32 Creosoting Works Destro yed, Sun (Baltimore), November 1, 1883.
244 s previous capacity, the Sun s account depicted the fires as dangerous and destructive. 33 Fires continued to trouble creosoting facilities in Norfolk. On January 21, 1907, the Washington Post report Company 2,500 barrels estimated at 1,00 Miraculously, the fire only critically injured one sailor assisting the fire fighters, who, 34 In September 1921, a fire at the Chesapeake Manu facturing and Creosoting Company resulted in $500,000 damage 35 Fires again devastate d Norfolk s creosoting facilities into the 1930s. A credit report on the Norfolk Creosoting Company, previously the Old Dominion Cr eosoting Company, listed the plant s fire record under owner Edmund F. Conger. Two fires spread to the Norfolk plant in 1935 from a pine kindler facility operating on the property by a separate company. The fires caused enough damage that company payroll r ecords from September 1935 include a note that 33 Old Dominion Creosoting Works, The Preservation of Timber 5; 34 Washington Post January 21, 1907. 35 Fire Causes $500,000 Loss, Macon Daily Telegraph September 18, 1921.
245 36 disasters did not make headlines or went unreported. Historical accounts, for example, suggested that some plants and the industry worked carefully to control the flow of information about these fires so that the blazes did not negatively impact business. On June 2, 1910, the Dallas Morning News reported that the International Lumber and Creosoting Company in Texarkana suffered an estimated $750,000 loss when its plant along with 125,000 gallons of creosote, 28 carloads of creosoted cross flames. A few days later, the paper the plant was outside of the city, of being worse than it actually was. Alt hough the first report claimed the fire occurred at the International Lumber and Creosoting Company, the second article referred to the National Lumber and Creosoting Company. The damage estimate also significantly dropped from $750,000 to $2,000. While th e updated report suggests the press sensationalized the initial account, the second article acknowledged that the company these events were not isolated incidents at this particular creosoting plant. According to the end of the revised article, the plant s 36 Folder Payroll and Distribution, Box 3, MS 5802, Norfolk Creosoting Company Records, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville.
246 to s owners wanted to promote its safety and stability. A second fire occurring months after the first 37 The wood preservation industry touted itself as having the most up to date fire protection, but research suggests even this often proved inadequate. Hermann von Schrenk, an expert on wood preservation and a member of the National Fire Protection Association, published an article in thi s organization s quarterly journal in April 1918 on fire hazards associated with the creosoting industry. Von Schrenk noted that at the time, 141 wood von Schrenk contended, Von Schrenk also submitted a list of six fires at creosoting plants reported to the particularly used in this respect that there have been so few fires at creosoting plants in late 38 This c omment suggests that while the frequency of fires at plants had declined, it was once much higher. 37 750,000 Fire at Texarkana, Dallas Morning News June 2, 1910; Dallas Morning News June 4, 1910. 38 von Schrenk,
247 The number of articles in historical U.S. newspapers reporting fires at creosoting plants suggests that von Schrenk fires. Likely, not all plants reported their fires to the National Fire Protection Association, and it was in both the plants and the industry s best interests to downplay the fire risk. This is further evidenced by the fact that von Schrenk admitted at the subsequent annual meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association in 1918, that the original paper devoted to a discussion of fires which had occurred at creoso ting plants in the last twenty that the creosoting plant was about the worst kind of fire hazard there was anywhere in von Schrenk set about revising the article so that it did not cast creosoting in such a damaging light. Similar to von Schrenk, other members of the industry espoused concerns about its hazardous reputation; at the annual meeting of the AWPA in 1918, the organization s president misunderstanding 39 Despite the industry y Wood Preservers Association frequently investigated how to reduce the risk and prevent blazes. 40 At the 1910 annual meeting of the organization held in Chicago, Lowr y 39 These comments are published in the Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the ), 91 92. 40 Ibid., 92.
248 s authority on the subject came from practical experience; he managed a creosoting plant owned by the M. K. & T. Railway Company, at Greenville, Te xas, which burned on the night of February 8, 1909. Although Smith believed the plant went up in flames. Since the fire pump was located in the same room the fire start ed, employees had no water pressure to fight the fire. The plant also located the tanks containing creosote oil close to the buildings, increasing the risk that the fire would spread if the tanks exploded and the preservative ignited. According to Smith, t he plant had also been laid out with its buildings too close together; while this increased the plant s efficiency, it also raised the chance that a fire would subsume the other buildings. Perhaps one of the most grievous errors, Smith warned, was that the plant buildings were all wooden structures. In a wood treating plant, when preservatives spilled, leaked or dripped, the creosote soaked into the wood, ready to burst into flames from a stray spark, faulty wiring, a lamp, etc. 41 To prevent these disasters Smith issued recommendations to his colleagues in concrete, not wood. Concrete floors collecting. In spite of his claim that concrete construction would render the building soake 41 P (American Wood
249 endeavor to repair leaks quickly; clear the yard of grass, weeds, and bark; keep open lights away from the plant, and have adequate fire hoses and hydrants. In response to this lecture, one of the attendees and the AWPA s secretary, F. J. Angier, boasted that the main building of the tie Angier s comment suggests overconfidence since many plants While plant man agers and operators like Smith who had experience with fires in wood treating plants considered practical ways to better improve fire safety, others arrogantly assumed fire posed no threat. Perhaps acknowledging the significant risk fires posed and the lik precaution is: DON 42 In contrast to infernos, which captured public and media attention while costing plants significant monetary losses, the greatest risks to wo rker safety initially appeared more innocuous the coal tar creosote used to preserve timber. This preservative soaked, splashed, and dripped onto workers constantly. (Figure 5 2) A British physician investigating the correlation between cancer and coal ta As he attested, it was virtually impossible to work with or near creosoted material and not come in contact with the preservative. Persona l injury claims and medical reports 42 Ibid., 49, 5 0, 53.
250 Hot Stuff 43 nd by result of inhaling tar vapor or directly applying tar, creosote, or similar substances to the skin. 44 upational skin lesions due to Creosote and similar tar products also produced other t ypes of skin lesions on workers 45 In addition to these skin conditions, longtime of the exposed parts, especially the face, neck, 46 British physicians researching the health risks of coal tar products noted that workers were often easily 47 French 43 British Journal of Dermatology and Syphilis 32, no. 6 (July 1920): 216; Samuel A. Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company 246 Ill. 370; 92 N.E. 896; 1910 Ill. L EXIS 2073. 44 Ernst Veiel, Handbook of Diseases of the Skin ed. Hugo Ziemssew (New York: William Wood & Company, 1885), 469. 45 British Medical Journal 2, no. 4572 (Aug. 21, 1948): 370 371. 46 Ibid., 370. 47
251 and American physicians also documented cases of mel workers who came in contact with creosote. 48 Although tar acne, tar warts, and tar melanosis were bothersome and unsightly, they did not 49 In contrast, workers were much more concerned about the severe burns and skin irritation even brief contact with creosote caused, and they filed lawsuits as a result of their exposure. In August 190 7, Samuel A. Pinkley, a laborer for the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company, handled creosoted timbers during the course of his work. After experiencing his injuries. In addition to his personal experience, Pinkley claimed that other employees 50 In a similar case, an employee of the Norfolk & Western Railway Company, sued the Robinette encountered c reosote in August 1930 while loading treated ties into a railcar. 51 48 Robert Prosser White, The Dermatergoses or Occupational Affections of the Skin 4th ed. (London: H. K. Lewis & Co. Ltd., Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology 16, no. 6 (Dec. 1927): 49 50 Samuel A. Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company 51 Robinette v Norfolk & W. Ry. Company 249 Ky. 93; 60 S.W.2d 344; 1933 Ky. LEXIS 482, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015) ; Norfolk & W. Ry. Co. v. Robinette 257 Ky. 558; 78 S.W .2d 802; 1935 Ky. LEXIS 67, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015).
252 Another railroad employee, James Lloyd Underwood, who worked for the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railroad Company from 1928 to 1955, sued for personal injuries after exposu re to burning, creosoted railroad ties. Underwood s malady as supporting Underwood s claims about injuries resulting from creosote with their own personal experiences. Chester Galloway, one laborer for the railroad, admitted that creosote burned his face and hands s injuries. 52 In a 1943 personal injury suit against the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, a company foreman testified that creosoted bridge pilings blistered members of his crew 53 Based on the descriptions provided in court documents, these workers appeared to suffer from tar burns and tar erythema, which physicians long documented as occupational hazards of working with coal tar creosote. In his 1946 study, Ross described tar erythema smarting of the exposed parts o ordinar 52 Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railroad Company v. James Lloyd Underwood 262 F.2d 375; 19 58 U.S. App. LEXIS 5149; 74 A.L.R.2d 1025, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015). 53 Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Thompson, Trustee, v. McKamey 205 Ark. 907; 171 S.W.2d 932; 1943 Ark. LEXIS 254.
253 discussed above reported, ca using severe burning and an extreme sensitivity to light. 54 Workers handling treated wood also blamed creosote for more debilitating injuries. In 1904, Herschell Palmore, sued the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway for personal injuries sustained when he unloaded creosoted railroad ties from a box car. ht dust which had accumulated upon them and which had become impregnated with the creosote was disseminated in the air and into his eyes, by means of which they were badly burned and his vision was permanently 55 Two years later, Charles Gill, a m anual laborer for the Illinois Central Railroad Company suffered a fate similar to Palmore. The railroad s section foreman ordered Gill to assist with the unloading of creosoted bridge timbers. Creosote dripped into Gill 56 In addition to creosote exposure causing skin irritation, blistering, and eye damage, some employees reported even more grievous afflictions. After unloading creosoted ties in July of 1916, Winford Wright, a section hand for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company, became very ill. Although the railroad and its medical representatives alleged that Wright suffered from tuberculosis, he insisted his condition 54 55 The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company v. Herschell Palmore 68 Kan. 545; 75 P. 509; 1904 Kan. LEXIS 142, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015) 56 Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Charles Gill 88 Miss. 417; 40 So. 865; 1906 Miss. LEXIS 142, www.lexis nexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015).
254 t impacted liver, muscles, nerves, and 57 Similar to Wright, Robert Collins who handled creosoted ties for the Northern poisoning, but the railroad alleged he was simply afflic ted with pellagra. 58 In July of 1922, Joseph Cheek pursued compensation from the Chicago, R. I., & Pacific Railway Company, after creosote dripping from ties soaked through his clothing, burning and scarring his skin. According to Cheek and the doctors from whom he sought medical 59 These examples of court cases illustrate some of the common health concerns employees raised about coal tar creosote, but they also highlight the lack of safety equipment and instruction employees received. When the railroad ordered Pinkley and other laborers to unload creosoted timbers, they provided limited handspikes and cant hooks, tools for handling lumber. Pinkley point ed out, however, that the workers had to increasing workers exposure to creosote. 60 In Cheek s case, he noted that the company offered only one hook to section laborers 57 Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company v. Wright ; Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company v. Barr, Administrator Winford Wright 183 Ky. 634; 210 S.W. 184; 1919 Ky. LEXIS 547; 4 A.L.R. 478, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015). 58 Robert Collins v. Pecos & Northern Texas Railway Company 110 Tex. 577; 212 S.W. 477; 1919 Tex. LEXIS 124, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015). 59 Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Cheek 105 Okla. 91; 231 P. 1078; 1924 Okla. LEXIS 476, www.l exisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015). 60 Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company
255 creosoted pine ties onto flat cars. 61 The limited supply of tools was not always an oversight. Wood treatment plants and the companies purchasing treated wood discouraged the use of cant hooks or tongs because they did not want the wood gouged 62 When the Virginia Public Service Company, for example, requisitioned creosote d pine poles from the Norfolk hooks, and other pointed tools capable of producing penetrations of more than 1 inch in depth shall 63 This desire to protect the integrity of the preservative treatment put workers at a greater risk of coming in contact with coal tar creosote and other harmful preservatives. In addition to a lack of tools, employers seldom supplied workers with any protective clothing. Testifying on Underwood s behalf Levi Kreis, a Cincinnati, New experience handling creosoted ties railroad company with any particular type of gloves or any ki 64 Without any safety equipment, workers handling creosoted timber sometimes resorted to desperate measures to minimize contact with the caustic preservative. Court documents on Pinkley and advised the 61 Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Cheek 62 Advertisement for Multipoint Cant Hook in Wood Preserving News (September 1941), 11, Folde r Older Information Pertaining to Purchase of Boiler, Box 1 MS 5802, UVA Library. 63 E. H. Crews to E. F. Conger, May 28, 1936, Folder NPS Yards, Box 3, MS 5802, UVA Library, Charlottesville. 64 Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railroad Company v. Jam es Lloyd Underwood
256 65 In another case where workers rebuilt a bridge with timbers heavily saturated with creosote, they used mud in an effort to cover the wood to prevent the fl uid from dripping 66 Photographs of workers at wood preservation plants reinforce these workers accounts. Although a few are shown with gloves, many of the employees handling treated wood wore no protective equipment. 67 Some worke rs took initiative and attempted to fashion their own protective equipment. Workers at the Escambia Wood Treating Company in Pensacola, for example, placed burlap bags with their feet to ensure the creosote fully saturated the wood. The creosote, however, would soak through the burlap quickly, minimizing the effectiveness. 68 Providing protective equipment to workers would have undermined the claims that handling coal t ar creosote in no way threatened workers. Both the industry and the companies that purchased treated wood employed a variety of strategies in their resolute endorsement of creosote. Many railroads and wood treatment companies not only flat out denied emplo yees claims that creosote caused injuries or made them sick, the Republic Creosoting Company in Indiana instructed employee Earl C. Hiatt to handle creosoted wood pav ing blocks, although Hiatt s standard job for the plant 65 Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company 66 Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Thompson, Trustee, v. McKamey 67 Folder 57, Box 2 of the Edwin Fisher Conger Papers at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. 68 Steve Lerner, Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2010), 42.
257 ry if he wanted to keep his position at the plant. Hiatt, who noted 69 Similar to the Republic Creosoting Company s claim that creosote was health, the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company contended that the creosote preparation, which permanently im paired a former employee s vision, was 70 In another approach that dismissed the health concerns workers raised, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company attributed one worker s injuries to 71 This approach not only absolved both the treatment and the company of any potential guilt, it also suggested the sick employee was abnorm al or deficient in some way that made him unusually susceptible to injury. Railroads possessed the resources and allies to defend their practices; they could afford to appeal cases until judges arrived at the desired verdict that the company was not liab le for workers injuries. In a 1999 study, Historian William G. Thomas demonstrates the power railroads wielded in these personal injury disputes 69 Republic Creosoting Company v. Hiatt 212 Ind. 432; 8 N.E.2d 981; 1937 Ind. LEXIS 329. 70 Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, Thompson, Trustee, v. McKamey 71 Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company v. Wright ; Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company v. Barr, Administrator Winf ord Wright
258 72 Railroad companies presided over legal departments with experienced counsel, but also retained specialized personal injury agents and behalf. 73 Perhaps even more instrumen tal to their success in the courtroom, Thomas, 74 Cases i n which workers sued railroads after alleging injury due to creosote highlighted these challenges. According to one researcher who was dismissive of workers showing that t creosote burns and scars were the result of syphilis; in other instances, they lost to juries who were something less than sympathetic to logic and dragged on for yea rs, with injured workers dying before courts reached an ultimate decision. To sway the courts in their favor, railroad companies often hired expert witnesses such as Hermann von Schrenk, a renowned specialist and consultant in wood preservation, whom they convince juries that creosote was of no threat to workers. In one such case, von 72 William G. Thomas, Lawyering for the Railroad: Business, Law, and Power in the New South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999), 113. 73 Ibid., 62, 115, and 157. 74 Ibid., 62.
259 pulled off his coat, high stiff collar and tie, rolled up his cuffs and bathed himself in reported injuries, and, ultimately, v on Schrenk workers or those employed at wood preservation plants, von Schrenk did not make a on his body long before scru bbing it off. 75 76 77 75 James E. Cronin, Hermann von Schrenk A Biography (Chicago: Kuehn, 1959), 164 and 163. 76 Christopher C. Sellers, Hazards of the Job: From Industrial Disease to Environmental Health Science (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 35. 77 Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad C ompany
260 78 79 80 78 Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Charles Gill 79 Ibid. 80 Sellers, Hazards of the Job 35.
261 81 81 Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Cheek
262 82 83 84 82 Cronin, Hermann von Schrenk 164. 83 Forest Products Laboratory, Testing Wood Preservatives (Madison, Wiscons in: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Dec. 1938), 11. 84 George M. Hunt and George A. Garratt, Wood Preservation (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc. 1938), 10; Paul Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick: Toxins at Home a nd in the Workplace (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 227.
263 The fate of these people seems singularly hard: in their early infancy, they are most frequently treated with great brutality, and almost starved with cold and hunger; they are thrust up narrow, and sometimes hot chimneys, where they are bruised, burned, and almost suffocated; and when they get to puberty, become peculiarly liable to a most noisome, painful, and fatal disease. 85 86 85 Percivall Pott and James Earle, The Chirurgical Works of Percivall Pott: With His Last Corrections : to Which Are Added, a Short Account of the Life of the Author, a Method of Cur ing the Hydrocele by Injection, and Occasional Notes and Observations ( Philadelphia: James Webster, 1819), 291 292. 86 Dona Schneider and David E. Lilienfeld, Public Health: The Development of a Discipline, Volume 1 (New Bruns wick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 100.
264 87 88 89 87 Pott and Earle, The Chirurgical Works of Percivall Pott 291. 88 Ibid., 294. 89 Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation (New York: Bantam Bo oks, 2013).
265 90 91 90 Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 228; 91 Charles B. Ball, Transactions of the Academy of Medicine in Ireland 3 (1885): 319.
266 92 92 Ibid., 319 and 320.
267 93 94 95 93 Ibid., 320. 94 The British Medical Journal es in the July 25, July 2, and July 9 issues of the journal. 95 British Medical Journal (July 9, 1892): 68 and 69.
268 96 96 Stephen Mackenzie, British Journal of Dermatology 10 ( Jan uary December 1898): 417.
269 97 98 99 97 Le Roy Des Barres and Courtois Les Dermatoses D Origine Professionnelle, Maladies Professionnelles (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1903), 103. 98 White, The Dermatergoses Miners: B. Chemical Encyclopedia Medica 3 (1916): 429. 99
270 During the distillation of tar, such gases and products a s ammonia, carbonic acid, sulphuric acid, sulfurous acid, and creasote (sic) are given off. Persons brought into contact with these products occasionally suffer from inflammation of the eyes, running at the nose, bronchial catarrh, dyspepsia, headache and vertigo. Frequently the skin beco mes dirty looking and cyanosed. 100 101 102 103 100 Thomas Oliver, Diseases of Occupation: From the Legislative, Social, and Medical Points of View, 2nd edition (London: Methuen & Co. 190 8), 383 and 384. 101 Ibid 102 Ibid., 385. 103
271 104 105 104 Health and Predecessor Journals, 1919 Archives of Envi ronmental & Occupational Health 64 (2009): 21. 105 White, The Dermatergoses 149 and 161.
272 106 107 108 109 110 106 Ibid., 161 and 162. 107 Ibid., 162. 108 Ibid., 154. 109 110 Ibid., 216.
273 111 112 111 Ibid., 216. 112 Ibid., 221.
274 113 114 115 116 117 113 Ibid., 2 23. 114 Ibid., 228. 115 Ibid. 116 British Journal of Dermatology and Syphilis 32, no. 7 (Aug Sept. 1920): 251. 117 British Journal of Dermato logy and Syphilis 32 (July 1920): 223.
275 118 118 Ibid., 225.
276 119 120 121 119 British Medical Journal 1, No. 3296 (March 1, 1924): 368. 120 S.A. Henry, Cancer of the Scrotum in Relation to Occupation (L ondon: Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press, 1946), 16. 121 Ibid., 16, and 22 23.
277 122 123 124 125 122 Ibid., 22 23. 123 Ibid., 99. 124 British Medical Journal 1, no. 3300 (March 29, 1924): 564. 125 Wilhelm Hueper, Cancer Research 12, no. 10 (October 1952): 694.
278 126 127 128 126 127 Ibid., 372. 128 Sellers, Hazards of the Job 19 and 33.
279 129 130 129 Jay Frank Schamberg, Journal of C utaneous Diseases (December 1910): 644. 130 Health, 1900 Sickness and Health in America: Readings in the History of Medicine and Public Health, e d. Judith Walzer Lea vitt and Ronald L. Numbers, 3rd ed. (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1997), 468.
280 131 132 133 131 The Outlook (October 8, 1904): 359. 132 467. 133 Ibid ., 478.
281 134 135 134 Alice Hamilton, Industrial Poisons in the United States (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1925), 414, 413, and 410. 135 Imre Heller, Occupational Cancers, Journal of Industrial Hygiene 12, no. 5 (May 1930): 175, 179, and 180.
282 136 137 136 United States Bure au of Labor Statistics, Handbook of Labor Statistics, 1931 Edition (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1931), 326. 137 United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupation Hazards and Diagnostic Signs No. 582 (Wa shington: United States Government Printing Office, 1933), 12, 26, 47.
283 138 139 138 Louis Schwartz, Industrial Medicine 11, no. 8 (1942): 387. 139 Adolph D. Jonas, Journal of Industrial Hygiene and To xicology 25, no. 9 (November 1943): 418 420.
284 140 141 140 Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research 2 (April 1956): 143. 141 Ibid
285 142 143 142 Journal of the American Medical Association 107, no. 4 (July 25, 1936): 247 and 248. 143 W. C. Hueper, 209 (Washingto n, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1948), 45.
286 144 145 144 Ibid., 48. 145 Ibid. 51.
287 146 147 148 149 146 Fagin, Toms River 180 147 148 149
288 150 150 Forest Products Laboratory, Testing Wood Preservatives (Madison, Wisconsin: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Dec. 1938), 2 and 3.
289 151 151 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 105 and 106.
290 152 152
291 Figure 5 1. Treated telephone poles stored in the yard at the International Creosoting Company 1943. Beaumont, Texas. Photograph by John Vachon. Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Divisi on Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001030039/PP/
292 Figure 5 2. Tie treating plant loading Forest History Society Photograph Collection, Forest History Society, Dur ham, N.C.
293 Figure 5 3. Detail of a poison sign on the north end of a wood treating tank in the timber yard Butte Mineyards, Anselmo Mine. Butte, Montana. Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landsca pes Survey, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/mt0095.photos.101143p/
294 CHAPTER 6 ENVIRONMENTAL INEQUALITIES IN THE WOOD PRESERVATION INDUSTRY On January 22, 1918, the American Wood Preservers Association held a special session at its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, at the Hotel Sherman to address the preserving plants. 1 Although Elmer T. Howson, an associate editor of Railway Age and the editor of Railway Maintenance Engineer gave the main lecture, his talk led to a spirited debate among attendees about securing a reliable labor force for the industry. Howson emphasized how immigration restrictions in the midst of World War I depleted the industry s supply of unskilled labor from Europe. categorized insignificant. 2 relief 3 U.S. immigration restrictions and what Howson described as a possibility of bolstering the industry s workforce with Asian immigrants. 4 The labor shortage appeared so severe that Howson and AWPA members contemplated desperate measu 1 Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1918), 44 (Hereafter cited as AWPA 1918 ). 2 Ibid., 45. 3 Ibid., 46. 4 Ibid., 46.
295 5 Although the outlook appeared bleak, some members warned against turning to African American workers to alleviate the shortage. C. M. Taylor, the superintendent of a creosoting plant in Port Reading, New th, 6 Some members supported Taylor s exhortation, but others dismissed him outright. Joseph H. Waterman, who managed timber preserving operations for the Chicago, device I ever saw to handle ties. . is a negro. We are not going to let the fellows down 7 AWPA members attending the session applauded Waterman 8 Although this debate illustrated tensions over the most suitable labor force for the wood preservation industry, it also highlighted the industry s dependence on and exploitation of African American workers, especially in the southern United States where wood preservers estab lished plants. Waterman and many wood preserving managers 5 Ibid., 48. 6 Ibid., 50. 7 Ibid., 50 8 Ibid.
296 affordable than any labor saving machinery or other group of workers. In an industry gh priced labor Waterman and many other wood solution. 9 In the midst of the debate, the AWPA s president called on Harry S. Valentine, who supervised treating operation s at the Eppinger & Russell Company s plant in Jacksonville, Florida, to share the perspective of a member representing a Southern 10 Southern wood preservation plants, in particular, relied on bl ack workers to perform some of the most grueling and hazardous jobs in wood preservation. They consigned black laborers to the lowest paid, unskilled positions such as handling and loading creosoted wood, which ensured that they faced regular, direct expos ure to toxic chemicals and ultimately bore a disproportionate share of the pollution associated with this industry. Activists, scholars, and policymakers have carefully documented how race and social class influence access to a livable environment in the United States. In the landmark 1987 report Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States the United Church waste tion of uncontrolled toxic 11 As environmental historian Andrew 9 Ibid., 51. 10 Ibid., 54. 11
297 Hurley contends, 12 Responding to criticisms that environmental historians traditionally minimized social divisions, highlighting t he treatment of nature but neglecting our treatment of each other, this chapter explores how African American workers in the southern United States came to face an unequal share of environmental hazards generated by wood treatment facilities. While I refer ence other groups of workers or use their accounts to provide context, this study focuses more exclusively on black workers, who comprised the bulk of the labor force for wood preservation plants, faced the greatest discrimination and pollution in the indu stry, and have been virtually excluded from traditional research on wood preservation. 13 Cheap land and labor, lax governmental regulations, and abundant southern pine timber drew the wood preservation industry to the American South. At the same time, th 14 12 Andrew Hurley, Environmental Inequalities: Class, Race, and Industri al Pollution in Gary, Indiana, 1945 1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 182. 13 Environmental Justice 1, no. 4 (December 2008): 177 178. 14 Paul S. Sutter, introducti on to Environmental History and the American South: A Reader ed. Paul S. Sutter and Christopher J. Manganiello (Athens: the University of Georgia Press, 2009), 15. Many EJ scholars such as Robert Bullard have focused on the South, arguing that this region is a center for the EJ movement because mainstream environmentalism has been weak in the South. Dumping in Dixie, Bullard s pioneering study, also helped establish this region s significance, and subsequent work by both Bullard and McGurty emphasize how s outhern residents experience with the civil rights movement provided a foundation for environmental justice activism in this region.
298 15 16 17 15 Cassandra Y. Johnson and Josh McDaniel, To Love the Wind and the Rain : African Americans and En vironmental History ed. Dianne D. Glave and Mark Stoll, 51 62 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006), 55; William P. Jones, The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow South (Urbana: University of Illinois Press 2005); Robert B. Outland, Tapping the Pines: The Naval Stores Industry in the American South (Baton Rouge: Prisoners of the Pines: Debt Peonage (Ph.D. d issertation., University of Florida, 1996) 16 Tegeder, Prisoners of the Pines 17 Alex Lichtenstein, Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South (London: Verso, 1996); Pete Daniel, The Shadow of Slavery: Peo nage in the South, 1901 1969 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972); Jacqueline Jones, The Dispossessed: America's Underclasses from the Civil War to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1992); Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re Ensl avement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (New York: Double Day, 2008).
299 18 19 18 Gloria Jahoda, The Other Florida (Port Salerno, Florida: Florida Classics Library, 1967), 231. 19 Jahoda, The Other Florida 231.
300 20 21 22 20 Don Felder, Heaven and Hell: My Life With the Eagles, 1974 2001 (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2008), 5. 21 Dennis Boyer, Prairie Whistles: Tales of Midwest Railroading (Black Earth, Wisconsin: Trails Books, 2001), 43. 22 St. Louis Park Historical Society, Republic Creosoting I nc. St. Louis Park Historical Society,
301 23 24 23 AWPA 1918 50. 24 Letter from C. E. Weaver to R. C. Falconer, December 3, 19 20, Folder 1914 15, Box 212, Central of Georgia Railway Records, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah (Hereafter Cited as Central of Georgia Railway Collection ).
302 25 26 27 28 29 25 W. A. Ilgenfritz to K. G. McDonald, May 31, 1938, Folder: Bidding Information Western Electr ic Contract, Box 1 MSS 5507a, Norfolk Creosoting Company Records, University of Virginia, Charlottesville (Hereafter Cited as Norfolk Creosoting Company Records). 26 Folder: Tidewater, Box 2 MS 5802 Norfolk Creosoting Company Records. 27 Folder 42: Jackson Lumber Company Accounts, Box 1 of the Edwin Fisher Conger Papers at the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond (Hereafter Cited as EFC Papers). In addition to the Norfolk Creosoting Company, Conger also owned the Piedmont Wood Preserving Company. 28 Aaron Re ynolds, Inside the Jackson Tract: The Battle Over Peonage Labor Camps in Southern Alabama, 1906, Southern Spaces (January 21, 2013). http://www.southernspaces.org/2013/inside jackson tract battle over peonage labor camps southern alabama 1906#footnote19_cdwql01 29 Ibid.
303 30 31 30 See, for example, Jones, The Tribe of Black Ulysses; Outland, Tapping the Pines ; Teged er, Prisoners of the Pines ; James E. Fickle, Green Gold: Alabama's Forests and Forest Industries (University of Alabama Press, 2014). 31 Chapter 5: Preparation of Material for Treatment, in George M. Hunt and George A. Garratt, Wood Preservation (Ne w York: McGraw Hill Book Company, Inc. 1938) ; Forest to Field
304 32 33 34 35 scrapbook (hereafter cited as Forest to Field ) located in Folder 57, Box 2 of the EFC Papers, also outlined timber preparation prior to creosoting. 32 See section The Treating Cylinder Fores t to Field EFC Papers; Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 354. 33 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 338 and 342. 34 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 343; John C. Oakes, Creosotes and Creosoting (Chicago: John Crerar Library, 1909), 16. 35 F. J. Angi er, Wood Preservation: Its Past, Present, and Future, Lumber World Review (November 10, 1915): 43.
305 36 37 38 36 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 345. 37 Ibid. 347. 38 See section The Treating Cylinder Forest to Field EFC Papers ; Angier, Wood Preservation: Its Past, Present, and Future, 43; Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 340.
306 39 40 41 42 43 39 See section The Control Room Forest to Field EFC Papers. 40 The Science of Wood Preservation, American Lumberman (October 31, 1903): 45 46. 41 See section The Treating Sequence Forest to Field EFC Papers. 42 Oakes, Creosotes and Creosoting 30. 43 Lowry Smith, Precautions to Be Observed For Prevention of Fire in Creosoting Plants, P roceedings of the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Wood Preservers Association (Ameri can Wood Preservers Association, 1910), 52.
307 44 45 46 47 44 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 266 267. 45 Ibid. 364. 46 See section Distillation Fractions Forest to Field EFC Papers. Oakes also discusses this debate on page 6 9 of Creosotes and Creosoting 47 Hu nt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 342.
308 48 49 50 51 52 48 See section on The Pole Has Been Treated and Forest to Field EFC Papers 49 Scenes in a Modern Wood Preserving Plant, The Timberman 35, no. 4 (February 1933): 11. See also section on Ta king the Increment and Plugging the Hole Forest to Field EFC Papers 50 U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Cleaning Up Contaminated Wood Treating Sites (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995), 10. 51 Samuel A. Pinkley v. The Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company 246 Ill. 370; 92 N.E. 896; 1910 Ill. LEXIS 2073; 52 United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupation Hazards and Diagnostic Signs No. 582 (Washington: United States Government Print ing Office, 1933), 12, 26, 47.
309 53 54 55 56 57 58 53 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Toxicological Profile for Wood Creosote, Coal Tar Creosote, Coal Tar, Coal Tar Pitch, and other Volatiles (Agency for Toxic Sub stances and Disease Registry: Atlanta, September 2002), 301. 54 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 317 318. 55 St. Louis Park Historical Society, Republic Creosoting Inc. 56 See Forest to Field EFC Papers 57 See, for example, Samuel A. Pinkley v. The Chi cago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Company 246 Ill. 370; 92 N.E. 896; 1910 Ill. LEXIS 2073. 58 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 360; Advertisement for Multipoint Cant Hook in Wood Preserving News (September 1941), 11, Folder : Older Information Pertaini ng to Purchase of Boiler, Box 1, MS 5802, Norfolk Creosoting Company Records.
310 59 60 61 62 59 Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1922), 408 (Hereafter Cited as AWPA 1922 ). 60 George A. Corrigan, Calked Boots and Cant Hooks ed. L. G. Sorden 2nd ed. (Ashland, Wisconsin: Northword Inc. 1986); 164. 61 Ibid. 163. 62 Ibid., 164.
311 63 64 65 66 67 63 St. Louis Park Historical Society, Republic Creosoting Inc. 64 65 Factors Affecting the Cost of Cross Ties, in the Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1922), 160. 66 Proce edings of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1913), 215 (Hereafter cited as AWPA 1913 ). 67 Kuehn s comment is published in AWPA 1918 53.
312 68 69 68 Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Meeti ng of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1920), 208. 69 Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1913), 209 (Hereafter cited a s AWPA 1913 ).
313 70 71 72 73 70 Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1914), 371. (Hereafter cited as AWPA 1914 ). 71 Hunt and Garratt, Wood Preservation 357 and 363. 72 AWPA 1914 373. 73 Forest to Field scrapbook located in Folder 57, Box 2 of the Edwin Fisher Conger Papers at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.
314 74 75 76 74 Waterman s discussion is in AWPA 1918 50 51; Letter from C. E. Weaver to R. C. Falconer, December 3, 1920, F older 1914 15, Box 212, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 75 Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production Volume 2: Best Practices in the Wood and Paper Industries (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2010), 51; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Cleaning Up Contaminated Wood Treating Sites 10. 76 Superintendent of Creosoting Plant to Master Car Builder, Mr. Adamson, May 25, 1933, Folder 1914 6, Box 211, Central of Georgia Railway Collection
315 77 78 79 80 81 77 C heremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention 45. 78 Ibid., 51; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Cleaning Up Contaminated Wood Treating Sites 10. 79 Boyer, Prairie Whistles 43. 80 Virgil Neitzel, Oak Hill and the Repu blic Creosoting Co., Something in the Water: The Village of St. Louis Park, Minnesota 1945 and earlier ed. Don Swenson (St. Louis Park, Minnesota: St. Louis Park Historical Society, 2001), 47. 81 Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Ameri can Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1919), 166.
316 82 83 84 85 82 Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1912), 76. 83 AWPA 1914 371. 84 Ibid. 85 Ibid
317 86 87 88 89 90 86 AWPA 1914 371. 87 AWPA 1918 50. 88 Factors Affecting the Cost of Cross Ties, in AWPA 1922 160. 89 Proceedings of the Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the American Wood Preservers Association (American Wood Preservers Association, 1920), 207. 90 Ibid.
318 91 91 Forest to Field EFC Papers.
319 92 93 92 Box 3 and 4 MS 5802, Norfolk Creosoting Company Records. 93 John Hoberman, Black and Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2012), 120.
320 94 95 96 97 98 94 Ibid., 110. 95 A. G. L ove and C. B. Davenport, A Comparison of White and Colored Troops in Respect to Incidence of Disease, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 5 (1919): 59. 96 Henry H. Hazen, Diseases of the Skin (St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Company, 1915), 34. 97 Hober man, Black and Blue 67. 98 The Resistant Ectoderm of the Negro, American Journal of Physical Anthropology 12, no. 1 (1928): 149.
321 99 100 101 102 99 Ibid. 100 Keith Wailoo, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 42. 101 Holm The Resistant Ectoderm of the Negro, 102 Wailoo, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line 9.
322 103 104 105 106 103 Ibid., 44. 104 Louis Dublin, The Health of the Negro, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 140 (November 1928): 77. The article was also revised and updated in 1937. Louis Dublin, The Problem of Negro Health as Revealed by Vital Statistics, Journal of Negro Education 6 (July 1937): 268 75. 105 Wailoo, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line 44. 106 The Negro as a Maintenance Laborer: Two Dis cussions of Employes of This Type Who are Moving North in Large Numbers, Railway Maintenance Engineer 13, no. 2 (February 1917): 37.
323 107 108 109 107 Kenneth H. Hanger, Characteristics of the Negro Railway Maintenance Engineer 13, no. 2 (February 1917): 38. 108 Proceed ings of the Twenty Eighth Annual Convention of the American Railway Bridge and Building Association October 15 17, 1918 (Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House, 1918), 84. 109 James E. Cronin, Herman von Schrenk : A Biography (Chicago: Kuehn, 1959), 164 a nd 163.
324 110 111 110 Imre Heller, Occupational Cancers, J ournal of Industrial Hygiene 12, no. 5 (May 1930): 175, 179, and 180. 111 Adolph D. Jonas, Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology 25, no. 9 (November 1943): 420 and 418.
325 112 113 114 115 112 Ibid., 418. 113 Wailoo, How Cancer Crossed the Color Line 4. 114 Hoberman, Black and Blue 124. 115 Heller, Occupational Cancers, 180. These misperceptions also persist today; many Americans still regard skin cancer as a white person s disease.
326 116 117 118 116 Folder 1254 9, Box 138, Ce ntral of Georgia Railway Collection 117 July 29, 1912 Letter from F. H. Stewart to C. K. Lawrence. Folder 1254 8, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 118 Folder 1914 3, Box 210, Central of Georgia Railway Collection
327 119 120 121 122 119 May 10, 1914, Letter from C. O. Speer to Mr. J.L. Fickling, Folder 1914 4, Box 211, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 120 October 19, 1914 Letter from F. H. Stewart to C. K. Lawrence, Folder 1914 4, Box 211, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 121 Folder 1914 3, Box 210, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 122 Folder 1914 3, Box 210, Central of Georgia Railway Collection
328 123 124 125 123 Ibid. 124 Ibid. 125 Outland, Tapping the Pines 206; Prisoners of the Pines 155 and 156; Talitha L. LeFlouria, Chaine d in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015), 113 and 159; Dav id M. Oshinsky, Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice (New York: Free Press, 1996), 139
329 126 127 128 126 The Right Way Magazine (April 1925): 44, Folder April May 1925, Box 1, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 127 Ibid. 128 May 18, 1926 Letter from L. H. Harper to G. L. Candler, Folder 1914 18, Box 213, Central of Georgia Railway Co llection
330 129 129 See correspondence in Folder 1914 6, Box 211 Central of Georgia Railway Collection
331 130 131 130 6, Box 211 and Felton 19, Box 213 in the Central of Geor gia Railway Collection 131 Maryland Casualty Co. v. Dawson 75 F.2d 431; 1935 U.S. App. Lexis 2953, www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic (accessed May 8, 2015).
332 In 1930 Will Dawson, a black employee of the National Lumber and Creosoting Company in Texarkana, Texas, died mysteriously. Dawson worked for the company for over twenty years, performing the hard labor of loading treated ties into tramcars. His widow, Fannie Dawson, contended that a workplace injury led to his death, but the National Lumber and Creosoting Company and the Maryland Casualty Company which provided fire and casualty insurance for the plant ever sustained an injury. Company officials refused to pay more than $50 the standard sum they paid to any deceased worker for funeral expenses. Fannie Dawson sued over the dispute, and after a four year legal battle, the court awarded her $11.75 per week for 360 weeks. The insurance company, however, appealed this verdict demanding a new trial and insisting that Dawson s widow and fellow black laborers falsified testimon y and lied about his injuries. Although the appellate court ultimately ruled in Dawson s favor, these proceedings delayed her compensation until five years after her husband s death. 132 132
333 The Dawson case also illustrated the uneven power relationships betwe en white management and the black workers who labored under dangerous conditions. Dawson alleged that the creosoting plant and the insurance company intimidated several of her husband s coworkers into changing their testimonies during the court proceedings Cat appeals process that he previously withheld information about Dawson s injury because 133 While Dawson eventually received compensation for her husband s de ath at the plant, this seems to have been an exceptional outcome. A dearth of similar court records suggests black workers rarely sought or were prevented from pursuing legal redress. 134 133 134 United State Proceedings of the National Conference for Labor Legislation (Washington D. C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1934), 12.
334 In addition to these social and labor hurdles, injured black workers also had to contend with the power of company doctors. 135 136 137 135 William G. Thomas, Lawyering for the Railroad: Business, Law, and Power in the New South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999), 117. 136 Folder, 1914 19, Box 213, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 137 See correspondence in Folder 1914 15, Box 212, Central of Georgia Railway Collection
335 138 139 140 141 138 Eric Arnesen, Brother hoods of Color: Black Railroad Workers and the Struggle for Equality (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2001), 28. 139 The Negro in the Railway Unions, Phylon 5, no. 2 (2nd Qtr. 1944): 160. 140 Ibid., 159. 141 Arnesen Broth erhoods of Color 3.
336 142 143 142 For a general discussion of piecework in the wood preserving industry see: W. W. Eldridge, The Piecework or Unit System of Handling Ties and Timber, AWPA 1913 203 213. 143 David A. Zonderman, Aspirations and Anxieties: New England W orkers and the Mechanized Factory System, 1815 1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 173; Outland, Tapping the Pines 171.
337 144 145 146 147 148 144 The Piecework or Unit System of Handling Ties and Timber, 145 Ibid., 209. 146 Ibid., 203. 147 Ibid., 204. 148 Ib id., 209.
338 149 150 151 152 153 149 Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1 (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Company, 1912), 608. 150 Ibid., 606. 151 Ibid., 605. 152 Zonderman, Aspirations and Anxieties, 175. 153 Ibid.
339 154 Atc hsion, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway s wood treating plants, George E. Rex, 155 156 157 158 154 AWPA 1913 213. 155 Ibid., 214. 156 AWPA 1914 371. 157 The Piecework or Unit System of Handling Ties and Timber, 158 AWPA 1913 213.
340 159 160 161 162 159 Ibid. 160 Ibid. 161 The Creosoting Plant of the Atlantic Coast Line, Railway Age Gazette 57, no. 3 (1914): 126. 162 The Stayer and the Drifter, Railw ay Maintenance Engineer 13, no. 2 (February 1917): 38 40.
341 163 164 165 166 167 163 Ibid., 38. 164 Ibid. 165 Characteristics of the Negro, 166 Ibid. 167 Ibid.
342 168 169 170 171 172 168 The Stayer and the Drifter, 169 Ibid. 170 Railway Age Gazette 53, no. 3 (July 19, 1912), 106. 171 F. E. L Methods of Handling Negro Track Labor, Railway Age Gazette 53, no. 3 (July 19, 1912), 121. 172 Ibid.
343 173 174 175 176 173 Ibid. 174 Ibid. 175 W. J. Edwards, The Importance of a Good Foreman for Negro Track Laborers, Railway Age Gazette 53, no. 3 (July 19, 1912), 122. 176 A. O. Wilson, Strict Discipline Necessary with the Negro Track Laborer, Railway Age Gazette 53, no. 3 (July 19, 1912), 122.
344 177 178 Atchsion, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway s creosoting operation, worried about this problem and shared his concerns at a 1918 AWPA meeting: 177 Peter Gottlieb, Making Their Own Way: Southern Blacks' Migration to Pittsburgh, 1916 30 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 23; Jones, The Tribe of Black Ulysses 1 2. 178 AWPA 1918 59.
345 179 180 181 182 179 Ibid., 52. 180 Ibid., 59. 181 Ibid. 182 Folder 1254 10, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection
346 183 184 185 186 183 Gottlieb, Making Their Own Way 45. 184 Ibid. 185 AWPA 1918 55. 186 Methods of Handling Negro Track Labor,
347 187 188 189 187 Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration ( New York, NY: Random House, 2010 ). 188 AWPA 1918 57. 189 Ibid.
348 190 191 190 Ibid 49 191 Ibid., 58.
349 192 193 194 192 August 15, 1917 Letter from C. K. Lawrence to F. H. Stewart, Folder 1254 12, Box 139, Central of Georgia Railway Collection ; July 29, 1912 Letter from F. H. Stewart to C. K. Lawrence, Folder 1254 8, Box 138, Central of Georgia Railway Collection 193 This is the caption on a photo at the beginning of this publication. No page number is given. International Creosoting and Construction Company, A Treatise on Wood Preservation (Galveston, Texas: Engraving and Print by American Lumberman, 1903). 194 See photos of workers in International Creosoting and Cons truction Company, A Treatise on Wood Preservation
350 195 196 197 195 196 Memorandum on Plant Inventory, Folder 1922 to 1944 1956 and nd, UVA MSS 5707; Property Schedule: November 1, 193 0, Buildings, Folder financial analyses, Box 1, MSS 5507, Norfolk Creosoting Company Records. 197 Ibid; July 14, 1928 Letter from William Atwood to Loomis Burrell, Folder Loomis Burrell Correspondence 2 of 2, Box 1, MSS 5507, Norfolk Creosoting Company Reco rds
351 198 199 198 Memorandum on Plant Inventory, Folder 1922 to 1944 1956 and nd, MSS 5707; Property Schedule: November 1, 1930, Buildings, Folder financial analyses, Box 1, MSS 5507, Norfolk Creosoting Company Records 199 John E. Kleber, T he Kentucky Encyclopedia (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2015), 128.
352 200 201 202 203 204 205 200 Tuscaloosa News May 2, 1965. 201 Just Memories Remain, Tuscaloosa News July 11, 2001. 202 Ibid. 203 Ibid. 204 Ibid. 205 Ibid.
353 206 207 206 Andrew He Social Engineering through Spatial Engineering: Company Towns and the Geographical Imagination, Company Towns in the Americas: Landscape, Power, and Working Class Communities edited by Oliver J. Dinius, Angela Vergara (Athens: University of Georgi a Press, 2011), 210. 207 In A Company Town, There s Only One Way, Tuscaloosa News July 11, 2001.
3 54 208 209 210 211 208 Folk Songs of the Hills Capital Records, 1947. 209 In A Company Town, There s Only One Way, Ju ly 11, 2001. 210 John L. Hunt and Hoyt B. Ming, People Move Out; Nature Takes Over, Tuscaloosa News May 27, 1999. 211 Eugene Tucker, Democracy As We Lived It (First Library Writing Group: 2005), viii.
355 212 213 214 215 216 212 Ibid., 43. 213 Ibid., 181. 214 Ibid., 43. 215 Ibid., 163 216 Ibid., 43.
356 217 218 219 217 Ibid., 43. 218 Ibid., 163. 219 AWPA 1918 55.
357 220 221 222 220 The Machine Called Man, Wood Preserving 4, no. 2 (April June 1917): 35. 221 Ibid. 222 Ibid., 35 and 36.
358 that pathologist 223 Unfortunately for African American workers employed in the wood treating industry, 223 W.C. Hueper, Environmental and Occupational Cancer Public Health Repo rts: Supplement 209 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1948), 50.
359 Figure 6 1. Pressure treating fence posts Forest History Society Photograph Collection, Forest History Society, Durham, N.C.
360 Figure 6 2. Control room of creosote impregnation plant 1958. Photograph by Bluford Muir. Forest History Society Photog raph Collection, Forest History Society, Durham, N.C.
361 Figure 6 3. Laborer lifting creosoted railroad tie. 1942. Photograph by Howard Liberman. Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001041646/PP/
362 Figure 6 4. Negro laborers carrying and laying railroad ties for a spur line into a coal stora ge space for the federal government 1942. Photograph by Howard Liberman. Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001041649/PP/
363 Figure 6 5. Loading creosoted utility poles onto railcars. 1936. Photograph by H.E. Whitehead. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. https://www.floridamemory.com /items/show/62752.
364 Figure 6 6. Cleaning out a vat in which creosote is stored at the International Creosoting Company Beaumont, Texas, 1943 Photograph by John Vachon Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Lib rary of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001030037/PP/
365 Figure 6 7. Woman worker at the International Creosoting plant. Thi s work was formerly done by men 1943. Beaumont, Texas Photograph by John Vachon Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001030023/PP/
366 CHAPTER 7 A May 1954 advertisement in Popular Mechanics depicts a smiling, suburban, d preservative on his picket fence and lawn furniture 1 In contrast to the smelly, sticky, black residue coal short for pentachlorophenol was colorless and odorless when applied, but still any 2 Although German chemists first synthesized pentachlorophenol in 1841, the chemical industry did not begin its commercial production unti l the mid 1930s. In addition to its application as a wood preservative, pentachlorophenol also found use as an essential ingredient in broad spectrum herbicides, fungicides, mildewcides, and pesticides, which became popular during and after World War II as the United States declared war on enemies both human and non human. Dow, Monsanto, and other large chemical companies manufactured a host of pentachlorophenol home and abroad. 3 1 Popular Mechanics (May 1954): 262. 2 Ibid. 3 Ronald Eisler, ironmentally Hazardous Priority Chemicals 589 606 (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007), 589 592; Edmund Russell, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 14; T. S. C Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (June 1938): 622; Karen Summers, Management Practices for Used Treated Wood (Palo Alto, California: Electric Power Research Institute, 1995), 1 4 and 2 10.
367 atural appearance, but does not interfere 4 Although pressure treating wood remained the most effective technique, this preservative could also be applied in your own backyard without commercial equipment another selling point for suburban homeowners maintaining their American dream. 5 recommended. 6 The Dow Chemical Company, which sponsored th e advertisement, defining characteristic, an assertion that the manufacturer repeated four tim es in the advertisement. 7 Novel synthetic treatments such as PENTA captured the attention and interest of post World War II manufacturers and consumers who shared a fascination with laboratory created agrochemicals and a devout belief that science and ind ustry could triumph over nature. 8 Throughout the 1950s, Dow Chemical and Monsanto marketed pentachlorophenol products in popular magazines, suggesting that creosote had finally fallen out of favor among wood preservers. These successful marketing campaigns as 4 5 The Bulldozer in the Countryside: Suburban Sprawl and the Rise of American Environmentalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). 6 7 Ibid. 8 Paul D. Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick: Toxins at Home and in the Workplace (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 231; Christopher J. Bosso, Pesticides and Politics: The Life Cycle of a Public Issue (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987), 63.
368 the advertisement described above exemplifies, pushed creosote out of the spotlight. Almost paradoxically, however, the increased popularity and widespread use of synthetic wood preservatives allowed creosote and its dangers to linger out of sight. 9 The motivating factor behind this transition in the wood preservation industry did although researchers had thoroughly documented them by this time. 10 Aesthetics, rather than safe Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Thomas Carswell and Ira Hatfield, and Much of the future for wood in certain industrial applications is dependent treatments which, while protecting the wood against degradation, will not alter its chara cteristic feel or appearance nor interfere with subsequent fabrication or application of surface coatings. 11 According to the industry, for a new generation of consumers particularly quate either 9 Life (March 21, 1955): 18 Popular Mechanics (November 1955): 265. 10 See, for example, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Handbook of Labor Statistics, 1931 Edition (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1931), 326; United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupation Hazards and Diagnostic Signs No. 582 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1933), 12, 26, 47. Paul Blanc also provides a How Everyday Products Mak e People Sick: Toxins at Home and in the Workplace 11 Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (November 1939): 1431.
369 because of their color, odor, or lack of permanence, or because of adverse effects upon 12 Instead of a dark, tarry substance that seeped from treated timber and appeared anything but healthful, PENTA see med innocuous because it was virtually undetectable once applied, a characteristic that significantly enhanced the appeal of treated timber among Americans who desired to protect the symbols of their increased material wealth and leisure. 13 The perceived in visibility of PENTA, and the new generation of wood preservatives it represented, brought these toxic chemicals even closer to home as consumers purchased treated timber for playground equipment, lawn furniture, decks, fences, landscaping material, and cou ntless other home improvement projects. 14 While PENTA and this new class of wood treatments left timber looking more natural, these chemical preservatives were decidedly unnatural. Similar to coal tar creosote and the wood preservatives that preceded it, th ese synthetic treatments also proved incredibly toxic to wood destroying organisms, but also to people and the natural environment. 15 The most significant health risk associated with pentachlorophenol is that chlorinated dioxins, a compound similar in chem ical structure to the infamous tactical herbicide Agent Orange, are a byproduct of its manufacturing process. When wood 12 Ibid. 13 Mechanical Wood Products Branch, Forest Industries, Wo od Preservation Manual (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1986), 33; 14 Carolyn M. Goldstein, Do It Yourself: Home Improvement in 20th Century America (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 11 and 3 1; 15 Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 219.
370 preservers treated timber with PENTA and released dioxins into the environment, they exposed workers, nearby residents, and consumers to these chemicals, which 16 Another popular post World War II wood preservative, chromated copp er arsenate (CCA), releases dioxins when burned, but the arsenic it is built from also poses a serious risk because of its carcinogenic nature. Like pentachlorophenol, CCA is related in chemical composition to another renowned, hazardous herbicide Agent B lue. 17 At the same time that wood preservers increasingly turned to PENTA and CCA to treat timber, the nation confronted a growing concern about its wholesale application of toxic chemicals. In Silent Spring (1962), Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, doc umented 18 She clearly outlined how hreatened all forms of life, not just the intended targets. 19 Carson provided readers with powerful 16 Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 237 and 232; Brett Fisher, Journal of Pesticide Reform 11, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 5. 17 Willi am R. Cullen, Is Arsenic an Aphrodisiac?: The Sociochemistry of an Element (Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2008), 257 258; Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 237 238. Alvin L Young provides a detailed history of these tactical herbicide s in The History, Use, Disposition and Environmental Fate of Agent Orange (New York: Springer, 2009). 18 Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962; repr., Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002), 3. For a Souder, On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012) and Linda Lear, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (New York: H. Holt, 1997). 19 Carson, Silent Spring 8.
371 20 These visible changes, Carson explaine web of life or death ecology. 21 at DDT, she included the popular wood preservative, pentachlorophenol, and arsenical based biocides, such 22 Marshalling evidence from countless case studies and correspondence with citizens and research ers throughout armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them 23 Although the diverse and complicated history of the environmental movement 24 Silent Spring convinced many Americans to be vigilant about their environmental health, fear of cancer or other disease caused by toxic substances, fear for the future of their 25 Al though Carson forced Americans to consider the consequences of 20 Ibid., 2 3. 21 Ibid., 189. 22 Ibid., 36 and 17. 23 Ibid., 297. 24 Philip Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York, Island Press, 1993), 102. For a discussion of the origins and complicated trajectory of the modern ructing Environmentalism: Complex Movements, Environmental History Review 17, no. 4 (Winter 1993): 1 19. 25 Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire 109.
372 deploying toxic chemicals, wood resources shielded it from the regulatory oversight and backlash that other toxic industries faced. Deceptive terminology also deepened this misunderstanding. While the wood creosote, pentachlorophenol, and C CA effective at thwarting rot, decay, and wood destroying organisms. 26 Nevertheless, when tabulating pesticide production and consumption, researchers often excluded wood preservatives from their calculations. 27 Omitting these biocides seriously misrepresen ted the hazards of this industry. In 1982, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established in 1970 reported that creosote, pesticides produced for both agricult 28 Consumer advocacy groups such as Beyond Pesticides reinforce these figures. Jay Feldman and Terry Shistar, scholars and contended wood preservatives accounted for the single largest pesticide use in the 29 These conclusions are even more alarming when one considers the 26 Forest Products Laboratory, Testing Wood Preservatives (Madison, Wisconsin: United States Dep artment of Agriculture, Forest Service, Dec. 1938). 27 Shirley A. Briggs, Basic Guide to Pesticides: Their Characteristics and Hazards (Washington, D.C.: Taylor & Francis, 1992), xii; Jennifer Curtis, Tim Profeta, and Lawrie Mott, After Silent Spring: The Unsolved Problems of Pesticide Use in the United States (New York: Natural Resources Defense Council, 1993), 51. 28 United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet: Wood Preservatives (Washington, D.C.: Office of Pesticides and Toxi c Substances, 1984), 1. 29
373 sheer number of wood treating facilities 795, according to Feldman and Shistar that once spread across the nation. 30 (Figure 7 1) While not all of these locations are share a similarly hazardous history. 31 Although the conflation of wood preservation and environmental stewardship misled many consumers and regulatory officials, even early wood preservers 32 It took much longer, however, for agencies to act against the threat. In 1984, as part of an update to the Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide and Fungicide Act (FIFRA), the EPA launched a creosote, pentachlorophenol, and CCA. 33 Under FIFRA, the EPA reviews wood preservatives and other biocides approximately ev ery 15 years and then decides whether to re register or restrict how they are sold and distributed. Although wood preservers employed creosote long before the federal government enacted this legislation, this preservative, as its proponents http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/wood preservatives/publications/poison poles (accessed September 10, 2017). 30 Ibid. 31 Harold C. Barnett, Toxic Debts and the Superfund Dilemma (Chapel Hill: Un iversity of North Carolina Press, 1994). 32 33 Philip Shab New York Times July 12, 1984; Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 238.
374 have proudly no 34 While the EPA decided to restrict creosote, pentachlorophenol, and CCA biocides to these chemicals, only the method of application. 35 preservation industry and ban any of these m ajor preservatives. 36 Creosote has benefited from a determined and powerful interest group, the Creosote Council, which has been instrumental in ensuring that the EPA continues to re register this biocide. Formed in 1986 when the EPA attempted to crack dow n on wood preservatives, this lobbying group is made up of creosote producers and pressure treaters, including some of the largest manufacturers of treated wood products and their resulting pollution. The Creosote Council defines its mission as underwritin creosote health, safety, environmental, and other studies required by the Environmental Protection Agency to support coal 37 As two members of the Creosote Council stated in a 2008 article for the Railway Transportation Association, this special interest group spent more than $27 million over a period of 34 Crossties (January /February 2009): 19. 35 Ibid. 36 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Wood Preservative Pesticides: Creosote, Pentachlorophenol, and Inorganic Arsenicals, Position Document 4 (Washington, D.C.: Office of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, July 1984) 27. 37 http://www.creosotecouncil.org/creosote research/ (accessed September 10, 2017).
375 38 This close relationship environmental protection agency. 39 Even today, the Council conducts its own research on the benefits and risks, writes position papers supporting creosote challenges consumer and environmental 40 With the Creosote Council in its corner, American railroads installed an estimated 20 million creosote treated wood ties in 2012 alone 41 During t registration of creosote 42 Ultimately, the EPA ss and economic value still made it relevant to railroads and other public works uses because increased costs are 43 38 39 E. G. Vallianatos and McKay Jenkins, Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2014), 1. The authors address the wood preservation industry on page 145. 40 Ibid. 41 Creosote Counci research/. 42 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Reregistration Eligibility Decision for Creosote (Case 0139) (Washington, D.C: United States Environmental Protection Agenc y, 2008), 34. 43 Ibid., 35.
376 As the previo us chapters demonstrate, the wood with cost savings is not a new focus, but it is a dangerous one. Public health historians, including Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, have documented how various industries such as lead an d vinyl concealed information about the dangers of their products while manufacturing and controlling scientific evidence to support their continued operations. up pro cannot be assured. 44 The histories of lead, vinyl, asbestos, and radium, which industries unwaveringly defended, demonstrate the perils of this position. 45 Despite a consensus among s cientists, medical professionals, and government agencies about the toxicity of preservative biocides, wood preservers continue to claim that following industry approved guidelines successfully minimizes any risks the treatments pose to consumers, workers, and the environment. 46 T he Creosote Council makes an even any significant risk has emerged, either to the general public or to workers at creosote treatment facilitie 47 The experiences of Patsy Ruth Oliver and other citizens living in communities plagued with pollution or workers sickened after prolonged exposure demonstrate the 44 Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 4. 45 Ibid., 4. 46 Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook o f Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production Volume 2: Best Practices in the Wood and Paper Industries (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2010), xii. 47
377 failures of an industry knows best a pproach to research and regulation. Trusting companies to protect our homes, workplaces, and communities is difficult when wood preservers have a long history of exposing certain groups, particularly African American workers, to a disproportionate share of the toxic chemicals the industry manufactured. 48 Lois Gibbs, the famed activist who challenged pollution in her community of Love Canal, in Niagara Falls, New York, and who now serves as the executive director of the Center for Health, Environment, and Jus no good reason to allow the poisoning to 49 In contrast to the United States, many countries including Canada and the member states of the European Union severely restricted and even banned the use of creosote, pentachlorophenol, and CCA years earlier. The U.S. isla argue Nicholas P. Cheremisinoff, a chemical engineer, and Paul E. Rosenfeld, an environmental chemist. 50 Curiously, American reliance on creosote has been the hardest to break. Once American railroads finally embraced it, creosote paved the way for the wood preservation industry 48 For a discussion of environmental inequalities in the wood prese rvation industry, see Chapter 6 of this dissertation. 49 preser vatives/publications/poison poles/no title98. 50 Cheremisinoff and Paul E. Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production 1.
378 in the U.S., and it has remained the longest running preservative of choice. After almost two centuri 51 Although the industry increasingly employed PENTA and CCA preservative treatments, creosote never dis appeared entirely from use. Even Carswell and Hatfield, the Monsanto chemists touting pentachlorophenol, admitted that creosote would still have specific applications for railway ties, piling, and more industrial projects. 52 Adapting to the changing times, most plants embraced these new preservatives, but also continued to preserve timber with creosote. Using all the chemicals at their disposal, wood preservers even began combining creosote with these more modern treatments to increase effectiveness, creatin g a toxic cocktail of wood preservatives. Some facilities, for example, pressure treated telephone poles with a solution of creosote, petroleum, and pentachlorophenol. 53 Similarly, a dual treatment of creosote and CCA proved particularly effective at resist 54 While it faded from public view, creosote still made up the bulk of preservative used in the United States. 55 problems and cleanup attempts becaus e different contaminants typically require 51 Naples Daily News May 24, 2004. 52 Carswell and Ira Hatfiel 53 Henry B. Steer, Wood Preservation Statistics: 1949 (n.p.: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 1950), 17. 54 Paul E. Rosenfeld and Lydia Feng, Risks of Hazardous Wastes (Burlington, MA: Elsevier, Inc., 2011), 98. 55 United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet: Wood Preservatives 1.
379 different methods of remediation. Cleanup efforts often take decades, leaving communities with a sense of hopelessness and despair. 56 k nature will clean it up before people 57 treating facilities in the USA that have been operating for 100 years and ha ve eight or more decades of 58 Limited records World War II operations, pollution failures, and preservatives part icularly pentachlorophenol and CCA. As Americans grew more aware of the hazards of synthetic agrochemicals such as DDT, pentachlorophenol and CCA garnered more immediate, negative attention. Publicized ecological disasters in the 1970s and early 1980s s uch as the dioxin contamination of an entire town Times Beach, Missouri sensitized Americans to the dangers of dioxins that lurked in pentachlorophenol. 59 Vietnam veterans and their families also filed lawsuits and shared their tragic stories of health affl ictions due to 56 Unequal P rotection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color ed. Robert D. Bullard (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994). Many journalists have also written stories in affected communities such as Gainesville, Florida, and Somerville, Texas. See, for exam Our Town 2, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 114 120. Paul Sweeney, a journalist for the Texas Observer Somerville, Texas, wood treati ng site in 1980 and 2008. 57 Gainesville Sun May 4, 2002. 58 Cheremisinoff and Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production xii. 59 New York Times February 20, 1983.
380 Agent Orange exposure, which contributed to a growing concern about dioxin hazards. 60 Similarly, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, many Americans learned about what 61 Cities treated timber that municipalities and homeowners installed as safer alterna tives to traditional metal playground equipment, which also prompted a reconsideration of CCA treated timber for decks, boardwalks, gazebos, and other structures. 62 Under increasing pressure from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA, many manufacturers of CCA treated timber agreed to voluntarily cancel most residential uses, effective December 31, 2003. Existing structures treated with CCA, however, did not fall under these agreements, and CCA treated timber remained available for industri al use and for residential products such as shakes, shingles, posts, and structural timbers. 63 When the EPA proposed a more stringent labeling requirement, the industry instead negotiated a voluntary consumer awareness program. The result, many concerned c itizens, activists, and scholars argue, is woefully inadequate. Blanc, for 60 Lois Marie Gibbs, Dying from Dioxin: A Citizen's Guide to Reclaiming Our Health and Rebuilding Democracy (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1995); Aaron B. Wildavsky, But Is It True?: A Citizen's Guide to Environmental Health and Sa fety Issues (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1995). 61 St. Petersburg Times March 11, 2001. 62 Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 237; Cullen, Is Arsenic an Aphrodisiac 70. 63 U.S. Co Pressure Treated Wood Chromated Copper https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/122137/270.pdf (accessed August 12, 2017).
381 level toxic waste 64 With pentachlorophenol and CCA under fire, creosote, as one concerned widespread use for centuries, and its resulting cumulative impact is more extensive. 65 Coal tar creosote ha s, once again, as wood preserver Samuel Boulton proclaimed in 1884, 66 How did creosote escape closer scrutiny for so long? The answer lies in i ts elusive, contested identity. Scientists, regulators, wood preservers, and citizens continue to confront the same dilemma that creosote has long presented it resists easy categorization and is based on confusing terminology. Unlike its laboratory made co pinpoint because any given sample is made up of at least 300 chemicals, and a standard mixture often contains up to 10,000. 67 Further misunderstandings derive from the ex istence of creosote sourced from wood tar and coal tar. Nineteenth and early 64 Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 240. 65 http://protectgainesville.org/ (accessed March 4, 2012). The comments discussed above occurred at an 66 Samuel Bagster Boulton, The Preservation of Timber By the Use of Antiseptics (New York: D. Van N ostrand, 1885) 67 Cheremisinoff and Rosenfeld, Handbook of Pollution Prevention and Cleaner Production 10.
382 twentieth century pharmacists and medical professionals realized often through tragic accident that the two creosotes were not interchangeable. 68 As a product distilled from coal, relationship with the bituminous ore that fueled industrial and chemical revolutions, but poisoned environments. 69 Compared with synthetic wood preservatives, creosote may rives from a naturally occurring resource. specialized and dedicated lobbying and research organization such as the Creosote Council, which effectively re branded this preserv ative in the 1980s as an industrial use consumer marketplace contributed to the downfall of these toxic treatments. Driven by effective marketing, Americans purchased and i nundated their homes, yards, and neighborhoods with these products. Consequently, when the EPA began reviewing wood preservatives, pentachlorophenol and CCA appeared to present a greater menace because of their ubiquity and proximity in our everyday lives. Although creosote was once as omnipresent as these contemporary chemicals, now, railroad ties, telephone poles, and marine pilings seemed more removed and less threatening to a ity has been slow to erode its reputation as a medicinal agent, a disinfectant, and an industrial 68 69
383 panacea that conserved forests and extended the longevity of an essential material wood. e a larger toxic treatment for wood possible when its effectiveness depends on its very toxicity? 70 Wood preservers, manufacturers, and retailers have adapted to the increased concern about sustainability and environmental and publi c 71 The wood caution us a consequences for the workers who produce these products, for our homes and communities, and for our environment. 72 70 71 Jeremy L. Caradonna, Sustainability: A History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2 014), 248; Blanc, How Everyday Products Make People Sick 240 241. 72
384 Figure 7 1. Number of wood preservation sites by state. Data: Jay Feldman an d Terry Pesticides, 1997), http://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/wood preservatives/publications/poison poles
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413 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Nicole C. Cox grew up in Panama City, Florida. She completed her B.A. in history with a minor in American stu dies at the University of South Florida, in Tampa. After graduating summa cum laude in 2007, Nicole earned an M.A. in history at USF in 2009. She worked under the direction of Dr. Lu Ann Jones and Dr. Joanna Dyl, focusing on oral history and environmental history. While studying at USF, Nicole had the opportunity to work in the Special Collections Department and serve d as a graduate coordinator of the Oral History Program in the Florida Studies Center at the USF Library. Her combined interest in oral histor y and environmental history brought her to the University of Florida, where she received her Ph.D. in history in 2017 with Dr. Jack Davis as her adviser. In addition to undergraduate teaching and research at UF, Nicole worked with Dr. Paul Ortiz and the Sa muel Proctor Oral History Program for several years as a transcriber, editor, and graduate coordinator.