Page:McClure's Magazine v9 n3 to v10 no2.djvu/460

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82

EDISON'S REVOLUTION IN IRON MINING.

long line of magnet faces have, popularly speaking, enough combined pulling capacity to raise a modern great gun clear from its deck facing and drop it over the side of the vessel into the sea. The great steam shovel which so ruthlessly tears the underbrush, the rock, the dirt, and the ore from the mountain side, is already famous, for it has done extraordinary work elsewhere, having been the excavator of the larger part of the earth that was removed from the Chicago drainage canal, and having served also in the great ore mines of the Masaba range. The conveyers that carry the rock, the sand, and the ore from mill to mill, covering a mile in transit, lift in sections 100,000 cubic feet of mountainside every day—a Herculean accomplishment if ever there was one. Yet behind it all, with not in the least the demeanor of a conqueror, is the personality which planned it all, with forces arranged to continue indefinitely this comprehensive demolition of mountains, but with invisible wires outstretched, so that if necessary the whole vast turmoil of machinery may be silenced on the instant.

THE STEAM SHOVEL WORKING AT NIGHT.

In the great chasm which is being cut across the summit of Mount Musconetcong the work of taking out the ore-bearing rock goes on night and day. As much as 32,000 tons are taken off at a blast.

The way to the plant leads up the steep sides of one of the back spurs of the Musconetcong Mountains; past Lake Hopatcong, with its crowd of pleasure-seekers; beyond Hurd, with its iron mines, from which ore was taken more than a hundred years ago; through virgin forest undergrown with rank, dank masses of fern; upward, always upward, until the 1,200-foot level is reached; and the snorting, puffing little engine darts forward into a nest of tall red buildings from which a dull booming noise sounds forth and a choking white dust blows out. The activity roundabout is of that massive order which reduces one to a condition of awe and helplessness similar to that experienced in an earthquake-ridden country. One feels that the very ground under one's feet may suddenly yawn at the displeasure of the master mind which created the community. On all sides the roar and whistle of machinery, the whir of conveyers, and the choking white dust proclaim this to be some quite extraordinary enterprise. The workmen look like millers, so coated do their clothes become with the flying white particles, and everyone wears a patent muzzle. The effect of the pig-like snout which the muzzle closely resembles is often very amusing. The magnet-house and some of the other buildings are almost as tall and as narrow as city "sky-scrapers." Others are flat and squatty, covering considerable areas. Big wheels revolve in the engine-houses; big dynamos transmit their heavy currents through overhead wires to the various parts of the plant. Little narrow-gauge locomotives puff their way in and out between the buildings; a line of freight cars moves slowly along, with shrieking and whistling