Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/736

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

carrying and running involved in primeval arts connected with food, shelter, clothing, rest, enjoyment, and war, were accomplished on the heads or foreheads, shoulders or backs, or in the bands of men and women; and civilization, while it has invented many ways of burden-bearing, finds also an endless variety of uses for the old methods. . . . It is, for instance, only a few years since the invention of the passenger and freight elevator began to supplant that caravan of hod-carriers who have been since the beginning of architecture carrying upward to its completion every wooden and brick structure in the world. . . . The back is the natural resting-place for the burden. The lowest savages know this, and inventive genius early began to devise apparatus for harnessing this part of the body. In Africa, on the Andes, in Mexico, throughout the civilized world, the peaceable carrier bears on his back the commerce of the race."

 

Mexican Porters.—Mr. W. A. Croffut relates, in the "American Anthropologist," that of half a dozen porters whom he saw resting at a Mexican railway station—"One had a sofa on his shoulders, strapped on I could not see how; another bore a tower of chairs locked into each other and rising not less than eight feet above his head; another carried a hencoop with a dozen or twenty hens, and others were conveying laden barrels and various household goods. They had come, they said, from San Luis Potosi, not less than fifty miles distant." The carriers were almost always in sight from the car-windows of the Mexican National Kailroad, and were declared by President Purdy to be its rivals. If it were not for them, the country would treble its railroads in the next year, and the roads would double their profits. "We are combating the custom of centuries. Those fellows carry on their backs to Mexico the entire crops of great haciendas far over the mountains."

 

Monthly Distribution of Incendiary Fires.—Mr. Franklin Webster has found that the prevalence of incendiarism is susceptible of being graphically represented systematically according to the season. The monthly curves for the four years ending in 1886 show that there are more criminal fires in January than in February; that the number increases through March, April, and May, falls off in June, and then increases again till November, to fall of: again in December. Taking the years separately, there appears to be an extraordinary regularity in the number of criminal fires in the first six months, while the chief irregularities and widest fluctuations are in the last half of the year; and in this period, criminal fires, taking the whole country, are excessive compared with the earlier months. In the farming districts they are more frequent when the greatest activity prevails, and are especially numerous in the time devoted to harvest; while, during the months when most of the great crops are growing, there is a lull in the reports of incendiarism. Mr. Webster concludes that incendiary fires for the sake of collecting insurance are rare as compared with other fires of criminal origin.

 

California's Thermal Springs.—According to a paper read by Prof. W. F. McNutt before the International Medical Congress, more than two hundred localities are known in California where waters of temperatures rising to 212° F., and charged with salts and gases of high therapeutic value, pour forth from the earth in great profusion. The number of individual springs in different localities ranges from one to thirty, each varying in composition, temperature, and possibly other as yet undetermined qualities. Although the character of these springs is known, only a few of them have, as yet, been carefully analyzed, and at still fewer have patients been under a competent observer's care. The seven aguas calientes springs at Warner's Ranch, fifty miles from San Diego, vary in temperature from 58° to 142°. An account is given of a wonderful little valley near Elsinore, containing altogether one hundred and eighty-six springs of hot and cold water, sulphur, soda, white sulphur, magnesia, iron, borax, hot mud, fresh water, etc. The Arrowhead hot springs, at an altitude of over two thousand feet, vary in temperature from 140° to 210°. An immense petroleum spring is mentioned as being some ten miles west of Santa Barbara, situated in the bed of the ocean, about a mile and a half from the shore, the product of which