The Founding of The New World
by Doug Lance
On Monday, October 3, 1966, I left for Alabama driving one Microbus in a convoy with another Microbus, a truck with a trailer carrying a disassembled wagon and two horses, and two smaller trucks full of tools, supplies, and personal gear. There were seven others in the bus with me, and with the stuff they wanted to keep at hand, sacks of sandwiches, and two coolers, one full of water, the other full of cider, we were more than crowded. Everyone in the bus was at least ten years younger than I; there were two married couples and three singles. As a group, we looked a little different than most travelers at that time. Most women at that time teased their hair, piled it high on their heads, wore lots of make-up, and wore tight, short skirts; ours wore their hair straight, combed or brushed it, used little or no make-up, and wore coveralls or plaid shirts and cotton pants. The men were dressed much the same; their hair was a little longer than typical, and the older ones had beards. Since we didn't look either farm or city or college, I guess we puzzled other travelers. Of course, we had made and designed our own clothes, so we really couldn't look too much like anyone else. I suppose our strangest clothing was our shoes; since we didn't use leather, they were homemade also, with the soles made from automobile tires. The shoes plus our beards might give someone the impression that we were beatniks; however, our clothes were neat and clean, our hair if not well-groomed at least presentable, and our manners unusually polite.
Even though we had shown slides and done as much as we could do to make everything in the New World real, everyone in my bus seemed more apprehensive than joyful on the two days of the trip down. While they talked with each other and asked me questions, they were quieter than usual, with not as much singing or teasing as normal. Even at the campground, things were a little quiet. Of course, the gloomy weather might have been partially responsible.
After we had arrived and I had met with the Founder, we shouldered our backpacks and passed through the cave into the New World, where the mood suddenly changed. Everyone started being noisy again. I was suddenly being asked a lot of questions that I didn't know the answers to that would have been more appropriate for the trip down anyway. However, I had planned for us to camp for the first night in the New World because we had a lot of work ahead, and I wanted my fellow workers to be as enthusiastic as I was. Besides, by camping in the New World, we would draw less attention to our activities.
Our first task was to create a campground near the Founder's cave. The Founder suggested making the first camp at the foot of the hill before getting to his hollow tree, not too far from his spring, where he would later build his house. As it was growing dark already, some of us proceeded to pitch some of the tents there while others set up a mess and began preparing a meal. We made a small bonfire, because we were apprehensive about wild animals, and we had a good discussion before going to bed, mostly centered around what the various members of our group were looking forward to.
The next morning, I took everyone on a little hike to the river; then we returned and spent the rest of the morning unloading the trucks and buses, so the drivers could return to get more people and materials. Then I divided everyone remaining into several groups, with leaders who would stay with each task until finished and workers who would rotate from one group to another. These groups also changed sizes as the amount of work changed but mainly grew larger as more people arrived, since most of the groups had just a couple of members that first day.
The first team's task was to build a temporary warehouse building around the cave, half in the old world and half in the new. Besides serving to hold supplies, this building would prevent the free passage of air between the two worlds. They would also build a structure a short distance outside for fumigating everything carried into the New World (using carbon dioxide). In fact, the warehouse and cave would need to be gassed first. When the warehouse was finished, the task would change to stocking it and shipping products through.
The second team's task was surveying, first to correlate locations at the bottom of the mountain near the Founder's trailer in the old world to the area surrounding the hollow tree in the new, and then to survey a three-mile road and future railway line from the warehouse north to the community we were planning to build. When they had surveyed the road, the team would survey out the town, rough plans having been already sketched out and an approximate site already chosen near a good spring, and finally the team could survey south to a good site for a quarry which Jon had spotted. I provided this group with a topographic map of the area, supplied by the Founder, which we had marked with the approximate locations of the cave, the hollow tree, the town we intended to build, the spring there, the woods we wished to clear for a field, and the approximate route for the roadbed. We wanted the road as straight and as flat as possible while avoiding as many large trees and as much low ground as possible. If the line was run straight, the road would climb along the side of the mountain. If we followed the route of highway 79 in the old world, we would have to make deep cuts and high fills. However, if the roadbed, instead of traveling directly northeast to the new community, traveled first towards the east for a mile (the Founder's trail to the river led southeast), it would travel a reasonably level route. The roadbed would pass a small hill and continue to within a thousand (eight grand) feet of the river, with a small ridge between it and the river. At that point, the roadbed would make a wide turn to the northeast and follow a narrow valley that gradually grows wider. After crossing a small dry stream, the roadbed would reach the field we were going to clear, a mile from the turn, and from there travel another mile north by northeast on fairly flat ground, gradually getting farther from the river, all the way to the new community.
The third team had the task of constructing the new road, starting at the end of the road next to the Founder's trailer. While there's less to say about the assignment, this was actually the most difficult job and required most of the workers, wagons, and animals. The fourth group, which remained a couple of people, was responsible for getting gravel, construction materials, and food from local businesses and delivering them to our worksite. Besides just picking things up, they had to determine what we needed and keep ahead of our needs. To avoid drawing attention to ourselves, they were instructed to visit different stores each time and not to talk to anyone. The fifth group was responsible for cooking meals, cleaning up afterwards, and taking care of the camping area. Meals were staggered, so a smaller group could handle this task. These workers were rotated frequently, as nearly everyone gets tired of KP.
Every four days or so, a caravan of vehicles brought more workers, more materials, and more supplies. Morale was high, and work proceeded at a fast pace. We had also agreed to work six of the seven days of the week, although it was everyone's choice whether to work on a particular day or not. If it was raining in one world, I would find work for everyone to do in the other. Since it was fall, there were only a few rainy days. The cave was rapidly transformed into a building at both ends, as our goal was to use it only temporarily, thus construction was rather make-shift. The hardest task was clearing out the mud and loose rocks, all of which were carried back to the old world. After two weeks, all our locations and the road were surveyed and marked, and laying out the town had begun, starting first with the most necessary buildings. We kept receiving additional wagons and horses, and also some oxen, so work on the road started slowly at first and then kept speeding up. Nonetheless, we saw it would probably take most of the winter to have the road in good shape, and we needed to start building the town in November, so careful work on the road came to an end. Instead, the road crews cleared off the topsoil and added a dusting of gravel. Afterwards, they would drop gravel wherever it seemed to be needed the most.
The dorm/hotel was to be built in the center of the new community, unlike most communities where the store would be the center. We wanted a hotel there for new arrivals. The trolley would pass in front, and the store would be next door. The dorm/hotel was designed as a three-story building with a small attic under the roof for storage. The first floor, built on posts, would be three feet above the tracks, the same height as the floors of our projected trolley cars. The left half downstairs would be a lobby/gathering area and the right half would be the dining area. The kitchen would be placed in a separate building in the back to keep the heat out of the rest of the building during warm weather and also to reduce fire risks. The second floor would contain rooms for couples. The third floor would consist of two dormitories, men on the left, women on the right. Rooms with showers and sinks were to be placed on the second and third floors, but the composting toilets were on a porch behind the first floor to make maintenance easier. All of our first buildings were built from pine lumber and plywood, which we purchased locally from several different lumber companies to avoid attracting attention to ourselves. We would go back later and cover the plywood with boards later. Other materials were purchased from the same place, except for the glass, which we bought wholesale out-of-state, and roofing material, as the New World contained many cedars, from which we could make shakes.
The power plant and the sawmill had to be placed close together, since the steam engine would need scrap wood for fuel and the sawmill would need the generated electricity for its saws. We wanted the power plant not far from the new town and next to the new road, but to save labor, we wanted to place the sawmill where we would be cutting trees to create our first field. So cutting could proceed in both directions, we placed both of them a third of a mile back towards the cave from the new community.
The area set aside for fields was about a mile long and moderately sloped, near water, and with magnificent trees. It seemed a crime to cut them down, but we had to produce crops. Besides there were similar trees to enjoy within the community we were building. In the future, we intended to use burnt-over areas or natural meadows whenever possible; however, no such sites offered themselves now. Besides, we needed the lumber badly. In the moister areas grew swamp white oak, swamp chestnut oak, southern red oak, willow oak, Shumard oak, mockernut hickory, white ash, and beech. In the drier areas grew white oak, chestnut, northern red oak, shagbark hickory, black oak, Shumard oak, black locust, black walnut, sugar maple, linden, yellow poplar, and cucumbertree. This second group of trees was also found west of the roadbed along with red cedars, both in the flats and on the benches of the mountainside, and we would do a little selective cutting there, especially for cedars.
Cutting the larger trees would be a difficult task, requiring the use of two-man hand saws. The stumps would take years to rot as the largest trees were over four feet in diameter and many were over three. In the meantime, we would just have to grow crops between them; most of our crops initially would be garden rather than row crops anyway. Fortunately, the larger the stumps, the greater the distance between them. In pasture areas, some trees would be left standing for shade, especially the swamp chestnut oaks, which would provide edible acorns for the cows. Hauling the logs any distance to a sawmill would be impossible until the railway was finished, so the sawmill and the power plant for it would be built on the site, and the logs would be dragged by oxen or by electric motor and cable right to the saw blades.
The best grades of some kinds of lumber would be set aside for furniture, mainly to sell, such as walnut, maple, cedar, sweetgum, chestnut, some varieties of oak and a little elm, cucumbertree, yellow poplar, and hickory (the hickory used for chairs). Lumber from other grades of the same species or lumber from other varieties would furnish good planks for homebuilding, such as the yellow poplar, oaks, maple, cucumbertree, and beech. Other varieties of oaks and the lower grades of chestnut would make excellent crossties, and locusts and cedars would produce the best posts and poles. Then there were many species of trees that would be good for making tools, such as the dogwood, hophornbeam, beech, ash, and hickories. Sycamore would make good wooden bowls. After the useful lumber was rough-cut, it would be allowed to cure half a year or even longer, depending on the species. Leaning and hollow trees, trees not suitable for lumber, and the waste pieces would feed our power plant. Later, wood would be brought here for the power plant on the flat car, and there was talk that for that purpose we might mine coal, located near the top of the surrounding plateaus, although I was not happy with the idea.
Building the dorm/hotel, constructing the sawmill, building a chimney for the steam engine and generator and then installing them, and cutting down trees absorbed most of our energies during November, even though we now had about sixty (five dozen) workers (the exact number varied from week to week, as some had to return home to complete personal tasks).
The dorm/hotel was roughed in quickly (we built it on posts not only to avoid dampness but also to avoid the delay of building a stone foundation), and people started moving in as soon as possible, long before we were finished. Tents are nice on warm days in dry weather, but a few days of cold or rainy weather makes them smelly and unpleasant. Fortunately, the temperatures were mild and the weather mostly dry on both sides for the first months, but towards the end of November, temperatures began to fall, the days became short, and rain was more frequent.
There was a cave near the site which supplied plenty of drinking water, so the decision was made by some of the settlers to call the new community "Cave." (Note: after several have read my draft they told me that Cave was named for the Founder's cave, which had introduced everyone who stayed that summer to the New World. On the other hand, later residents said Cave was named for a large cave further north and around the mountain, that became well-known a couple of years later. I'll have to reject this explanation because we hadn't even found that cave yet, but I'm not so sure about the other.)
While we were building the dorm/hotel, surveying work on the rest of the town was finished. Jon's quarry site was about a mile south of our starting point, so the last surveying task in the New World was to survey a road back to it also, so we could begin producing our own gravel. When that was done, the site for the station and the temporary trolley barn in the old world were surveyed, so we could begin construction of those buildings. Especially, the location of the station in the old world had to be precisely aligned with the track in the New World. It was placed just south of the road to the Founder's trailer, in a field across from the old building foundations. The temporary trolley barn would be just south of it. I happened by while they were surveying the location of the loop, and I said to them, "Only two surveyors could stand six feet apart and not be sure where each other was located!"
Work didn't stop when the dorm/hotel was finished. In fact, we had started construction of the store, the school, the library, and the bathhouse even before the hotel was finished. It may seem odd that we built the community buildings before there was a community to use them; however, the plan was to use these as temporary living quarters while we were building people's houses. In addition, since the people living in the New World would be cut off from everyone for three months (due to the anticipated trip to California), we wanted to be sure that they were well-supplied with everything that they needed, including books. The possibility always existed that one day the loop would quit functioning. Whenever that happened, whoever was in the New World would be isolated forever, so we always wanted to ensure that those living in the New World would have everything that they needed.
You may wonder when colonists began to arrive in the New World. No date can be set for that event, unless we choose October 5, 1966 (Venus the third, Pisces), when we first arrived, as those most eager to volunteer for the work crews were the ones most anxious to settle the New World. However, on December 10 (Venus the fourth, Taurus), the first house was finished, and the first family (chosen by lot from those who liked that location), moved into it. We decided to build about a hundred (eight dozen) dwellings, as that was approximately the number of families which we thought should stay there over the summer (singles could stay in the hotel until fall, when we could start constructing houses again). These houses were placed about a hundred (eight dozen) feet from each other, but not in rows, nor were there any roads between them. They were placed that close together mainly to make wiring (and later water piping) more economical.
Normally back in Pennsylvania, winter months were spent on indoor tasks as much as possible, but in the New World, we could not afford to reduce our pace of work. Fortunately, the winter was mild and freezing weather never lasted more than a few days at a time. Work on the road, the community buildings, on the first homes, and on moving in supplies continued through December. We celebrated our first Christmas/solstice with only a partial break from our efforts, but the kitchen and dining rooms were finished in the hotel, so we were able to have a feast and enjoy it, although we had so many there that we overflowed into the lobby and up onto the second floor.
One of the people attending that feast was the Founder. Although he had been very insistent during our negotiations, he was quite content to remain in the background and to help out the rest of the time. Following his instructions, we never indicated to anyone other than the twelve that he was the Founder; thus, he passed as one of the Associates from outside the community. Of course, everyone knew his real name, which by agreement, I won't mention here.
In January, we began clearing the land we intended to use for fields, gardens, and pasture. Since some hardy vegetables could be planted as early as February, we wanted to be sure to have them in the ground. Another priority -- I thought -- was to plant fruit trees while they were still dormant. Our first animals (other than work animals) arrived. I was surprised to discover that all the new animals were quite young, and that we would be required to grow all of our fruit trees from seed rather than buying trees. Indeed, fertile, warm eggs were brought in rather than birds, and I was told all of these efforts were to avoid the introduction of plant and animal diseases. For that matter, the only plants that could be brought in were those that could not possibly be grown from seed.
Since the land we were clearing was occupied by large trees rather than by brush, clearing was a slow task. Besides the labor involved in cutting the trees down, we also had to turn them into useful lumber, and it served no purpose to try to stack the logs or move them to one side, so work proceeded no faster than we could saw it into rough boards or timbers and stack them to dry. We also had to cut up a huge number of tree limbs, which were used for fuel along with the scraps.
Elmer Walker had brought his crew down in November to install the steam engine/generator, and they returned in January to begin work on a carbarn and a station in the old world. A good number of our workers were pulled away to work on those tasks from time to time. The plan was to have the station look like a trucking company warehouse but to use it to transfer people and supplies to our railroad. After he had completed the concrete foundations and the shell of the buildings, he began making the railway cars, but he needed far fewer workers for that task.
Spring alternated between cold rainy days and pretty ones. Cave began to look like a real town as minor changes were made here and there. We began shipping rough cut lumber of the best quality back to Pennsylvania, where it could later be made into furniture, but most of the new lumber was set aside for houses, as we needed to build another two hundred (grand and a half) dwellings in the early fall and even later. We also were making lots of crossties, as we would need ten to twenty thousand (six to a dozen myriad) for railroad tracks in the fall. In May, the earliest vegetables began coming in. The frantic pace slowed, as everyone wanted to enjoy the weather, the water, and the woods before the hard tasks of summer. Our final preparations were to ensure that Cave had every kind of book and tool that could be needed. We left a fair amount of food too. Beth Godwin, our biologist, arrived with the last load of supplies and a final contingent of settlers. She had collected every kind of garden seed, and she also brought additional animals.
The day after she arrived, we had everyone gather in the dining room of the hotel. Before the meeting, I had already spoken to those who we needed back in the old world. The purpose of the meeting was to see if any one wanted to back out of staying in the New World for the summer, and I reminded them that there was an element of risk involved in staying. Not only would they be cut off from the rest of us for three months, during which time it would be impossible for them to be rushed to a hospital, but if something happened to the loop in the meantime, they would be stranded forever. We were leaving them with a library full of books and all the items they couldn't produce themselves just in case the worst should happen. By staying, they were getting the first homes, but that bribe probably didn't affect people's decision much. I think the main incentive for staying was that they were already beginning to see the New World as home. We also advised them to ease up a little and to enjoy themselves while we were gone. However, they had some very important tasks to finish. First, they needed to continue to clear land and process lumber, so we would be able to produce a lot of furniture to sell in the fall to replace our funds, which were running low. They also would have the task of preparing the wood for all the new homes for the fall. Second, drilling and blasting needed to be started in the quarry so we would have enough gravel and broken rock to finish the railway after we got back. Third, the road needed to be completed and graveled between the tree and the quarry. Fourth, crossties needed to be hauled to the approximate place along the road where they would be needed for the railway. And finally, as much canned and dried food should be put up as was possible.
The next day, it was time to close the cave and head back to Pennsylvania. When Jon Dexter had come down in November to check on the quarry site, the Founder had spent some time with him, and Jon had used the opportunity to quiz him about the trip to California, which Jon was acquiring information for. Although the Founder had no love of California, he was interested in helping Jon with our mining operations, and he told Jon that he would feel uncomfortable with the loop three thousand miles away. So, the Founder decided to join the crew traveling west. Therefore, he chose to travel with me when I returned to Pennsylvania, carrying the loop with him in a box, and in our conversations along the way, I discovered that he felt he was part of the community now.
When we reached Pennsylvania, we learned that strong efforts had been made to gather new recruits for the next year, and many newcomers were starting to arrive for a taste of life in the Community during the summer. The whole mood of the Community had changed; those who had come back from working in the New World had been talking and had made everyone anxious to hear further news about Cave and life in the New World. Even some of the Newcomers were excited, although I wasn't sure how much they understood; obviously, security was going to be a growing problem. Many of our Oldtimers were getting ready to head to California, and many Associates had moved into the Community. [Transcriber's Note: Judith Ashley explains later that an Oldtimer was anyone who had been living in the Community in 1966 or earlier, an Associate was anyone with an affiliation to the Community in 1966 or earlier, and a Newcomer was anyone accepted into the Community in 1967 or later.]
Jon was ready to leave when we arrived. He had spent the winter collecting all the information for the trip to California and much of the spring out there. Jon was hoping that they could do better per person than the Founder by using hydraulic pressure to dig deeper into the ground. He also thought he could get a much better price for the gold. He and the Founder left for California the next morning.
The reason for this gold expedition was not for wealth but for economic stability. We would have enormous balance-of-trade problems while creating our new society. To explain it simply, let us suppose that in one year one thousand people living in the New World purchase a thousand dollars worth of goods each from the old world, thus producing a trade deficit of one million dollars. While we can sell lumber and furniture from the New World to cover this deficit, we could easily have periods of time when the market for these products is poor or when we have marketing or security problems, and yet we would still have to continue to purchase raw materials and necessities. In addition, we planned to purchase land for new communities in the old world. Finally, we had been using up money like crazy by sending people and other things back and forth from Pennsylvania to Alabama; by purchasing gravel, concrete, lumber, and glass; and by building several new railway cars; and even by purchasing additional motor vehicles. So our finances were in bad shape. In fact, I heard later that it had even been debated whether we should mortgage our land in Pennsylvania, but fortunately enough people loaned us money from their bank accounts that that was not necessary.
Although I did not lead the California trip or spend much time there during the summer, I did go out to see if that site could be used for a colony. It could be used for that purpose, but it was rather small and not very isolated. Still, we could begin there and find a better location later. While I was there, I visited the operations in the New World, which Carlos directed. They were working a dry ancient river bed well above the current river and using water piped from much higher elevation still to wash the dirt away. Most of the work on this operation consisted of moving hoses or of clearing trees and bushes off of the work site. The soil and rocks under the old streambed were stripped down to bedrock - over twenty feet at the lower end, where the work had begun. Some people were also working in Nevada, but I never visited that location, as they told me it was rented land and totally unsuitable for use as a colony.
I spent most of my time that summer investigating other sites for new communities. This was purely a preliminary investigation, as we didn't have the money yet. I needed to find out in what areas suitable land could be purchased for reasonable prices and which real estate agents would be the most helpful in those areas. We felt that if we had a number of communities in several states that we could recruit more easily from the local areas, and we would have more space in which to prepare newcomers. We didn't want to just introduce new recruits to the New World and hope they would keep our secrets and hope they would adjust to our society. Instead, we wanted to know them well and to teach them our ways and to prepare them for new occupations before letting them through the loop.
While I was checking for new sites for colonies, I was also requested to check on useful information about the natural resources of the Western states. Others were given this assignment for states in or near the South, which was more immediately useful, and they were instructed to be rather thorough about it, while I was just getting preliminary information and perhaps a few good books from each state. Jon advised us to visit state geological offices and also to check local histories at key libraries in those states for this kind of information. When possible, we purchased the books, otherwise we photocopied them or made notes. Poor Jon later spent the entire winter going through those materials, so he could give us a very detailed report about where we would be able to locate the resources that we needed.
Another project going on in the summer was the work of our "mapping" team. This was done in Pennsylvania. Since TVA and the USGS have made maps of the Tennessee Valley and surrounding areas, the team only had to redraw the maps to change the scale, to remove place names and features that did not exist in the New World, such as Lake Guntersville and the roads, and to add our own details. Our new maps were black and white as coloring them almost solid green would not be helpful and would be much more expensive. In the beginning, the maps were pretty bare, but we gradually named features and added settlements. In choosing names, we deliberately avoided using the same name used in the old world (thus the Tennessee River in the old world was the Elephant River in the new), we avoided non-descriptive old word names, and we did not want places named after people. We preferred that they establish a name naturally rather than being forced by some timetable, and we preferred that the place name refer to some natural feature, animal, or plant. The first map produced included Cave, of course.
While I was at the Community various times during the summer, I was able to observe our program for recruits. Judith Ashley was directing this effort. Everything seemed rather confused and crowded to me, as some people were arriving and leaving all the time, and every kind of activity was going on at once. There were T-group sessions at the school, with people sleeping and eating in that building. There were discussion groups outdoors. There were groups hiking around. There were new buildings being constructed for dormitories and meeting places. There were strangers operating the store, running the trolley, tending our fields, milking our cows, producing flour and baking bread, making dishes, building furniture, and working in the smithy. But Judith seemed to take it all in stride. She said that there were just a small number of recruits this year, but she hoped to have a large number the next year.
At the end of the summer, word came that there would be quite a delay getting everyone back from California, I think mostly due to the distances involved and the limited number of vehicles. I returned to Alabama to be there when the loop was reopened. Elmer's people were still in high gear. They had everything functioning well, but they were not talented at providing the final touches. The new trolleys were ready, but seemed rather crude. The station looked like a warehouse; it did not look like a friendly place for Newcomers to pass through.
On a Friday afternoon, the Founder and John Dexter arrived from California with the loop. We immediately installed it in the Founder's cave. Elmer and his crews felt they had to begin rolling out wire immediately, so the Founder, Jon, and I ended up walking on through alone.
Before we reached the hollow tree, we passed the first camp. The two remaining tents looked a little sad, as if something might be wrong. However, just past the hollow tree, we started finding piles of crossties. As we walked to Cave, we felt as if we were following the yellow brick road; we were in high spirits.
We reached our new field first. Next to the road, the steam engine was puttering away in its shed. Beside the shed were wall-like stacks of split logs, ready to feed the fire. Just beyond that, the saw shop was busy with several saws running at once. All along the road across from the saw shop were stacks of lumber and crossties.
The Radcliff kids, playing while their parents tended a garden patch, were the first to see us and started yelling for their folks. Stu and Helen stopped what they were doing and rushed to embrace us. Obviously, there had been at least unconscious anxiety that we would not return. The Radcliffs had to show us around the field before we could proceed. A large area had been planted with vegetables and corn, and they told me that large quantities of beans, corn, and other vegetables had already been canned or dried; in fact, they were out of canning jars. Garden production was helped by the richness of the soil and by the absence of most insect pests.
As we turned to leave, I noticed the saws were silent, and the lumber crew was coming over to greet us as well. Another crew that had been cutting down trees at the far end of the field stopped as well and joined our gathering. Everyone was asking us questions about California and home, and others were volunteering information about Cave. As we began our trip into town, everyone else started coming with us.
The walk into town became sort of a parade. A house was under construction, but the crew dropped their tools and followed us, as if the Pied Piper were in town. When we reached the hotel, everyone came inside with us, except for those who ran to bring others.
We answered all of the questions we could, and we also asked them some questions. At one point, a baby was brought forward and held up for us to see, the first baby born in the New World; she had been named Virginia Dare McClosky. I hadn't even known that anyone was pregnant.
One of the women shouted, "Why don't we have a party," and I promised to go back and get everyone from the other side to come. I also asked them what we could bring, and one person shouted "nothing," another shouted "ice," and a third shouted "fruit," so we agreed to bring some ice and fruit (but no watermelon) with us. Seems that watermelon grows fast in the South. As we left, some were getting the hotel ready for the party, others were getting food ready, others were getting themselves ready, and others wanted to walk back with us to the other side, including one young woman who wanted to get an x-ray of her arm, which had been broken and set about a month before.
I wanted Beth to walk back with us, but she was too busy. However, she told me that she had helped with the baby and had set the arm. She said the baby had been a surprise to everyone; the mother hadn't been "showing" three months ago, and the baby had come early.
A good crowd of us walked back to the cave. On the way, we passed Kevin Walker and several others, who were unreeling a huge roll of wire, who were happy to see everyone, but who were more intent on getting the wire laid all the way to the steam engine, and there were others doing something inside the hollow tree, who just shouted, "Stay away!" So, someone yelled back that there would be a party at Cave tonight.
After we crossed back into Alabama, we found others hard at work down at the station. One worker said that they were making final preparations to open the station and to start work on the tracks early in the morning. So, I asked her to pass along the news. I decided that the colonists were more anxious than I was to visit town, so I let them make the trip to get the fruit and ice, as there were more of us than room in the car. I warned them to be careful of what they said; just tell people that we are camping out at the lake. Two of the people in the car were the woman who had broken her arm and her husband. I warned her husband to have a good story. Say that the arm had been set by their doctor at home, but that she had hurt the arm again while on vacation and wanted to get it x-rayed again to be sure it was OK.
That night, we had a wonderful time with almost everyone there. It was so good to be with everyone again. There was lots of music played on a variety of instruments, and lots of good food. The Founder was talking at great length about the trip to California, and he was tickled pink to find that everyone was glad to see him. I had to tell everyone what I had seen and done during the summer too. People were wanting to know what friends and relatives were up to. They were telling us all sorts of stories too. One night after everyone was asleep, a herd of elephants had passed through Cave, which caused some excitement in the morning, and a great deal of discussion about how to keep them out and also questions about whether they could be tamed or not. There were quite a few stories about encounters with other animals, and I learned that exploring parties had reached places over thirty miles away.
The next morning, I had sort of a run-in with Elmer Walker. He and much of his crew had not bothered to come to the party, and now we found the cave connection closed, because he was busy building his railroad. When Jon and I left Cave very early in the morning to return to Pennsylvania, we found him and his people working on and around the flatcar in the New World, busy placing crossties, laying track, and setting up poles. I asked him how long he thought it would take for him to complete the three-mile track to Cave, and the answer was several weeks. I told him that we couldn't close the cave yet because we would be needing to transfer people and supplies back and forth while he was working. He pointed out that the loop couldn't be in two places at once, and that his track would interfer with using the road anyway. He suggested that we just forget about hauling supplies until people started coming down from Pennsylvania, and that probably wouldn't be anytime soon, as everything was tied up moving people back from California. In the meantime, anyone wanting to travel through to the other side could wait until the flatcar had to go back for some more poles and rails.
I hadn't realized that the railroad would take so long to complete, especially with the roadbed already prepared, nor had I recognized that the railroad would mean that everything had to be done according to a schedule. When we were using the cave, we could just travel through whenever we wanted to. After standing there watching Elmer's men working for a while, I realized that the work could be speeded up if the settlers came to help. I went back and asked him if he could use some additional workers from Cave. He said that he could. I also told him that there would have to be some sort of immediate schedule for when people and equipment could travel back and forth, as Cave would be needing some supplies right away, before people came down from Pennsylvania, and no one would want to wait for hours while he finished his load of rails and poles.
I returned to Cave and discovered two of Elmer's men operating the steam engine (which mainly consisted of feeding it fuel and watching the gauge), who I hadn't noticed on my way out. Then I walked to the hotel, and told the people eating breakfast, which Jon and I had skipped, about what was going on and the need for additional help. Since no one could be sawing lumber while the flatcar was in operation (too much drop in voltage due to not enough power), they would be most effective if they worked at helping build the railroad. Everyone agreed to pitch in. Since Jon and I needed to return home, I walked back to the flatcar and found it nearly ready to return to the old world for another load of rail and poles. Jon and I hopped aboard for the short ride to the station. It sure looked strange when that hole appeared out of nowhere.
I phoned Pennsylvania, gave the news, and explained the problem with scheduling people and moving cargo back and forth. Then I returned home. Back in Pennsylvania, Jon wanted me to help him carry some gold to Canada after he got it ready to carry up there. I should point out that while the ore was being mined, it was brought back to the Community under a false floor in our Microbuses. We had decided to sell half a ton of the gold immediately, keep a couple of tons at the Community, and carry the rest, plus all the silver, to the New World, where there was absolutely no chance of its being stolen. However, there was also the problem of turning ore into metal. After reading about the various methods for refining gold, Jon had gotten together with Elmer at one time or another and had created a workshop for doing so. Now, he was ready to begin. First, the mixture of flakes and nuggets was subjected to a thorough cleaning; second, it was broken up as much as possible; third, it was put into an acid bath which dissolved all the metals except the gold; fourth, the gold and some remaining dirt and rock was treated with aqua regia, which dissolved out the gold, leaving the rock behind; fifth, the gold was deposited by means of electrolysis; and finally, it was remelted into bars. It was another month before he was ready, but then Jon and I drove half a ton of his newly-made bars to Montreal, hidden under a false floor as before, crossing the Canadian border on a back road in Vermont. Nonetheless, there was an inspection post. The guard asked Jon if we had anything to declare. Jon said, "Just half a ton of gold." He laughed at that and said, "Just don't spend it all in one place" while I quietly sweated blood. After we left, I said, "Jon, why did you do that?" And Jon said, "When would I ever have another chance?"
Jon had made some contacts with a company that buys and sells gold, and our bars were analyzed for purity and purchased at a price far above the US price of $35 an ounce, and we deposited the money in a Swiss bank account. The company said it would be happy to do business with us again, no questions asked. Jon thought we would be selling them gold regularly for a while, in order to purchase the land we had been investigating for communes.
We crossed into the US at the same place. When we started to pass the Canadian inspection post, I said, "Don't say anything this time." But the guard waved for us to stop. "Did you follow my advice?" he asked. "No," Jon replied, "We shot the whole wad at the first place we stopped."