Rolling on a River
by George Lincoln
Mom and Dad joined the Community in 1955, when I was 15. Dad was 55 at that time, and Mom in her early 40's. Dad was an engineer who was always focused on his work, but he was also always saying, "I don't intend to work all of my life." I don't think people took him seriously, but in his mid-50's, he started looking for another way of life. I remember traveling to a number of different communities with them, absolutely bored in the back seat of the car, lying on my back and staring at nothing. I don't know why it is, but adults always assume that kids will make their own friends pretty easily. But traveling from Shakers to Quakers to Amish to free-thinkers, I never knew what to expect or how to behave, and kids that age tend to be stand-offish anyway. I thought Dad's whole quest was a waste of time. Why didn't we just move down to Florida and live near the beach?
I suppose he thought that any group of people would be glad to get him, but actually he had no useful skills to offer a small community, as he wasn't an inventor or tinkerer like Elmer Walker; indeed, he and Elmer never got along. However, Mom made a very good impression on the folk in the Community, and they made quite an impression on her. It seems that Mom had always wanted to be a psychologist, teacher, or counselor -- although she had never been anything more than a housewife -- and she had read every book on the topic of early childhood development that she could find. Even though she had learned all this after I was too old for any of it to do me any good, it made a good impression on them, as they were experimenting with different methods of improving the raising of children. It also helped that she loved craft work and cooking and was even a good singer. So, I think we were accepted due to Mom and not because of Dad or me. Before we joined the Community, Mom stayed home and worked, and Dad went off to his office. After we joined the Community, Mom had a regular job (but for only two days a week) and was also gone to quilting bees and other events all of the time, while Dad spent his time gardening or fishing alone. Dad didn't even work the one day a week for the Community, but gave money instead, while Mom was willing to undertake any kind of work. But they both seemed to be happy, which is what counts.
Mom's work was a long-term project to see if they could raise the average IQ of children in the Community by changing their early environment. There was a belief at that time that the early childhood environment determined people's intelligence. Mom made a study of the literature and performed IQ tests on children and their parents both within the Community and in nearby communities to try to learn the reason for IQ variation. Her conclusions were: 1) High intelligence is a product of heredity more than it is a product of the environment. Children were similar to their parents not only in total IQ but also in the various sub-scores. 2) Low intelligence is usually a product of the environment more than it is a product of heredity. In particular, children who received little attention had noticeably lower IQ scores than their parents. Therefore, while it was impossible to obtain a generation of super-intelligent children through environmental changes, it was quite possible to allow each child to reach maximum potential through a good environment. Further study showed that it was not possible to improve mental performance by playing music, decorating the room, or providing intricate mobiles or toys; however, playing with and talking to the child frequently from birth did benefit the child's sense of well-being, language ability, and intelligence.
Dad had made good investments before his retirement, and he promised me that I could become an engineer too, which was my dream. The plan was for me to finish high school in the Community and then go off to the university and the life of my dreams.
I learned to my surprise, when I went to the school with my parents before the school year began, that their students graduate from high school at 16. Some of them were getting married at 16 too. But I found that I would have to stay on until I was 18, as I hadn't completed their course of study. They gave me a sheet of paper with all the things they expected me to know about before finishing and a large number of optional classes as well. Looking at the list, it seemed to me that they expected me to know everything about everything. Of course, for most classes I would be with children who were somewhat younger than me, but two in particular were humiliating because I would be in with much younger kids, one called Pre-Adult Education and the other called Math Theory.
The Math Theory class was actually fun, after I got used to the idea of being in a classroom with kids of all ages, but most much younger than me, some by as much as five years. Basically, it was a class about why numbers work, and we dug around in the roots of every mathematical subject, logic, sets, shapes, number systems, dimensions, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and calculus. We also explored the oddities of numbers such as pi, e, and i, phi and the Fibonacci series, various mathematical discoveries over the years, and problems which no one had ever been able to solve, such as Fermat's last theorem. We were also given math and logic problems to solve at home or in class. We were allowed a good bit of freedom in our choice of project, both whether to work alone or with others, and what project we wished to work on. We weren't exactly turned loose, as the school didn't want to encourage failure, so one of the teachers, Dan Hopkins or Charles Glass, remained our close advisor. My own project was logarithms based on phi (1.618034) and their properties and advantages and disadvantages over regular and natural logarithms. I had to compute the logarithms myself, which took many an evening.
The Pre-Adult Education class was different from most in that we weren't asked to experiment. Mostly, it consisted of discussion, with the teacher of the day asking what we knew and then filling us in on what we didn't know. Besides sex, it explained American dating customs, the different kinds of love, marriage, parenting, adult responsibilities, and so on. We were asked to write a single paper for it, an essay about "What It Means to Be an Adult." We were told that it would become part of our permanent record, so everyone took it seriously. This class was considered to be our first step to adulthood in the Community.
It was at first extremely embarrassing for me. I found myself in a sex education class with children as young as eleven, all of whom seemed to know more about sex than me. In fact, they had all had their first sex education class when they were about seven. Why did they need to take another such class now? The Community felt that the right time to teach stuff was before it was needed, so they wanted to explain sexual maturity -- and maturity in general -- to us before puberty. Of course, I was fifteen, so I was past that stage already. I found myself being frequently embarrassed, and the kids asked Charles why. He said there were three reasons for that: 1) I was not from the Community and therefore was not used to frank talk about sex, 2) I had never been in a sex education class before, and 3) I was already physically mature, so these discussions were likely to affect me more. He advised me that a little embarrassment is actually pleasant, but if things started to bother me that I could leave, and the two of us could discuss it later. To give an example of an embarrassing incident, one day the other teacher, Doris Radcliff, was explaining about masturbation, which had me about to sink through the floor, when one of the girls, who was eleven at the time, asked me if I had ever masturbated. Doris immediately scolded her, of course, but not for using the word "masturbate" but instead for asking a very personal question. She also explained that nearly everyone who was sexually mature and unmarried masturbates at least occasionally, and unmarried males usually do so frequently, which had me wanting to sink through the floor again.
I asked Charles (teachers in the Community wanted the students to use their first names -- very odd behavior back in the 50's) why they even had to talk about all that stuff. He told me that society in general believed that the best way to avoid premarital sex was to keep children as ignorant as possible as long as possible. To keep any whispered information from getting to them, they were told not to listen to any "dirty" talk, which meant any reference to the private parts of the body. This method did tend to keep young children from learning about sex, but when their bodies and minds started changing at puberty, they found themselves full of "dirty" thoughts. This quite often led to feelings of guilt, inability to have a healthy sex life, and, in extreme cases, feelings that members of the opposite sex were evil. Some found that they could enjoy sex only while sinning, and thus pre-marital and extra-marital sex was unintentionally encouraged. Violence, unhappy marriages, and abused children were possible products.
In the class, I learned what the Community expected from their children. They did not want them to be ignorant but to have a healthy and knowledgeable understanding of sex, love, and marriage. They wanted us to avoid having the wrong kinds of marriage. Doris explained that in much earlier times, men would purchase the women they wanted to marry, giving say ten cows to the father for a very attractive girl. This payment was called a dowry, and this procedure became a custom that has lasted until modern times, when it is usually represented with a hope chest. Or a man might give his daughter to another man in order to secure his loyalty. Even today, some men consider their wives to be their property. Eventually, the idea came along of allowing a young woman to choose her own mate; this sometimes led to an almost opposite state of affairs, with a wealthy man's daughter having a dozen young men courting her, knowing that a job would come with the wife. This was likely to result in a marriage where the man felt inferior to his wife and her family. And finally, the notion came along of romantic love. Originally, this consisted of long walks and rare kisses, with not too much pressure on anyone. The guy would usually be a good bit older, since it was considered necessary for him to have a house and an occupation before they could marry.
Courtship speeded up as time went on. The change was especially noticeable in the 50's and 60's. (This explanation includes a 1967 update.) Jobs were easier to come by, so it was considered OK for a couple to get married on graduating from high school or college. The idea of a long casual relationship was replaced with the desire to have immediate success. Groups of high school boys and groups of high school girls would go down to the square at night, talk about sex with their friends, and ogle those in circling cars. Guys would get part-time jobs to purchase cars or would borrow the family car to go out on unchaperoned dates. After they had gone to a dance or had gotten something to eat, the guy would park his car in the woods somewhere, with the goal of getting as much clothing as possible off of his companion. If he was allowed to kiss her, that was considered "first base," and if he could play with her breasts, that was "second base." Of course, as soon as he reached one base, he started running for the next one, with the hope of reaching "third base," or even home plate. If this was a formal date, this task was made rather difficult by a girdle, nylons, and other complicated clothing. But formal date or not, the young woman faced a dilemma. If she allowed him to proceed too quickly, she was "easy" or "fast" and would soon acquire a "reputation"; that is, the boy would tell all of his friends, as doing so would enhance his reputation as much as it degraded hers. Once she had a reputation, she had little chance of acquiring a desirable fellow. On the other hand, if she resisted too much, she was seen as a "prude" or a "tease." There was a possibility that she could be raped; in fact, some young men claimed that girls will never say yes, so you always have to force them. One way for her to protect herself from being seen as "fast" or "easy" was to ask for tokens from him, so she could prove to the other girls that they were "going steady." In order to play with her breasts, he had to give her a school ring; for him to get much further, he would have to give her his school sweater. Of course, such tokens were considered far more valuable if he was a member of a team, so he could give her a ring or sweater with a big letter on it. These tokens were usually hidden from the parents, who might recognize how they were purchased. While such a couple would explain that they were in love, the whole basis of the relationship was sexual infatuation and titillation. (The actual set of events progressed from 1955, when I first heard it, until 1967, when I heard it again. In the 50's, the women generally "held out," but tended to become frigid -- uninterested in sex -- as a result; in the later half of the 60's, they tended to "give in," and the number of high school marriages -- and girls sent off to homes for unwed mothers -- soared.)
Of course, this was not the Community way. The Community saw the dating game as terribly wrong. It's not that the foremost goal was to preserve girls' virginity, rather they wanted a more sensible society, not something created by a chance date and hormones. The problem with two kids parked in a car is that they aren't prepared for anything. He's going to be working full-time within a few years, yet his education hasn't prepared him in any practical way. She will probably become a housewife with children, but she doesn't know how to cook or how to raise a baby. Neither knows how to perform the other's role, and neither understands personal finance. They don't know how to make love, and they don't know how to avoid getting pregnant. They don't know each other very well and, putting it all together, they have little chance of having a satisfactory marriage and a high chance of later getting a divorce.
Instead of a car parked in the pale moonlight, the Community wanted the couples to get to know each other as people, to be sure that they would be compatible together and would share the same goals and pleasures. And most important of all, they wanted the couples to love each other with the kind of love which would last beyond the first rush of sexual desire. Whenever a couple felt that they were falling in love, the Community wanted to know about it, and they wanted to help guide the couple. They offered a course in courtship that they wished for all new couples to take. The purpose of the course in the beginning was to delay the sexual involvement while making sure that the two young people were compatible with each other and would enjoy each other's company for a lifetime. Basically, the idea was more verbal and less physical exploration, at least initially. This part was explained to us. Then, we were told, there would be instruction on effective communication, dividing responsibility, taking care of each other's needs (which included sex), and taking care of children. Basically, the Community was saying, If you will be a little more responsible, we will do everything in our power to make your experience better.
I enjoyed the rest of my high-school classes, as they all involved active participation. For instance, in the history class, I played the part of Lincoln in the Lincoln-Douglas debate. This was an actual debate, not a play, but it was based on the arguments that Lincoln and Douglas used, which we had to study thoroughly. In the chemistry and physics classes, we not only learned the math and problems, but we also demonstrated them with experiments. It was during this time that I met Elmer Walker, as I needed some help on my experiments. Elmer soon had me working with him on his trolley and on other projects. He has always been a great person to work with. He does not act like he knows more than you, even though he undoubtedly does, and he's always interested in learning how you would solve a problem.
There was one minor thing I liked about the Community very much. I was a rather big kid, with a large upper torso and big head. Before I reached the Community, the kids thought of insults and ugly nicknames to go with my appearance. The coaches all expected me to want to play football, which I did not enjoy. In the Community, the closest I ever came to be being insulted was when the kids called me "Big George," as there was already another George in the class. But even that did not last; the teachers added our last names when they needed to distinguish between us, and the kids started doing that as well.
When I started living in the Community at fifteen, I had the typical interests and values (or lack of values) of a kid of the 50's. The Community changed all that. I lost interest in TV and most movies, and I no longer saw a plastic world as desirable. I had real friends for the first time in my life, and we have remained friends. But my dream of being an engineer like my dad did not disappear; in fact, I don't think I could have ever have been happy pursuing another course until I had tried that one.
I went off to college in '58 and, after four years of hard work, received my coveted engineering degree. Many coal-fired power plants were being constructed then, so that's where I got my first job. I soon discovered that it was boring work. Every day I sat in a room full of desks, mostly with nothing to do. The power plant had been designed by other engineers somewhere else, whom we never met. We were not allowed to deviate from their plans by the slightest detail; in fact, part of my job was to ensure that no such deviation ever occurred. I was assigned some parts to watch after. These were not like the parts you would find in a hardware store; the valves were large enough for a man to crawl through. I had to note when they arrived, make sure that they were stored properly, note exactly where they had been stored, test them in some cases, be present when they were installed, and then check back on them when everything was operational. In no case was I ever really necessary. The truck drivers were given orders by someone else to pick up the parts and deliver them to the job, the warehouse people knew how to store them properly, and the millwrights knew how to install them properly and where they should be installed. I felt like a fifth wheel. This was certainly not enough work to keep me busy either, and I noticed that the other engineers knew how to read a newspaper slowly enough to take up half a day and could talk endlessly about trivia. I did go with them to see about their parts sometimes, and they with me, but this was just to break the monotony. I tried several things which I ended up getting scolded for. First, I tried visiting other areas to get a better picture of what was going on. I soon found that other engineers considered this spying, and the workmen didn't like it either. I tried taking long walks for exercise, but I was told I needed to remain at my work station, so I could be found. I tried taking some books to work and doing some advanced study there, but I was shortly instructed that we were not allowed to do other work on the job. In talking with the other engineers, I discovered that my experience was pretty typical for steam plant construction. In fact, the one benefit I received from the job, other than my salary, was the opportunity to understand what engineering jobs were really like. I wanted to quit before six months were up; however, I remained on the job solely because quitting my first job so soon would make it much harder to get a second one.
I finally did find my way out of my dilemma. The decision was made to keep a crew working around the clock, and some volunteers were needed to work the night shift. I chose to volunteer, figuring things could not be worse, and found that everything was better. No one minded if I took long walks, studied, or worked on my own projects, or browsed around to see what other people were doing. In fact, the other engineers would ask me to go by and check on their work areas for them, not that much was being accomplished. Working at night also freed up some of my day time, so I was able to use the opportunity to visit nearby places and learn about new things. I even got a three-speed bike, so I could explore better. However, I couldn't take any college classes because night work could be suspended at a moment's notice.
After three years of fairly pleasant night work, it was suddenly suspended, and I found myself back on the day shift. Basically, the electric company had been able to get a rate increase because it was paying all the extra overtime for building the steam plant; however, after an election, the new utility commission refused to continue the extra pay, so the power company not only suspended night work but also cut way back on day work as well. Even though there was now an obvious surplus of engineers and a shortage of workers, matters were just like they were before. There were only four ways for an engineer to leave the electric company: retire, die, quit, or speak to the press. Rather than quitting immediately, I put in applications to a number of jobs and was waiting for something to come up when Elmer contacted me. He told me that the Community would be needing me full-time for construction work, as they were expanding. He couldn't explain everything over the phone, he told me, but the Community had acquired extensive land (I got the impression it was in South America or somewhere like that) and they would be needing to build a transportation system; many people favored the use of trolley cars. I told him that all I needed to know was that I was needed. I gave my notice and then left the same day, using my vacation time and accumulated sick leave for the severance time. It was considered rude to leave in such a fashion, but I flat didn't care.
It might sound as though I had been away from the Community for a full eight years, but that most certainly was not the case. I spent my holidays, weekends, and summers there during college, and all my vacations and weekends there while working as an engineer. Besides the trolley project, we had worked together on many smaller projects and inventions. Elmer's kids started working with us too, as soon as they were old enough. Brenda was the youngest. She had been eight when I went off to college; now she was sweet sixteen, had just finished high school, and was planning to become an engineer herself.
Besides helping with the trolleys, I was given the special task of planning the station, and Brenda was given the task of designing the car barn. She needed a lot of help with that, so we ended up spending a lot of time together. Besides working on the plans, we also went for long walks together, ate meals together, and talked about the future. I really liked Brenda, and it was obvious that she really liked me and that there was no one special in her life.
One day, after we had moved down to Alabama, I asked Elmer if it would be OK if I started spending some time with his daughter. He pointed out that we had been spending hours together already. He wasn't helping to make it easy. I explained that -- even though I was eleven years older than her -- I found Brenda very attractive, and I sensed that she felt the same way about me. I wanted to know what his reaction would be if -- my old embarrassment was showing up -- I asked her to become more personally involved with me. He replied that she was an adult, that such a decision was hers, and that he wouldn't dream of interfering one way or another. I asked him if he didn't think I was too old for her, and he replied that that was Brenda's decision to make, not his, and that I should be asking her.
Well, it was very hard for me to ask her, but I eventually did, one day while we were alone. She said that she had had a crush on me for a long time, and she certainly was interested in exploring if we should get more deeply involved or not. I wanted to kiss her, but she rushed out of the room, and I didn't see her again until the next day. She told me rather formally then that we were going to have to behave like fellow engineers while working together or she couldn't keep working with me. I was a little puzzled and asked her if that meant that we shouldn't get more deeply involved. She explained, no, but that we shouldn't get more deeply involved while working on our projects; we had to separate the two, and we needed to follow the Community way. I must admit that it was sometimes difficult to separate the two. One time we were working together on our blueprints at the same desk, planning the work for the following week, and I noticed her hand and began to admire it without saying a word, and she suddenly fled the room. On another occasion, while we were outdoors and she was wearing a light top and shorts, I suddenly found myself having some kind of mental orgasm, and I had to leave her, as the feeling was too strong.
It was not a good time to be taking the courtship class, as we were working on our buildings, and Cave was a three-mile walk away and in another world. However, we finally agreed to use an off day each week to walk down to Cave to take the class there. The expression "take a class" means something different in the Community from nearly everywhere else, as the people in the Community take classes all the time -- practically whenever they begin an endeavor which requires new skills. There was no classroom full of students, just Brenda, me, our mentor, a few books, and a lot of mimeographed material. The purpose of the courtship class was to explore how compatible we really were. We took various personality tests, elaborated on paper our goals in life, listed the things we liked and disliked or liked least about each other, acted out various scenarios, and then looked at ways of improving verbal communication.
Our verbal communication with one another was an area in which we had fallen short before taking the class. I had been in some of their encounter groups before, but it was initially very difficult to be completely honest with Brenda, as I was afraid that my candor would drive her away. She later told me that she had the same fear. Instead, as we stripped away the shell, we began to get closer. We realized, very humbly, that many of our feelings towards each other had been based on physical desire, not on real understanding. Still, we were agreeing on the important matters and forming a much stronger relationship, and we found that we liked each other even more than before. So, we decided to take the next step and started taking the pre-marriage instruction.
With this phase, we began physical intimacy. Believe it or not, we actually received a long set of instructions about holding hands. However, I found that one could be sensitive, sensual, and communicative through hand-holding and casual touching, something I never would have known otherwise. When we were told that our next instructions would be about kissing, I wanted to say, "Wait! I've kissed a girl before," but I did not. Directions for kissing including watching our mentor and her husband kiss. These instructions taught me that I had a great deal to learn. I did ask, after the lesson was over, "Are you going to give us instructions for everything?" And the answer was yes. The Community felt that one cause of unhappy marriages was that the partners were not physically satisfying each other, so instructions included every aspect of sexual conduct, although most techniques would be explained and not acted out. Of course, we would receive advanced instructions only after we were married. I asked what they would do with couples who had already gotten past the advanced instructions, and we were told that they commonly instructed those new to the Community in all these things, and it often was more of a revelation for them than it was for beginners.
Our pre-marriage class was interrupted by the closing of the gate for the summer. Then, in the fall, we were too busy for a while to resume, but finally we did, and we were married on Pisces, Earth the third, year three (October 6th, 1967), but we now took the post-marriage class, learning advanced sexual techniques, including additional instructions on preventing or encouraging pregnancy. We learned that marriages often break up because one or both parties are not sexually satisfied. They recommended that we learn to understand and accommodate each other's sexual preferences. They pointed out that men were usually more visual and mental and that women were generally more tactile and more excited by a slow build-up. They also explained that women usually want tokens of love and to be caressed more often than men while men wanted to hear that they were satisfying their lovers. They had recommendations about what to do when one person wanted sex and the other person didn't, pointing out that it was unrealistic us to expect ourselves to always be in the mood at the same time, and that it would not hurt for one person to satisfy the other or for one to enjoy sex alone. We also learned of other, non-sexual ways to improve our relationship with one another. We really had a choice: we could work at making the relationship even better, or we could watch it slowly fall apart.
Brenda wanted to wait a couple of years for our first child, as she felt things were changing too quickly, and as she wanted us to have some time alone together, so we could wait until then to take the classes on childbirth and childcare. You may have the impression that Brenda had decided not to become an engineer, but that is hardly the case. In fact, we spent many long hours during the summer exploring what she didn't know and extending her knowledge in that direction. What Brenda had decided, even before I returned, was that she was not going to try to get an engineering degree, as that would not be useful or necessary within the Community. That was her brothers' idea too; they were also interested in my books and in extending their knowledge, so we sometimes formed our own classes.
Elmer's account of our engineering activities is fairly complete to the fall of 1967, but he does leave out one invention, probably because it wasn't completed until later. During the summer, we had some extra time on our hands, and Elmer felt that we should design and build some electric chain saws, which we did. However, while we were working on that, I had a better idea. My idea for an electric chain saw would consist of three parts. One part would be a very long chain bar, long enough for the largest tree. The other two parts would hold the chain bar and guide it forward into the tree, and the whole outfit would work remotely. It would have to make three cuts, two straight cuts and an angled cut, for each tree. The advantages would be that 1) it would require much less effort than a hand-held saw, 2) it could cut closer to the ground, thus saving lumber and reducing stump size, and 3) it would be safer, as no one would have to stand next to the tree. But thinking of what the saw should look like was just the first step, as we also had to design it, and while designing it, we should use already available parts as much as possible, so we wouldn't have to do everything from scratch. It was a nice little problem that had us all thinking during the summer, and we didn't have a working model until the late fall.
Picking up now where Elmer's narrative ends, we next added another mile of track to the south, and there we founded the town of Quarry. Quarry was in only one way undesirable as a place to live -- the daily blast of explosives at the quarry a mile north to loosen up more rock. There was also much less land suitable for agriculture here, so this would have to be an industrial town. We located our car barn here, so this became the place for all the railroad people to live. And we set up our shops to make equipment here as well. Near the woods which was being cleared for gardens, we installed two just-completed steam engines which we powered from one furnace; this extra power made it possible to run cars without completely stopping the sawmill. With both of those engines operational, we were able to move the steam plant for Cave into the town and to install a second engine there while we were doing so. There were now two sawmills at Cave finishing the clearing task, one at the southern end of the big field and the other down towards the river.
We did not stop railroad work at Quarry, however, but continued adding track as fast as we could, in order to have plenty of room for new immigrants. After being slowed by the necessity of building a short trestle, we reached a suitable place for a third community, which was called Seven Cedars, after a nice grove located there, later often used for meetings and devotionals. We continued building southwestward.
We used a method of building track that involved the least human effort, which resulted in smaller work crews. To begin a new section, the shovel car, its dump loaded with gravel, would run to the end of the existing track, with the shovel end of the car in front. Once there, the car's trolley would be lowered, and it would be connected to the electric line by a power cord. Then, the operator would dig up the soil ahead of the track and lay it to one side for removal later. Then the operator would shovel gravel out of the dump bed into the new trench and then smooth it out with the shovel. This accomplished, the operator would turn the shovel to one side, and the assistant would attach a half-section of track, a dozen and six (eighteen) feet long, looking much like the track on a model train system, to the bucket, which she would place in position in front of her with some help, being very careful that the tracks lined up. This half-section was made with much smaller cross ties than usual, to make it light enough to pick up. The rails on it were welded together with cross braces to ensure that the car would not derail. At this point, the shovel car would move onto the temporary track and prepare another half section. This work done, the operator would back the shovel car onto the permanent track, pick up the temporary track and lay it to one side, the assistant would disconnect the power cable and hook up the trolley, and then they would head back to the quarry for more gravel. As soon as the shovel car had passed the car barn, the flatcar would come out and go to the end of the line. There, cross ties would be swung off of the flat car and dragged to the approximate place using horses, starting at the far end. Two workers would position the cross ties, usually by prying them with bars but sometimes by lifting them. Then two tracks would be swung off of the car, carried into position, and spiked down. This accomplished, the flatcar could move forward, using a power cable if necessary, and install a pole and overhead. However, since the section of track was less than the half the distance between the poles (at least on a straight-away), a new pole would be installed only every other time or so. Because overhead was being installed one short section at a time, only temporary, short sections of less expensive wire were used. After the poles and wires were installed, the flatcar would go back to the car barn for more cross ties (and more rail and poles if needed), and the shovel car would come out to dig the next section. Later work involved replacing the temporary overhead with continuous wire, ballasting the tracks, and adding a road alongside.
By this method, we could lay two hundred and eighty-eight (two grand) feet of track per day or a mile and 2/3rds a month, provided we had three crews to keep the work going all six days of the week, eight hours a day. However, whenever we would have to build a trestle, fill in low ground, or bend sections of track for curves, the work would take longer. Although at this time we had no certainty that we would receive enough immigrants to accomplish our goals, we recognized that we needed to run our railways a long distance to get badly needed materials, as Cave was located in an area weak in mineral resources (limestone and occasionally coal). Our primary goal was to the north and east, corresponding to the area of Ducktown/Copper Hill (on the Tennessee - North Carolina boundary) in the Old World. This area was extremely rich in copper, which we needed for electric wire, pots, and lamps. To the northwest were deposits of zinc. The second goal was to our south and slightly to the west, corresponding to the Birmingham region in the Old World. This area contained enormous amounts of coal, limestone, and iron, and would enable us to make our own stoves, tools, and also the steel used in our railway cars. The third goal was to the west, corresponding to the area known in the Old World as Muscle Shoals; there we would find aluminum. Traveling beyond there to the area equivalent to Eastern Missouri, we would arrive in an area where large quantities of lead should be located, which we needed for storage batteries.
Representatives of the Community and of the Gatekeepers had a meeting in the late fall to plan our future activities more completely. In some things, they fully supported and even surpassed our proposals, and in other ways they did not.
Elmer's first proposal was that we engineers quit operating the railroad on a daily basis, since it was now functional and tested. We would concentrate on building new track and on other projects. Here, they agreed, as they felt the railroad should be managed by someone with different skills. But they also went beyond us, as they suggested that since crews now knew how to lay track that the engineers were no longer needed for that task unless some special problem, such as building a trestle, came up. They felt that we should concentrate on design and getting new industries started. One major problem, which we had not been thinking about, was the need for additional horse-drawn planting and harvesting equipment, additional both in number and in variety.
Elmer presented his proposal for a coal-fired electric generation plant. It's not that we couldn't simply produce more steam engines. If we wanted to, we could produce hundreds of them, since they were made mostly from used motor vehicle engines. However, each engine or pair of engines required someone to tend the fire every hour that it was running, and we had to haul and split wood to feed these engines. Elmer simply foresaw the time when people started to grumble about the necessity of tending all these little engines all the time. He envisioned something on a much grander scale. In Alabama, TVA was planning to strip mine coal from the top of Sand Mountain, carry it down the mountain on a conveyor, and ship it north to a large power plant. Elmer could see us doing the same thing, only with the power plant at the bottom of the mountain near the conveyor. A large steam turbine there, and eventually a row of them, would produce all the energy we would ever need.
However, his idea was not warmly greeted, not at all. When he presented his plans (he had already made blueprints of the power plant and conveyor belt), he found a great deal of skepticism and not any enthusiasm. Doug Lance was at the meeting as one of the Gatekeepers' representatives (to Elmer's bad luck), and he asked questions about the number of people that it would take to construct such a plant, the costs and problems involved in ordering a turbine, our inability to repair or replace that turbine, the number of people involved in keeping it running, and the amount of pollution it would produce, all of which had Elmer squirming. In addition, no one else at the meeting, except for us engineers, supported the proposal. In fact, setting aside the entire east bank of the Elephant River as an area to never be utilized was one of the proposals considered and approved later in the same session.
A number of alternative sources of power were proposed, and Elmer pointed out their impracticality. Solar panels had been used for satellites, but they were far too expensive. A solar power plant using focused mirrors would be more expensive to build and require more technology than a coal-fired plant (the mirrors all have to adjust their positions both horizontally and vertically during the day and during the year in order to continue focusing on the same area). Alabama was a poor area for wind power; not only were Cave and our other communities down in a valley, but also there would be little wind during the summer. The only stream large enough to dam for power was the Elephant River, and such a dam was beyond our means. Besides, no one wanted a dam anyway, as a dam would stop fish from migrating, flood useful farmland, destroy the natural shoreline, and eventually fill up with silt.
While they agreed that we had no other good option at the time, they felt more comfortable with lots of little wood-fired steam engines than with Elmer's power plant. As a way of softening the blow, Cecil Woods said that, even if we built such a plant, we couldn't begin work on it for several years, due to lack of manpower, so we would have to proceed as if the plant weren't going to be built anyway.
However, the representatives at the meeting did want us to push railroad construction. Elmer wanted a combination shovel/crane/piledriver car, and everyone was in favor of that after seeing his plans. This car would operate on a single truck, although its three cranes would be carried on an unpowered flatcar. The car was not even given a trolley but would be pulled to the work site and operated from a power cable. When used as a shovel car, it would use a short crane with the shovel attached (this kind of shovel has also been called a dragline crane). This shovel, although it would have a shorter reach, would have greater digging power than the current shovel car because the cable pulling the shovel would act as a differential hoist. It would be able to dig into the mixture of hard soil and loose rock found underneath the thick topsoil in most areas (if rock was not loose, we would blast it). Then, after swapping to a much taller crane, the car could be used to swing timbers out to men building a trestle. And, after the vertical timbers had been braced with temporary supports, a guide for a heavy weight would be attached to the crane, thus turning the car into a pile driver to drive the timbers deep into the ground.
The representatives also wanted him to build two flatcars and two shovel cars like the ones already built, so we could build track in three directions at once. Next on the agenda, which Elmer requested, were a steeple cab and a number of unpowered cars for hauling and dumping dirt, gravel, and logs. They were approved, and we agreed to build these cars within two years, and then we would begin construction of additional box motor cars and a passenger car.
We also showed them our new saw, which was good for a demonstration but not up to practical work yet and discussed the construction of additional steam engines. They wanted us to push ahead with both.
Cecil Woods was responsible for the suggestion of another task, one that was turned over to me. He began by asking me why I had not earlier considered the use of steamboats among my transportation alternatives. I explained to him that I had considered them but had not included them in the report, as two of our three goals could be reached only by traveling over land. He then explained that one of the students had suggested to him that steamboats might be a better way of reaching many of our goals than were trains, as a boat could use the rivers to reach the ocean and many other important locations. No roadway or communities had to be built along the way; thus, we could have much wider spaced communities.
I pointed out the problems with that scheme. While we wouldn't have to build a roadbed or lay down tracks, a steamboat would be a much slower method of delivering people and cargo. On the Mississippi after the Civil War, even after great expenditures to remove snags and other dangers in the river and to mark the channel, the maximum average upstream speed when racing from New Orleans to Cairo was about a dozen and two (fourteen) miles per hour. Under normal conditions and including time in port or tied up at night, the true average speed would probably be less than half of that. Due to the bends in the river, the total distance traveling by river would much farther as well. The distance by river from New Orleans to Cairo was nearly double the straight-line distance. If the steamboats burned wood, a good bit of the useful space would be taken up with fuel, and the boat would have to stop to refuel frequently. Thus, while settlements could be further apart if we used steamboats, we would still need large numbers of them. Floods could quickly change the nature of the stream bed and deposit snags, thus temporarily blocking steamboat travel or making it more difficult for a while. There would also be a greater danger of fatalities, due to the possibility of drowning. Our communities would be more isolated from each other if we depended mainly upon steamboat travel. Finally, as evidence of a lower efficiency, the railroads quickly put the steamboats out of business almost as quickly as the tracks were laid. In modern times, river traffic survives by carrying bulk cargos whose arrival time is unimportant, with a lower operating cost per ton mile; however, it would take an enormous amount of work to prepare the riverbed for barge traffic.
I did admit that one or more steamboats could be useful. We could use it or them to explore ahead of the railroad either north or west along the Elephant River, to start settlements ahead of the railroad, to cross the river to explore the opposite shore, to fish in the river, and to provide a form of entertainment and relaxation. Cecil felt that we could also use it as a ferry and added the stipulation that the boat should be designed to carry our railroad cars across the river.
The representatives gave me the task of planning such a boat and computing its cost. They also gave me a maximum amount that such a boat could cost in dollars (for materials purchased in the old world) and in hours. Thus, I would not have to wait for another meeting to get permission to build the boat provided I could keep it under cost and have my design approved by Elmer, Cecil, and a few others.
The next item on the agenda was a discussion of future expansion. Very obviously, we should continue to run the railroad south to the bend in the river. Immediately to the north of Cave was a deep stream bed that needed a trestle and after that, a large section of ground sloping in both directions which seemed to be ideal for pasture. Since the idea had been proposed to also import some Brown Swiss cattle, a breed that like the Ayreshires was ideal for both milking and for use as oxen, it was suggested that this area be used for that herd. As a result, this community was named Brown Swiss. North of there, the railway would cross another deep stream cut. Beyond that, the railway would cross the ridge, moving away from the river, and travel through a very large and nearly flat area which would be ideal for crops and for building communities.
At some point in this area, it was proposed that we build a barrier to prevent elephants and other animals from following the river southward. Such a barrier would consist of a long fence with honey locust posts driven close together. The posts would grow into trees, and the elephants would not break through them due to the huge thorns, even though the elephants love to eat the honey locust pods. Since the elephants' habitat was along the river, they would seldom bother communities located far from its banks.
Provided immigration proceeded as we hoped, we would need occasional large communities to act as regional centers. Jon Dexter suggested that our first regional center, which would also be the main center for all of the New World, be built in the area corresponding to Scottsboro in the old world, as there were a number of good springs in that area used by the town in its early years. Jon explained that it was not necessary for any town to have a spring, as we could always drill for water; however, a spring would be better than a well because 1) the amount of the water would be known in advance, 2) because it flowed in from another area, the spring water would be free of any human bacteria, while well water flowing under our feet could eventually become contaminated, and 3) wells in that region frequently produced water with a bad taste, due to pockets of rock containing sulfur. A name had already been suggested for this community: Penny. (I hate to contradict a good myth, but it was not a little girl who suggested the name but Jon's daughter, who was already thirteen and who knew a fair bit about geology. According to the story, while exploring the area with a group of people, a little girl asked Jon why the area was so flat, and he explained it was due to the area being a peneplain, so she suggested the name of Penny for the community, not recognizing her mistake. Actually, Jon's daughter suggested the name as a pun. I guess others liked the pun, as the name was kept.) The same peneplain, which was partially divided by a ridge of chert and sandstone, could be home to several more communities, and suggestions for their names and locations were also made.
However, Jon also brought up a rather ambitious project just north of Brown Swiss. This was not his idea, but one that he had been asked to present, since he was a geologist and could comment on its practicality. In the old world, there is an extension of Guntersville Lake to the northwest at that point, about four miles long and four square miles in area. In the New World, this same area is fed by many streams, and the streams flow together and cross a narrow cut through the chert and sandstone ridge which runs along the river. If a dam were constructed across this narrow cut, using mostly material from the ridge itself, the dam would give us a large, mostly shallow lake with a maximum depth of about a dozen and three (fifteen) feet ("about" because we had a choice of how high to construct the spillway). Besides having recreational value, this lake would create a large area of shallow water covering about a square mile which would be extremely suitable for growing rice. That much land in rice paddies could easily produce eight grand new tons (a thousand old tons) of rice per year. That would be enough rice for six myriad (nine thousand) people, provided they ate rice every day. Nowhere else, that Jon was familiar with, would it be so easy to construct such a large lake. Building the dam would be a rather minor project, even for us, since the dam would be less than four grand feet (two hundred yards) wide and about a dozen and three feet high. Most of the effort required would be to clear the bottom of the planned lake of trees. Jon pointed out that there would be a degree of risk in building such a dam because the rock underlying the projected lake was limestone. The possibility always exists in limestone terrain that underground channels could keep the lake from filling. Jon did not consider the risk high because the dam would be built across a resistant stratum, not across limestone. Nonetheless, it was possible that underground channels could carry water to the river at a point approximately a mile south, passing under the Brown Swiss area. However, he did not have any reason to suspect that such channels would already exist.
Jon was asked what would be the possible outcome if such a leak should exist. His assumption was that, under those circumstances, the lake would still form during the winter and still exist during the spring, but that it would rapidly dry up during the summer. Even if a smaller lake than intended, it would still be possible to pump the water to the rice fields. If there was no lake at all, for some reason, the same land (plus nearly all of the bed of the proposed lake) could be used to grow other crops.
Another part of the plan he presented would be for the railroad to wye just past the dam, rather than at Penny, as otherwise had been proposed. This would bypass some very low-lying ground that the railroad would otherwise pass through and shorten the distance as well. Two communities would be built along the lake. An attempt would be made to find springs at the base of nearby mountains to serve these communities, but if that were not possible, then wells could be drilled in the same general area.
Beth wanted the isolated mountain top (really an isolated section of plateau) just to the north of the proposed lake to be used to grow apples (which would be more productive at the higher elevation, where there would be more cold days during the winter). Beth also suggested building a railroad line up the mountain and building a community there. However, Jon pointed out the problem of supplying water to that community, Doug questioned the need for an entire community for just an orchard, and Elmer did not think that an apple orchard would justify the need to build a line up such a difficult area at that time. However, he did note that there was a good quarry site in that area which could later be developed. Finally, Doug pointed out that it would be quite a few years before any apples could be produced, except for dwarf apples. He asked Beth if producing a large orchard was a good idea yet, since she would not know which trees would produce satisfactory fruit, since all of them were being grown from seed.
However, Beth was not about to give up. She explained that the orchard area would amount to over a square mile of land, as much as we were putting into rice, that the orchard would eventually contain some 40,000 trees, requiring a large number of workers and producing a huge number of apples and other fruit. In clearing the land, the useful lumber would need to be sawed and transported down the mountain. To plant the trees, large holes would have to be dug and filled with topsoil from the lake below. If workers had to walk up from the nearby towns, they would have to walk about two miles and climb 800 feet to get there. This would be excellent exercise, but it would not be helpful towards getting apples picked and other necessary work accomplished. As for the problem of what to do with trees with undesirable fruit, she explained that those trees would have excess branches from the other trees grafted onto them, thus only the first year of production would be lost.
Doug pointed out that we could not clear the lake area and the mountain top at the same time effectively, and he asked her if the transplanting of trees could not wait one more year, which she agreed to. Jon suggested that a small community could be placed on the mountain top, and Elmer suggested that there would be more time available to build track up the mountain the following year as well, so the final agreement was that some preliminary work would begin on the mountain, mainly surveying, and that the bulk of the work be carried over to the next year; however, we would need to have an early start, so trees could be transplanted while still dormant.
It was then pointed out that due to our numbers, it would also be too difficult to begin the lake project and Penny at the same time. After some discussion, it was agreed to proceed with the lake project first while also building track northward to Penny and beyond for future expansion, as most population growth would have to be to the north or west until we built a trestle across the Elephant River.
Many other matters also came up during these meetings, but I won't bother to explain them, as they don't relate to any of the engineering projects. The plans decided upon in the meetings also had to be approved in the neighborhoods, but there were no changes in any of the plans that I have discussed.
Inasmuch as I had never built a boat before, my first task was to do a great deal of reading. It might surprise you that I finally settled upon making a flat-bottomed, sidewheel steamer. My decisions were based on the materials at hand, the characteristics of river travel, and a rough estimation of our needs. However, it also tickled my fancy to build a boat which looked just like the old steamboats.
On the Mississippi, about which there is the most information, the main channel was very deep, but boats used it to travel downstream only, due to the speed of the current. In running upstream, steamboats hugged the shore, where the current was much slower and the water was much shallower. Even the largest boats had a draft of not much more than six feet. They also had flat bottoms to reduce the hull depth and to reduce damage from running aground or into snags. Sidewheel paddles may not seem too efficient, but the paddle wheels could be less easily damaged than screw propellers, and they didn't have to operate any deeper than the hull. In addition, by speeding up one wheel while slowing, stopping, or even reversing the other, the boat could be turned extremely quickly, a valuable feature for maneuvering between snags and rocks. The boats usually had three decks which extended over the hull to provide additional room for passengers, as only the main deck was used for cargo.
I decided to build our boat with a hull approximately the size of Henry Miller Shreve's Enterprise. Never heard of it? Robert Fulton's New Orleans was the first steamboat to go down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, but it never had enough power to return. Shreve's Enterprise, the second steamship in western waters, made the trip both ways. It was also used to explore the Red River. The Enterprise was about eighty feet by twenty, so I decided to build ours with the base of the hull six dozen feet long by a dozen and six feet wide, with the top of the hull four feet longer at each end and a foot wider at each side, large enough to carry our largest railroad car but small enough to get through tight channels. I calculated that, when the hull was submerged just two feet, the boat would carry over eight dozen new tons, and at three feet, half again that much, which would be sufficient flotation to carry our heaviest railcar.
To ensure that the boat was strong enough to survive an unintended collision with the river bottom or some snag, I planned to construct the body and main deck out of tongue and grooved white oak, six inches thick. Each piece would be also attached to its neighbors with horizontal grooves and vertical pegs, making separation impossible. Four pieces were special and larger in size. These were rounded to form the corners at the bottom. The front and back of the boat would be identical, with a flat bow and no keel, like a barge. The sidewheels, a dozen and eight feet in diameter, would be located at the center on each side, extending out from the hull by six feet. The paddles would run no deeper than the hull. The main deck would be enclosed, except at the ends, but side decks would be extended out the width of the paddle wheel on either side of it, for the use of passengers. The main deck would have to be a dozen and one feet high, to allow room for the roof of the railcar. Above it is the deck by tradition called the boiler deck, and this deck would also be fully enclosed but would also have side decks on both sides over the top of the paddlewheel. Inside would be a kitchen, a small dining area, showers and composting toilets, and dormitory type rooms for the crew and passengers (which would be separate to avoid the passengers from disturbing sleeping crew members, but otherwise crew and passengers would be treated equally). Above this would be the hurricane deck, which would not be closed, but which would include a partial shed roof for protection from the sun. At each end of the hurricane deck was a small enclosed room with good windows, from which the boat could be piloted (the boat was designed to work equally well in either direction).
The practice in building steamboats was to put the engine and the fuel on the main deck, but since that space needed to remain open, I decided to put them in the hull. To allow for headroom, this underdeck space had to be seven feet high. In the front and back, it would be divided into two halves, to allow for the cross bracing of the timbers supporting both the roof and the floor. However, for most of the distance, there would be vertical posts eight feet apart. On the one side would be the furnace. To keep the heat down in the hold, the furnace would be surrounded by an insulated and reflecting shroud with its own separate air flow, feeding the second smoke pipe (steamers always had one smoke stack on each side). This air flow was kept great enough to keep the entire room comfortable. The door for this shroud would be opened, then the door to the furnace, when adding logs. The logs would be in four by four foot baskets, which could be stacked when empty, and could be moved easily, using an overhead trolley. On the opposite side from the furnace would be the steam engines and generator; the paddlewheels would be powered by electricity, as that would allow for greater adjustment in their speed (I had first thought about using gearing, and then separate engines, but Elmer pointed out that the motors would allow much better control).
This boat was started in Gemini (January) and completed in Aquarius (September) of year 4 (1968). Its official designation was SB001, but I was allowed to give it any name that I chose, so I named it the Enterprise, after Shreve's steamboat. However, the name "Enterprise" seemed to mean something unintended to a few people, and I eventually discovered that a TV program had a space ship with that name, thus I needed to name it something else, but I put off doing so. Fortunately, some newcomers in 1969 took one look at it and called it the Proud Mary. It was a little while before I heard the song, but soon after I did, I suggested the name "Proud Mary" be painted in big red letters on both sidewheels, and this renaming was accepted, and the name was painted on the boat (I had had the boat painted white, unlike anything else in the New World, with red trim, and black smoke stacks).
Of course, like the railcars, the steamboat had to be turned over to others to operate. However, I was able to enjoy the fun of running it for a while, as we put it through trials, dealt with final problems, and slowly built up the crew (although the crew had a captain, James Reed, every person -- including the captain -- would take equal turns stoking the engines). Its turning ability with the sidewheels was exceptional, as the one wheel could be running backwards while the other was moving forwards. In fact, I designed those controls into the pilot wheel, so turning the pilot wheel to the right would slow the sidewheel on the right while speeding up the sidewheel on the left. When turned to the three o'clock position, the paddlewheel on the right would quit revolving, and when turned any further, the paddlewheel would start spinning backwards. There was also a separate throttle control which adjusted speed, and this could be set backwards to reverse the direction of both paddlewheels. From the pilot house, the pilot could look straight down on the water and see to both sides clearly, so it would be extremely easy to spot snags or other problems (some polarized glasses helped too). At night, lights placed low would shine forward and down into the water, for the same reason. Imported from the old world were some sonar devices that would tell the pilot the exact depth. Whenever traveling in new waters, a chart would be made of the river bottom which would include all depths, rocks, snags, and other obstructions or notable features. We also added marker buoys, to indicate dangers, which were held by anchors drilled into the river bed. Making a chart and installing buoys greatly slowed progress when first traveling a section of river but greatly speeded travel on subsequent trips.
During the boat's trials, we had various passengers on board for the purpose of enjoying the ride, and on one occasion, I found Harold Radcliff, who was nine at the time, lying on the deck and watching the movement of the boat and the water in an odd way, so I asked him what he was doing. He said that if he looked at it just right, instead of the boat moving forward leaving the water behind, it looked as though the boat was standing still, and the water was moving past it. Immediately, an idea sprang into mind, and I took off for the pilot's cabin, where I asked the pilot on duty to move the boat to the middle of the channel (where the current was the strongest) and to hold the boat position steady against a point on the shore (this can be done easily by finding two objects on the shore which line up). By simply looking at one of our gauges, I knew how much power the ship had to produce to match the speed of the current, which was a lot. Then we headed back to the shore where we could make much better progress upstream without nearly as much engine power, but my head was buzzing with a new idea.
We had been wanting to find a way of generating electricity for the railroad and other uses without burning wood, and here was the solution. If we installed a long paddlewheel in the middle of the river, we could send the electricity produced to the shore by means of a cable. Of course, the paddlewheel would have to be adjusted up and down with the water level. At first, I could envision a float attached to a motor which would raise and lower it, but then I had a much simpler idea. If the center of the paddlewheel was a large diameter pipe, with both ends sealed, it would float on the water and thus adjust its own height. All we needed to do was to anchor the ends.
I was bubbling over when I saw Brenda that night, but she immediately saw some problems I hadn't thought of. For instance, What would keep a floating tree from lodging in it? Still, the idea had real merit. Unlike a dam, placing these paddlewheels on the river would not seriously affect the migration of fish or alter the shoreline or riverbed. We could build as many as we wanted. The length of the paddles would be determined by the minimum depth at that spot, and the size of the pipe by the length of the paddles. A pipe two feet in diameter and sealed at both ends would float eight dozen and two (ninety-eight) pounds per foot of length; a pipe three feet in diameter would float 165; (220.) pounds per foot of length (assuming both pipes are half-way submerged).
After a month of tinkering with the idea and figuring out how to transfer it into reality, our pipe finally arrived, and we welded the paddlewheels onto it. Out in the river (which was about eight feet deep in the main channel), we anchored the boat, and placed a twelve foot long, large diameter pipe on end in the water. Using bars and a jet of compressed air and water, we dug into the loose material under the pipe until the pipe was down on the bedrock. Then we removed all the loose material inside the pipe and drilled holes into the bedrock for rebar (steel bars that would anchor and reinforce the concrete). Rebar rods were placed into the hole, then a rebar cage fitted over that, and attached to the top of that was the support for one end of the pipe. When everything was ready, we filled the pipe with concrete, using a concrete mixer placed aboard the ship. (Concrete sets up wet, so the water didn't have to be evacuated first.) When the concrete was set up sufficiently, we slipped the pipe (which had been greased inside) off of it, to be used again. Then, a carefully measured distance away, we used our form again and created a second pier to support the other end of our pipe. Then the pipe with its paddles attached was floated out to its piers and placed into position with a crane temporarily attached to the Proud Mary. Also, a floating tree guard was attached. This was made from smaller diameter pipe and simply angled away from the paddlewheels on both sides in the upstream direction and joined together in the middle. Floating logs that hit the guard would gradually be pulled to the left or right by the current. Finally, a generator unit was attached to the pier, well above the water, on the west side, and a self-adjusting belt was added to carry the rotational force to the generator. Wires were then strung to the shore, and the power fed into our electric lines (of course, the generator was producing eight grand volts). We now had a source of power which produced no pollution and required very little maintenance.
As a name for the new invention, I decided to call them rollers. Later, when I heard the song "Proud Mary," I recognized that "rolling on the river" could have a different denotation from that intended by the writer. Actually, the name "roller" was not unique, as that's what we also called the rolling pipes filled with water which we used to flatten the bicycle/wagon roads.
At the meeting of the representatives at the end of the year, the new rollers were endorsed, and we decided that the building set aside for making steam engines would gradually be converted into a plant for making rollers. A second steamboat, five dozen feet long and a dozen and three feet wide, with a single deck, was designed strictly for the purpose of installing and maintaining the rollers. This new ship would have a cradle to hold a new roller being carried out for installation, an hydraulic arm to lift, dig, and drill, and a concrete mixer to fill the piers. The invention of the rollers changed some plans for future railroad routes, as it now became very desirable to run the railroad close to rivers. For instance, the route to the copper-producing area was moved northward along the Elephant River and then eastward along another powerful and not-yet-named stream most of way.
During the fall and winter months, we completed all the trials and additional work on the Proud Mary. We also used that time to survey the main channel for a considerable distance and to install two more rollers. However, the pipe refused to come loose with the second set of piers, so we ended up building weighted wooden forms to use instead, which could be unbolted. They were actually a great improvement, as the forms created an elongated ellipse-shaped pier, which provided better support and created less water resistance. In addition, we could carry around forms of different heights to match the depth of the water. As the construction of our bridges across the Elephant River had a higher priority than exploration, we used the Proud Mary to install pedestals for them until a new boat was completed. I will leave it to some other reporter to explain how the Proud Mary was employed after the spring of year five (1969), as its management moved out of my control.
However, I will go back to explain the completion of our lake project and ahead to the building of our first bridge.
In building the lake, the first task was to cross the gap where the dam would be built with a level trestle, so we could carry supplies and people into the new area. We founded two towns as well, but the largest task was the clearing of four square miles of forest. The new electric saws (including the "automatic saw," which was used on only the largest trees), speeded the work greatly, and the conversion of logs to lumber lagged behind. This clearing operation took an entire year, with the work proceeding from east to west. After the trees had been cut and the logs and limbs removed, the topsoil was stripped from the ground and carried to the rice fields in carts. Topsoil was also set aside for Beth's project as well. At the same time, shallow clay dams were created around the fields to provide an additional control for the water level.
At the dam site, we removed all the soil down to the rock on both sides of the trestle. For fill for the dam, we used mainly the chert and sandstone provided by the adjacent rocky ridge. However, we filled the center of the dam with clay, which was tamped down as we proceeded, in order to ensure a good seal (a small leak in a dam will quickly destroy it). This clay dam was built right next to the trestle, the clay dug up elsewhere and dumped from our work cars. While we were building the dam, the water was caught by a much smaller dam slightly upstream and piped to the river, using an electric pump (there was not enough drop to produce a natural flow). As the clay dam was built, chert and sandstone from the ridge were simply dumped on both sides of it, so work proceeded very rapidly. The trestle itself became part of the dam, of course. The lake was allowed to begin filling before the dam was completely finished, and I understand that work crews were still cutting trees at the other end and removing soil also. However, it takes a long time for a lake to fill, so we wanted to start filling it as soon as possible.
The south shore of the lake was pretty steep, so it was left forested down to where the water's edge would be, and cabins were built near the future shore, with piers extending into the lake site for future sailboats and rowboats. This was intended as a vacation area which would gradually grow with our population.
Another major project began as soon as the dam was completed. This was a trestle across the Elephant River at the point where the river bends to the west. We planned it so that the trestle would start from a point about five dozen feet above the river and descend in a straight line across a small island (underwater in the other world) at a 1;6% slope (one and a half feet per hundred and forty-four feet), thus making a gentle climb for trains, wagons, or cyclists. The reason for the high starting elevation was to leave sufficient room under the trestle for the Proud Mary and future boats to pass, so we planned to leave a space nearly five dozen feet high and five dozen feet wide on the north side of the island, where the water is deeper, which we felt would be more than sufficient. Unfortunately, a steamboat going upstream would be close to the main current for a while as well. On the opposite side of the island, we intended to install rollers between the supports. We would leave one space open and install floating guards to try to channel floating trees and logs towards that opening. We had been asked to place a roadway alongside our tracks, making the bridge two dozen feet wide at the top. To span the five dozen foot wide gap, we planned double truss bridges, one for each road. Each truss bridge section would be roofed as well to extend its lifespan, looking very much like and using the same basic design as a covered bridge.
In the spring of year five (1969) as we began this first large bridge, measuring from the wye just north of the dam (which would be the standard point for measuring distances from now on), the railroad extended a dozen and eight miles to the south to this bridge, eleven miles to the east where work was slowed by our having to cross first through low-lying ground (which required more fill) and then over a low ridge (which required a good bit of blasting), and a dozen and four miles to the north where one trestle had just been completed, a total of almost four dozen miles of track. While we were building this south bridge, we would have to pause to allow another trestle to be built to the north, and then as soon as the south bridge was finished, we would need to start on a north bridge across the Elephant River. By the time that bridge was finished, it would be nearly time to build a bridge across the Elephant River to the west.
While these bridges were being constructed, unneeded work cars could be assigned the tasks of double tracking all the locations where we planned to build communities, building a track up Apple Mountain, building other useful side tracks, and continuing construction of the roadway alongside the tracks. Providing double tracks through the communities would give cars and trains an opportunity to pass one another safely, and we would install signals for the single track between to prevent collisions, as the opportunities would be increasing as we built more cars.
We started the first new bridge in Cancer of the year five (February 1969). Although it had been suggested that we could use the Proud Mary to ferry our workcars south of the bridge to continue construction while the bridge was underway, we did not do so, mainly due to all the extra work that would entail. Besides ferrying the cars across the stream (which would require constructing a landing at each end), we would also have to carry gravel, rails, poles, cross ties, and assorted equipment, and build housing for the workers as well. We did not think that a few miles of extra track would be worth that much effort. Besides, the Proud Mary was keeping herself pretty busy anyway, as we were using her to make the pedestals for the new bridge while the other boat was still under construction.
Someone might wonder how we managed to build the truss section of bridge across the empty five dozen foot wide gap, and the answer is that we didn't. Instead, we built the trestle solid all the way across, built our truss bridge section across the area that would be open, and then removed the section of trestle underneath it. Of course, we did not build pedestals for the temporary legs, and we built that section knowing that we would be disassembling it not long after it was completed.
While working on this first bridge, newcomers began arriving in numbers, and the miles of mostly unused track we had been constructing starting serving a real purpose.