NOVEMBER 9, 1937
ROCKFORD, Ill., Monday—Limitations of space prevented my telling you yesterday about one of the most interesting things I have seen on this trip, namely, the Federal Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. It is a most modern building and stands high up on university ground. In return for a certain amount of university support, students are allowed to work there. Of course, one could spend days absorbed in the experiments they are making, but we had only a few minutes!
The Director, Major Winslow, knew of my interest in some of the research work which they have been doing on a possible woodworking industry for the government homestead at Tygarts Valley, West Virginia. He told me at once that their plan was almost complete. This homestead being near a national forest, they are going to use the wood which must be cut there and employ about one hundred and twenty-five men in turning out whatever the laboratory finds will be marketable. The Laboratory carried on experiments as to the proper drying of wood for various purposes and gives advice on the building and operating of drying kilns.
They also showed me an experimental model of a small portable sawmill which will be on a rolling truck and can be hooked to an automobile and taken from place to place. On the truck will be a saw which will cut the logs to better advantage than the usual saw found in the small temporary saw-mills set up throughout the south or on individual farms in other parts of the country.
Lastly they showed us their experiments with plywood glued together and packed between the two boards with insulating material. This is to be used in the building of low cost dwellings and an experimental house which they had on the premises for exhibition was put up in three days. The sections of the house are all prepared in advance. This particular house had a flat roof, but they could put on a different type roof, and they are going to experiment with two story houses. This was a four-room house with plumbing, heating and a very complete kitchen, and they are all watching with interest to see how it will stand a Wisconsin winter. This may be one of the future solutions to the low-cost housing problem.
Last night on our way to the lecture in Chicago, we stopped to see the Elks Memorial, a most imposing and magnificent building. In the rotunda, marble has been used from every part of the world and the color scheme is really very beautiful. The murals are interesting, but to the housekeeper's eye, the most startling achievement was the absolute cleanliness of the building which they assured me had at times thousands of visitors a day. I think the custodian and his fellow workers deserve great praise!
We left Chicago this morning at nine o'clock and are now in Rockford, Illinois, a typical mid-western industrial city. The sunshines and the people are very kind and cordial and give one a feeling of real welcome.