Items of Interest

The railroads of the United States, in spending approximately three hundred million dollars a year for locomotive fuel, are spending one quarter to one third of it "to kindle, prepare, clean, and maintain fires on grates when locomotives are standing still, drifting, or otherwise not actually at work." According to Railway and Locomotive Engineering, one of the shortest and sharpest cuts to the cost of railway transportation is promised by pulverized coal, and "steam locomotives will eventually have to be equipped so as to approximate to electric machines by the use of pulverized fuel, which in turn will eliminate smoke, soot, cinders, sparks, and fire hazards; reduce noise, bring down the time for despatching at terminals, and stand-by losses; and increase the daily mileage by providing for longer runs and more nearly continuous service between general repair periods." Use of the new fuel has already gone beyond the experimental stage, as "over eight million tons of it are now being used annually in the United States for industrial kilns and furances." With this fuel, it is said, a locomotive having the boiler filled with cold water may be brought under maximum steam pressure within an hour. It seems to have the three potential virtues of saving time, labor, and money.

The world's gold output a century ago, says The Statist, averaged about $7,300,000 annually, the bulk of which was derived from workings in the Ural Mountains. Gradually other sources of supply came to be added to the Russian production and large increases occurred. Such gains were especially marked in the late forties and early fifties of the last century, consequent on the discoveries made in California and Australia. The greatest discovery so far has been that of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. In 1886 the Rand was proclaimed a gold field, production commenced, and by 1899 the output was at the rate of $97,300,000 a year. For 1916 the production was a record one of $192,200,000, and at the present time the Rand alone produces 41 per cent of the total gold output of the world, while the whole of Africa contributes over 47 per cent. For many years Victoria was the premier producer of gold of the Australian continent, but now it yields comparatively small amounts. In New Zealand and Queensland finds were reported early in the sixties. Some $3,791,000,000 is given as the value of the American output since the first California finds in 1847-48.

April 7, 1917

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