Ina recent issue we published an article on the Iron Industry of Birmingham, Ala., in which brief mention was made of the uses to which the products of the o iron furnaces of that district were applied. In continuation of the subject. we. note the advancement in a manufactures made aT, that place in the last few years. It is now about twenty years since the then little village of Birmingham became known as the posseS80r of great wealth in iron and coal. The mineral and metallic deposits were found to lie in such profusion I within her district, and in snch close proximity, that but little expense need be incurred in their transpor. tation to the furnace for reduction. At some remote period there was evidently an npheaval of the earth where now stands the city of Birmingham, with a fracturing of the various strata of the earth's crust. This upheaval and the subsequent deposit of soil formed the beautiful valley with the elevated ridges on eithpr 8ide running in a northeast and southwest direction. By this gmnd proeess of nature the formerly deeply buried strata of bituminous coal and red iron ore were rendered aecessible. For years the ridge upon the south side of this valley has been known as " Red Mountain," without any thought of great value being attached to it. At the close of the war, in 1865, every gift of nature was exalllined and utilized, and enterprising men, seeing evidences of such wealth eropping out of the earth, took advantage of the opportunity, and, by experiments, ascertained the richness of the ore. Furthpr de\"elopllIent showed the mine to bp practically inexhaustible, and accompanied with overlying beds of coal. In our illustrations we show the worl,s in w:Iich this ore is made into fine merchantable pig iron. The iron of the Birmingham district is unexcelled fors the manufacture of puddled bar iron and for purposes where it is essential that its working qualities in I the finished eastings, should be characterized by that peculiar softness in turning, boring, filing and drilling that is so pleasing to the artisan and satisfactory in the final product. The demands of those who work in iron are varied ; that, which is most satisfactory to certain manufacturers will not do for a different class. Soft iron is useful for many purposes, hut there are wany important and extensive fields in which the soft iron of the South has found no place ; notably in the use of iron for the manufacture of Bessemer steel and malleable iron. 'Peculiar qualities are required in these two very important fields of iron consumption, and it has been questioned if the Birmingham iron could come into use for these purposes. The only use of pig iron prior to the invention of Bessemer, aside from that of making eastings, was for the manufacture of wrought iron, for which purpose the softer grades of pig iron were specially adapted, also for other purposes in which the presence of such dis turbing elements as sulphur, silicon, and phosphorus did not prove injuriouR. The process discovered ty Bessemer of converting pig iron direetly into steel was found to depend for success upon the almost entire absence of these disturbing elements; the value of an iron, for the Bessemer proeess, is carefully determined by chemists. The presence of 0'1 per cent of phosphorus, or 2 per cent of silicon, unfits it for maldng Bessemer steel, although it would still be serviceable for puddling into wrought iron and converting into blistered steel. Until recently the irons made from the red ores of Birmingham contained phosphorus and silicon in quantity sufficient to prevent their use in the Besse-ner process, as analysis showed the presence of 0'8 per cent of phosphorus. The subject of elimination: of phosphorus from iron had been the study of chemists until 1878, when it was found that phosphorus would nnite with lime and float as a slag consisting of phosphate of lime. By virtue of this important discovery it has been possible to convert millions of tons of iron into steel. this being known as the "basic" process, a process in which the converter is lived with magnesite bricks, with quantities of free lime, oxygen being provided by the introduction of scrap iron or ground limonite (brown ore). This process is used in the ..open hearth" systelll, perfected by Gilchrist and Thomas. 'fhe Birmingham irons, however, were unfitted for this purpose, as the amount of phosphorus was so great as to necessitate such an amount of lime to take up the phosphorus as to be destructive to the acid lining of the converter, and the amount of silicon was too great to aomit of treatment in either a basic Bessemer converter or an open hearth furnace. It has, therefore, been found that the Southern irons produced in the old way were unfitted for Bessemer or open hearth processes. What has proved a failure, however, with chemistry as the teacher has been learnedso we are credibly informedby the union of chemistry with skillful and correct management of the heats and of the burdening of tne ore over the coke. The " Alice " furnace of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company, in Birmingham, an interior view of which we show on our front page, has, by careful management, been successful in producing pig iron from the ores of the Birmingham district, showing a percentage of considerably less than 0'1 per cent of phosphorus and 0'5 per cent of silicon. Tests of the iron have so far satisfied the chemists of such well-known steel producers as the Carnegies, Jones & Laughlin, Park Brothers, and others that alreadyas we are informed thousands of tons of this pig iron have been ordered by them from Birmingham furnaces The import-I ance of these results will be appreciated when the cheapness with which Southern ir0n can be produced is considered. Our illustrations show the ca,ting flow of the "Alice" furnace, and a perspective and sechona.l VIe'w of one of the moulds. It will be seen that the pigs are cast in iron moulds instead of sand moulds as usual. One of the main obj9cts in this method is to prevent the crusting of the exterior surface of the pig with extra silica. which would deteriomte the iron in subsequent melting. . -.- A Submerged FOIe"t. Many years ago, even so far back that the traditions of the oldest Si wash extend not thereto, there was some vast upheaval of Mother Earth on the shores of Lake Samamish that sent a portion of the Newcastle hills sliding down into the lake, with its tall evergreen forest intact, and there it is to this day. About this time of the year the waters of the lake are at their lowest. and then the tops of the tallest of these big submerged trees are out of the water, but never more than ten or twelve inches. Unfortunately for the ('uriosity seeker and traveling public generally the submerged forest is on the oppo site side of the lake from the railroad and the station i of Monohon, and very few people ever see the phe-I nomenon unless they take the time and pains necessary to reaeh it. Sam Coombs, the pioneer, is very enthusiastic concerning its beauties and mystery. He talks Chinook fluently, but with all his quizzing of the red-skinned inhabitants he has never learned anything that will throw any light on the history of the forest under water. The waters of the lake are very deep, and the bluffs back of the beach very precipitous, so that the only explanation of the freak is that either by an earthquake or some other means a great blide has been started in early times, and it went down as a mass un til it found lodgment at the bottom of the lake. At this time one can see down into the glassy, mirror-like depths of the lake for thirty feet or 1II0re. Near the banks the forest trees are interlaced at various angles and in cvnfusion, but further out in the deep water they stand straight, erect, and limbless and barkless, 100 feet tall. They are not petrified in the sense of being turned to stone, but they are preserved and appear to have stood there for ages. They are three feet I through, some of them, and so firm in texture as to be scarcely affected by a knife bla e. The great slide extended for Rome distance, and it would now be a dangerous piece of work for a steamer to attempt passage over the tops of those tall trees. Even now the water along shore is very deep, and a ten foot pole would sink perpendicularly out of sight ten feet from the shore ! line. All O\'er this country are found strata of blue clay, which in the winter season are very treacherous, and given the least bit of opportunity will slide away, carrying everything above with them. This is the theory of the submerged forest of Lake Samamish. It probably was growing above one of these blne earth strata, and heavy rains, or probably an earthquake, set it moving. The quantity of earth carried down was so great that the positions of the trees on the portion carried away were little affected. It is hardly to be believed that the earth suddenly sank down at this point and became a portion of the beautiful lake. Few such places exist. There is a place in the famous Tum water Canon, near Leavenworth, which is in some respects similar. At some early time a portion of the great mountain side came rushing down and buried itself at the bottom of the canon. Now t!lere is a considerable lake, and in the center stand tall, limbless trees, different in species fromthose growing along the canon. At Green Lake, near Georgetown. Col.a lake which is 10,000 feet above sea levelis a submerged forest of pine trees, sOllle hundred feet tall, but notso numerous as in Lake Samamish. This same theory explains their presence as given above.Seattle Times. -,_.. 'rhe Discovery of Argon. Lord Rayleigh and Prof. WUl. Ramsay called at the United States Embassy, in London, recently, when Mr. Jawes R. Roosevelt, first secretary, handed to them a check for $10,000, wh ich had been granted by the Smithsonian Institution, at Washington, as the first Hodgkins prize, for their memorandum pn HArgon, a new constituency of the atmosphere," embodying a most important discovery in connection with atmospheric air.
This article was originally published with the title "The Iron Industries of Birmingham, Ala" in Scientific American 73, 25, 391 (December 1895)