MY TRIP TO AMERICA




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On July 28, 1897 I made a trip by train to Niagara. My goodness, it sure looked a whole lot different as to when we passed by in wintertime. Tourist-trains all over, day in, day out. The hotels were loaded with visitors and a lot of activity going on. It was hard to comprehend it all. Of course, on a summer day it is the place to be for relaxing and entertainment. I've been there about six weeks. Worked for four weeks and took 14 days to look around. From Lake Erie to Lake Ontario is 13.5 miles. Close to the waterfall one can board a small wagon that is going down on a railtrack to a boat. For half a dollar you can take a tour to the waterfalls.
In the center of the falls, that is to say on the top before the water goes down, there are four islands. The one called Goats-island is connected to the shore by means of a long bridge. Right next to this island are three smaller ones, the three sister islands. Around and in between these small islands the water was running. That way the waterfalls are actually divided into two parts. The American Falls, being 1000 feet wide and falling down 160 feet, and the Canadian or Horseshoe Falls, being 2600 feet wide and 158 feet deep. Next to the falls is a small pier where the boat is going to. One gets a southwester on the head and a rubbercoat to keep dry and then walk underneath the fall. The water falls down over your head. Half an hour up to Lake Ontario is the Whirlpool. The water is turning around in such a way that even a dog would not be able to swim across. It is said that half of the water passes under ground and ends up in Lake Ontario. At one side is a forrest called Devil's Hole. And at the other side runs an electric streetcar across a viaduct that is 500 feet long and 135 feet above the ravines. Looking down from there is scary if you think of it that our steeple is only 96 feet high. Two railway-bridges cross the Whirlpool Rapids. The one called Cantilever Bridge was built in 1883. They started in April and in December of that same year it was finished. This bridge is 910 feet long and 245 feet above the water that passes it in tearing pace. The other bridge, a bit further away and owned by another company, is 1100 feet long and 226 feet above the water. This bridge was under construction when I was there. The trains always make a stop giving the passengers a nice view on the waterfalls. Also there is a suspension bridge voor travellers and carriages. One has to pay toll to cross it. That bridge was built in 1869 and was originally made of wood. Later, in 1889, it was built of steel. The suspension is by means of big cables that are tightened to towers and amazingly strong anchored in huge foundations. The span is 1268 feet from the middle of one tower to the middle of the other.

Than there is the electric powerplant where those worldfamous streetcars for 40 persons start off, that is worth a visit too. The machine is driven by water from the waterfalls and considering the fact that it takes 3000 horsepower for the streetcars to run, one can easily picture that it is something enormous. The water is locked through just before the waterfalls, a stream of 200 feet wide. That flood goes down 62 feet onto a machine that drives the dynamo's. The water then runs through a tunnel of 600 feet long that ends at the foot of the waterfalls. And the real beautiful designed gardens with fontains blowing water sky high in the air. For all of that nature was used, and of course for much, much more that passed my eyes and mind.
It was pretty busy with work too. At 11 a.m. we arrived and at 1 p.m. I already had a boardinghouse and got to work. In those four weeks we have built also four houses in a really revolutionary way. Hurry up! It were all Germans. My boss his name was Hermann Hermanns Hesse. From there I took the train on a Saturday evening and arrived on Sunday at 12 noon in Sandy Hill in the northern part of New York State. That's where Jasper was, working for a farmer. This farmer milked twenty cows and bought the milk of about another 100. That milk was pasteurized and centrifuged so it turned into cream, skimmed milk and whole milk. It was sold in the city in bottles and empty bottles were swapped by full ones in the morning. There were those Jersey cows too and they hardly produced any milk at all. It was almost cream and it was too fat to drink. That farmer also owned a large chickenfarm; all sorts of chickens, a big breedingmachine and a fake mother. I watched it often on Sunday morning and sometimes you could see the young chickens come out the eggs. It was said that there was no money in this chicken business. But by golly, it sure was great to see.

The corn was harvested in summer. That was done by means of a sort of cutting equipment. Then it was taken to a chopping machine where the stalk, leaves and cob were grinded. A belt was connected to the machine transporting it up to the storage room. Two men spread it out and kind of ensiled it. To the side of the storage was a tube with shutters in it. In wintertime the chopped corn was thrown down into a railroad lorry which drove alongside the rows with the cows. The cows were standing with their head pointing towards the track and with a manger in front of them. They were not leashed to a rope or chain but were standing in between two sticks, one of them locking the cow up by means of a spring. That way they could not get hurt or injure each other. The stables were only just above floorlevel. There also was a selfworking drinking-water supply. That was almost similar to what we know overhere except that a reservoir was used that was placed on the beams. Water was pumped into it by a small selfsupporting machine in the mountains at about a 15 minutes walk. That's where the well was located and the water from it was locked and then ran through a tube. Because of the pressure a pump was activated and filled the reservoir. That pump was no bigger than a small butter-barrel and very simple. It was made of copper, that would not rust. There was an ice-shed too. The ice was saved in parts of 25x30x50 centimetre and covered with sawdust to keep it in a fairly good condition.

Soon I found work again with a couple of brothers. With one of them I didn't get along too well, he acted very distinguished. But the other one was normal and the two of us got along pretty well.
Ate de Boer, whom we had met during our journey, worked there in a paperfactory. There were quit a lot of factories. The big Hudsonriver, more than 100 meters wide at that location, (the same river that ends up in the ocean near New York and also crossed by Brooklyn Bridge) had a dam breaking the water and locking it through a big tube to a pulp-mill. Pulp was made of trees which were shortened by a machine. The trunks arrive by drifting in the river, chopped to pieces of about two or three feet, grinded to pulp and turned into a tough bulk that was folded to a blanket of 100 pounds. Later on that pulp was used at the paperfactories to produce all kinds of paper. In the factory worked three shifts (8 hours each) of 200 men and a permanent day-shift for loading and unloading. The factory had an electric  tram-car to transport the rolls amd piles of paper to the  warehouses. There were ten steam-engines so something really happened there as you can imagine. There was also a paperfactory where they only made wallpaper, at another one just bags were fabricated. The laborers were mainly girls and women.
That winter I couldn't get a job but finally I got work without pay. Instead I could board at these folks which I did. I have done that more often: there was a crisis at the time. Two dollars, that's the most I earned for a day's work. And look at it now: 35 to 40 cents per hour. That helps but life is almost the same.

The election for president was a busy time. Many speakers and candidates visited the cities by train and caused a lot of hazzle and at each corner in the cities it was quite spectacular in the evening because of that.



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