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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for the ‘Edison Botanic Research Corporation’ Category

John Burroughs and the “Vagabonds”

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 7, 2018

John Burroughs and Thomas Edison

In 1914 popular writer and naturalist John Burroughs arrived with his friend Henry Ford to visit Thomas Edison for the first time at his estate in Fort Myers. Having grown up working on a family farm in New York, Burroughs had long cultivated an interest in nature and enjoyed the outdoors. Burroughs was a member of early expeditions with Ford and Edison into the Everglades, where the group enjoyed discovering nature and some time away from hectic everyday life.

These early Everglades adventures evolved into camping trips across the country, many of which included John Burroughs. The inquisitive Thomas Edison spent many hours enjoying nature with Burroughs, tapping into the naturalist’s vast knowledge of plants and animals.

Burroughs chronicled the trips in scrapbooks which included journals and photos of the self-described “vagabonds.” Visit our “Into the Wild” exhibit in the Edison Ford museum to learn more.

 

Edison & Ford Winter Estates is Now a National Historic Chemical Landmark

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 25, 2014

The work of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in rubber research has been acknowledged by the American Chemical Society (ACS) for its importance in chemical research. In May, the ACS recognized the Edison Botanical Research Laboratory at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

This is the first site in Florida to receive this designation to honor Thomas Edison’s contribution to the field of Chemistry. As the primary rubber research site, Edison Ford worked with two other sites which will also be designated as landmarks; Thomas Edison National Historic Park on June 6th and Henry Ford Greenfield Village on September 20th.

Edison Botanic Research Laboratory Photos 1

Edison inside the lab Compressed

Edison’s Golden Ticket: Goldenrod | Edison Botanic Research Corporation & Lab Part II

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 23, 2011

In the late 1920’s, the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) was on a mission.  Botanical specimen collectors scoured the countryside searching for trees, vines, bushes, and botanical specimens of all types so that the EBRC lab could test the potential of each plant for rubber production.

Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and son Roger inspect the contents of a test tube in the EBRC lab | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

Which plant would produce rubber most efficiently? Believe it or not, the specimen that showed the most promise was a common weed called goldenrod.

Through careful cultivation and experimentation, Thomas Edison was able to cultivate a type of Goldenrod (Solidago Edisonia) which grew up to 12 feet high, and can still be viewed in the EBRC lab today!

A 12 foot tall strand of goldenrod | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

Did you know that big changes are currently underway in the EBRC lab? Find out more in Part III of the Edison Botanic Research Corporation series.

To learn more about cultivating plants in Florida, visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates propagating gardens.

For more information about requesting a copy of these images or any other images from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates archives, click here.

Origins | Edison Botanic Research Corporation & Lab Part I

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 9, 2011

Did you know that Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison collaborated on a major research initiative?

Beginning in 1927, and with a research lab being built the following year, the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) was created to find a domestic source for organic rubber.

EBRC founders Ford, Edison and Firestone sit on the front porch of the lab circa 1930 | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

Why was organic rubber so important?
Having only recently emerged from the World War I, the three friends were only too aware of the volatile market fluctuations of the international rubber market. To secure a future source for rubber, the EBRC tested a variety of botanic specimens to determine their potential for rubber production.

Interior of the lab | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

In typical Edison fashion, thousands of possible solutions were tested. Which produced the most rubber?  We’ll tell you all about it in Part II of the Edison Botanic Research Corporation series.

To learn more about Edison, Ford & Firestone’s quest for rubber, check out Growing American Rubber: Strategic Plants And The Politics Of National Security by Mark R. Finlay, available in the Edison & Ford Winter Estates gift shop.

For more information about requesting a copy of these images or any other images from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates archives, click here.