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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

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.

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates received the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) 2009 Phoenix Award at a reception at the Royal Palm Yacht Club, in Fort Myers, Florida on November 18, 2009.  The SATW Phoenix Awards recognize organizations actively involved in conservation, preservation and beautification that further the growth and appeal of North American travel destinations.   SATW President, Timothy O’Keefe, presented the award.

The annual award, given since 1969, is to recognize individuals or organizations actively involved in conservation, preservation, beautification and anti-pollution campaigns that further the growth and appeal of North American travel destinations.  The SATW is a non-profit professional association that works to promote responsible travel journalism and to provide professional support for its members. 

The Estates was nominated by Laurie Borman, SATW past president.  Borman said, “I saw an inspiring place where visitors can peek into the lives of two American geniuses.  These homes bring to life the exciting times and lifestyles of the 1920’s, as well as provide a compelling attraction to downtown Fort Myers.  I also visited the homes as a child on vacation, so it was especially gratifying to see that this treasure has been preserved for future generations to appreciate.”

Chris Pendleton, president & CEO of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates accepted the award and said, “We are grateful to the Society of American Travel Writers for this honor.  The Estates staff and Board of Trustees are proud of the newly completed $12 million restoration and will continue to preserve this national historic treasure to provide visitors with a unique historical, scientific, educational and cultural experience.”

For 2009 a total of five Phoenix Awards were designated, the others being, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Waterford, Virginia; World Bird Center, McAllen, Texas; Gerding Theater at the Armory, Portland, Oregon; and Main Huts and Trails, Kingsfield, Maine.