Journal-News , Wednesday, April 4, 2001
Lorenzo Langstroth, 'Bee Man of Oxford'
By Jim Blount
He was affectionately known as "the Bee Man of Oxford," but his fame and influence extended over the world. Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth was educated to be a clergyman and educator, but his accomplishments as an apiarist earned him recognition as "the Father of American Beekeeping."
The longtime Oxford resident "invented the moveable-frame beehive which revolutionized the method of keeping bees," according to the Concise Dictionary of American Biography.
He was born Dec. 25, 1810, in Philadelphia, one of eight children of John G. and Rebecca Dunn Langstroth. In 1827 he entered Yale, and four years later was a student at the Yale Divinity School.
His interest in apiculture developed as he moved through a series of Congregational pastorates, teaching jobs and principal posts in churches and schools in Andover and Greenfield, Mass., and Philadelphia through 1852. Health problems limited his career, but didn't dull his curiosity about bees.
Langstroth had established an apiary and was seeking improvements to existing hive designs. "What was needed," said Orphia D. Smith in a 1948 article for the Ohio Historical Society, "was a hive that would permit inspection without disturbing the bees, and which would permit removal of the combs without waste of honey and without injury to the bees."
Langstroth's breakthrough came in 1851. With the help of a cabinetmaker, he started building moveable-frame hives the next year in Greenfield, Mass. To obtain needed capital, he granted a dentist and former parishioner a half interest in his patent.
"Until 1851, beekeepers harvested honey and beeswax by killing the colonies inhabiting the hives," explained the Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. "In that year," the article said, "Langstroth discovered the principle of bee space" in which "bees leave spaces of about 0.23 inches between wax combs."
The encyclopedia said "Langstroth's discovery made it possible to remove individual frames from a beehive and to harvest honey and wax without destroying the colony. It also became possible to control disease and to maintain a larger number of colonies." Today "the standard hive is called the Langstroth hive, and its dimensions are those described by its inventor in 1851."
Langstroth next started an extensive writing career, producing his first manual for apiarists, Langstroth on the Honey-bee . In 1853, he published a book, considered the first American study on the physiology and habits of the honeybee and the principles of its culture. New editions were published in 1857 and 1859, and later versions were printed in several languages. In 1854, he began writing for periodicals, starting with the American Agriculturist.
In 1858 Langstroth moved to Oxford, then home to the Western Female Seminary, the Oxford Female Institute and the Oxford Female College as well as Miami University. Thanks to the generosity of a brother-in-law, he moved his wife, Anne, and family into an eight-room brick house, now called the Langstroth Cottage.
With his son, James, and the assistance of local cabinetmakers, Langstroth built an apiary and planted apple trees on the 10 acres surrounding his house. Other details, all for the benefit of his bee culture, included a one-acre formal garden and fields of clover and buckwheat.
The "Bee Man of Oxford" imported bees and developed with new breeds, sharing his findings in articles in bee periodicals. He mailed thousands of queens to beekeepers across the nation and abroad. Langstroth also was active in the Presbyterian church.
"The moveable comb hive and Langstroth's manual for beekeepers simplified beekeeping immeasurably," observed Mrs. Smith, but because of his poor health and disinterest in business matters, he "profited very little from his invention and his writings, yet he is recognized at home and abroad as having done more than any other man to make beekeeping profitable."
In 1887, after 29 years in Oxford, he moved to Dayton to reside with a daughter. He died Oct. 6, 1895, as he was about to preach a sermon. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Dayton under a headstone that properly identifies him as "The Father of American Beekeeping."
The Langstroth Cottage later belonged to the Western College for Women and since a 1974 merger to Miami University. The house at 303 Patterson Avenue (U. S. 27), opposite the Shriver Center, was built in 1856 and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.
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Journal-News , Wednesday, April 11, 2001
Hot metal trains linked New Miami and Middletown steel operations
By Jim Blount
Butler County once claimed a unique railroad that operated entirely within its boundaries. During about 63 years of service it was known by several names -- including the hot line, hot metal line, ladle car line, thermos bottle line and the Armco Railroad. It remains an 11.2-mile freight railroad connecting New Miami and Middletown.
From 1928 until 1991 it linked Armco's Hamilton plant at New Miami and the company's Middletown Works, hauling some of the hottest and heaviest cargo on a U. S. railroad.
The $1.5 million project -- completed in 117 working days in 1928 -- included laying 2.75 miles of new track between New Miami and Woodsdale and building a sturdy bridge over the Great Miami River.
East of the river, the hot line continued to Middletown over the existing right-of-way of the former Louisville, Cincinnati & Dayton Railroad, which, despite its ambitious name, operated only between Hamilton and Middletown.
The 1928 project also required construction of a viaduct over the New York Central (Big Four) tracks and Yankee Road to provide entry to Armco Steel's Middletown Works.
The Hamilton Coke & Iron Co. and its predecessors had operated coke ovens and blast furnaces at New Miami (then called Coke Otto) since 1901. In 1927 it was acquired jointly by Koppers Co. of Pittsburgh and the American Rolling Mill Co. of Middletown (later Armco and now AK Steel). Eventually, Armco obtained full control of the New Miami facilities.
The new railroad line -- shared with the Baltimore & Ohio (a predecessor of CSX) -- opened June 25, 1928. It started with three hot metal ladle cars, each with a capacity of 150 tons. The B&O also used the line to deliver ore and other materials to the steel mill, plus freight to and from other industries in Rockdale and Excello.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the line occasionally carried passengers on B&O shuttle trains to and from the LeSourdsville Lake amusement park on special days. This included the annual company picnic of the Champion Paper & Fibre Co. in Hamilton.
The function of the specially-built "thermos bottle cars" was to transport white-hot molten iron from the 700-ton blast furnace at New Miami to Armco open hearth furnaces in Middletown. In 1928, the hot metal train made four round trips a day with Armco locomotives and cabooses and company crews.
By 1965, Armco operated 19 hot metal cars, upgraded to a 200-ton capacity. Each 16-wheel unit measured 59.5-feet in length and 13 feet 10.5 inches in height, hauling iron approaching 2,800 degrees.
A company publication said there were less than 700 of the unique cars in service in the country. The same source described them as "resembling an over-stuffed sausage on a spit." P. G. Lang, the railroad's engineer of bridges, described the span's capacity as "equivalent to Cooper's E-90 loading."
Also new was the elevated entry track into Armco. Lang said it included a plate girder viaduct of about 800 feet in length, plus a timber trestle of about 940 feet.
Armco's New Miami and Middletown complexes also required massive rail yards, including some special equipment.
Raw materials came to the New Miami plant by rail in standard hopper cars that were unloaded by "a patented movable car dumper, which has a capacity of 10 to 15 cars per hour," a newspaper explained in 1936. "One feature of the car dumper is that it moves under its own power along the entire frontage of the ore yard, which is 460 feet long and 144 feet wide and has storage space for 260,000 tons of iron ore," the writer noted.
It hasn't been the colorful hot metal line for about 10 years, but it is still an active railroad connecting AK Steel in Middletown with the CSX mainline that links Cincinnati, Hamilton, Dayton, Lima, Toledo and Detroit.
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Journal-News , Wednesday, April 18, 2001
John B. Tytus changed the steel industry
By Jim Blount
Working as a laborer in a steel mill in 1904 required a strong body, not a bachelor degree in English literature from Yale University. A 29-year-old Middletown native probably never mentioned Chaucer, Shakespeare or Kipling, nor his Ivy League diploma, as he started his career at a relatively new company in his hometown that year.
John B. Tytus was seven years out of Yale when he joined the American Rolling Mill Company, which had started operations in 1901. He was a supervisor within two years of his initial employment and on his way to transforming operations of his employer -- later known as Armco and now AK Steel -- and the entire steel industry.
Tytus was born Dec. 6, 1875, in Middletown, the oldest son of a paper mill operator. After graduation from Yale in 1897, he returned to Middletown to work in the shipping department of his father's mill. When his father died, the family business was sold and Tytus joined a bridge-building company in Dayton.
In June 1904, he was back in Middletown, learning steelmaking. When the company opened a new plant in Zanesville in 1906, he was named superintendent, a year before he married Marjorie Denny. In 1909, Tytus returned to Middletown to help build and operate the new East Works.
In 1921, when Armco acquired open hearth and blast furnaces in Ashland, Ky., Tytus recalled his boyhood fascination with the Fourdrinier machines in his father's mill that turned wood pulp into a continuous sheet of paper. He thought it could be applied to producing steel. Other steelmakers had tried to develop the continuous process without success.
An Armco writer later offered this simplified description of the Tytus system: "The continuous process begins with the hot ingot at the blooming mill and moves forward in a straight line through mills and furnaces acting successively on the product."
Armco leaders -- including George M. Verity, its founder, and Charles R. Hook, general superintendent -- authorized the Tytus plan for a new continuous rolling mill at Ashland. The project -- a $10 million gamble -- opened in January 1924, but not without problems.
"After some early breakdowns and repeated testing, the plant began to turn out sheet steel at a rate many times greater than that achieved by the old process," noted historian Carl M. Becker. "Within three years it was producing 40,000 tons a month, a figure far in excess of the estimated 18,000 tons needed to justify the capital investment."
Becker said "the continuous mill won almost immediate acceptance within the steel industry. Nearly all large companies, under licensing granted by Armco, began to employ Tytus' invention. By 1940 at least 26 continuous mills had been constructed in the United States, at a cost of more than $500 billion."
An account by Armco in 1936 said "it is easy to grasp the tremendous economic significance of such a change in manufacture. This great reduction in cost, together with the lifting of one of the hardest jobs in the industry onto the shoulders of sleek, smoothly running machinery, marked an outstanding epoch in the industry."
"Long, expensive and involved engineering experiments were necessary," the article said, "for traditional practices had to be discarded and new ways found. Instruments had to be developed for taking infinitesimal measurements, for it was found that as small a difference as .001 of an inch had a decided influence on the finished product."
His hot strip mill contribution -- called "a landmark in the history of technology" -- earned Tytus the 1935 Gary Memorial Medal of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the steel industry's most prestigious honor.
Tytus died June 2, 1944, and is buried in Woodside Cemetery, within sight of the Middletown steel complex that he helped build and guide.
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Journal-News , Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Morris Taylor, father of Hueston Woods Park
By Jim Blount
Hueston Woods State Park is named after Matthew Hueston, who came to the area in the 1790s as a packhorse driver for Gen. Anthony Wayne's army. But the "Father of Hueston Woods Park" was Morris G. "Mose" Taylor, a 20th century Hamilton savings and loan executive.
Taylor was president of the Dollar Savings and Loan Association in Hamilton in 1937 when a man from Franklin, Ohio, asked for a loan to help settle the Hueston estate.
"He said the heirs were anxious to get their share and the only way to do it was to sell the woods to a Cincinnati company which wanted to cut it down and make lumber of it," Taylor recalled in a 1975 interview. "He wanted to buy out their shares to keep the woods intact and needed cash."
"When I found that most of the farm was in Preble County," Taylor said, "I told him our company's policy was to lend money only in Butler County and that very little of the woods was in Butler. So I reluctantly turned down his application. But this man's problem caused me to drive out the next Sunday to see what the woods looked like."
After inspecting the woods north of Oxford, Taylor said he contacted the man and offered to buy the property for the same $20,000 price mentioned by the lumber company.
"So I bought the woods and immediately began a low-key campaign to get the state of Ohio to buy it for exactly what I paid for it and to use it as a park," Taylor said.
In 1941, the state repaid Taylor the $20,000, plus about $1,000 he had invested to restore a sugar camp that had been destroyed by fire. "All I was interested in was in getting my costs out of the project, and to know that eventually the park would be developed. And to think that we would have been satisfied with just saving the woods. Everything is much bigger and better than we ever dreamed," Taylor said in 1975.
The park idea advanced in the 1940s through the efforts of state legislators Raymond H. Burke of Hamilton, Cloyd Acton of Eaton, and Stanley McKie of Cincinnati. (Acton Lake in the park is named for the Preble County legislator.)
In February 1944, during World War II, the Ohio Forestry Department announced interest in developing the woods into a recreational center. In 1945, the legislature appropriated money to buy more land. Within a year, the state had acquired a total of 2,303 acres.
The park began to take shape in the summer of 1956 with completion of the dam across Four Mile Creek. There have been periodic improvements and additions since the mid 1950s.
In 1974, Gov. John J. Gilligan honored Taylor with the Governor's Award for Community Action in recognition of his unselfish action in protecting the 377 acres of wooded Hueston land.
Taylor was not alone in campaigning for the state park. Among the others instrumental in its creation were Dr. Robert Hefner and John Caldwell of Oxford, and members of the Oxford Kiwanis Club and the Oxford Woman's Club.
Taylor -- born in Salem, Ohio, in 1892 -- came to Hamilton in 1903 with his family. He was graduated from Hamilton High School in 1910, from Miami University in 1914 and from the University of Cincinnati law school in 1917. After U. S. Army service in World War I, he practiced law in Hamilton before joining Dollar Federal in 1921.
"The Father of Hueston Woods Park" -- who was a member of the Miami University Board of Trustees from 1953 to 1968 -- died March 15, 1977, in Hamilton.
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