Back To The Land

There is something in man that makes him love the great outdoors. He may not reach the goal of his ambition, for the reason that his love of man makes him settle in crowded cities. But the most lonely place on earth is the large city. Let a stranger come to New York or other large eastern city and he is appalled at the crowds of human beings and their indifference to the passing of others. A man might live in the same block in a large city for years, yet he may never know who is his next door neighbor. Man lives in cities so as to have the company of other men, yet in such cities he finds that his acquaintance will not be nearly so large as it would be if he had selected a small village. Cities have little community of interest and only in a crisis do men and women ever think along the same lines. During the great world war people were brought closer together – more than anything that has ever happened – and even in large cities people were beginning to know and appreciate each other. Wars have the effect. When the great common interest of the whole world is settled on war it is hard to get people to think along any other line. The stories that in peace times would be of interest to the great masses of the people are not now placed on the front pages of our papers but go back in the less conspicuous parts of the paper and the war news has the front page. For a man to get on the front page now he must fall out of a balloon or have some other unusual accident or he will not receive a passing notice. This is war, and nothing else is so interesting.


If some great man could stir an interest in the people such as has been stirred by war, that man could raise money enough to build a checker-board of roads, six miles apart, all over America. When preparedness was first being advocate by the far seeing men of the nation, I heard Mr. Bryan make a speech. He said that the war crowd was advocating the spending of five hundred million dollars and that if these warriors were granted that amount of money they would make it a billion the next year. He said further that five hundred million dollars would build roads over the United States that would be only six miles apart and run from ocean to ocean. At that great meeting thirty thousand people applauded to the echo everything Mr. Bryan said and in just a short time that same people applauded everything another speaker said when he told of the billions that America was spending in the big war. The great networks of roads has been forgotten and nothing but war is even though of.

– anyone reading this will have noticed the time this was written and realised that we are now marking the 100th anniversary –

But, to get back to my story. Men and women love the great outdoors and most of them would go back to the earth if they did not have to give up their associates and the luxuries that town life brings. Men and women will stand all kinds of hardships in order to get outdoor life for a few days but at the end of their vacation they are pleased when they can turn on the warm water in their bath tubs and see their homes lit by electricity and gas. The conveniences of the city are the great drawbacks that keep man from going back to the farm. Let a community interest electricity, running water, mail deliveries, easy access to shopping districts and the farm will come into its own. Make it possible for the farming communities to have all modern conveniences along with amusement gathering place and the cities would be depopulated in a short time. Put a woman on a farm where she must draw her own water, fill her lamps with coal oil, heat her irons by a fire, carry in her wood for such fires and have all of the drudgery of the farm, and none of the comforts of the city, that woman soon tires and she either grows old and worn out or she leaves the country to go back to the hardships of city life; the lack of pure air, the lack of healthy surroundings and all the ills that go with a city, in order to get the few luxuries that city life affords.

I lived a short time on a farm where there were lamps to fill, water to pump and everything that was primitive. I had to strike a match as I went from room to room and of all the things I missed, the greatest hardships was the lack of electricity. The first night I went into town and back to my city home, I was like a “kid” with a new toy; I went from room to room, threw on each switch as I went and from there to the bath where steaming water was to be had and the first thing I knew every light in the whole house was lit, and I reveled in the world’s greatest discovery—electricity.

Out here on Puget Sound we have the best climate in the whole world. I do not ask you to believe me. I am not bragging on our country, and I say it without the least boast, the Puget Sound climate beats any climate in the world. Come with me and live on Puget Sound for two years and you will never live anywhere else without longing for the time you may once again live on Puget Sound. You do not believe it until they had once lived here and then returned to what they looked back upon as a climate that beat Puget Sound; but a short time away convinced them and in thousands of cases they have returned to Puget Sound where they hope to live out the allotted time. I had a friend who married a girl who was raised in one of Ohio’s cities. This girl loved that old city back home and she was always comparing it to Puget Sound, and to Puget Sound’s detriment. This girl’s husband was called by war work back east. He went through the Panama Canal and from there to his old Ohio home. Before leaving the Sound he told his wife—“You have always wanted to go back to your Ohio home, and I must take back several ships to Atlantic waters. Suppose you go back and I will, on my way back, visit you, and come again for another trip to the Atlantic coast.” The wife was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing her dear old home and her husband had hardly reached the Straits before she was on her way to the middle west, or as we would say—“back east.” The husband went through the canal, came out to Hampton Roads, delivered his ship and back to the middle west he went. He found his wife all right, but with her trunk packed and she said—“Take me home. I have seen all the folks and I must get back to dear old Puget Sound.” The husband said—“When we left home it was “Dear old Cleveland—why the change?” His wife answered “Puget Sound for me the rest of my life.” So they came back. The husband must make several more trips to the Atlantic Coast, but in the meantime his wife will stay on “dear, old Puget Sound,” just as you would if you once put in a year here.

sequoia2Out here on Puget Sound men have big ideas and those ideas come true. If you will get a shipping report you will find that Puget Sound is building steel ships faster than any other part of the world and that in Seattle alone there are twenty-five thousand men employed in building either steel or wooden ships and that these yards are never quiet for one moment in the day or night and that on each eight hour shift thousands of rivets are being driven and Uncle Sam is building a merchant marine that grows faster than the U-boats can sink the world’s ships. Seattle contains nearly a half million people and thirty years ago this city did not have twenty thousand. Seattle is the outlet for the big Alaska trade, and every country in the Orient sends ships to Seattle’s wharves. Seattle is growing as no other city in the world, and when it comes to health, for years this city has stood first in the least number of deaths to the size of the population. Seattle is the most healthful place in the world and that is why Puget Sound is loved by every inhabitant.

Near Seattle there are twenty thousand acres of land that was once a virgin forest. The trees that stood on this great tract of land were in many cases so large that even California Red-woods must take a back seat. The Puget Mill Company of Seattle has for twenty years been cutting off this great forest, and that great mill has shipped the lumber to nearly every port in the world. Forests are easy to clear away, but it takes centuries for trees to grow and as a result the Puget Mill Company found themselves with a great tract of land that would produce anything that such a climate would grow. Hazelnuts sprang up where the great trees once grew; in many places filberts were started, and lo and behold, it was discovered that these great nuts could be grown in abundance on the soild that would produce their uncultivated ancestors, the hazelnut.

Experts on soil were hired and they were placed on these lands to see what could be raised and what fruits would do best. These experts went to work and soon discovered that after the land was cleared almost anything could be produced that would grow in a climate like Puget Sound. They discovered that filberts were natural to the soil, that all kinds of berries grew in abundance; the wild blackberries native to the climate seemed to spring up from nowhere. The great stumps left by the woodsmen were burned out in many cases and in their places came the hazelnut and the blackberry. Everything, they found, would grow as things have grown in the best lands of the Puget Sound basin. Following the discoveries in the things that would grow, inventions were tried as to the best way to rid the lands acres placed under cultivation. With experiments down the line, the Puget Mill Company owners decided that on this great twenty thousand acres they would build homes where the people who loved the great outdoors could live, have plenty of fresh air, lots of mother earth, and still have the comforts of a modern city.

Everett, a few miles north of Seattle, is another growing city that has a great future. This wonderful “City of Smokestacks,” in order to become closer to Seattle, Washington’s metropolis, soon promoted, with the assistance of Seattle’s money men, a fine electric road, and this road runs through the heart of the Puget Mill Company’s twenty thousand acre tract. That road brought Seattle within forty-five minutes of this land. Then began the building of a great home center; a place where men and women could get back to the soil, be within easy reach of a good market and at the same time have the comforts of modern conveniences at their country homes.

Into Puget Sound run great rivers; these rivers, many of them, come from the great rivers, many of them, come from the great mountain ranges, the Cascades. In these mountains are great water powers and these are so easily developed that electricity sells in the Sound cities for less than it does any other place in the United States. These great water powers make it possible for the Puget Mill Company to give everyone who lives at Alderwood Manor electricity as cheaply as they could get it in town. From wells can be pumped by electricity water that has a health giving quality as good as the world ever drank. With cheap electricity all labor can be done with less hard work than in any other place outside of a modern city. An abundance of wood can be had for the cutting and drag saws can be had to do the work.

While things were being gotten ready at Alderwood Manor the Puget Mill Company put in a poultry plant. This plant is modern in every respect; the incubators that have hatched the thousands of chicks for the experiment farm are all being run with electricity farm are all being run with electricity, and the man in charge is not a poultry theorist but one who has made a big success with a commercial egg plant.

I visited Alderwood Manor a short time ago and I had gone over this same land when the trial was such as took a man with a sense of direction or that man would get lost. Today through this great twenty thousand acre tract runs a concrete road that connects Everett with Seattle, and thousands of automobiles pass back and forth each way. On this road run all kinds of stages that make Seattle or Everett in a few minutes and each half hour comes the Interurban Electric Road that lands one in the heart of each city.

Alderwood Manor is the center of this community that will yet contain thousands of people. The Puget Mill Company makes it possible for any man to get a home on these lands and it also will build that home and make it possible for the man with a family to begin to make a living from the very start. It will take years to populate this big tract of land, but when that time comes every five acres will have a home and these homes will contain all modern conveniences and in the heart of this tract will be a village where brick stores will be built, modern schools erected, big places of amusement will be built and community centers brought about where the whole population can gather. They will have all the advantages of a city and none of the great drawbacks. Every family will have their home where they can keep a cow, own a dog, have chickens and produce every kind of vegetable that they may need. They can, from an acre of berries, raise all they want for themselves and have great quantities to sell to the never failing market of Seattle on the south or a big growing market that is only a few minutes to the north, at Everett.

Seattle will furnish work for all the men and the girls as they grow up and the electric cars will take them home at night to the great health giving air of the country where the Cascades can be viewed on the east and the Olympic range in the west. Their homes will be lighted with electricity and their water drawn by pumps run with nature’s cheapest and best power the world has yet discovered.

That “Something” in man can be satisfied at Alderwood Manor, as it cannot in any other place I know of in America. After the war it will be “back to the land.” The soldier element of this country will never be satisfied to spend his time in the crowded quarters and those outdoor places that contain modern conveniences will be the first populated. Then Alderwood Manor will gets its full growth and contentment will exist for those fortunate enough to make their homes on that great twenty thousand acre tract.

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