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Richard, George (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 59, Number 5 (Nov. 1957)

The U.S. Forest Products Laboratory,   pp. 16-21


Page [17]


)roducts -laboratory
  Some research was already under way in little projects
in a half-dozen places-a paper laboratory in Boston;
strength testing at schools like Purdue, Washington,
California; seasoning investigations at Yale; some pre-
servative experiments in Washington, D. C. The scatter-
shot nature of this cooperative research program had
become painfully clear to its Forest Service sponsors. Ac-
cordingly, men like William L. Hall, in charge of
the research, and his dynamic chief, Gifford Pinchot,
promptly sought other solutions when Congress rejected
their proposal of a laboratory. Thus it came to pass that
the Laboratory was born in Madison, Wis., instead of
Washington, D. C., when the University of Wisconsin
offered a new building on University avenue complete with
heat, power and lights.
  The infant Laboratory was formally dedicated in 1910,
the first of its kind in the world. It was a unique adven-
ture in research dedicated to the concept that men trained
in various sciences could work more efficiently on mutual
research problems if they worked together, as teams.
  And so a small but eager group of men and women
began the work that was eventually to make itself felt
in every sawmill, wood-working plant, furniture factory,
paper mill, veneer and plywood mill-in every wood-
using shop in the nation. In due course its significance
became recognized the world around, as country after
country set up similar research organizations.
  There is scarcely a commercial product made of wood
today that doesn't reflect that research. Lumber is better
sawed, graded, seasoned, stored. Design of wood struc-
tures-houses, churches, schools, factories, bridges, boats,
aircraft-is based on it. New materials, products, methods
-whole new industries-have developed from it.
  The "Madison Lab" has long since ceased to be alone
in its field, of course; various State and private industrial
organizations have done much, and their growing con-
tributions are badly needed. And, the forward-looking in-
dustries of the Nation have spent time, money, and brains
putting those research findings to work. At best, research
can only point the way.
T ODAY IT'S RELATIVELY easy to find out what re-
    search has done and can do for the forest products
industries. People generally understand what is meant by
the term "scientific research" and how the scientist oper-
ates. They know that he uses special tools in his labora-
tory to get basic information that he analyzes to work out
generalized conclusions as to whys and wherefores. It
This article is condensed from the Woodworker Magazine
-4.


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