Professor Kirtley F. Mather has been appointed a member of the committee to consider the construction of a model of the United States, half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, to be exhibited in the Chicago Century of Progress celebration in 1933. This model, which is a replica of the whole country in miniature on a scale of one foot to the mile, has been proposed by Dr. Henry A. Buehler, State Geologist of Missouri, and Director of the Missouri Bureau of Geology and Mines, stationed at Rolla, Missouri.
Following the dimensions of the country, the model would be 2,807 feet at its longest point east and west, representing the distance between West Quoddy Head, near Eastport, Maine, to a point due west on the Pacific Ocean. The longest north-south dimension of the model would be 1,598 feet, representing the distance from the southernmost point in Texas to a point due north to the 49th parallel.
The proposal is being studied by a group of geologists, who have been asked by the National Research Council's Science Advisory Committee to recommend a plan for the geological exhibit at the Chicago Fair.
The Science Advisory Committee consists of forty leading scientists from all sections of the country, who are cooperating with the Chicago Fair trustees in working out a science theme for the exposition.
Dr. Buehler's plan contemplates that the model be constructed preferably on an island in Lake Michigan in such a manner as to have the coast lines of the United States represented by the edges of the island.
It is proposed that the vertical scale be ten times that of the horizontal scale. Thus the Rocky Mountains of Colorado would be 20 to 30 feet above the level of the lake and 10 to 20 feet above ground. The Palisades of the Hudson would be a foot high. The Grand Canyon would be 250 feet long and ten feet deep. Niagara Falls would be four inches high.
Bodies of water, according to the proposal, would be, represented by actual water, and the rivers would be flowing streams.
The paths along which the public would pass to view the model would represent the principal national motor highways, and subsidiary routes would lead to representations of places of interest in various sections of the country such as Niagara Falls, Chicago, Yellowstone Park, Puget Sound Region, southern California, the Grand Canyon of Colorado.
It is also proposed that a narrow gauge railway be built over the area following the routes of the principal trunk lines equipped with miniature trains large enough to carry visitors, with stations along the route. The round trip in which the entire country could be seen would take about twenty minutes, covering about one and a half to two miles of riding, which would be a bit faster than walking, according to the proposal.
As one of the prime functions which would be the presentation of geological relationships there would be provided big geological cross sections in various parts of the model. These might be in the form of trenches following state boundaries or at other appropriate places. The formations would probably be indicated by the use of colored cement or some other permanent material. On the ground itself there would be outcrops of actual rocks. Specimens of suitable size could be garnered through the help of State surveys, a number of which are represented on the committee, and by individuals in all parts of the country. These specimens would be placed where they could be easily inspected by any visitor following the bypaths that would ramify through the area covered by the model.
It is also suggested that soils from different parts of the country might be shown in their proper location.
Parks to be Shown
The outstanding characteristics of the National Parks would be shown in as much detail as possible. Glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes, would all be shown with a considerable degree of fidelity on the scale suggested. Yellowstone Park would be about 75 feet long.
Among the particular features that have been outlined are models of cities in concrete, stone or other material on a uniform scale, models of the great industrial plants on a scale somewhat larger than that of the vertical scale for the geological and geographical display.
Inasmuch as the entire fair is intended to portray the advances in science since 1833, the contrasts between conditions then and now could be introduced frequently, as for example, in transportation methods, size of cities, type of buildings, known and unknown lands and so on.
While this outdoor model would be specially designed to portray the advances in geological knowledge and research, it is proposed that the idea be considered by the committees which are planning the geographical, mining and metallurgical, agricultural, botanical, zoological, engineering and other exhibits.