Menlo Park was the merest hamlet. Omitting the laboratory structures, it had only about seven houses, the best looking of which Edison lived in, a place that had a windmill pumping water into a reservoir. One of the stories of the day was that Edison had his front gate so connected with the pumping plant that every visitor as he opened or closed the gate added involuntarily to the supply in the reservoir. Two or three of the houses were occupied by the families of members of the staff; in the others boarders were taken, the laboratory, of course, furnishing all the patrons. Near the railway station was a small saloon kept by an old Scotchman named Davis, where billiards were played in idle moments, and where in the long winter evenings the hot stove was a centre of attraction to loungers and story-tellers. The truth is that there was very little social life of any kind possible under the strenuous conditions prevailing at the laboratory, where, if anywhere, relaxation was enjoyed at odd intervals of fatigue and waiting.
The main laboratory was a spacious wooden building of two floors. The office was in this building at first, until removed to the brick library when that was finished. There S. L. Griffin, an old telegraph friend of Edison, acted as his secretary and had charge of a voluminous and amazing correspondence. The office employees were the Carman brothers and the late John F. Randolph, afterwards secretary. According to Mr. Francis Jehl, of Budapest, then one of the staff, to whom the writers are indebted for a great deal of valuable data on this period: "It was on the upper story of this laboratory that the most important experiments were executed, and where the incandescent lamp was born. This floor consisted of a large hall containing several long tables, upon which could be found all the various instruments, scientific and chemical apparatus that the arts at that time could produce. Books lay promiscuously about, while here and there long lines of bichromate-of- potash cells could be seen, together with experimental models of ideas that Edison or his assistants were engaged upon. The side walls of this hall were lined with shelves filled with bottles, phials, and other receptacles containing every imaginable chemical and other material that could be obtained, while at the end of this hall, and near the organ which stood in the rear, was a large glass case containing the world's most precious metals in sheet and wire form, together with very rare and costly chemicals. When evening came on, and the last rays of the setting sun penetrated through the side windows, this hall looked like a veritable Faust laboratory.
"On the ground floor we had our testing-table, which stood on two large pillars of brick built deep into the earth in order to get rid of all vibrations on account of the sensitive instruments that were upon it. There was the Thomson reflecting mirror galvanometer and electrometer, while nearby were the standard cells by which the galvanometers were adjusted and standardized. This testing-table was connected by means of wires with all parts of the laboratory and machine-shop, so that measurements could be conveniently made from a distance, as in those days we had no portable and direct-reading instruments, such as now exist. Opposite this table we installed, later on, our photometrical chamber, which was constructed on the Bunsen principle. A little way from this table, and separated by a partition, we had the chemical laboratory with its furnaces and stink-chambers. Later on another chemical laboratory was installed near the photometer-room, and this Dr. A. Haid had charge of."
Next to the laboratory in importance was the machine- shop, a large and well-lighted building of brick, at one end of which there was the boiler and engine- room. This shop contained light and heavy lathes, boring and drilling machines, all kinds of planing machines; in fact, tools of all descriptions, so that any apparatus, however delicate or heavy, could be made and built as might be required by Edison in experimenting. Mr. John Kruesi had charge of this shop, and was assisted by a number of skilled mechanics, notably John Ott, whose deft fingers and quick intuitive grasp of the master's ideas are still in demand under the more recent conditions at the Llewellyn Park laboratory in Orange.
Between the machine-shop and the laboratory was a small building of wood used as a carpenter-shop, where Tom Logan plied his art. Nearby was the gasoline plant. Before the incandescent lamp was perfected, the only illumination was from gasoline gas; and that was used later for incandescent-lamp glass-blowing, which was done in another small building on one side of the laboratory. Apparently little or no lighting service was obtained from the Wallace- Farmer arc lamps secured from Ansonia, Connecticut. The dynamo was probably needed for Edison's own experiments.
On the outskirts of the property was a small building in which lampblack was crudely but carefully manufactured and pressed into very small cakes, for use in the Edison carbon transmitters of that time. The night-watchman, Alfred Swanson, took care of this curious plant, which consisted of a battery of petroleum lamps that were forced to burn to the sooting point. During his rounds in the night Swanson would find time to collect from the chimneys the soot that the lamps gave. It was then weighed out into very small portions, which were pressed into cakes or buttons by means of a hand-press. These little cakes were delicately packed away between layers of cotton in small, light boxes and shipped to Bergmann in New York, by whom the telephone transmitters were being made. A little later the Edison electric railway was built on the confines of the property out through the woods, at first only a third of a mile in length, but reaching ultimately to Pumptown, almost three miles away.
Mr. Edison's own words may be quoted as to the men with whom he surrounded himself here and upon whose services he depended principally for help in the accomplishment of his aims. In an autobiographical article in the Electrical World of March 5, 1904, he says: "It is interesting to note that in addition to those mentioned above (Charles Batchelor and Frank Upton), I had around me other men who ever since have remained active in the field, such as Messrs. Francis Jehl, William J. Hammer, Martin Force, Ludwig K. Boehm, not forgetting that good friend and co-worker, the late John Kruesi. They found plenty to do in the various developments of the art, and as I now look back I sometimes wonder how we did so much in so short a time." Mr. Jehl in his reminiscences adds another name to the above --namely, that of John W. Lawson, and then goes on to say: "These are the names of the pioneers of incandescent lighting, who were continuously at the side of Edison day and night for some years, and who, under his guidance, worked upon the carbon-filament lamp from its birth to ripe maturity. These men all had complete faith in his ability and stood by him as on a rock, guarding their work with the secretiveness of a burglar-proof safe. Whenever it leaked out in the world that Edison was succeeding in his work on the electric light, spies and others came to the Park; so it was of the utmost importance that the experiments and their results should be kept a secret until Edison had secured the protection of the Patent Office." With this staff was associated from the first Mr. E. H. Johnson, whose work with Mr. Edison lay chiefly, however, outside the laboratory, taking him to all parts of the country and to Europe. There were also to be regarded as detached members of it the Bergmann brothers, manufacturing for Mr. Edison in New York, and incessantly experimenting for him. In addition there must be included Mr. Samuel Insull, whose activities for many years as private secretary and financial manager were devoted solely to Mr. Edison's interests, with Menlo Park as a centre and main source of anxiety as to pay-rolls and other constantly recurring obligations. The names of yet other associates occur from time to time in this narrative--"Edison men" who have been very proud of their close relationship to the inventor and his work at old Menlo. "There was also Mr. Charles L. Clarke, who devoted himself mainly to engineering matters, and later on acted as chief engineer of the Edison Electric Light Company for some years. Then there were William Holzer and James Hipple, both of whom took an active part in the practical development of the glass-blowing department of the laboratory, and, subsequently, at the first Edison lamp factory at Menlo Park. Later on Messrs. Jehl, Hipple, and Force assisted Mr. Batchelor to install the lamp-works of the French Edison Company at Ivry-sur-Seine. Then there were Messrs. Charles T. Hughes, Samuel D. Mott, and Charles T. Mott, who devoted their time chiefly to commercial affairs. Mr. Hughes conducted most of this work, and later on took a prominent part in Edison's electric-railway experiments. His business ability was on a high level, while his personal character endeared him to us all.
Among other now well-known men who came to us and assisted in various kinds of work were Messrs. Acheson, Worth, Crosby, Herrick, and Hill, while Doctor Haid was placed by Mr. Edison in charge of a special chemical laboratory. Dr. E. L. Nichols was also with us for a short time conducting a special series of experiments. There was also Mr. Isaacs, who did a great deal of photographic work, and to whom we must be thankful for the pictures of Menlo Park in connection with Edison's work.