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Across the pond with Rex Wailes: Philadelphia

Extracts from Rex Wailes’ 1929 diary of his trip to the USA and Canada. Part 18.

Poster Image

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Philadelphia, under construction


I left Mr. & Mrs. McClelland and New York very regretfully, and hope I shall get there again one day. As a city, I like the little I saw of it. The journey to Philadelphia was quite interesting. On the whole, the country was comparatively flat, well wooden and undeveloped. As we neared Philadelphia, the chief objects of interest were the De Laval Turbine Works at Trenton, and a new bridge over the Delaware at Philadelphia.

The Hotel Viking is not to be recommended if my room was any sample. Very noisy – but that is so everywhere – hot because it was in the roof, and no cupboard for ones cloths. However, I had shower and shall continue to do so. They are much nicer than tub baths, and usually make any given room 50c cheaper too, which fact I didn’t know till I left and paid the bill. The Vendig has no restaurant, so I dined at Arrans – modified rapture – and breakfasted at Childs – ditto.


I had ‘phoned Redgrave on my arrival and got his instructions, so picked up my mail at the E. S. U., “made a date” to meet Dr. Oberholtzer and set off for the Tube Works. I saw the whole process from start to finish, including our machines. After lunch we went to Baldwins Loco. Works.

The Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia

We went back to Redgrave’s for supper, and then went out for a drive. At Sycamore Mills, just outside Media in Delaware county was the remains of a Dutch smock mill, 4 floors, no sails, an O. G. cap, rather Lincolnshire in style, and remains of a fantail support.

Back at the house, I was given an excellent supper, and was later shewn the kitchen. They have a large “Frigidaire” which makes ice and keeps everything cool, and also an electric washing machine. They say that over here these pay for themselves in about five years – in saving ice and laundry bills. After the inspection, we had some bridge until it was time to go. An electric storm put out the lights twice, but not for long. I returned by train.


On Saturday the 25th, I called at the E. S. U. at 9. a. m. by appointment to meet Dr. Obertoltzer. He is a curious man – I found him at first very difficult to get “en report” with. I think he was sizing me up.

I had an appointment by telegram to New York to meet Anderson, Moor Ores friend, at the Penn Mutual Assurance Co’s building. From him I went to the Historical Society. Dr. Oberholtzer had told them I was coming and the Secretary took me to the print room where I had access to all their material on windmills. He also ‘phoned to the free library and got them to look up what material they had on the subject. After supper at the Adelphia I went down and was well looked after in the periodical room and in the library proper. Altogether I spent my time most profitably from the windmill point of view.

 Note from Rex Wailes’ researches in Philidelphia

Mr. E. P. Hamilton, who was the authority on windmills over here lived in Philadelphia up to his death in 1919. His widow still lives there and I have hopes of getting copies from his windmill negatives and possibly some material from his notes. If ever I’m over here again, it must be my first duty in Philadelphia to call on this good lady.