Interview with Benjamin F. Foster, 1964 February 28 [audio](part 2)

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  • Work activities in the 1920s
    Partial Transcript: "Built a Cadillac plant, then built a Buick..."
    Synopsis: Foster describes his work during the 1920s. He says that his time was spent between DuPont and General Motors and that he had a hand in building and planning several automotive plants. He describes possible conflicts of interest when Pierre du Pont was involved with both DuPont and General Motors.
    Keywords: Construction; Du Pont, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel), 1870-1954; DuPont Engineering Comapny; General Motors Company
  • Traveling to Chile to build a power plant for DuPont; Return to America, procuring motors for the Belle plant; Traveling in South America
    Partial Transcript: "I went down there to study the development of hydro-electric power for a dynamite plant at Rio Loa. We were sent there to supply electric power instead of using oil. They originally wanted to use water power. We had purchased along with the plant a low head development, but the sand put us out of business. The sand cut the shaft and blade of turbines so fast you couldn't keep them in there."
    Synopsis: Foster says that he went to Chile to build a power plant on behalf of DuPont saying that sand in the local rivers made it difficult to build a water powered pant. Foster talks about returning to America and procuring motors for the Belle plant in West Virginia. He continues with more about Chile and says that he was there for around four months. He explains that the plant in Chile was intended to supply dynamite to South American copper mines. He comments on some images of South American dynamite and black powder operations and talks about traveling around South America.
    Keywords: Belle plant; Bolivia; Chile; Copper; Copper mining; DuPont; Dynamite; Motors; Photographs; Power plants; Rio Loa plant; South America
  • Return to the United States and work in the latter 1920s; Building homes for members of the du Pont family; Building the Parlin plant in New Jersey
    Partial Transcript: "That was Mr. Charlie Copeland and Miss Louisa who was P.S.'s older sister. I had a lot of dealings with her on the electrical lay-out end of the house. And believe me, she knew her business too."
    Synopsis: Foster talks about returning to the United States and his job throughout the rest of the 1920s. He describes building homes for members of the du Pont family and building the DuPont Parlin plant in New Jersey.
    Keywords: Construction; Design; du Pont family; New Jersey; Old Hickory; Parlin Plant; Plants; Switchboards
  • Experiences at Hagley; Installing safety devices in powder mills; Identifying buildings on 1903 survey of Hagley
    Partial Transcript: "Well, I didn't work there. I never worked up there except to go up with Mr. William K. du Pont and size up certain things."
    Synopsis: Foster talks about coming to Hagley and says that he didn't actually work in the powder yards, but visited them with William K. du Pont. Foster talks about installing safety devices that stopped powder mills from operating in the event of an accident. Foster identifies buildings on a 1903 survey of the Hagley Yards. He describes how he constructed buildings for processing dynamite.
    Keywords: Du Pont, William K. (William Kemble), 1875-1907; Elevators; Hagley Yard; Maps; Power plants; Safety; Surveys
  • Tunnel in the powder yards; Powder yard elevators; Powder mill construction
    Partial Transcript: "They had a tunnel... I never heard of it..." "...They used a plunger, I guess. You drill a hole, and you put this big shaft dawn, and you put a platform on this shaft. Then you have a hydraulic connection, and you put water under that, and that acts as an elevator."
    Synopsis: Foster is asked about a tunnel recently found on site and thinks it might have been used to get rid of excess water. Foster describes how elevators lifted narrow gauge railroad cars in the powder yards. He talks about elevators in other DuPont owned buildings. Foster explains the shape of the powder mills. He says that some of the narrow gauge railroad tracks were wood instead of metal.
    Keywords: Construction; Elevators; Hagley Yard; Hydraulic presses; Narrow gauge railroads; Powder mills; Power; Tunnels
  • Lighting in the powder mills; Steam engine in the powder yards
    Partial Transcript: "The only time anyone had to go in there was to change his charge and add water. He'd probably have a safety lamp -- a little hand lamp that he carried..." "...I think there was a little family argument going on there about it. I kept out of it, but I used to watch it because I was interested in seeing what Mr. Alfred I. had in mind. We spent an awful lot of money for electric locomotives during the first World War. We had them doing practically all the hauling."
    Synopsis: Foster says that there was no lighting in the powder mills and that men just carried lamps in their hands at times when the powder yards ran for 24 hours a day. Foster talks about Alfred I. du Pont's attempts to build a steam engine to use in the powder yards. He says that they were using small locomotives by World War I. He talks about water turbines in the powder yards.
    Keywords: Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Lighting; Locomotives; Powder mills; World War (1914-1918)
  • Contact with Alfred I. du Pont; Contact with other members of the du Pont family
    Partial Transcript: "I told you about his being down there in Alabama with Mr. Penn, and I could read the handwriting at that time because they weren't hitting it off. That was why I got a transfer to Spruance..." "...I was talking about his being interested in the electrical end. But he insisted that I take over the design of these other plants. You see he established the Black Powder Engineering Division. He built the plants but he insisted that I approve everything electrical that went in."
    Synopsis: Foster talks about some of his experiences with Alfred I. du Pont and about the du Pont family's interests in electricity. He discusses other contacts with members of the du Pont family.
    Keywords: Carney's Point, Nj.; du Pont family; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Du Pont, Ernest, 1880-1944; Electricity
  • Looking at Foster's photographs; Traveling in South America; Career overview
    Partial Transcript: "I said, I'd help them and I went down to help them, I went down to inspect it and when I came back the DuPont Company..."
    Synopsis: Foster shares some of his photographs from his time working for DuPont. He talks about several other stories from his personal life and working at DuPont and traveling in South America, particularly Chile. Foster revisits parts of his career at DuPont.
    Keywords: Chile; DuPont; Photographs; Ships; South America; Stories