Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/859

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suggested, in 1847, that the telegraph might he used in aid of such a work; and the Cincinnati Observatory had issued a daily weather bulletin and chart in 1868 and 1869; but Dr. Lapham's efforts were the ones that bore fruit in the shape of national action on a national scale. In 1842 he published, for information and as a stimulus to harbor improvement, a list of marine disasters on Lake Michigan; in 1858 he suggested to a railroad manager, who was building a line of steamers for a lake-ferry, the importance of procuring a knowledge of coming storms. The manager answered, politely, that he had more confidence in the size and speed of his boats than in storm-signals. He afterward addressed a lake-captain on the subject, and the sailor replied that he had "little time to investigate meteorological papers, and had never been impressed with the opinion that our changeable and fickle climate could be put under any rules by which mariners might be guided with any certainty or much profit." The idea, however, was gradually commending itself to the moneyed men of Chicago, when, in 1869, Dr. Lapham met the Hon. E. D. Holton, who was just about to go to attend the meeting of the National Board of Trade, at Richmond, Virginia, and explained his scheme to him. Mr. Holton secured the passage, by the National Board of Trade, of a resolution which Dr. Lapham had drawn up, commending the project to the consideration of the Government. A bill, introduced by General Paine, of Wisconsin, for the establishment of the Weather Service, was passed, and on the 15th of March, 1869, "Old Probabilities," as the office was for a long time nicknamed, was installed. Dr. Lapham was appointed in November, 1871, Assistant Signal-Officer at Chicago, and had the pleasure of sending home, at the end of a month, a draft for "the fix-st considerable sum I have ever received as salary for any scientific work." The amount was $166.67.

In 1873 Dr. Lapham was appointed, in accordance with an act constituting the Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Chief Geologist, with authority to select his subordinates. The fitness of the appointment was universally recognized, but by some oversight the nomination was not sent to the Senate for confirmation. The work was prosecuted by him with great energy and most fruitful results for nearly two years, by which time "the political aspect of the State had changed, and there had been an upheaval of strata of which our geologist had taken no notice." He first learned through the newspapers that he had been superseded. Nearly a month later (March 21, 1875) he received a letter from W. R. Taylor, Governor, notifying him that "all authority (if any possessed by you), as Chief Geologist, ceased and was annulled on the 16th day of February" previous.

On the 14th of September, of the same year, Dr. Lapham, having retired to his farm on Lake Oconomowoc, had just finished a paper on the capacity for fish production of that and other small lakes of Wisconsin. Then he went in his boat upon the lake. He was found a few