The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958

Che Raintak rs i Dural
JOHN C. RAYBURN
AN'S interest in rainmaking is not a product of recent
times. Most primitive people even today have a ritual
which is supposed to bring rain during times of
drought.'
James P. Espy, a Pennsylvania meteorologist, suggested as early
as 1839 that an attempt be made to produce rain by heating the
air. His idea was based on the theory that warm air "rising would,
owing to the diminished pressure, expand, and by expansion and
cooling the vapor, cause condensation and precipitation." Espy
advocated building a series of great log fires at regular intervals
across the western part of the United States.2
War and the Weather, published in 1871 by Edward Powers,
pointed out that rain usually followed battles in which cannonad-
ing took place. Powers wanted to experiment in rain production
by heavy cannonading, and he estimated that two experiments
could be carried on, exclusive of guns which would be furnished
by the government, for $161,500.3
A one-time commissioner of patents, General Daniel Ruggles
of Virginia, was given a request for a patent in 188o for produc-
ing rain by setting off explosives attached to balloons sent up into
the atmosphere.4
Ruggles sent a memorial to Congress in 188o requesting that
an appropriation of $1o,ooo be made for experimenting with his
method of producing rain, and further, that the sum be spent at
the direction of the Commissioner of Agriculture.
iMark W. Harrington, "Weather Making Ancient and Modern," House Mis-
cellaneous Documents, 53rd Cong., 3rd Sess. (Serial No. 3341), Document No. 13,
Part I.
2Senate Executive Documents, 52nd Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial No. 2900oo), Document
No. 45, P. 1.
3lbid.
4lbid.
5Senate Miscellaneous Documents, 46th Cong., 2nd Sess. (Serial No. 1890), Docu-
ment No. 39.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/. Accessed February 12, 2016.