The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958 Page: 102
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Senator Charles B. Farwell of Illinois heard Powers lecture on
rainmaking, and he became intensely interested. The Senator was
a member of the Capitol Syndicate which, in return for building
the Texas capitol at Austin, received approximately three million
acres of land in the Texas Panhandle. The syndicate established
the XIT Ranch to utilize the land until such time as it could be
disposed of profitably. Farwell became impressed with the de-
sirability of testing the theory of producing rain by concussion,
and he secured from Congress two appropriations of $2,000 and
$7,000 to be used for these experiments, and to be credited to
the Department of Agriculture. He became acquainted with
Robert G. Dyrenforth and paid him for some preliminary experi-
ments made in 1890 and 1891. On February 27, 1891, Dyren-
forth was named special agent of the Department of Agriculture,
and charged with the responsibility of carrying out the rainmak-
Dyrenforth had had some military experience and had been a
chemist in the Patent Office. He spent long hours in the Library
of Congress and in consultation with officials of the United States
Army and of the Patent Office. In March, 1891, he went to New
York to contact manufacturers of various types of explosives.
After extensive experimentation near his home, Laurelwood, in
Mount Pleasant, D. C., he and his assistants decided upon the
types of materials to be used. Rackarock was chosen over dyna-
mite as the principal explosive for the ground batteries. Ten-
foot balloons made of fine muslin coated with varnish were
decided upon as the vehicle for the explosions above the ground.
These balloons were to be filled with oxygen-hydrogen gas and
were to have a fuse attached which would explode the balloon
and its contents at an elevation of about 2,000 feet.'
A mixture of two parts of hydrogen to one of oxygen was to
be used to inflate the balloons. This combination was found to
produce an explosion of great force. Dyrenforth and his assistants
set about to devise a method to make these gases in the field, and
after much experimenting, they found a system that was con-
sidered not to be too expensive. The hydrogen gas was made
6Senate Executive Documents, 52nd Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial No. 290o), Document
No. 45, P. 3.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958, periodical, 1958; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/m1/122/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.