This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
"M." says: "Would it not be better for the Gardener's Monthly to wage a war against those outrageous monopolies, the railroads, than to argue for the clearing out of the brush wood left by log cutters, as a remedy for forest fires? We do know that most of these fires are started by these public vampires. Why not by law make them have spark-arrestors on their smokestacks? Is this not as easy as to make wood-choppers clear up the trimmings after them ? Say ?"
[In the discussion of these topics we do not care to be in opposition or in defence of "vampires," or of any other body of men, but to present whatever facts may be obtained. It makes no difference to the Gardener's Monthly on which side these facts bear. Now as to spark-arrestors, we fancy no person or persons would be more willing to adopt the "spark-arrestor " than these same "vampires," provided they could be so arranged as not to interfere with the draft of the furnace ; but we fancy even " M." would growl if he were compelled to travel across the continent at the rate of only fifteen or twenty miles an hour, because the law made the "spark-arrestor" imperative.
Again, "M." should know that by recent legal decisions a suit will not hold against a railroad company for damages from fire where it can prove " contributory negligence." Piles of dead branches left under or near a forest, and which catch from a locomotive spark, are not the "necessaries" of a forestry business, and would probably be deemed to be "contributory" to the fire.
The common sense of the question seems to be that railroads should be made to use common prudence, and so should everybody else. It might do to compel railroads to clear up on the land they own. In clearing out underbrush it would not probably be necessary to clear out where there was but little danger. If say a quarter of a mile were cleared out around a 50 000 acre lot, the interior would probably be safe; or, if a fire started inside of it, it would then be confined to that tract.
It may perhaps be unjustifiable to say what one shall or shall not do to guard against fire on his own wood-lot, but he ought to be made to place guards around the fires that it shall not reach his neighbors. - Ed. G. M].