The Big Four of the Central Pacific Railroad I

Lead: Above the hardware store on a cold January night, Theodore Dehone Judah met the four men who would make his dream come true.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: Judah had a vision. To span the Continental United States with a railroad. After brilliant success as an engineer in New York, Judah had been lured to California to build the first railroad on the West Coast. In doing so, he fell under the spell of the Sierra Nevada Mountains which piled up just east of his work cite in the Sacramento Valley. He soon found himself spending more and more of his free time roaming the Sierras on foot and muleback with his wife, doing preliminary surveys of the best railroad routes across the mountains. By November 1860, he had found what he thought was the best way across, established a company, issued stock, but found he could hardly give the shares away.

 

Read more →

Berlin Spy Tunnel II

Lead:  In 1954 the Central Intelligence Agency dug a 1400 foot tunnel under the border of East Berlin to spy on Soviet military messages. It was an engineering triumph, but there was one hitch. The Soviets knew it was there.

Intro.: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: George Blake was a member of the British Secret Intelligence Service. During the early days of the Korean War he was captured by the North Koreans and held for three years. Sometime during his prison stay he went over to the other side. In 1954, when the spy tunnel was first discussed by the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6, Blake was in the meeting, took extensive notes, and passed the sketches and drawings to his KGB control officer within two days.

Berlin Spy Tunnel I

Lead: In 1954, at the height of the Cold War, the CIA and British MI6 dug a tunnel under divided Berlin to spy on the Russians. They thought it was a secret.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The city of Berlin during the 1950s was divided east and west and was the focus of much tension between the Soviet Union and the western Allies. It was also crawling with spies. One of those was the CIA's station chief in Berlin, William King Harvey. He received information that the Soviets had laid three telephone and telegraph cables 18 inches beneath the soil near the road to Shönefeld Airport. Over these lines the Soviet military command in Berlin communicated with Moscow. Building on the experience of the British who had conducted a similar but smaller operation against the Soviets in Vienna, Harvey convinced his bosses to construct a tunnel, intercept the cables and tap them.

History’s Turning Points: Japan Discovers the Gun II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: Japan rediscovers the gun.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In 1543, visiting Portuguese explorers jumped from the deck of a Chinese commercial ship into Japanese shallow waters and with their muskets shot a duck. The unfavorable results on the duck were duly noted by Lord Tokitaka, who purchased from the Portuguese two guns and commissioned his swordsmiths to copy these new weapons. Within a century firearms were playing a widespread, destructive role in the dynastic and feudal warfare consuming the Japanese upper class. These weapons were very good, indeed the Japanese significantly improved on comparable European designs. One such innovation was waterproof rain protection for the ignition platform, but soon the Japanese abandoned firearms and mostly returned to hand-held weapons such as the sword and the bow and arrow.

Read more →

History’s Turning Points: Japan Discovers the Gun I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider history’s turning points: Japan rediscovers the gun.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Japan has taken a well-earned place in the modern era as a seat of much industrial innovation. Within 60 years of the visit of Commodore Perry in 1855, Japan had wrenched itself so significantly into the contemporary world that its navy had inflicted havoc on Russian naval forces at the Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War, sending the pride of the Czar’s fleet to the bottom of the Sea of Japan. In another thirty-six years, Japan would temporarily humble the world’s preeminent industrial power at Pearl Harbor.

Read more →

The Great Eastern

Lead: In November, 1857, Isambard Kingdom Brunel tried to launch his magnificent creation. Great Eastern, the heaviest object anyone had ever attempted to move, got stuck.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Brunel was one of the most successful engineers of his day. He constructed what was at that time, the world’s longest tunnel, several unusual railroad bridges, and finally, Great Eastern. Conceived as the first luxury liner, the ship was designed to carry 4,000 passengers in complete comfort, haul enough coal for a non-stop round-trip from England to Australia, and earn her inventors’ money back in a couple of years. No such luck. No profit was ever made with Great Eastern.

Windmills

Lead: Evoking visions of the charming Dutch countryside, the tilting object of slightly confused Spanish knights, and fights between green power and wealthy islanders, one of things that modernized rural America was the windmill.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: In 1854, Daniel Halladay, a New England inventor, submitted a patent application for a self-regulating windmill, an ingenious device that automatically closed its blades during high winds so as to protect itself from damage. According to essayist Stuart Leuthner, this inaugurated the era of the American windmill.

Spy Satellites

Lead: It was mid-August 1960. In a White House ceremony, President Dwight D. Eisenhower displayed a United States flag that been recovered from an environmental satellite orbiting the earth. He wasn’t exactly telling the whole truth.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Actually, the flag had been carried into orbit aboard Discoverer XIII and was returned to earth in an ejected capsule which was then recovered from its splash down point northwest of Hawaii by a Navy taskforce. It was the first time an object had been catapulted into earth orbit and brought back without mishap, but this exercise was far more than patriotic chauvinism. The Discoverer program was a ruse, a clever cover-up for a secret reconnaissance operation known as Corona.