Monday, November 09, 2009

The Secret of the Spiral Chimneys

One of the reasons I began writing is that I really enjoy sharing information. I don’t get much gossip (or not much that I can tell), so I research and write magazine articles and books. Research on a given subject doesn’t stop with publication. Long after the publication of books such as Before Oprah: Ruth Lyons: The Woman Who Created Talk TV and my non-technical history of the Internet and online world, On the Way to the Web, I continue to research their subjects. The benefits are several. My curiosity is satisfied (once sparked, it doesn't just stop). I can use the info in future editions. And the research leads to new articles and, sometimes, new subjects.

A good deal of post-publication research is unintentional: people who enjoyed a book often come to me with new information and corrections. I appreciate both. Sometimes I go in search of information, as happened recently with Crosley, the biography I originated and wrote to completion. Some material was cut or changed after I finished the manuscript, so I began the Crosley blog. This also serves as a repository for new information I discover, as well as details I researched but didn't include in the book. (Not to mention the fact that it demonstrates the depth and quantity of research and the writing effort I put into the book--just about everything in the volume.)

New research resulted in “The Secret of the Spiral Chimneys,” a post I recently made at the Crosley blog. Among the the unusual features of Powel Crosley’s Cincinnati mansion, Pinecroft, are the spiral chimneys that serve its working fireplaces. For the longest time I assumed the feature was strictly decorative. As it turns out, however, the spiraling has a purpose: creating decorative smoke trails and rings.

It's obvious once you know it, but the fact just wasn't obvious (as it would have been if a photo of Pinecroft with the chimneys operating full blast existed). Glad that one's solved! I wonder how many other performing chimneys wait to be found on famous buildings? There's probably an article in it ....

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