Rubber Tree, Panama Canal Zone

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
The rubber tree is the small one in the center of the view. It is full of gashes where it has been tapped. For rubber is made from the "milk" of rubber trees; and this milk is got by gashing the tree. Below the gashes are fastened coconut shells or little tins to catch the milk. The milk is not the sap of the tree, for it runs in channels different from the sap. The trees are usually gashed of a morning and the milk gathered of an evening. A little of the milk is then poured on a stick which is held in the smoke of a palm-nut fire. When this milk has "curdled" on the stick, more is poured on. And so on, the heating and pouring goes till a large ball of rubber is made. This is the raw rubber bought in Mexico, and Central and South Americas. Different peoples have different ways of gathering rubber. And there are different kinds of rubber trees. The kind you see here is a small variety. In Brazil, where most of our rubber is got, the trees are very large. The Indians knew about rubber when the first white men came to tropical America. They played ball with rubber balls long before Columbus dreamed of crossing the Atlantic. Some tribes had shoes and bottles of rubber. In 1770 an Englishman found that the gum of this tree would erase pencil marks by rubbing. He therefore called it "rubber." In 1837 Charles Goodyear discovered how to vulcanize rubber by mixing it with sulphur and then heating it. The sulphur makes the rubber pliable, and when the article so made was heated it would keep its shape yet be flexible. Rubber trees grow from seed. They are not tapped till hey are 8 years old; but they can be tapped for 50 years. Para, Brazil, is the greatest rubber port in the World. Locate it. Keystone ID: 20857 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.