Agricultural History Series
Missouri State University
1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair
As visitors entered the Palace of Agriculture, a mammoth leaf made of tobacco leaves greeted visitors. There was displayed a miniature tobacco-field: the green hotbed of seedlings, the transplanted tobacco in rows, the “topping” of the older plants, and cutting the fully ripe ones. There were drying-sheds, with yellow and brown leaves hung up to cure. There was the warehouse, where the dried leaves are pressed down into hogsheads, then to be sold on the Louisville market.
Then a study on the specimens took place: some was destined for Italy, some to West Africa, another kind to England. Users of tobacco were described as particular-a Hottentot must have had a twist from one Kentucky farm, while a Russian peasant demanded a plug of a slightly different flavor form the other end of the same Kentucky county.
Not all tobacco was used for human use. There was nicotine and tobacco oil for insecticides and sheep dip, and ash of tobacco-stems for fertilizer. Tobacco was not only used for pipes and quids. North Carolina and Virginia grew light tobacco for cigarettes. Connecticut had begun to grow Sumatra leaf for cigar-wrappers under canvas-topped acres. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, the Southern States, and even Massachusetts did the same.
Genuine perique came only from a small section in Louisiana-deep black, jammed and pounded into “carrots” of the consistency of hard pine wood. One grower boasted that his farm supplied tobacco to four popes. Many smokers said that cigars made of perique, mixed with a little American-grown Havana, were excellent. The Government Bureau of Soils found a red soil in North Carolina and in Texas which produces tobacco, shown at the Fair, which could not be distinguished from the Cuban-grown leaf.
Visitors were told not to visit the Egyptian section to see the raw material of Egyptian cigarettes. Comissioner Abaza told visitors that the Egyptian Government, by law, had forbidden any Egyptian farmer to raise tobacco.
Reference: The World’s Work. The Agricultural Conquest of the Earth. August, 1904.
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