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The 1890's
Gadgets, Gizmos, and the Great Unknown



Gadgets, Gizmos, and the Great Unknown
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.61

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    auto-hat, gas-fueled, gizmos, Jell-o, nifty, hailed, horseless, knee-deep, crackly, mulling, relativity, gas-powered, nimble, radioactivity, uranium, french
     content words:    Charles Duell, Patent Office, New England, Motor Wagons, Washington State, Improved Saluting Device, Will Kellogg, Milton Hershey, Cracker Jacks


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Gadgets, Gizmos, and the Great Unknown
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     "Everything that can be invented has been invented." Charles Duell, U.S. Patent Office, 1899.
 
2     Gadgets and new ideas were popping up all over in the 1890s. People back then loved finding things that made life easier, just like we do. They came up with some pretty handy doodads. Some 1890s inventions are still in use today.
 
3     Just before 1900, lots of people were working on tools that would take advantage of a new power source. Electricity was on its way to replacing older sources, like oil, coal, and gas, for heating and lights. The light bulb had been around for some time. Only wealthier homes, however, had luxuries like electric lights. Fewer still had hot running water or central heating. Most people still cooked and kept warm with coal or wood. There were some electric cook stoves on the market, but they weren't very practical. Cook stoves and other electric gadgets didn't come into wide use until a few years later.
 
4     The automobile was another up and coming gizmo of the late 1800s. Several people had built some version of the horseless carriage. Cars were thought of as toys playthings for the rich. Cars that ran on electricity from batteries were popular at the end of the 1800s. Drivers couldn't roam very far in them, however, due to the limited power supply. There were gas-powered cars, too, but they were noisier and stinkier. Many people thought they were nothing but a nuisance.
 
5     Some cities passed laws against cars. Others made lots of rules about their use. One law stated that drivers had to stop at every crossroads. Before the car could go on, the driver had to look ahead very carefully and give several hearty blasts on the horn. Before he could start off again, he even had to set off a roman candle or other explosive to warn people of his coming!

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The 1890's
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