|Cawston Ostrich Farm Promo Card|
Around this same time British import and inventor Aubrey Eneas was working on developing a cone-shaped reflector that would collect sunlight to power a motor. Eneas had immigrated to Boston and had been working for years on his solar power obsession. Most people aren't aware that in the late 1880's inventors were hard at work coming up with ideas on how to turn the sun's rays into electricity because the cost of coal at the time was expensive and hard to transport.
Eneas smartly figured that his best chance for success would be to travel to always sunny California. He visited the Cawston Ostrich Farm, met with Edwin Cawston and the two hit it off to the point Cawston convinced him to move to California. Eneas opened up his own business called Solar Motor Company in downtown Los Angeles.
Cawston wanted a way to pump water out of his well onto his ostrich farm which was as dry as an ostrich feather. Aubrey Eneas sold him one of his large cone-shaped reflectors and engines. The giant reflector was 16 stories high and focused rays to a boiler that produced steam that ran the engine. The pump produced between 1,400 and 1,500 gallons of water per minute from the well located on the farm.
They did tracking back then also and the cone-shaped reflector was mounted on a track so it could turn and follow the sun.
Visitors to the popular ostrich farm would take rides on the ostriches as well as shop for ostrich feather-based products in the farm's store and check out the eggs. These were ordinary folk who loved the ostrich rides but were baffled by the gigantic monstrosity sitting on the farm's grounds. Tourist guides had to explain to the perplexed visitors that the heat being produced wasn't being used to hatch the eggs!
The technically minded appreciated Eneas' "sun motor" and predicted a wonderful future for solar energy as the new fuel. As time went by, American industry chose oil as its selected fuel and solar energy was forced to take a back seat to not only oil but also coal. Eneas' inventions ran into trouble forcing him to retire in 1910 and declare bankruptcy.
The giant solar reflector and motor being used on the Cawston Ostrich Farm was dismantled at the start of World War I for it's steel parts which would be used in the war effort. The ostrich farm continued to operate until it's closing in 1934.
What's old is new again-Sandia National Laboratories is currently using a prototype of Eneas' solar collectors to test various dishes in the desert and feathers are still a favorite women's fashion accessory!
Cawston Ostrich Farm story at the Los Angeles Times.