In 1927 Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone founded the Edison Botanical Research Company of Fort Myers in Florida. One of the major projects conducted in the Fort Myers laboratory was research for a new source of natural rubber.
Mr. Edison began experiments on thousands of plants from around the world to see which, if any would be an economical source of rubber. One experiment conducted found that the common weed "goldenrod" would supply a high percentage of rubber. Normally goldenrod grows to a height of two to four feet. Mr. Edison developed a special fertilization and cultivation process that allowed the goldenrod to grow more than 10 feet tall.
After processing, he was able to get 12 percent rubber from his monster goldenrod stalls. The laboratory has been preserved in it's original form with all of Edison's beakers, test tubes and equipment displayed as they were when he conducted his research. Edison's widow left the complex and their house to the Parks Department.
In early June 1999 the Fort Myers laboratory shut down for extensive restoration; it will reopen in the spring of 2001. To find out more visit www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/.