"I'm a farm boy. It's very interesting; you can detect self-starting characteristics in this society and they are strongest among people who have had some kind of rural upbringing and a very impressionable stage."
This is a very early use of the idea of a machine that can effectively drive through the earth, boring its way through.
Compare to the mechanical mole from Oath of Fealty by Pournelle and Niven (1981) and the automatic shell from The Great Stone of Sardis (1897) by Frank Stockton.
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