Energy & Power
The Museum's collections on energy and power illuminate the role of fire, steam, wind, water, electricity, and the atom in the nation's history. The artifacts include wood-burning stoves, water turbines, and windmills, as well as steam, gas, and diesel engines. Oil-exploration and coal-mining equipment form part of these collections, along with a computer that controlled a power plant and even bubble chambers—a tool of physicists to study protons, electrons, and other charged particles.
A special strength of the collections lies in objects related to the history of electrical power, including generators, batteries, cables, transformers, and early photovoltaic cells. A group of Thomas Edison's earliest light bulbs are a precious treasure. Hundreds of other objects represent the innumerable uses of electricity, from streetlights and railway signals to microwave ovens and satellite equipment.
- The three-masted wooden propeller Edward Smith was built in 1890 by F.W. Wheeler & Co. at West Bay City, Michigan. The 201-foot bulk freighter is best known for rescuing crew from the old wooden steamer Annie Young on 20 October 1890 in Lake Huron. The Young was transporting a cargo of coal from Buffalo to Gladstone, MI when a fire began somewhere in the vicinity of the boiler.
- Upbound from Marine City, Smith’s Captain Mitchell saw the Young on fire, dropped the two barges he was towing and began circling the burning ship, rescuing 13 crew and the captain. Nine men were lost when their lifeboat swamped and sank. Capt. Mitchell was awarded a lifesaving medal for his efforts; Annie Young had been insured for $55,000.
- In 1900, the Smith was renamed Zillah, when transferred at Port Huron, MI to new owners. On 29 August 1926, Zillah was transporting a cargo of heavy limestone when it sailed into a summer storm in Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior. The old steamer began to take on water, and the crew removed their belongings while Zillah coasted in a circle. The crew was rescued without loss by the steamer William B. Schiller, with assistance from the Coast Guard. Shortly afterwards, the ship rolled over and sank. The Zillah’s wreck was located in 1975.
- Date made
- ship transferred to Michigan
- ship sank
- ship wreckage located
- built ship, Edward Smith
- F. W. Wheeler & Co.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History